H. Doug Matsuoka's notes in the margin of the Big Everything.


To my 7 billion closest friends

The headlines tell me that the human population will hit 7 billion any day now so I thought I’d take a moment to say hello and, yay I’m happy for the company!

But I’m sad that so many of us are having such a hard time.  And by hard time I’m talking about extreme poverty to the point of starving to death.  Not to get overly techno about this, but the way I’m thinking about this uses this image: if every human were a streaming-media node feeding data into a network, even taking into account all the alleluias and birthday parties, sex, drugs and rock n roll, the aggregated data stream would be dominated by pain and misery.

And it doesn’t make me feel any better that some of you are living high on the hog because you one percenters are causing so much of the suffering in the first place.  Okay, that’s my own political bias showing through and this is supposed to be a cheerful message to all of us and I got off on kind of a downer note so forget I wrote any of this.

Anyway, on the bright side, I note that the human population a few tens of thousands of years ago was down to 600 or so breeding adults and we almost got completely wiped.  From that point it took forty or fifty thousand years to the year 1800 to reach the first billion, then only 200 years to get to seven billion.  We rock!