Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Sobering statistics from the material world

Last week Channel 4 broadcast a not very serious programme on the average British person's consumption and bodily output in their physical life journey from nothing to nothing.

It was not very serious as it did not seriously propose that anyone actually lives an "average life" and there is so much estimation required.

It did however come up with some sobering statistics on the average British human life (i assume there is little difference in similar countries). For example during our lifetime of 78.5 years the average person consumes a grotesque:

16,000 pints of milk, 4,283 loaves of bread, 2,327 potatoes and 845 tins of beans
Not to mention four-and-a-half cows, 1,201 chickens, 10,354 bars of chocolate and 5,272 apples — washed down with 10,351 pints of beer and 1,694 bottles of wine.


At the other end of things, so to speak, we use 4,239 toilet rolls.

Consumer goods abound with an average 8 cars, 5 TVs, 10 DVD players and 15 computers. Don't forget that these figures are each !

All this consumption of the material is rather off-putting. I don't think it is in danger of turning the average Brit away from the consumer society just yet but maybe it will cause the odd material boy or girl to ask "Is that all there is ?"

More sobering still is the average fate of the 1,700 people we will personally know during our lifetime (everyone from our own Mother all the way on a spectrum to the guy from IT we occassionally get to fix our computer at work). 1,700 sounds a huge number but over the course of a lifetime from nursery school, university, work and beyond we apparently "know" that many people on average.

Of those 1,700:

305 will die of heart disease
179 will die of stroke
99 will die of lung cancer
32 will die of breast cancer
10 will take their own life
9 will die in road accidents
and 1 will die in a fire.

Reassuringly, only 1 in 3 will actually know a person who is murdered.

The fate of our other approximately 1,000 friends and acquaintances was not stated but I assume there are a few other causes apart from benign old age left unaccounted for.

Of course there is no such thing as an average person. Each is unique which makes life interesting. However one thing everyone has in common is that in physical terms we all start with nothing and finish with nothing, whatever the "footprint" we leave in between.

See link to calculate your "footprint" to date


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