Did you know that you could fit the whole population of Wales into about 44 thousand double decker buses?

Did you know that you could fit the whole population of Wales into about 44 thousand double decker buses? *

How amazing is that?

And did you know that if you stacked those packed buses on top of each other they would reach about halfway to the moon?

Awesome! But I don’t advise it.

Well, apart from managing the crush difficulties at the bottom of the pile, and the need for oxygen and space suits and freeze dried food and, well, everything a double decker bus from the valleys would require to survive in space towards the top of the pile; it would be a logistically expensive nightmare of an experiment that you just couldn’t carry out in this day and age; even for a clever pants like Richard Branson.

But it’s pretty amazing, right?

Can you just imagine all those buses, filled with packed lunches and children needing the toilet, and old people giving evils to those sat  in the special seats near the front, and the ‘youths’ gathered at the back looking to record a fight on their iPhones. And the singing, you could guarantee those buses would be singing!

Just imagine the how happy the newsrooms would be describing this spectacle?  Wales-Double Decker buses-Moon. They’re only Evil Knievel and the statue of liberty away from a full house!

By the way, three double decker buses end to end are about the length of a fully grown blue whale if it makes life easier for you.

Alright a more down to earth example; how about if the buses were parked (quite closely) together on  football pitches, well they would fill about 131 of those pitches, with no need for mission control, or zero gravity toilets.

Wonderful, what a wonderful image, 44 thousand double decker buses, (or nearly fifteen thousand blue whales) filled with (singing) welsh folk, upsetting 2882 footballers, (all wondering why the hell they dragged themselves out of bed on a Saturday morning when they should be at home counting their money or shaving their chests or something), and 131 referees frantically flicking through their rule books looking to see what punishment the Welsh bus drivers could be given. Not that I’m entirely sure there are enough double decker buses to carry out this experiment, or Welsh bus drivers for that matter. The bookmakers would be up in arms (as they counted their money and shaved the backs of their hands)


It doesn’t matter, please bear with me.

Incidentally Wales is about the size of 2,881,331 football pitches.

I bring to your attention the buses and the Welsh and the football pitches, and blue whales and what have you because I have noticed that I seem to have spent a large portion of my life measuring ‘things ‘against other ‘things’, utilizing ‘known‘quantities, such as double-decker buses, the distance to the moon, the statue of liberty, a football pitch, against other ‘things’, those scarily unknown ‘larger’ quantities.

I feel that somehow, perhaps I have been conned.

For some reason, despite how magnificent our brains appear to be, it seems we struggle with imaging or picturing large quantities of anything at all, or at least that is what we are led to believe by the newspapers, and who am I to argue with the Daily Mail.

In order to break those (mind bending) large quantities into smaller more manageable chunks we are assisted by the media outlets by being shown ‘infographics’ (because words are sometimes quite difficult to read) of what that huge unimaginable quantity looks like broken down into those easy to digest small bite sized chunks.

For example:

You might read an article about a woman who has lost 100kg of weight in about a week (just in time for her wedding?) Who for reasons best left to be discussed to another time has decided that a healthy balanced diet (or lock on the fridge) and regular exercise is not sufficient and has had to endure invasive surgery to restrict the amount of food that would fit in her stomach. I can think of slightly less intrusive and cheaper ways of restricting the amount of food that enters her stomach, but again let’s not go down that route today.

Anyway, in order for us (with the small brains) to grasp the humongous amount of weight she has lost, and good on her for doing something about it, (thankfully in this article they spare us the images of the football pitch amount of excess skin she is left with after her unhealthy and expensive express approach to weight loss), we are shown a ‘stock-photo’ of 100 bags of sugar, each weighing a kilo, (get it? 100kilograms), so we can picture what her ‘amazing’ weight loss  looks like.

Jeremy, why have you taken a picture of a huge pile of bags of sugar?

It’s a statement about slavery, Steven. It is a statement about how slavery never ended and we as a consumerist society have successfully translated illegal slavery into a more socially acceptable and hidden form.

Well we’ll never sell it, what are we going to do with all this sugar you idiot, who wants to see what a hundred bags of sugar looks like, you’re fired?


Hello, yes, really, ‘the’ Daily Mail? Well it’s funny you should ask.

Jeremy! Jeremy?


I know what a fat person looks like, I can see the picture, I know what a skinny (and now flappy) person looks like, I can also see the picture (and imagine the flaps), what might be more accurate (and certainly more interesting) is to show how many Welsh children could make up the 100kgs, or just show a wheelbarrow full of lard, with a double decker bus in the background.  The sugar is really not necessary.

