51 facts from Vital Signs 2006-2007 (WorldWatch Institute, 2006)
Compiled by Phil Cafaro, Colorado State University
1. 1-2) According to the latest estimate, 852 million people are hungry every day and nearly 6 million children die each year from diseases related to malnutrition.
3) Global meat production has increased fivefold since the 1950s, and a majority of meat today is industrially raised.
4) World oil use increased a total of 4.8 % in 2004 and 2005.
5) World coal use jumped 6.3 % in 2004 alone.
6) Nearly 80 % of the world’s energy comes from oil, coal, or gas.
7) The United States represents nearly one-fourth of world oil consumption.
8-9) Global wind power capacity jumped 24 % in 2005 and wind energy generation has more than tripled since 2000, making it the second fastest growing energy source.
10) Global production of photovoltaic cells has increased an average of 33 % since 2000, making solar power the faster growing energy source in the world.
11-12) The average global temperature has risen nearly 1 degree Celsius in the past century. More than half that warming—0.6 degrees—has occurred in the past thirty years, meaning that this warming trend is accelerating.
13-14) In 2005, the average atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration reached 380 parts per million by volume—a record. Average CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have increased 20% since measurements began in 1959.
14) During summer 2005, heat waves kept temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit for 39 consecutive days in Arizona.
15) CO2 emissions from fossil fuels increased a record 4.5% in 2004.
16-17) The United States, with about 5 % of the world’s population, accounts for the larges share of CO2 emissions from human activities—25 % of global emissions.
18-19) The largest sources of U.S. emissions are coal-burning power plants, followed by automobiles.
20-21) Global energy productivity, defined as gross world product divided by total energy use, has increased 56 % since 1970—about 1.3 % each year. If the world economy used energy today in the same way it did in 1970, it would require the energy equivalent of 11 additional Saudi Arabias—more than all the oil produced in the world.
22) Global energy productivity, increased by only 0.3 % in 2004.
23-25) Gross world product—the sum of all finished goods and services produced globally—jumped 4.6 % in 2005 to a record high. The U.S. economy grew 3.8 % and China’s economy grew 7.8 %.
26) In 2005, 48% of global advertising expenditures occurred in the United States.
27-29) Global passenger car production grew 3.2 % in 2005, setting a new record. There were 603 million passenger cars on the road in 2004 and another 223 million commercial vehicles.
30-31) The United States has 28 % of the world motor vehicle fleet in 2004; we consumed 44 % of all the gasoline consumed in 2002.
32-33) The world population grew by 74 million people in 2005, reaching 6.4 billion. This is more than twice as many people as populated Earth in 1950.
34-36) Over 1.3 billion people live in China, over 1 billion people live in India, and over 300 million people live in the United States, the three most populous countries on Earth. All three continue to grow, with India set to overtake China as the world’s most populous country by 2050 and America on pace to reach 1 billion people around 2100.
37-38) Infant mortality rates (measuring the number of children who die under one year of age) declined 7 % over the past five years, to 57 deaths per 1000 children. This was the lowest rate in world history.
39-40) World military expenditures have increased 6 % annually since 2002. The United States accounts for 47 % of world military expenditures.
41-42) The 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment found that of 24 ecosystem services examined, 15 are being degraded or used unsustainably. If this degradation is left unaddressed, the ability of ecosystems to provide benefits in the future will be diminished.
43-44) As of late 2005, an estimated 20 % of the word’s coral refs had been effectively destroyed, showing live coral losses of at least 90 % and no immediate prospects for recovery. Another 24 % face imminent risk of collapse due to human pressures.
45) Over the past 25 years, 20 % of the world’s mangrove forests have been destroyed.
46-47) Global forested area contracted by 1 % from 2000 to 2005. Brazil, home to the Amazon rainforest, lost 3.2 % of its total forest area during the same time.
48-49) Scientists estimate that 12 % of all bird species are currently threatened with extinction. By 2100, up to 25 % may be “functionally extinct” in the wild.
50-51) More than half of the world’s 7000 languages are endangered, and 516 are classified as nearly extinct.