Matters of Scale - Can We Make the Leap?

Selected signs of progress in the race for a secure future: A different set of signs could be assembled showing loss of ground. The point of this exhibit is not to show cumulative significance, but only to provoke thought about the possibilities for rapid change of the kind that may be essential to our future survival or wellbeing.

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Fossil fuel subsidies in developing and former eastern bloc countries in 1990-91
$202 billion
? in 1995-96
$84 billion
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Global average price for wind power in 1981
$2,600 per kilowatt
? in 1998
$800 per kilowatt
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Average factory price for solar panel (photovoltaic) modules in 1975
$70 per watt
? in 1997
$4 per watt
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World production of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons in 1988 (peak year)
1,260,000 tons
in 1996, excluding illicitly produced (black market) CFCs
141 tons
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U.S. military expenditures (in 1995 dollars) in 1952 (peak year)
$410 billion
?in 1996
$250 billion
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World military expenditures in 1984 (peak year)
$1,064 billion
? in 1996
$701 billion
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Sources: Vital Signs 1998 (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1998).