Tuesday, December 27, 2016

In Defense of a Maligned 2016

My father-in-law is a geologist and a meteorologist. He spent his career using science to help companies make decisions involving millions of dollars. He was good at his job. Even in retirement he has a passion for the earth sciences. He keeps up with the data and the advances in the field. He gave me a concrete, scientific validation of something I had long suspected.

It turns out that there is not a real increase in volcanic and seismic activity on the planet. There have probably always been a consistent average number of eruptions and earthquakes similar to what we see today. It is just that we now have an ability to track world-wide events from satellite, and we have much more sensitive instrumentation. We don’t miss anything anymore. A similar truth holds for things like tornadoes and hurricanes.

And a similar truism is behind the seeming increase incelebrity deaths in 2016. Oh, there may indeed have been more famous people dying this year, but it is not an anomaly. It is likely that the years to come will see even buzz-worthy deaths.

Think about it. There are a whole lot of factors feeding our awareness here:

-We have more people walking around the planet today. Even without an increase in the death rate across the globe, more people will be dying each year.

-We have a lot more celebrities today than past generations. Fame, on a smaller scale perhaps, is something much easier to achieve. And celebrity watching is much more of an industry than it was even a decade ago.

-The Boomers are getting OLD. If you combine the fact that they were last generation of huge, world-wide, celebrities with the natural limits to longevity, well, it is only a matter of time till we have multiple world-wide famous people dying every week.

So, give 2016 a break. It wasn’t a horrible outlier. It is just the first of many to come.

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