January 13th, 2010


uncomfortable numbers

Haiti had an earthquake yesterday. You might have heard of it. Death tolls, obviously uncertain at the moment, range from 100,000 to 500,000. I'd link pictures, but, I'll be honest here: you probably don't want to see them, and if you do, you can find them yourself.

You might not have heard of it.

Some are complaining about the poor coverage it's getting. One hundred thousand people, you know. That's a lot of people. Five hundred thousand people - well, that's literally the population of Wyoming.

It's a lot of people.

From what I've been able to figure out online, approximately 150,000 human beings die every day.

45,000 from cardiovascular diseases. 30,000 from infectious diseases. 20,000 from cancer. 2,000 suicides.

That's a lot of people.

The Haitian earthquake was a disaster. I don't think anyone's arguing that. But realize that the Haitian earthquake killed, at the outside, approximately 0.01% of humanity. Realize that the Haitian earthquake is the same death toll as three days of normal human mortality. Realize that more people worldwide will commit suicide this year than will be killed in Haitian earthquakes.

Half a million people is a lot of people, but when you compare it to the well-over-six-billion that are alive in the world today, it's nearly statistical noise.

I don't know what you will do with those numbers. I don't know what I plan to do with those numbers. But I feel they are important numbers to keep in mind.

Spend your effort wisely.