is an easy-to-use desktop reference to the trends that are shaping our future. Covering everything from wind energy to sea level rise to military expenditures, and more, Vital Signs
uses succinct analysis, graphs, and tables to take the world's pulse on critical environmental and social issues. Some of the most compelling facts and trends from Vital Signs
2005 and Vital Signs
2003 are compiled here within this online portal.
Washington, D.C.—More than 1.9 billion people worldwide were overweight in 2010, a 25 percent increase since 2002, a new Worldwatch analysis shows.
The trend in many countries is toward greater automobile use, often at the expense of non-motorized transport. In Asia, bicycles, rickshaws and other non-motorized means of transport are being marginalized on city streets to make room for fast-growing car fleets.
Nearly 90 percent of AIDS-related fatalities occur among people of working age, making it the leading cause of death worldwide for people ages 15-49. The seven most seriously AIDS-affected countries, all in sub-Saharan Africa, now lose as much as 10-18 percent of their working-age adults ever five years, mainly to this disease. (Industrial countries, in comparison, typically lose about 1 percent of this age group to all death in five years.) Largely because of this rising pandemic, death rates have actually reversed their decline in more than 30 countries.
After a small increase in 2003, global cigarette production declined 2.3 percent in 2004 to 5.5 trillion units. Per-capita production worldwide has not been this low since 1972.
Production and use of biofuels—fuels derived from crops and agricultural wastes—advanced rapidly in 2004, spurred by agricultural, environmental, and consumer interests.
Nearly one in four mammal species is in serious decline, mainly due to human activities. Hunting provides the most immediate threat to large animals such as rhinoceroses, elephants, tapirs, jaguars, and many primates.
An estimated 8,210 megawatts of wind energy capacity were added globally in 2004, bringing the total to approximately 47,760 megawatts, enough to provide power to more than 22 million average homes in Europe.
In 2004, global grain production broke 2 billion tons for the first time in history, marking a 9-percent increase from the 2003 level. Also in 2004, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the number of hungry people around the world increased for the first time since 1970. Starvation now kills more than 5 million children each year.
Fish is the last wild meal in the human diet, but roughly two-thirds of the world's major stocks are now fished at or beyond their capacity, and another 10 percent have been harvested so heavily that populations will take years to recover.