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1. Do you agree with the following quotes? Why? Why not?

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. (Albert
Einstein)
It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually
mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the
surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and
multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to
spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same
pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet.
You're a plague and we are the cure. (Agent Smith, the Matrix)

2. Match
1 Upstart a misery, filth
2 Biomass b separation, split
3 back-of-the-envelope c to dominate, suppress, stunt
4 apex (adj) d to explain, to represent
5 Veneer e impossible, unbelievable
6 Squalor f newly rich, social climber
7 to account for g to hide, disassemble, feign
8 the smarts (inf) h top, the best, dominant
9 to dwarf i faade, appearance
10 Inconceivable j all living matter
11 to belie k the intelligence
12 Divergence l rough, superficial

4. Read and insert


Making Sense of 7 billion people a) beneath our
On the last day of October 2011, the global population of 1)__________ civilized veneer
order will reach 7 billion.
What does it mean?
In itself, not much: Seven billion is just a one-digit flicker from
6,999,999,999. But the number carries a deep existential weight, b)We are the .00018
symbolizing themes central to humanitys relationship with the rest of life percent, and we use
on Earth. 20 percent
For context, lets consider a few other numbers. 2)___________. Thats
approximately how many Homo sapiens existed 200,000 years ago, the
date at which scientists mark the divergence of our species from the rest
of Homo genus, of which we are the sole survivors. c) the God species
From those humble origins, humans thanks to our smarts, long-distance
running skills, verbal ability and skill with plants proliferated at an
almost inconceivable rate.
Some may note that, in a big-picture biological sense, 3) ___________: In
total biomass, ants weigh as much as we do, oceanic krill weigh more than d) Crops cover some
both of us combined, and bacteria dwarf us all. Those are interesting 12 percent of Earths
factoids, but they belie a larger point. land surface
Ants and krill and bacteria occupy an entirely different ecological level. A
more appropriate comparison can be made between humans and other
apex predators, which is precisely the ecological role humans evolved to
play, and which 4)_________ we still are. e) If not, there
According to a back-of-the-envelope calculation, there are about 1.7 million wouldnt be 7 billion of
other top-level, land-dwelling, mammalian predators on Earth. Put another us
way: For every non-human mammal sharing our niche, there are more than
4,000 of us.
In short, humans are Earths great omnivore, and our omnivorous nature
can only be understood at global scales. Scientists estimate that 83
percent of the terrestrial biosphere is under direct human influence. f) And that, in the end,
5)__________, and account for more than one-third of terrestrial biomass. is the significance of 7
One-third of all available fresh water is diverted to human use. billion
Altogether, roughly 20 percent of Earths net terrestrial primary
production, the sheer volume of life produced on land on this planet every
year, is harvested for human purposes and, to return to the comparative
factoids, its all for a species that accounts for .00018 percent of Earths
non-marine biomass. g) The first: 10,000
6)____________. The purpose of that number isnt to induce guilt, or blame
humanity. The point of that number is perspective. At this snapshot in lifes
history, at per the insights of James C. Rettie, who, in a scientific fable,
imagined life on Earth as a yearlong movie a few minutes after
11:45 p.m. on December 31, we are big. Very big. h) humanity has rivals
However, it must be noted that, as weve become big, 7)___________. When
modern Homo sapiens started scrambling out of East Africa, the average
extinction rate of other mammals was, in scientific terms, one per million
species years. Its 100 times that now, a number that threatens to
I) much of life had to
make non-human life on Earth collapse.
get out of the way
In regard to that number, environmentalists usually say that humanitys
fate depends on the life around us. Thats debatable. Humans are
adaptable and perfectly capable of living in squalor, without clean air or
clean water or birds in the trees. 8)___________. Conservation is a moral
question, and probably not a utilitarian imperative.
J) an upstart branch of
But the fact remains that, for all of humanity to experience a material
the primate
standard of living now enjoyed by a tiny fraction, wed need four more
Earths. Its just not possible.9)___________. Its a challenge.
In just a few minutes of evolutionary time, humanity has become a force to
be measured in terms of the entirety of life itself. How do
we,10)____________, want to live? For the answer, check back at 8 billion.

5. Answer
1. What is the importance of the number 10,000?
2. What were the traits that helped humans survive?
3. Why haven't humanitys rivals driven us to extinction?
4. What is the impact of humans on the biosphere? How does it manifest itself?
5. What is the rapport between humans and the rest of the biomass?
6. Why is James C. Rettie's story mentioned in the article?
7. What does the existence of squalor demonstrate?
8. What is a God species?
9. Why check back at 8 billion?

Factoids:
1999 23% 7,000 1800
70% 195 53 5

7 billion is a big number. There are 7 billion of us, speaking more than a)________ languages, in
b)____________ countries
By the end of 2011, you will be one of the 7 billion people living on earth.
It would take 200 years just to count to 7 billion out loud. 7 billion steps would take you 133 times
around the globe.
In c)__________ the worlds population was 1 billion. 130 years later, in 1930, it became 2 billion.
1960 3 billion
1974 4 billion
1987 5 billion
d)_________ 6 billion
2011 7 billion
In 2054, it could be 9 billion. About every second e)_______ people are born and 2 die.
And nearly everywhere we're living longer. In 2010, the average man lived 69 years. In 1960, the
average person lived f)_______ years. In 2008, for the first time ever, more of us lived in cities than
in rural areas.
A megacity has over 10 million inhabitants. In 1975, there were 3 megacities in the world (Mexico
City, Tokyo, and New York). Now there are 21.
By 2050, g)_______ or us will be living in urban areas. But we don't take as much space as you'd
think. Standing shoulder to shoulder, all 7 billion of us would fill the city of Los Angeles. So, it's not
space we need. It's balance.
5% of us consume h)________ of the world's energy. 13% of us don't have clean drinking water. 38%
of us lack adequate sanitation.