"Now that the COVID-19 threat is upon us, scientists and innovators are pulling out the stops to find ways of coping. That rush of invention is no surprise to historians — not just of science, but economics, too.
In the 1620s, living through the plague inspired economist and polymath William Petty to devise a system to count the cost of future calamity.
Part of the "political arithmetic" he invented includes concepts we use today to try to imagine how much it's worth spending now to prevent something worse from happening several years down the road, said Canadian economist Aidan Vining.
Unfortunately, our failure to prepare for an outbreak that epidemiologists have repeatedly warned was coming is a reminder that humans are not very good at thinking themselves into the future."