Global Indicators

Below are listed a selection of indicators describing trends in the environment, economy, and political and social conditions of humanity. We haven't footnoted all the sources but will be happy to furnish them on request.

  1. If the population of the world were reduced to 100 people, 57 would be Asian, 21 European, 14 American (North, Central and South) and 8 would be Africans. 70 would be non-white and 30 would be white, 52 would be female and 48 male. 70 would be non-Christian, 30 Christian, 80 would live in substandard housing, 70 would be illiterate, 50 suffer from malnutrition, 25 are living on $1 (US) or less per day, 47 are living on $2 (US) or less per day, 1 would have a college education, 1 would own a computer, 41 have no basic sanitation and six (all from the U.S.) would own 59% of the total wealth. If you have a roof over your head, a bed to sleep in, a refrigerator for your food and a closet for your clothes, you are richer than 75% of the world's population.
  2. In 2001, about 1.1 billion people (1/5 of the total population) lived on less than what $1/day would buy in the US. Nearly 3 billion lived on less than $2/day.  And, a ccording to Unicef, nearly ½ of the world's children were seriously deprived.
  3. The violent and murderous nature of homo sapiens is phenominal. While the numbers can never be precisely calculated, the rate at which humans kill each other is spectacular. Best estimates are that some 180 million people were killed in war/genocides in the 20th Century. This equals the total population of the USA in 1950.
  4. The 16 warmest years since recordkeeping began in 1866 have all occurred since 1980. The world's glaciers are melting. In the past 40 years, the Arctic Ice sheet has thinned by more than 40%. In August, 2000, for the first time in recorded history, the North Pole was found to be in open water. The ice cap on Mt. Kilimanjaro is expected to disappear by 2015, and all the glaciers in Glacier National Park are expected to be gone by 2030. With the ice melting, sea levels are rising and river levels falling. Sea levels are projected to rise 1-meter (3 feet) in the 21st Century. This would put 1/2 of Shanghai under water and Bangladesh would lose half of its rice fields. The US would lose 14,000 square miles of land mostly in the mid-Atlantic and Gulf states. There is widespread agreement that a period of rapid global warming is underway, and that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide from combustion of fossil fuels is a probable contributor. Nonetheless, use of fossil fuels continues to rise. Wind and solar energy growth, while increasing dramatically, still represent a very small portion of the world's energy.
  5. Each year, several of the world's major rivers (including the Colorado, the Nile, and the Yellow Rivers) now run dry or nearly dry by the time they reach the sea. The water table under the North China Plain is dropping by more than 5 feet each year, where a dustbowl/desert is developing. The fossil Olglalla aquifer which supplies irrigation to Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas farms and to populations in those states is likely to become dry in the foreseeable future with devastating results.
  6. In 2001, about 520 million people used the Internet, linked by a global network of 147 million host computers, for e-mail, to get news, to shop, or to be entertained. There are estimated to be 10 billion pages on the World Wide Web--sometimes with dubious information. Unfortunately, the wired world is generating piles of hazardous wastes as obsolete, though still functioning, computers are discarded.
  7. The quality of the world's farmland is degrading, especially in the developing world, with an accompanying reduction in food-producing ability. Over 70% of the world's rangeland suffers from moderate to very severe degradation as a result of overgrazing, soil loss, rainfall changes, and deforestation. The loss of forest area continues unabated--calculations of the value of services provided by forests (rain-catching, climate effects, species habitats, soil preservation and enhancement) show that forest services are more valuable than the value of the lumber produced by clear-cutting. Once cut, a naturally forested area does not recover.
  8. In the 20 years since AIDS was recognized as a new disease, 25 million people have died from it while about 40 million are living with HIV. The number of new infections continues to increase especially in Africa, which accounts for 70% of the world's HIV infections. Life expectancy in that continent is dropping, and governments are overwhelmed by the number of AIDS orphans. In some African countries, more than 30% of the population is infected.
  9. Worldwatch recently issued it's "Vital Signs" report for 2007-2008, including a set of "Vital Facts." We urge you to review these data on the organization's website.

Some things to think about:

  1. If you woke up this morning with more health than are more blessed than the million who will not survive the week.
  2. If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvatio, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.
  3. If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, tortoure, or death you are more blessed then 3 billion others.
  4. If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead, and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of humanity.
  5. If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthiest.

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Bill Dillon (KG4QFM)
Pat Watt (KG4QFQ)
This page was last modified on August 9, 2009

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