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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

“6.9 billion and counting”

That’s not the number on the McDonald’s sign telling us how many they have served. That’s the world population., according to the best numbers I could find online.

This past Sunday I showed a short video called “The Miniature Earth”, which presents the world and its people as if we were a village of 100. This is based on the work of a researcher named Donella Meadows.

Dr. Meadows taught at Dartmouth College, and worked and wrote extensively, and with great influence, in the areas of environmental conservation, global development, and the limits to growth. She founded the Sustainability Institute, which combined research with a practical experiment in cooperative living on an organic farm in Vermont.

In 1990, Dr. Meadows published a report called “Who lives in the Global Village?” Many people have picked up on her idea of presenting the state of the world, and the relative status of different groups in terms of a village of 100 people. “The Miniature Earth” is just one of a number of such presentations that are easily found at YouTube. Here is the link to the one I used.

After the worship service I had a conversation with someone who works in the actuarial field. Actuaries are often employed by the insurance industry, to assess risk, and help companies calculate the amount of money they must set aside to pay annuities and death benefits. The person I spoke with was quite surprised to see that the video presentation made the claim that the world’s population is evenly divided between men and women. My friend questioned this, because he knows that statistically, women live longer than men. His question made me curious enough to look it up.

According to the website of the French Institut National D’Etudes Demographiques, the world population is about 50.3 % male, and 49.7% female. This site went on to say that 105 boys are born for every 100 girls, but that since males have a lower life expectancy, this difference evens out in adult years.