Olympic milestones & the human race
July 19th 2012
The Olympics are bigger than ever. So is humanity. What is the limit?
The history of the Olympics, almost 3,000 years, is a metaphor for human development. The modern summer Olympics runs for nineteen days compared with the five of the ancient Olympics. For humanity as a whole, growth in productivity has enabled a growth in human numbers. The current world population of over 7 billion is:
• Almost three times what it was when London last hosted the Olympics in 1948 and more than four times greater than the first London Olympics in 1908;
• Four times what it was at the start of the modern Olympics just over a century ago;
• 28 times what it was when the ancient Olympics stopped in 393 AD;
• 98 times what it was when the ancient Olympics began in 776 BC.
In the Olympics, athletes are following the Olympic motto of Citius, Altius, Fortius (faster, higher, stronger). Humanity, too, is faster, higher, stronger. Above all, though, we are bigger. There are ever more of us. Do we know our limit?