This is a question I never really thought about until recently when I was reading Carl Sagan’s 1994 book, Pale Blue Dot. It was almost a throw away line while discussing the idea of populating other planets.
Even stranger is the argument that we have to send human beings into space in order to solve the world population crisis. But some 250,000 more people are born than die every day-which means that we would have to launch 250,000 people per day into space to maintain world population at its present levels.
We all know there are well over seven billion people on the planet and millions are born every year, but those numbers are too big to grasp intuitively. It’s all a little abstract. But something about reading that 250,000 net people are added each and every day to the planet made me pause in disbelief. That’s a number and a time period I can actually wrap my ahead around.
So this got my thinking about what this amount of people is analogous to. That’s way more per day than the entire city I live in, but what other comparisons could I make?
First thing I wanted to do was double check current statistics on this. According to Worldometers, the net amount of people currently being added to the world each year is about 82 million (140 million births and 58 million deaths). Again, this is a sufficiently large number over a long enough period of time that I can easily hear that and not linger on it. Broken down though, this means each day there are about 224,000 additional humans on the planet than the day before. This is a lower number than the one Sagan cites, which makes sense because the global growth rate has slowed down a bit since a few decades ago. It’s lower, but just as incomprehensible.
Ok, so let’s try to come up with some comparisons to grasp how big this number is. That’s like any of the following:
EVERY DAY (about 224,000)
- Adding an entire city the size of Richmond, Virgina or Boise, Idaho.
- More local to me, it’s like adding Rochester, New York plus 20 thousand additional people.
- Adding the number one and two largest stadiums in the world at full capacity, or four Yankees stadiums at full capacity.