A million mouths

I wanted to give some sense of the rate of change in our society and why so many people are so frightened of a future they feel they  incapable of coping with.

Although the human mind tends to work in a linear fashion, our growth rate is exponential. To give a sense at the speed in which human society growing, let’s examine agriculture and sustenance, as a useful analogy of human development.

For humans, subsistence level – the minimum required to feed and sustain a person – is considered by the United Nations to be about $400 a year. It took humankind about one million years to get the point where we could feed a million mouths; where we could reach this subsistence level for that many people.

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The next major Excession Event was farming, which occurred in multiple places around the world almost simultaneously. Around 5,000 BC,  once farming was established as a concept, humanity increased the rate in which it could feed another million people at subsistence level to every 200 years. We went from a million years to 200 years in a less than a thousand years.

Fast forward to the post-Industrial Revolution era, to the world economy as it is today. Humanity now feeds another million mouths, in economic terms, every 90 minutes.

In 7,000 years, we've moved from a million mouths every million years to a million mouths every 90 minutes.

Today, we can feed another million mouths on the planet in actual food terms every 10 days. This rate of increase in the wealth of human society is just incredible, and it continues to increase.

If you were to grow the world economy at the same rate it has grown over the last 50 years on average, by the year 2050, the world will be 4.8 times richer than it is today. And by the year 2100, it will be 35 times richer than it is today.

Not every individual will be 35 times richer, of course. But certainly, the end of poverty in any meaningful sense, as we know it today, is absolutely going to happen. The scale of the society we would have built by that point is just inconceivable. But it’s happening right now: The world will change more in your lifetime than in the last 2,000 years combined.

If you lived 500 years ago in an English village, you probably died in a house you were born in. You never went more than seven miles from your house. The only education you got was what the priests told you on a Sunday morning. You weren't plugged to any kind of world affairs. So even if you had an idea – and frankly the chances of you having one were pretty low, as you weren't in a position to come up with any – who were you going to tell?

Now, we're in a world where the most impoverished farmer with a cellphone is more connected than the President of the United States was in the the Reagan era.

About the Author: Simon Dudley

Simon is a contrarian. He makes a habit of being the guy who questions the orthodoxy, the guy who doesn’t believe it just because the good and the great said it’s true. This has not always been good for his ascent up the corporate greasy pole. However it’s been very good for his employers if they are prepared to listen.

The Book The End of Certainty "How to thrive when playing by the rules is a losing strategy" explains why groupthink and the doing what you’ve always done is no longer the right move.

The Excession Events Podcast is available on iTunes and Google Play

He is also a business speaker specialising in the transformation of business models.

To keep tabs on his work please follow him on: ExcessionEvent.com