Think of a number…

The government churns out reams of numbers about everything from the economy to farming and football, but sometimes the figures computed are so large as to render them almost meaningless.

Take for example the latest figures released by the Department for Transport which show that British motorists travelled an extra five billion miles on the roads in 2000/2001.

Five billion, what a ludicrously enormous number, when you consider that an entire trip around the earth is only a mere 25,000 miles, and even if you drove to and from the local Chinese takeaway non-stop for the rest of your life you would never ever get close.

Even if you take a wider perspective, a really wide one, it still seems pretty daft.

Consider for example, that the distance to the moon is 238,900 miles so a return trip to our lunar neighbour would be 477,800. Divide that into the extra five billion miles travelled and you get 10.5 million trips to the moon every year.

On the other hand, companies like BP and Shell must be delighted with the enormous increase – one can only imagine how many more trips to the gas pumps this must mean!

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