Daily Archives: October 31, 2011

Fun with GIS #95: Seven Billion

World population has hit 7 billion, according to the Population Reference Bureau. It’s a stunning figure, especially when you think about having added a billion in only 12 years, and the previous billion in only a dozen years before that, and we’re on track to add another billion in just another dozen years.

7 billion is so large that it’s hard to fathom. If you counted up from 1, adding one number each second, by the end of a year you wouldn’t even have 32 million; it would take over 2000 years to count to 7 billion at that pace. If you counted the number of inches around Earth at the Equator, it’s not quite 1.6 billion, meaning four trips around earth counting every inch still wouldn’t get you 7 billion.

Esri has published a powerful map story about this milestone. But even these maps can’t really do full justice to the situation, because a choropleth map makes the countries look uniform across their geography, and we know that population density varies.

Try this map, using a map service that CIESIN constructed from various sources.

View Larger Map in ArcGIS Online

Can your students construct a map or presentation that highlights the challenges coming from continued population growth? Which countries face the greatest challenges? Why? How far do your students expect any one country’s challenge to extend? Students need to think about the many challenges facing the planet, and begin thinking what they will do to help meet them.

- Charlie Fitzpatrick, Esri Education Manager

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