Anyway, away from whales and back to Wales

When I read about an area of rain forest  20,000km2 square that is destroyed in the Amazon to make way for grazing land for cows, or is chopped down for timber, or even just ‘accidentally’ burnt to the ground, I don’t need to know it was an area the size of Wales, in theory it is also twice the size of Yorkshire, or a bit less than the size of Belgium, or in fact exactly the size of El Salvado, or whatever, it doesn’t make it easier to understand, in fact it makes it a little less immense, a slightly bit less worrying.

20,000km2, oh my God that is incredible, oh Wales, really, just Wales, well OK, that I can imagine, in fact well, isn’t Wales really small, it’s just a bit at the side of England, isn’t it?

Incidentally the amount of rainforest destroyed every year is about (roughly) the size of England (not including Wales) (or Scotland, or Northern Ireland)

Which is really quite a lot when you think about it.

Anyway, it’s big. How about you tell me how many trees were destroyed, tell me how many animals, insects, birds lost their habitat, tell me how many people are affected by the loss of forest, give me the truth, give me the dirty facts and the dirty figures, don’t worry, my little mind can cope.

Let the people of Wales sleep in their beds at night knowing they aren’t just a benchmark, or bags of sugar that we measure environmental disasters against.

I don’t need the sugar.

How about this?

Did you know that approximately (give or take a bus load) 22,000 children below the age of 5 die each and every day due to poverty in our world..

That is 22,000 children each and every day.


Did you know? I’m assuming you did.

They die due to a whole host of things, lack of access to clean drinking water, lack of access to medicine, through famine, diarrhoea and well, all the rest, you’ve seen the adverts and you’ve read the leaflets, you know this already.

22,000 children die each and every day in our world.

In OUR world.

That’s just over 8 million children a year.

Why don’t we ever see that broken down into easy to digest manageable chunks in the news?

Why? Because it’s too big. In fact it’s so big they don’t even bother.

Why don’t we see every night at the end of the news instead of “and finally…harry the hamster from Swindon makes his debut on the Ukulele.”

We see

“….and finally today 22,000 children died today from causes that are completely preventable, and in other news harry the hamster from Swindon…”

Because It is just too big, they can’t deal with it, and to be fair we can’t deal with it either

It cannot be broken down into ‘bite-sized-manageable chunks

It is yesterday’s news, they can’t relate it in buses, or football pitches, or trips the moon., or Welsh folk., and they certainly can’t repeat  the same message day after day.

Because it happens day after day.

And so they don’t, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t still there.

22,000 children per day

That’s just over 8 million children a year.

(give or take a bus load)

Which is equivalent to about:

  • 114,714 packed double decker buses, covering 342 football pitches
  • About the population of Austria dying outright in one year
  • The population of New Zealand and  Ireland combined dying outright in one year
  • Ten times the number of children born in the UK each year
  • Wembley stadium filled to capacity 89 times over dying,
  • 579 classes of children per day dying
  • 96 primary schools per day completely dying

Imagine if at the end of the nine o’clock news they announced

“…and finally, today, hundreds of  gun-men independently entered 95 Primary Schools across the UK and killed all the children in all the classes of those schools…current estimates at the death toll are around  22 thousand”

It’s too big.

How could we explain that in easy to digest, manageable chunks? Would we fit them into double decker buses? Fill football pitches? Aim for the moon?

It’s just too big.

We couldn’t and we can’t

We are just so overwhelmed by the size of that unnecessary slaughter that we just don’t bother; we brush it under the carpet…

It’s big, really big, and it’s so fucking big that we can’t imagine how fucking big it is

Our tiny minds cannot comprehend how fucking big it is.

We can comprehend smaller numbers, individual cases of unexpected death,we can concentrate on them, especially as they are nearer to home, closer to our understanding,

But we brush the rest under the carpet; we push it to the back of our minds.

Because it so fucking big

8 million children

22,000 per day

It took you ten minutes to read this

(Give or take)

One hundred and fifty three children died whilst you were reading this,

(Give or take)














*please accept that these figures are approximates/rounded-up/made up/there about, give or take in the region of ‘ish’. They aren’t meant to be a definitive, or even meant to be clever, my internet connection is about as fast as an old person choosing from a menu in a beefeater (and then they always order the lasagne and then complain that it is too hot), and I just don’t have that amount of time to wait 15minutes for every Google search to come up. So if I’m a bit out on my numbers, and you happen to be an expert in the dimensions and capacity of the  Route Master/Blue Whale, give me a break, you get the jist of what I am saying. If on the other hand you want to constructively comment on this then please do so.

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