Fact or Fiction?; September 2007; Scientific American Magazine; by Ciara Curtin; 1 Page(s)
The human population has swelled so much that people alive today outnumber all those who have ever lived, says a rumor that has circulated for years. The rumor is an embellishment of one started in the 1970s, which asserted that 75 percent of all people ever born were alive at that time. In 1995 demographer Carl Haub of the Population Reference Bureau, a nongovernmental organization in Washington, D.C., addressed the issue by calculating how many people had ever existed, a number he updated in 2002. To arrive at the 2002 figure, he considered when humans first arose and estimated population growth rates during different historical periods.
Based on an estimate made in the 1973 United Nations report Determinants and Consequences of Population Trends, Haub assumed that the first Homo sapiens appeared around 50,000 years ago and counted the population at that time as two--his Adam and Eve.