Give big numbers meaning. One great example included.

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Have you heard? Apparently a century or so of rampant economic growth and disregard for Mother Nature has us all in peril and the planet’s dying quick. No, really. We’ll at least now you know. More bad news: fixing this mess will cost a LOT of money.

One team of erstwhile scientists has tallied up how many dollars it would take to right these wrongs and this week issued a report which values the worth of the threatened environment in the trillions and the cost to fix it in the tens of billions annually.

One problem with presenting numbers so big, about issues so overwhelming and remote is that they can become meaningless. It becomes too easy for a fat westerner, sitting in front of his plasma, smartphone in one hand, Diet Coke in the other to say; “Whatever.”

It’s the copywriter’s role to make the figures hit home with audiences.

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What a cunning way to explain how achieveable this HUGE task actually is. Kudos BirdLife International.

Left is how BirdLife International’s copywriter brought meaning to the numbers. Who cares if nature’s intrinsic value has nothing to do with soft drinks? It works.

Two omnipresent Australian examples are the MCG – which is used thus: “The disease affects 200,000 people – enough to fill the MCG twice over.” And Sydney Harbour which is used thus: “The desalination plant creates enough briney waste water to fill Sydney Harbour three times.” Not bad, but it’s time to find some new examples as good as this one.

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