Why Understanding Scale Is Vital, Not Just For Science, But For Everyone
This week, Hurricane Harvey has seemingly exhausted every superlative that can be associated with a storm. Words like “catastrophic” and “historic” and “disastrous” are just some of those being used to try to explain what is happening in Texas and Louisiana. In today’s society, we can virtually watch such events unfold through the portal of social media. We often can’t really know the horrors or the suffering that are being experienced by those who are living through something like Harvey. We can only try to comprehend and offer help, usually remotely and indirectly for those of us who live far away, where possible.
But we need to understand what is happening and the scale of the event to the best of our abilities. This applies not only to storms like Harvey, which could be growing in frequency and power due to climate change, but to many, many challenging topics in our world that are tossed about in the daily deluge of news. We live in a society where big numbers and large concepts are thrown around on many critical topics. From the economy to the environment, from medicine to manufacturing, and from politics to polymers, we are bombarded with facts and figures that can feel meaningless without context.
Image credit: NASA