Editorial—By the Numbers

Here in Alberta, COVID related hospitalizations and ICU stays are starting to trend upward again, something which barely gets mentioned in most media.

We have, it seems, become used to it, yet at the same time, a recent study by a university of Calgary researcher has found long COVID symptoms in about 6% of children who’ve had COVID.  Those symptoms include fatigue and stomach issues, and although the severity of the symptoms, whether it is nothing significant or something that prevents them from fully participating in life and school, has not been studied, the percentage alone is somewhat concerning, especially when you consider that, because of how our school systems work, nearly every kid will have it.

What would happen to our productivity if a full six percent of our population in twenty years is unable to maintain steady work due to ongoing fatigue issues?  Yet these kind of thoughts don’t seem to occur much to our political class, which more and more is just as happy to see COVID slip under radar of public consciousness.  After all, they all expect to be retired or nearing retirement by the time the issues from this would become really acute, so what do they care, right?

In some ways, this is like the issue of climate change, which, because its full effects are so far in the future, most people really don’t ascribe much urgency to dealing with it now.  Unfortunately, some things simply can’t be dealt with once they become obvious.  In our case, however, the heat wave in London and the UK, so hot that it’s literally melting rail-way crossing signs and bowing the rails, will bring the issue into sharp focus, even as pedants scream about how it’s just an individual weather event and so means nothing.

Personally, I feel COVID could be an issue of the same magnitude when it comes to our economic performance over the next couple of decades, and that our governments are bowing to political pressure to wave it aside as simply another form of flu is going to mean life will get far more difficult that it needed to be in the future.

Unfortunately, as a species, we tend to have a very limited ability to think in the long-term.  We don’t often understand the effects of compounding problems, or how small additive issues with longer-term effects can add up to massive problems in the future.  I maintain that a lot of people really don’t understand what exponential increases really mean, especially when we’re at the low end of the change.  Maybe we just need to be better at math.

Fortunately, for readers of The Voice, we have an article that might help us with both the motivation and ability to become better at math.  New writer Chris O’Brien makes his debut in “You Too Can (and Should) Learn Mathematics” by giving us some tips on what made math not just something he’s proficient at, but something he enjoys.

Also featured this week is an interview with a newer student, originally from Pakistan and with a sharp sense of humour.  Check out our Minds We Meet Column and say hello to Ummara Naseem.

And we also have Jessica Young who was provided a Credo for Support by an anonymous reader of her articles that look at disability, and what it has to say might be useful for all of us as we try to fully include those with disabilities into our lives and activities.

Enjoy the read!