28 October 2011

The world was different when I was born

Many people are using the interactive feature at this BBC article today to find out where they are positioned in the history of the world.  I entered the world when it had about 1/3 the population it has today.  That's a huge change in one not-yet-completed lifetime.

My mom is 92.  Her entry point is obviously even further back down the curve:
She often comments (as I tend to do as well now that I'm getting older) about how so many things have changed in her lifetime.  If, when she was born, a 92-year old woman had been at her bedside, that woman would have been born in 1826, when the world population was under a billion.  And if you repeat by having just one more 92-year-old woman present when that woman was born, it takes her birth back to 1734 - the flat part of the graph, where the world population was a half-billion and unchanged for centuries.

So, within the sequential lifetimes of just three people, all of this population growth has occurred.   That's a staggering thought.


  1. I think you meant that world population in 1734 was a half-billion, not million. A half-million people was probably the population of London at that time.

  2. I doubt the graph takes into account the absolutely massive death toll from Spaniards and other explorers bringing diseases that wiped out possibly millions of native North/Central/South Americans.

    Was it you that blogged about the lost mega-city that stretched some 30 miles in the jungles of South America?

  3. The chart begins at 1500; is that "when history began," according to the BBC??

    --Swift Loris

  4. This is why there will be no second coming: classic case of "scope creep":
    Every time christ finishes another subdivision to comfortably house another million, another billion are born....

  5. I am the 5,441,181,797th

    Born in 1992.

    I've always been interested in the overpopulation issue. Currently, in Britain anyway, it's used by the BNP (the most far-right party) they often say the country is full, ect. It's an old type of politics that I often dismiss with most people.

    But in a 100 years time I really wonder how the world will have coped with the increasing number of us.

    Also I wonder when the over-population issue will move over from a fringe political issue to a main political issue and I only hope human race can deal with it in a peaceful way.

  6. @Ross: What I really "love" is that the politicians who like to claim overpopulation for resources, jobs and land is a reason to ban or severely restrict immigration tend also to be the ones who are rabidly against birth control when the same issues are brought up. So, in effect, what they are saying is that they are ok with overpopulation as long as it is "their" people and not some brown or yellow skinned foreigners.

  7. I was talking to my girlfriend about this yesterday - literally.

    My guesstimates yesterday were off a bit, but not terribly. I'd looked up world population a couple of years ago, so had some idea what they were.

    But the big thing to me was that they say 83 billion people have lived on Earth since the beginning of time. From my earlier search, I knew that the estimates for earlier centuries (and millennia) vary substantially. Still, in principle, the interest of people will be served by this interactive page. It's a cool one.


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