In blog posts, editorials and presentations, you may have seen the commitment I’ve put forth for the PADI family to create a billion Torchbearers – leaders – over the next 50 years to actively work towards a better balance between humanity and the ocean. That’s a billion souls who care deeply about healing the oceans and steering towards our preferred future.

While a billion may seem extraordinarily huge, it’s not a big number when we consider the world’s population and what it takes to cause, retain and evolve social change. Today, a billion Torchbearers would be about one in seven people, and in 50 years, based on projected global population growth, about one in ten. And while a billion is the PADI family’s and diving’s commitment to changing how society thinks about, interacts with and respects the oceans, it’s only about half of what we need today, and a bit less than that in 50 years (not that we can wait 50 years).

Social science research finds that it takes about 25 percent of a population (in this case, the world’s population) advocating a social change to “tip” the group in the new direction. Based on this, we need about 1.93 billion strong ocean advocates right now, growing to a minimum 2.5 billion actively leading Torchbearers by 2069 to keep ocean preservation thinking and behavior in place. Fortunately, contributing a billion people to this social movement is more achievable than it may sound at first. Look at this:

Based on certifications, Discover Scuba® Diving experiences, PADI Club® membership, PADI Professional numbers, etc. – we can estimate that the PADI family is about 29 million. Ignoring the “snowball effect” (which works in our favor) this means that if each of us, on average, converts just one new person into a Torchbearer per year, we will create a billion in about 35 years.

dive buddies high fives

But the fact is, many of you bring dozens of new Torchbearers into our ranks annually, and many of these new leaders will do the same, as will they, and so on. The numbers accelerate as the “snowball” grows, even with inevitable attrition due to passing away. If every person on PADI social media influenced 250 friends to take a constructive, ocean friendly action, we would have one billion Torchbearers very quickly. From this perspective, suddenly a billion isn’t so big, is it?

So, let’s do this. Who will you first invite to seek adventure, and save the ocean?

Dr. Drew Richardson
PADI President & CEO

*Let me acknowledge that originally “a billion” meant a million million (1012 or one trillion in popular terminology) and was still widely used until comparatively recently in the UK and other areas, and is still advocated by some. But, for better or worse, the 1,000 million (109) definition has become generally accepted.

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