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Review: National Geographic’s ‘7 Billion’ for i0S

It’s estimated that in 1800 there were one billion people on Earth; in 1930, two billion, and by the end of 2011 we will reach the seven billion mark. What does seven billion look like, and what does it mean for human and animal life, and for our planet?

National Geographic Magazine has been exploring these questions throughout the year in a series of articles in it’s print issues, and has just released a companion app and an iBook on the topic. The iBook, a 235-page text-only title, is available for $2.99. The app includes essays, photos, charts, maps, and graphs, and right now it’s free. Danielle Farinacci reviews the app below.

Title: 7 Billion
How Your World Will Change
National Geographic Society 
Designed and Produced by:
Susan Park Lee
Cover Illustration by: Bryan Christie
iOS 3.2, requires 3.2 or later
Free (for a limited time)

Gr 7 Up-Acknowledging that the world’s population will reach seven billion during 2011, National Geographic Magazine launched a year-long editorial series focusing on population. This app is a companion to that series and it’s stunning collection of photographs, eye-opening charts, and insightful articles and videos paints a broad picture of the impact of population growth on the planet. Including essays tackling such topics as the acidic effect of pollution on ocean creatures and sea levels, the desperate need to preserve heirloom seeds to feed growing populations, and the work of strong-willed women who are changing the face of family planning in developed countries, this app is all that readers have come to expect from National Geographic, and more.

An introductory video highlights the realities of 7 billion people on the planet. Interactive statistical maps include “The Shape of Seven Billion,” which presents growth and consumption by country in relation to the impact on resources. “Where and how we live” relates issues of life expectancy, sanitation, education, fertility, technology use, and carbon emissions to income levels, while “The Infant Formula” illustrates that as prosperity grows, birth rates decline. Numerous other colorful and informative graphics are also offered.

This thought-provoking title will have wide value and use in an educational setting, specifically for secondary students in statistics, civics, and environmental science courses. Students studying social justice issues and population growth will also benefit from the information in this rich resource.

An illustrated table of contents can be accessed from the same screen as the introductory video, or by tapping the top of the screen from anywhere within the app. Be forewarned: it’s easy to get lost for hours in this fascinating work.—Danielle Farinacci, Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, San Francisco, CA