Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Billions and Billions

Your lifespan will bear witness to the end of three billion lives; it will also witness the beginning of seven billion lives.

I started thinking about the life and death of humans on Earth, and after looking into it, I found some interesting results. Obviously one must be cautious about extrapolation, but I am underestimating the numbers. Using myself as the template:
The population of the Earth in 1979 (my birth) was 4.376 billion (or 4.4 in 1980 or 4.3 in 1978)
Life expectancy at birth is currently 56 years at birth for the world, and 79 for Canadians.
For greater relevance, a Canadian male (me) in 1979 would be expected to live in 71.6 years (I did some math).
All things being equal, I will live longer than everyone who was born before me, indicating at least 4 billion people will die before I do.

Using 71 years I will probabilistically live to until 2050, when the world population will likely be 9.2 billion (or 8.9 billion)
So... if there will be 9 billion people on the planet when I die, and 4 billion were alive when I was born, one could conclude that 9 billion lives will begin throughout my life. Of course, because these data are hard to meausure, I low balled it to 3 billion and 7 billion just to be safe.

Now some interesting implications of these numbers. If you live to be 80 (conservative) you will live for 29200 days (80 x 365). Let's exaggerate and assume you meet 100 new people a day, every day of your life. That would be 2.9 million people. Consequently, 100 times that number is the amount of people that will die during those days. It blows my mind! To think that 100 times the people I meet in my life (friends, acquaintences, people you pass in the street) will die. (Additionally, 200 times that number will denote the new lives on the planet.)

At smaller intervals, using the 3 and 7 billion and assume a 70 year lifespan (or 2.2 billion seconds)
Every 1.36 seconds someone will die.
Every 3.17 seconds someone will be born.

This is the world in which you live. Life and death is all around you. It is all precious.

For a breakdown of Canadian deaths in 1996.
If you want estimates from -10000 to 1950...
For a shocking feeling which almost removes the meaning it is supposed to convey. (for specificity)


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