The Guardian’s only out by one million times here

So, The Guardian tells us about the White House agreeing to crush the US stocks of confiscated ivory:

White House to crush 6m tons of seized ivory

Six million tonnes? That’s a lot of ivory there.

The Obama administration said on Monday it would destroy all 6m tons of its stocks of seized ivory

They really do mean 6 million tonnes. That’s an awful lot of elephants.

The Philippines crushed 15m tons of seized ivory beneath industrial rollers earlier this year.

No, they really do think that ivory comes in the millions of tonnes.

Although it doesn’t you know:

Six tons of confiscated elephant tusks to be crushed

Well done to the arts graduates at The G. Only out by a factor of one million this time.

23 comments on “The Guardian’s only out by one million times here

  1. Maybe the Americans used “m” for metric and the Guardian’s work experience interns got confused?

  2. Some brief research:

    Average weight of elephants across species: between 3,000 and 7,000 kg, say 5,000kg.

    Average tusk weight: 10-12kg, say 11kg. Multiply by two, so 22kg.

    6m tonnes of ivory is 6 billion kilos. Divide by 22 and you get 272,727,272.8 elephants, assuming a 100% conversion rate of ‘tusk’ to ‘ivory’ (I know nothing about it).

    That’s a lot of elephants.

  3. Isn’t the best way to stop killing of wild elephants for ivory to flood the market with the stuff they already have?

  4. JamesV – “Isn’t the best way to stop killing of wild elephants for ivory to flood the market with the stuff they already have?”

    I believe Homer Simpson once said so. But that doesn’t mean he was wrong.

    Actually the best way to stop the killing of wild elephants is to allow a sensible cull based on real data and numbers – with the proceeds going to the local villagers. Then they have a real interest in protecting the animals and taking a sustainable harvest. Everyone knows this.

    But these sort of programmes have taken a hit in recent times. The Greenies got to the US Congress and they refused to allow US funding of CAMPFIRE for instance. Which has worked quite well:

    http://www.fao.org/docrep/u5200e/u5200e06.htm

    But of course it worked quite well in Zimbabwe. Can anyone guess what happened to it?

    http://www.thezimbabwean.co/news/36256/campfire-project-under-threat-.html

    Needless to say I bet the Guardian hated it.

  5. Why crush the stuff? The poor elephants are not going to be brought back to life. And by restricting the supply, as with drugs, so with the killing of these beasts – it will continue, and continue to be a trade controlled and run by criminals.

  6. I wrote to The Guardian once after some fatuous contributor had claimed the infinitude of primes was an article of faith amongst mathematicians. I pointed out that a proof had been around since Euclid, at least, and that a scientist making a similarly stupid claim about the arts would never got past an editor

    Letter wasn’t published of course.

  7. Surely the best way to stop poaching would be a prize to find a way to cheaply fake ivory? Then it would be possible to flood the market with fakes.

  8. David –

    …a prize to find a way to cheaply fake ivory

    Yes, they tried that in the nineteenth century when a shortage of ivory was endangering the supply of billiard balls. The result was celluloid. According to legend, it had an disconcerting tendency to explode on impact, no doubt causing more than one gentleman to spill his port.

  9. Roll Up! Roll Up!
    See the Elephant!
    We keep it in this matchbox…look. In the corner. Behind the rhinoceros.

  10. @ David Jones
    Euclid did geometry, but I worked out a proof for myself while I was in short trousers – multiply all primes by each other and add one (if it *is* divisible that can only be by two numbers that you haven’t thought of)

  11. …if it *is* divisible that can only be by two numbers that you haven’t thought of

    I’m thinking of number 1!

  12. @ MyBurningEars
    Thanks!
    No-one ever told me that.
    Honestly! I had assumed that the proof was far more complicated and intellectual than the one I had dreamed up

  13. Say we only know 2 primes, 3 and 5. Multiply them is 15, add 1 is 16. Divisible by 2, 4, and 8. That’s 3 numbers already.

    In fact, won’t you always get an odd number if you multiply all odd numbers, thus a multiple of lots of odd numbers plus one is always even, thus not prime?

  14. Say we only know 2 primes, 3 and 5.

    That’s not quite what’s being said, though.

    If you know 3 and 5 you can’t ignore 1 and 2 since you have to multiply together all the primes you know. Hence (1×2×3×5)+1=31

  15. Err, no, James. If all you have is 3 and 5 then you would indeed multiply and add one to get 16, at which point, bingo! you have found a new prime, 2. MB: one is not a prime (at least not in number theory). It breaks the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic (that every number has a unique prime factorisation).

    Euclid’s proof runs like this: take some list of primes (it doesn’t have to be all the primes less than a certain number, any finite list will do). Multiply them together and add one. This new number is not divisible by any of the primes in your list. Hence it is either prime, or it is divisible by another prime not in the list. In each case, we have demonstrated the existence of a hitherto undiscovered prime. Add this to our list and repeat. The process will never terminate. Hence the primes are infinite.

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