"..a bardy view!"

What’s Your Number? 7 Billion and Counting!

Seven billionAs I write, the 7th billion human on the planet will have been born.

The "billion" in this case is the American billion not the British billion which is the equivalent to a million million (i.e. 1,000,000,000,000). The American billion equates to a thousand million (1,000,000,000).

There is a similar disparity to the meaning of trillion. The British trillion used to mean a million million million (1,000,000,000,000,000,000) whereas the American trillion is a million million (1,000,000,000,000).

Now that I have grabbed your attention with all these boring numbers – the differences are significant.

A million million is very different from a thousand million. But why does it matter? Well it matters a great deal to economists, governments and academics. It matters a great deal to the United Nations, and more specifically the United Nations Population Fund.

7 Billion is a figure which draws attention. But what does it mean? After all, if it was a British billion it would mean there were 7 million million people on the planet, which there clearly isn't. Indeed, if the British billion was actually used, there would be far fewer than 7 billion people on the planet. Confused? Think about it. It's a question of zeros.

If a farmer in the USA had one billion apples and exported them to a British farmer, the recipient would say that he was short changed. He would have expected one million million, not a thousand million. The British farmer would have factored in his costs, and employed sufficient people to manage it. He would have ensured sufficient labour and expenses. If he was responsible for feeding his labour force, he would realise that he didn't need so many people, because he got a lot less apples and didn't need to provide so much resources. He had a surplus to requirements.

Lets reverse the situation. The British farmer exports one billion apples to his counterpart in the USA. The USA farmer is expecting 1000 million apples, has likewise factored his costs and employed a sufficient labour force and resources to feed them, but suddenly discovers that he has got 100 times more than he expected, and realises that he doesn't have the capacity to deal with it. He has a deficit to requirements.

What does he do? Does he seek more labour, and even if he can find it, does he have enough food to feed them? Of course the problem is that there never was a problem, the only problem was that the trade and definitions were misunderstood.

Lets replace the apples with people. 1000 million people are very different from 1 million million people. Everyone knows what one million is. A billion by all the laws of mathematics state that it is one million million. A zero after 100 becomes a thousand, a zero after that becomes ten thousand, a zero after that becomes one hundred thousand, and a zero after that becomes one million and so on until twelve (not nine) zeros become a billion. Simple.

So as far as I'm concerned, the UN should adopt the British billion, but unfortunately for them they wouldn't be able to employ a load of free-loading bureaucrats and spend stacks of money proclaiming and lecturing the significance of the magic "7". 

Twelve years ago they were celebrating the 6th billion birth with great hoo ha! So another 1000 million have been born since. They need to get a grip on this. That's not a billion! It's actually 83 million a year by their reckoning. Mortality rates suggest that 55 million people die globally every year. Statistics are open to various interpretation, but are we to believe that the earth cannot contain or sustain an average mean population increase of 28 million year on year? 

An English billion would put things into perspective, but that wouldn't suit the UN agenda. 

We really must stop following this propagandist doom and gloom onslaught on our senses. There's a lot of people on this world for sure, but I suggest that it is the ability of human ingenuity and goodness which has furthered the species, and their ability to strive for technological and medical advances which has got us this far.

We should all be proud of that.

Incidentally, I was the 76,231,243,126 human being ever to be born. 

If you want to know what number you are visit here.

Just remember that you are much more than a number!



October 30, 2011 - Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Education, General, History, Science | , , , , , , , ,


  1. Couldn’t do it as I’m just a number.


    Comment by spookmoor | February 13, 2013 | Reply

  2. You got the point!


    Comment by Bar De Ness | February 14, 2013 | Reply

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