Monday, February 13, 2012

the next billion

Excerpt from the book Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas Friedman

In the next twelve years alone, the world's population is expected to swell by roughly another billion people, and many of them will become new consumers and producers. When that happens, the law of large numbers starts to kick in - everything starts to add up to huge. For instance, what if, once that newest billion are all here, we gave each of them a sixty-watt incandescent light bulb?

Each bulb doesn't weigh much - roughly 0.7 ounces with the packaging - but a billion of them together weigh around 20,000 metric tons, or about the same as 15,000 Priuses. Now let's turn them on. If they're all on at the same time, it'd be 60,000 megawatts. Luckily, [they] will only use their bulbs four hours per day, so we're down to 10,000 megawatts at any moment. Yikes! looks like we'll still need twenty or so new 500-megawatt coal-burning power plants - just so the next billion people can turn a light on!

As told by David Douglas, vice president for eco-responsibility for Sun Microsystems.


Yikes! and am still wondering how many such yikes! stuff awaits for the law of big numbers to take over everything!


1 comment:

SuZ said...

Future looks bleak...Numbers like this makes me lose hope :(