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At times the relentless repetition of telephone-number cash sums is overwhelming, but the overarching point is well made: we are in serious debt to the Earth.

What is telephone-number cash sums?

Source:theguardian

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In the context mentioned, the phrase refers to amounts of money that have 7-10 digits, i.e. telephone numbers. In other words, between 1 million and 10 billion (dollars.)

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I had never heard the term, but that's what I'd have come up with. Consider that I just checked and according to demonocracy.info, The U.S. government spends $7,264,020 per minute. In the U.S. a local phone number might look like '726-4020' and you can imagine that looking at what is spent per month or year, or our national debt would easily correspond to a full phone number like 18,887,264,020 : 1-888-726-4020 –  TecBrat May 15 at 3:43
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I imagine the phrase alludes to sums of money that are suitably large (for the sake of the argument) rather than having specifically 7-10 digits; in other words, a figure of speech. –  crw May 15 at 7:32

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