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The Human Cost of Stuff

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6.5 Percent of All Humans Ever Born Are Still Alive Today

(And 22 other facts you should probably know.)
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Surprised Baby photo by Andrew Malone

  • Estimated number of humans who have been born in the last 50,000 years (when modern humans appeared): 107 billion
  • Percentage of humans ever born who are alive today: 6.5

  • Percentage of U.S. adults who considered homosexual relations morally acceptable in 2002: 38
  • Percentage who considered homosexual relations morally acceptable in 2012: 59

  • Year the Mars One program plans to establish a permanent colony on the surface of Mars: 2023
  • Number of settlers who will initially populate the Mars colony: 4
  • Number who will return to Earth: 0

  • Number of sexual assaults estimated to have occurred in the U.S. military in 2012: 26,000
  • Number reported: 3,374
  • Number of reports that resulted in military court prosecution: 594

  • Distance in feet the robot “Vomiting Larry,” designed to study disease transmission, can hurl puke: 10

  • Gigatons of carbon dioxide humanity added to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2011: 321
  • Maximum additional gigatons we can release between now and 2050 and still have an 80 percent chance of limiting global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius: 565
  • Gigatons we would release by burning the world’s remaining proven fossil fuel reserves: 2,795

  • Percentage of discretionary spending devoted to defense in President Barack Obama’s proposed 2014 budget: 57
  • Percentage devoted to education: 6

  • Rank of the United States, out of 29 developed countries, in overall child well-being: 26
  • Rank of Greece: 25
  • Rank of Lithuania: 27

  • Length in miles of the Appalachian Trail, which extends from Georgia to Maine: 2,180
  • Percentage of hikers who complete the entire Appalachian Trail out of those who attempt it: 25
  • Percentage of climbers who summit Mt. Everest out of those who attempt it: 29
  • Number of Mt. Everests, from sea level to summit, equal to the total elevation climbed by hiking the entire Appalachian Trail: 16

This article is from The Human Cost of Stuff, the Fall 2013 issue of YES! Magazine. Katrina Rabeler and Chris Francis are YES! interns.


1. Population Reference Bureau, Oct. 2011.

2. Gallup, May 2012.

3. Mars One, 2013.

4. United States Department of Defense, 2013.

5. University of Cambridge, 2013.

6. Carbon Tracker Initiative, 2012.

7. White House Office of Management and Budget

8. United Nations ChildrenÕs Fund, 2013.

9. Appalachian Trail Conservancy, 2013.

10., 2006.

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