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Significant Digits For Friday, Sept. 15, 2017

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.

85 percent

An abnormally warm winter caused the loss of 85 percent of Georgia’s peach crop. As world temperatures rise due to climate change, crops all over — whether it’s apples in Michigan or cherries in California — are at risk of loss due to premature blooms or dry winters. [FiveThirtyEight]

1,800 people

The entire island of Barbuda was evacuated ahead of Hurricane Irma, meaning the 62 square mile home of about 1,800 people is empty. It’s infrastructure has also been decimated by the storm, with about 95 percent of its structures sustaining damage. [USA Today]


Later today we’re going to hurl a satellite into Saturn. The Cassini-Huygens mission has been a major success, resulting in 3,948 scientific papers, 453,048 images taken, and six named moons discovered. You have any idea how hard it is to find a moon nobody else noticed? Yeah well Cassini did that like six times. Now it gets to be part of Saturn, which is pretty neat all things considered. [NASA]

700 million

New air conditioning units expected to be added by 2030, largely in developing countries. One issue yet to be solved is that additional air conditioning units are positively terrible for the environment, given that the hydroflourocarbons that they use as refrigerants have thousands of times the warming potential of more common greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. [The Verge]

$4.4 billion

Immigrating to the U.S. isn’t easy, but the rich have a leg up: The EB-5 visa allows investors to eventually obtain a green card with a $500,000 minimum investment in the U.S. In 2015, the value of those loans was $4.4 billion, up from $240 million in 2007, with 74 percent of that investment going to real estate. The great recession made foreign EB-5 related financing ideal for many real estate developers: They get a way better interest rate than commercial alternatives — 4 to 8 percent annually compared to 10 to 18 percent annually — because the actual ROI for the lender is a green card. [Bloomberg]

$58 billion

That’s the current estimate for the aggregate costs of Hurricane Irma in Florida, with a further $30 billion in damage to Cuba and the rest of the Caribbean. It’s important that Irma struck Marco Island rather than passing it 20 miles to the west, as the storm could have hit mainland Florida at a far more advanced strength and could have caused an additional $150 billion in damage to the state. [Bloomberg]

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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.