Unintentionally profound EPA: “All cohorts are subject to mortality”

Buried deep within the technical documentation of an EPA land use model is a profound philosophical insight. It’s not merely about the environment or land use, but about life itself:

Similarly, mortality is estimated by multiplying the number of people in given cohort times the cohort-specific mortality rates. The resulting number of deaths is then subtracted from the cohort. Unlike fertility, all cohorts are subject to mortality. Therefore, mortality rates are applied to each cohort.

Alright, I suppose it may be unintentionally profound.

This quote is taken from the documentation of the Integrated Climate and Land-Use Scenarios (ICLUS) model developed by the US EPA (12 MB PDF) . Unlike the US Census Bureau’s population projects, which only have nationwide tallies, ICLUS generates detailed population density and impervious surface rasters for the contiguous USA through the year 2100. This particular section of the documentation describes how the model accounts for births (fertility) and deaths (mortality) within the population during each time step.

This adage about the impermanence of life reminds me of the similarly unintentionally profound Wii notification: “Warning: Everything saved will be lost” as discussed on Reddit in 2013.

How the human mind finds meaning in the strangest places…

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