Forests, climate, insects and people

This is a slightly different post. I have been asked by the Plant Health Centre, Scotland, to write an article on the topic of plant health. My non-COVID-related interests are currently mainly in forest pests and diseases and so here is an article on this topic:

We tend to think of our forests as unchanging. The old trees have always been there and will always be…

Forests, climate, insects and people: A story of spruce forests in Central Europe and a lesson for Scotland

Hope you can enjoy something different than the relentless COVID-19 news.

Omicron – why action is needed now

I have recently seen a Facebook post by one of my friends:

It seems that our (…) government, its experts and media panic-mongers are forecasting a bleak winter of restrictions because 121 people are ill with a new strain.

Anonymous, 11th December

Compare it with the data on COVID-19 cases in London as of 14th December:

I have seen posts like this throughout the pandemic. It is easy to dismiss posts like this but they illustrate the need for explaining why the experts are sounding an alarm. And the key to understanding is the power of exponents.

We are now at the growing stage of the epidemic. We know Omicron is highly infectious. We know that without control it is doubling every 2-3 days. So, let’s count:

11th December: 121 infections. 14th December: 296 cases. 3 days, 2.5 fold increase (2.4 days doubling time).

17th December: 724 cases. 20th December: 1,700 cases. 23rd December: 4,100 cases (which is how many daily cases we have now). 26th December: 10,000 cases. And, we know this is just a tip of an iceberg, as many cases go unnoticed.

And, it is just for Omicron; we do have an ongoing Delta outbreak. Regardless of whether Omicron replaces Delta or not, we are starting at a very bad situation already.

This is how many see the recurring waves of the pandemic:

Some of us are still at the “Just a blip, nothing to worry about!” stage. I do not want to be a “panic-monger”. But I cannot keep silent when our health – and lives – are being risked.