Friday, August 8, 2014

World War I: A Grim Statistic

This week marked the 100 year anniversary of the start of WWI.

I heard a shocking, actually stunning, statistic on the news the other night, so compelling that I had to look it up and get independent corroboration of it.  My eyes welled up with tears.  NBC Nightly News stated that approximately 17 million human beings--some 2% of the world's population--died due to to WWI (**see NOTE below**).

I cannot fathom the scope of that tragedy, even now, 100 years later.  That we as a species are still firm proponents of the knuckle sandwich school of problem-solving, wherein we fight about our issues rather than solving them through discussion and negotiation.

That's it, I've got nothing more.  Other than a profound weariness and resignation about the future of the human race.

After some lazy Googling here and here (so while these data may not be authoritative I suspect they are essentially correct for our purposes) it seems that the 17 million deaths figure is correct.  However, there were an additional 20 million wounded, yielding a rough total casualty figure of 37 million...which is what equates to the NBC figure of 2% of the world's population.  So NBC did some fuzzy math.

Deaths, if taken alone, equate to just under 1% rather than 2% of the world's population at that time.

Regardless, a stunning statistic.  But statistics are but proxies for real, live, breathing human beings: one of the dead was my great-grandfather, an ordinary German soldier.  My blog post on that is here.

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