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The global population is expected to reach 7 billion

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Denzel Musumba

Denzel Musumba


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The global population is expected to reach 7 billion Monday — just 12 years after hitting 6 billion — and the milestone has many pondering the complex challenges associated with billions more people on Earth in the coming years.

Some are also pondering something else: Just how big is 7 billion really?

It’s a number that’s easy to underestimate.

On the surface, it doesn’t look much different than 6 billion, either in written form or numeric form. There are nine zeros in 6,000,000,000, just like there are nine zeros in 7,000,000,000. But if you counted every number in between them, it would take more than 30 years. Yes, three decades.

And when was the last time you used 7 billion in everyday life? Have you ever eaten 7 billion of something? Have you ever owned 7 billion of anything? Early this year, there were only 140 people in the world who were worth $7 billion, according to Forbes magazine.

“The number is just outside of our usual everyday scale of thinking,” said Klaus Volpert, an associate professor of mathematics at Villanova University. “We count to 10 on our fingers and that’s our scale, you know? Even counting to a million is already kind of outside of the everyday experience. And then once you go past a million, it becomes a blur.”

Here are some different ways that might help you envision the enormousness of 7 billion: Click here