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Three Decades of Watching the World

What is the WorldWatch Institute's view on the state of the globe in 2002?

March 18, 2002

What is the WorldWatch Institute's view on the state of the globe in 2002?

Violence and economic chaos dominate the world’s headlines. But is this the true state of the world in 2002? The Washington-based Worldwatch Institute has attempted to answer this question each year since 1974 in its “State of the World” publication. We have compiled here the most salient facts that sketch out where the world stands — and perhaps where we are headed.

Is the world getting more wheels?

The global motor vehicle fleet — passenger cars, trucks and buses — is projected to grow from the 2000 level of about 700 million to approximately 1.1 billion by 2020.

Who makes all those cars?

As of 2000, Japan, the United States and Germany produced 47% of the world’s total output of automobiles.

Isn’t that terrible for the environment?

Global carbon emissions from fossil fuel combustion have fallen each year since 1998. Moreover, the amount of carbon emitted per unit of global economic output decreased by 3.6% in 2000.

Are other parts of the environment suffering?

As of 1999, less than 10% of total waste around the globe — including farm runoff, industrial pollution and human waste — is treated before it enters rivers that are used for drinking, sanitation, irrigation or industry.

Do nuclear weapons still pose a danger?

Since 1945, an estimated 128,000 nuclear warheads have been produced around the world. The United States has produced 70,000, and the Soviet Union about 55,000.

Where do nuclear weapons pacts stand in 2002?

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) will not go into effect until the 44 countries with nuclear power or research reactors ratify it. As of December 2000, 30 nations had ratified the treaty — but not the United States, India, North Korea or Pakistan.

How is AIDS affecting Africa?

In Zambia, 1,300 teachers died of AIDS in 1998. That is about two-thirds of all teachers trained in that country annually.

What are literacy levels like in Africa?

As of 1999, Africa had the highest illiteracy rate in the world — with about 40% of the continent’s being illiterate.

How about in Asia?

Asia — with 641 million people — has the world’s largest illiterate population. It is home to three out of four illiterate people in the world.

How much does the United States value good health?

As of 1999, health care cost Americans about $1 trillion per year — fully one-third of the world total of about $3 trillion.

What about the rest of the world?

In 2000, 20 of the world’s poorest countries spend $50 or less per person on health care each year. In contrast, the United States spent $4,100 per person — 82-times as much.

Which country produces the most pork?

As of 2000, China is home to nearly half of the world’s 905 million pigs.

In what other arena does China lead the world?

The 350 million smokers in China smoke an estimated 38% of the world’s cigarettes.

Where do those cigarettes come from?

As of 2000, the United States was the world’s largest exporter of cigarettes, accounting for 21% of the world’s exports.

And finally, who is keeping our world safe?

Between 1996 and 2000, five countries accounted for one quarter of the UN peacekeeping force. They were Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Jordan and Poland.

In contrast, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council provide just 10% of all personnel.

March 18, 2002

Prepared by Nikolas Win Myint