The Madagascar Serpent Eagle - saved from extinction when I was 45;
today, there are about 350 of them
Firstly, a very, very BIG Thankyou for your emails, txts and cards. I promise to reply to each one personally but, until I do, be assured that you’ve helped to make an old(er) man very happy indeed!
To be honest, it turned out to be a more interesting birthday than I’d imagined. A friend reminded me of a guest we once had on the Blue Bus Programme who explained that life for ordinary people like me and you had changed more in the last sixty-odd years than it had done in the previous two thousand.
So rather than spend the day in glib self-congratulation (isn’t ‘glib’ a lovely word?) I got to wondering about exactly how much life really has changed since I arrived 67 years ago - not just for me but for the world into which I was born. And a wonderful website, created by the BBC (naturally) was able to tell me much that I wanted to know…
So here goes…
- My heart has beaten over 3 billion times. The heart of a Blue Whale would have beaten ‘only’ 211 million times in 67 years, whereas a Hummingbird’s would have beaten an amazing 44 billion times.
- Although I am 67 years old here on Earth, up there on Mercury I would be 278 - years on Mercury last only 71 days. On Venus, I am 108, on Mars I am 35, on Jupiter I am only 5, on Saturn I am 2 and on Uranus and Neptune I haven’t even reached my first birthday - a Uranian day is 6,213 Earth days long and on Neptune, one day lasts 35,718 Earth days.
- In my lifetime I have travelled over 63,433,602,500 km round the sun and counting. (Since I started typing this sentence, I’ve travelled a further 210km.)
- This also means that I have travelled 528,613,420,250 km through the Milky Way; as I write, I’m travelling at about 500 km per second.
- A house-fly my age would have a family of 37,248 generations by now. A mouse, 446.
A rabbit, 115. A penguin, 13. And a killer whale, 4.
The earliest important wildlife discovery made after my birth was that of the Golden Poison Frog, found in Colombia when I was 25
The creature most recently discovered in my lifetime is the Squat Lobster,
found off New Zealand when I was 64
- There have been 307 major volcanic eruptions since I was born - none of them my fault. The largest was in 1991; it measured 6 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (of which I had never heard until this very moment).
- In my lifetime there have been 692 major earthquakes - the largest, in 1960, measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale.
- I have reached a height of 1.83m in my lifetime. A California Coast Redwood tree has grown 26.31m.
- There have been 147 solar eclipses since I was born. The next will occur in 92 days.
- The world’s population grows by about 4 births every second. This means that there are, on balance, about 4,884,162,000 more people on Earth now than when I was born. There are now about 10 more. And counting.
- This is also partly because life expectancy worldwide has increased by an incredible 26 years in my lifetime.
- Sea level has risen by 15cm since I was born.
- The number of mammal species classed as ‘critically endangered’ when I was 51 was 169; it is now 211.
There are just 1,500 Borneo Pygmy Elephants left in the wild
- The same figures for birds are 168 and 198 respectively.
There are just 500 Philippine Eagles left
- Fish are faring much worse - their figures are 157 (when I was 51) and 424 (now).
Reports suggest that the Goliath Grouper became extinct only in the last few weeks
- Things aren’t looking good for plants either. Critically endangered when I was 51 - 909 species; now - 2104.
There are just 100 populations of Georgia Aster left on Earth
- At current rates of consumption, the Earth’s oil reserves will run out when I am 119. And there’ll be no more coal after my 121st birthday.
- Almost 20% of the Earth’s forests have been lost in the last 67 years.
- On the other hand - and to end on a slightly more cheerful note - several animals have been saved from extinction in my lifetime…
The Black Rhino was saved when I was 57; there are now about 3,725
The Saiga Antelope was also saved when I was 57; there are now over 40,000 of them
The Mountain Gorilla was saved from extinction when I was 43
but there are still only about 400 of them
The Golden Lion Tamarin has been safe since I was 23; there are about 800 of them now
The Grey Whale was saved from extinction the year I was born;
happily, there 21,000 of them 67 years later
The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker was rescued when I was 56 -
but there are still only about 50 in the wild
So now you know what I did on my birthday - well at least until Paul Wappat arrived with his partner Penny to disrupt proceedings.
And I finished the day at a live Matt Berry gig in the Town with John, my old friend. Nick Roberts was there, too. How cool is that?
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