2011-07-01

7 billion "typical" humans

In an article published at midnight (UTC) on January 1st, I drew attention to the fact that this year (2011) the human population of our planet will reach 7 billion.

As part of their seven-part series on the subject of "Population 7 Billion", National Geographic took a look at "The Face of 7 Billion" [National Geographic] to study the "typical" human.


["The Face of 7 Billion" - National Geographic]

Right now is the date and time of the midpoint (182.5 days) of this year (2011-07-01 12:00:00 UTC). Inspired by the statistics National Geographic presented, I want to gather my own and add some detail to what we understand of our humanity.

PRIMARY LANGUAGE
Mandarin Chinese (845 million): 12.43%
Spanish (329 million): 4.84%
English (328 million): 4.82%
Arabic (221 million): 3.25%
Hindi (182 million): 2.68%
Bengali (181 million): 2.66%
Portuguese (178 million): 2.62%
Russian (144 million): 2.12%
Japanese (122 million): 1.79%
German (3 million): 0.04%
sum of all others: ≈ 62.75%

According to a statistical study by Ethnologue, over 62 percent of the human population doesn't recognize one of the top 10 languages as their primary language. Our ability to communicate with words is something which makes us somewhat unique among other animals. Even so, the breadth our diversity is clearly evident in this first statistic.

RELIGION
Christianity (2.1 billion): 30.88%
Islam (1.5 billion): 22.06%
Hinduism (900 million): 13.24%
Irreligious/agnostic (theistic) (550 million): 8.09%
Atheistic (550 million): 8.09%
Chinese traditional religion (394 million): 5.79%
Buddhism (376 million): 5.53%
Animist religions (300 million): 4.41%
African traditional/diasporic religions (100 million): 1.47%
Sikhism (23 million): 0.34%
sum of all others: ≈ 0.1%

In 2005, Adherents.com listed "Major Religions Ranked by Number of Adherents". As you can see in my summary, no one religion is in the majority. In fact, if we combine the irreligious and atheistic, we see that those who are not religious and/or are atheistic rank 3rd among the beliefs of humanity.

WATER AND SANITATION
Lack access to safe drinking water (1.1 billion): 17.74%
and/or
Lack access to basic sanitation (2.6 billion): 41.93%

The numbers above are from a UNICEF (UNICEF is the United Nations Children's Fund) estimate in 2005. Thanks almost entirely to humanitarian efforts throughout the years, especially by the UN*, those percentages have gone down. Today, almost 90% of humanity has access to safe drinking water, but that remaining 10% is still serious as it constitutes nearly 700 million people in our world of 7 billion.

LITERACY
Age 15 and over can read and write: 82%

Much of the human population is literate, which is very important considering the impact that education has on the other demographics I've listed. That said, it's worth noting that "over two-thirds of the world's ... illiterate adults are found in only eight countries (Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Pakistan)" [CIA World Factbook].

If we seek to balance our relationship with our planet, as I suggested in January, we need to also open our minds to the diversity and beauty of what it means to be human and check our "resolve to becoming an organism who seeks the balance of a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship with Earth and the other approximately 6,999,999,999 people on it." ["2011: The year of 7 billion" - INDY Blog]


* To be honest, I think the United Nations deserves far more recognition for all it does in the way of improving the lives of humans all over Earth. The organization and the people who truly drive its efforts are nothing like the portrayal in minds and media: the bureaucratic soap-box for arrogant and selfish politicians.
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