Where do I fit into the 7 billion?

(image: ABC News)

On Monday, according to the UN, the world’s population hit and passed 7 billion. That is the highest global population ever, and projections are that the rate will continue to increase, and pass 9 billion by 2050. A 2 billion increase within just under 40 years isn’t actually that much, when you consider that the population passed 6 billion in 1999. We are in the middle of a population boom, that will likely slow down as a result of some weird things that are happening as a result of this unprecedented growth. The infants being born now will grow up in a world that has never been so technological, so populated and under such pressure. Climate change, water and food security, ageing, healthcare and birth will all provide enormous challenges to future generations – especially when they occur simultaneously. There is an analysis on the ABC News website that outlines these and more challenges for a growing world. It’s a bit of an extended vox-pop thing with some academics from UNSW and UniMelb, but at the very least there are some cool photos.

In the midst of all these slightly depressing predictions about the future, there is some fun to be had. And I’m not just talking about a nice cabernet sauvingnon with some friends. The BBC has a nice site (here) to tell you where you fit in with the world’s population – i.e., what number you are. Naturally, there are caveats and assumptions and they are up-front about the fact that it’s at best a guesstimate. But I found it intriguing to know where I fit in. Maybe it’s because I’m a taxonomist and like everything to have a name and a place, all orderly-like. The explanation as to how they got to the number of people who have ever lived is quite interesting too (click on the ‘how did we calculate that’ link on BBC page).

FYI, I was the 4,475,413,190th person alive at the time of my birth, and the 79,077,729,984th person ever to grace the Earth with my presence. I think that second figure is particularly cool – all those people who lived before me.



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