Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Setting a curved record straight

If you have heard, like me, that there now are more people alive than ever have been alive before on Earth, you have heard a myth that seems very resistant and impossible to kill off.  Apparently somebody in the 1970s uttered this false fact, and it has made the rounds many times now in articles and books.

The truth, as calculated by the Population Reference Bureau, is that "about 5.8 percent of all people ever born are alive today."  (That is today = year 2002). Read their article, it is very interesting how they calculated it, taking birthrates and death rates, world population sizes, average age of death, etc. In total, they estimate that 106 billion people have lived on Earth until now.

Imagine all those millions and billions of people!  I think it is strange we don't run into old archeological bones more often than we do. 

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