Magnitude of suffering and death then and now

June 15, 2024 by Joshua
in Leadership, Models, Visualization

I wrote recently in When changing fast is easier than slow about the growth in number of slaves in the United States based on a peer-reviewed paper From ‘20 and odd’ to 10 million: The growth of the slave population in the United States, by J. David Hacker in the journal Slavery & Abolition.

That paper also reported the cumulative number of slaves in the United States. Before looking at the graph, consider that The Lancet, one of the most respected medical journals nine million people have died per year from breathing polluted air since 2015. That’s nine millions per year every year since 2015 at least.

National Geographic reports. Air pollution kills millions every year, like a ‘pandemic in slow motion’:

Globally, air pollution accounts for about seven million premature deaths a year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)—more than twice as many as alcohol consumption and more than five times as many as traffic accidents. (Some recent research puts pollution’s toll far higher than the WHO estimate.)

Now let’s look at the cumulative number of slaves in the United States according to the paper I cited above, slightly more than 9 million.

9 Million total over centuries compared to 9 million annually every year

Pollution kills every year what slavery in the U.S. killed ever, according to that paper. Slaves’ death was funded by people buying sugar, cotton, and other things grown with slave labor. People who bought slave-produced cotton and sugar funded the slaves’ suffering and death.

I presume you would not buy goods created by slave labor, knowing it would fund more slavery, even if you couldn’t change the system of slavery.

The deaths of people who die from pollution today are funding by people buying fossil fuels and what funds extracting them: plane tickets, plastic, cars, and other things created by polluting, depleting processes. People who buy polluting, depleting things fund the suffering and death of those 9 million people every years.

I presume you would not buy polluting, depleting products or services, knowing it would fund more suffering and dying, even if you couldn’t change the system of pollution and depletion.


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