I love data visualization and have a strange fascination with visualizing obscure data. For example, if I were to estimate the volume of all the food I have eaten in my life as of today and imagine it all in one large pile, what would that look like? Would it be as big as a house? Or what about all the beer I’ve drank? Would it fill a swimming pool?
There are so many interesting things to visualize, but my mind keeps going to the weird side. In considering there are now over 7 billion humans on the planet, I’ve tried to imagine what all those people would look like if you gathered everyone together into one space. How much would we all weigh? And if we were all compacted into a cube, how large would it be?
Its actually quite easy to estimate this. According to some Google searches and the Wikipedia article “human”, the average weight of humans is about 70 kg. That means 7 billion humans weigh about 490 million tons. Since we are comprised of mostly water, which has a density of 1000 kg/m^3, the average volume of a human is 0.07 m^3. That means the total volume of all humans would be 490 million cubic metres, a cube with sides 788m long. These are difficult numbers to imagine, so I created a pink cube in Sketchup and then imported the cube onto Vancouver in Google Earth. This is what it looks like:
The Human Cube in New York City:
The Human Cube next to the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa in Dubai (its actually taller than the cube by 40m):
After starting to get a visual understanding of all of humanity’s bodily volume, I started wondering about how our volume compares to other volumes of resources we consume like water, oil, animals, fish, plant mass… It would be interesting to see these volumes next to eachother. I did a quick calculation of our current global annual fresh water consumption based on data from the Pacific Institue and Worldometers and found we consume about 4,700 cubic kilometres per year! This is about 9,600 times the volume of the Human Cube. To help you visualize this, I created a Water Cube and placed it next to the Human Cube in Vancouver:
If you’d like to play around with the Human Cube or Water Cube, you can download the files here: bit.ly/thehumancube