October is one of my favorite months. The weather is usually great here in the Midwest – not too hot, not too cold – and there’s plenty to do outside before we’re mostly chased inside to wait out winter.
It’s also family history month, a time for celebrating the lives of those closest to us, present and past. The Iowa Genealogical Society will be holding its annual state conference this Friday and Saturday in Marshalltown. Genealogical superstar Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak of ancestry.com will be this year’s headliner. At 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 6, I’ll be presenting a one-hour workshop on putting some fruit on those family trees by saving family stories.
October is also German-American Heritage Month, which explains the proliferation of Oktoberfests in recent years. It’s also Polish American Heritage Month, Celebrate Sun Dried Tomatoes Month, Go Hog Wild-Eat Country Ham Month and National Cookie Month, in case you were looking for reasons to overeat. On the other hand, October is Spinach Lovers Month and Vegetarian Month.
You may have heard that Planet Earth is bursting at its seasons with people. It’s true that the planet’s population has topped six billion, but some of the other claims about that number are over the top. For the past 30 years, there’s been a persistent rumor that up to 75 percent of the people who over roamed the earth are here right now.
Not true, says demographer Carl Haub, who’s brought a little scientific discipline to bear on the situation. Using a baseline of two humans – one man, one woman – who started populating the earth some 50,000 years ago, Haub estimates that 106 billion people have lived on the planet since. That means the current population is roughly six percent of the cumulative total, a far cry from 75 percent.
Quote of the day: "If you don't know your history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree." – writer Michael Crichton.