As you read this, there are approximately 7.7 billion other people on the planet with you. That might seem like a lot, but look at it this way and your perspective might change: the current world population is only about 7 percent of all the people who have ever lived. According to the Population Reference Bureau, which makes regular updates to its statistics, more than 108 billion people have roamed the Earth since behaviorally and anatomically modern humans first appeared approximately 50,000 years ago. The bureau acknowledges that much of its work is based on speculation, since there is no accurate data for 99 percent of the time mankind has existed, but figures can be approximated by looking at the length of time Homo sapiens have been around and the average size of the population at different times.
Looking into the future, the bureau predicts that by the year 2050, the world will have added about 5 billion people. If such numbers make you feel small, keep in mind that you are enjoying a much longer life than in previous generations. "Life expectancy at birth probably averaged only about 10 years for most of human history," the bureau reports. "For example, estimates of average life expectancy in Iron Age France (from 800 B.C. to about 100 A.D.) have been put at only 10 or 12 years."
A world of information:
- The median age of the world's population is 30, meaning that about half of people are over 30 years old and half are under 30.
- By 2050, there will be around 425 million people aged 80 or older, according to estimates; that figure is expected to more than double by the year 2100.
- With every second that ticks by, approximately 4.2 people are born and 1.8 people die.