28March 2020 – 19:15 GMT – 7°C Mostly Cloudy – Co. Dublin, Ireland
I was gardening again. Chipping trimmed branches after some clearance. I was working about four metres along our driveway, that is four metres away from the pavement that passes to the front go our home. A woman spotted me as she walked by and moved off onto the road. Perhaps she was thinking about the six degrees of separation? Perhaps she moved because the square root of six is 2.44? I wasn’t unhappy that she moved, just curious as to why she thought our social distance needed to be so large.
I recall looking at a chart from 2003 showing UK births and deaths. I looked for it and found it again today. This chart started from 1901, when births were almost the double of deaths. Births trended down to about 1940 through temporal anomalies due to WW1. 1940 is interesting because the birth and deaths were about equal. Then the birth rate rose again until the contraceptive pill became widely available in the 1960s. Deaths average 600,000 per year in the UK. The main purpose of the chart was its projection from 2003-2041. The prediction was that deaths would exceed births around 2030. I remember having the idea that this might be when euthanasia would become more important to society. Once the replacement rate inverted people would be more aware of the increasing burden the elderly represented for the young. I wonder if Covid-19 will accelerate this awareness. I wonder if the chronic respiratory care shortages exposed by the pandemic will bring such choice into the spotlight. Some countries have been making that choice for years; not all nations can afford to look after the elderly. We used to rely on multi-generation family households but governments have been breaking families up for years – think how 3rd level education pulls kids away from home, just one example. Now, a whole raft of countries are faced with choosing between saving youth before the elderly. It seems one country has decided to restrict ventilators for the over 65s. Euthanasia in principle if not in name.
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