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Demographics and Population: How Large is a Billion?

Demographics and Population: How Large is a Billion?

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World population grows by an additional "Billion" every twelve to fifteen years - How LARGE is this number? (Hint: The answer is 38,461 years: and that is how many ADDITIONAL persons we are adding to our planet every twelve years.) Imagine editing a one-billion-page encyclopedia of theoretical physics (or for younger audiences, one billion homework questions) (The answer is still 38,461 years.)

And what implications do such numbers have for civilization, biodiversity, and our environment? (Today's rising generations of under-20s are living their lives at a time when humankind is rocketing upward along the y-axis of a late-phase exponential progression known as a J-curve) - (which might be a bit worrisome, perhaps, since up until now the two most-famous J-curves in all of human history have both been atomic detonations.) (Did we mention that J-curves have a decided tendency to flatten and obliterate everything around themselves in every direction?) Other than that, however, have a nice day,,. :>)
World population grows by an additional "Billion" every twelve to fifteen years - How LARGE is this number? (Hint: The answer is 38,461 years: and that is how many ADDITIONAL persons we are adding to our planet every twelve years.) Imagine editing a one-billion-page encyclopedia of theoretical physics (or for younger audiences, one billion homework questions) (The answer is still 38,461 years.)

And what implications do such numbers have for civilization, biodiversity, and our environment? (Today's rising generations of under-20s are living their lives at a time when humankind is rocketing upward along the y-axis of a late-phase exponential progression known as a J-curve) - (which might be a bit worrisome, perhaps, since up until now the two most-famous J-curves in all of human history have both been atomic detonations.) (Did we mention that J-curves have a decided tendency to flatten and obliterate everything around themselves in every direction?) Other than that, however, have a nice day,,. :>)

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: The Wecskaop Project on Oct 17, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial No-derivs

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is aow large
Billion
Popuenomathation’smousmatics
 
This first page is for academia:: As a thought-experiment, imagine that you are offered a sizablegrant and a well-remunerated position as technical, peer-review, and publishing editor-in-chief of a new and exhaustive ONE-BILLION-page
Encyclopedia of Theoretical Physics
)
THE ENORMITY OF A “BILLION”?
A
BILLION PAGES
of 
THEORETICAL PHYSICS
In virtually any assessments of population and demographics, data sets involving
millions
and
billions
are fundamental. And yet, while everyone understands that each of these (a millionand a billion) is a large number, in worldwide terms we tend to be a bit hazy on the great dif-ference in the two numbers, and especially in the true ENORMITY of eachof humanity’s add-ed billions. Therefore, since we have been adding one billion
additional
persons to our planet
every twelve years
, and have just added, beginning in 1930, FIVE such enormous billions
in
 
less than a single human lifetime
,and since the U.N.’s most recent world population project-tions show us to be on a trajectory toward 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, or 15.8 billion by the end of thiscentury, it behooves each of ustobringtoourassessmentsanabsolutelycrystal-clearpopulation-environment-sustainability appreciation of the true enormity of each of our added billions.Toward this end, we offer a simple thought experiment that imagines the preparation of aone-billion-page
E
NCYCLOPEDIA
of 
T
HEORETICAL
P
HYSICS
(or a gradual cumulative publication of thosesame one-billion pages in a weekly journal of theoretical physics). Therefore, suppose that, as-suming a sizable grant and a quite well-remunerated editorial position, that one accepts and
 
enthusiastically or reluctantly proceeds to absorb, peer-review, edit, and publish 100 pages of 
 
theoretical physics
per day
,
five days a week  ,
52 weeks a year until
all 
one-billion exhaustive
 
pages of the encyclopedia have been reviewed, edited, completed, and published (note that ina weekly journal format, this would result in a 500-page edition of the journal each week).At such rates (500 pages per week, 52 weeks per year), how much time would be needed tocomplete publication of all one-billion pages? At five hundred pages of theoretical physics perweek, 52 weeks per year, the answer is
38,461 years
- which means that if one began this
 
editing
20,000 years ago
(
when ice was one-mile thick over Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin)
 
(and when
wooly mammoths
and
saber-toothed tigers
still roamed the earth) and one consci-entiously completed each and every 500-page review for each and every week for
all
20,000years
from then until now, one would only have
18,461
more 
years to go before all one-bill-ion pages of theoretical physics have been reviewed, edited, and published.
 And that is how many additional persons we
 
have been adding to our planet 
every twelve years
Let us then use our thought experiment to better assess the times in which we live. First, supposethat we take all of those one-billion pages of theoretical physics, 500 pages a week from each andevery week from all 38,461 years, and change each and every one of those pages into a humanbeing. Now suppose that we add all of those persons as extra individuals to the sustaining ecosys-tems of our planet every 12 years. Next, let us arm members of this skyrocketing J-curve withAK-47s, sport utility vehicles, chain saws, earth-movers, hydroelectric dams, nuclear wastes,greenhouse gases, heavy metals, double-bacon cheeseburgers, pesticides, and investment port-folios (one thinks of Jeffrey Sach’s memorable description of “
hunter-gatherers with machine-guns
”). Given each such multitude, so armed, so numerous, and consequently so dangerous, it islittle wonder that we are dismantling and eradicating our planet’s life-support machinery itself.
 
Featuring
Population’s dangerously-enormous mathematics
Population’s dangerously-enormous mathematics
How large is a Billion?
 
One of the most critical characteristics of the times in which we live is the fact that humankind’sworldwide population has grown from about one billion in 1830 to two billion in 1930 to morethan seven billion as of late 2011 (notice that we have added FIVE additional billions to our num-bers in less than one human lifetime).So exactly how ENORMOUS is each of our billions?Beginning with a world population of three billion in 1960, we reached four billion in 1975, andtwelve years after that (1987) we reached five billion, and twelve years after that (1999) our num-bers reached six billion, and twelve years after that (2011) we reached our seventh billion.
 Notice, then, that recently we have been adding an additional
BILLION
extra persons to our planet – repeatedly - every twelve years.
 
Since each one of us in each of our billions requires food and water, jobs, schools, and healthcare, to have any idea whatsoever of our time in history, we need to know exactly how large eachone of our billions is. And since we also inflict damage on our forests and lands and empty in-dustrial and societal wastes into earth’s razor-thin layers of atmosphere and seas, we need to beable to quantify how much total damage we have been inflicting on earth’s environment and life-support machinery.Despite these facts and their implications, our math schooling can sometimes leave us with littledefinitive appreciation of how UNIMAGINABLY LARGE a billion really is. The truly enormoussize of a billion therefore constitutes our principle topic in this article.For most of us, then, a
MILLION
and a
BILLION
are simply two very large numbers. If we couldearn a
million
dollars, that would be great, and a
billion
dollars would be even better. And whileit is true that both values are large, the reality is that the two numbers are enormously different.And, since data involving human population growth typically involves additional millions and ad-ditional billions, we must be able to distinguish between the two.Today we add an extra one
MILLION
people to our planet every five days, but we add an extra one
BILLION
people to our planet every twelve years. Between 1975 and 1987, for example, worldpopulation grew from four billion to five billion, and between 1987 and late 1999 it grew fromfive billion to six billion, and between 1999 and 2011, we grew from six billion to seven billion(UNDESA, 2004; 2011).Thus, to fully-appreciate the implications of repeatedly adding additional billions of persons toour population, over and over and over again, we must be comfortable with how enormously im-mense aBILLIONreally is.

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