750 million square kilometers August 31, 2008Posted by dorigo in internet, news, science.
Tags: scientific illiteracy
The figure above is the area of Amazon forest which has been destroyed during the last thirty years, according to this article I just read on the web site of Il Corriere della Sera, the best-selling newspaper in Italy:
“Negli ultimi trent’anni, in Amazzonia, sono stati rasi al suolo per sempre 750 milioni di chilometri quadrati di foresta, un’area pari a due volte e mezzo quella dell’Italia.”
(During the last thirty years, in Amazonia, 750 million square kilometers of forest has been destroyed, an area equal to two and a half times that of Italy.)
Seven hundred and fifty million square kilometers. Little less than twice the area of the whole planet. I wonder how the reporter came out with this number. Did he multiply the number of years by the area destroyed per year, dropping in a factor of a thousand ? I do not even want to know.
I cannot express my depression for the illiteracy to math -and in general to science- which I see growing a bit everywhere. A mistake of three orders of magnitude is not unheard of, but the fact that it happens in a major newspaper, and is not taken off quickly from its web site, is really something to ponder on. There would be books to write about the topic, but I will observe a minute of silence instead.