A Writer’s Diary – Exponential Growth – CoVid-19 And Climate Change

BB1FF4B5-A150-4942-B7DB-C0717128B26CMany of us do not understand the concept of exponential growth with regards to how quickly things grow and change. The explanation below, in layman terms, is the best I found so far from Jane E Brody, Personal Health columnist for The New York Times.

Dr. Slovic, author of “The Perception of Risk,” explained exponential growth in an article he and Howard C. Kunreuther of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center  wrote in Politico last month : If a single lily pad in a pond doubled each day, after 40 days only 1/256th of the pond would be covered, but by day 47 half the pond would be covered and one day later, lily pads would cover the entire pond.

The failure to recognize the potential for an exponential increase in Covid-19 when it began in China resulted in a squandered opportunity to control its spread. In just 67 days there were 100,000 cases worldwide; 11 days later another 100,000 cases, and four days after that, yet another 100,000 cases.

Drs. Slovic and Kunreuther likened the trajectory of Covid-19 to climate change, which has been gradually worsening for many decades. As with the virus, our failure to act early on has not flattened the curve and is likely to result in an explosive surge that will devastate huge populations, with no vaccine or drug able to alleviate the damage.

Jane E. Brody, New York Times, April 13, 2020