Vital Signs Facts

vs graph Vital Signs 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.

Fossil Fuels Continue to Cloud Up the Skies

With less than five percent of the world’s population, the United States is responsible for a large share of the world’s fossil fuel burden, accounting for 26 percent of global oil use, 25 percent of coal consumption, and 27 percent of natural gas use.

Global Temperatures Get Hot, Hot, Hot

The year 2002 was the second hottest since record keeping began in the 1880s. The global average temperature climbed to 14.52 degrees Celsius. The nine warmest years on record have occurred since 1990, and scientists expect that the temperature record set in 1998 will be surpassed by a new high in 2003.

International Criminal Court Faces New Trials

On July 1, 2002, the Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court (ICC) entered into force, creating the first permanent and independent court capable of investigating the most serious violations of international humanitarian law, such as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

Farm Subsidies Undermine Poor Farmers

Governments belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) gave $311 billion in subsidies to their agricultural sectors in 2001. These farm subsidies allow food crops exported by farmers in industrial countries to be sold at prices 20-50 percent below the cost of production, undermining farmers in developing nations.

Stormy Weather Spells Disaster For Millions

In 2002, the world experienced about 700 natural disasters—nearly 600 of which were weather-related events. Economic losses from weather disasters worldwide approached $53 billion, a 93 percent increase over 2001. The year also set numerous local and regional records for windstorms, rain intensities, floods, droughts, and temperatures.

HIV/AIDS Pandemic Spreads Further

The number of people living with HIV/AIDS rose to 42 million at the end of 2002. Five million people became infected with HIV in 2002, and another 3.1 million died of AIDS-related causes.

The Costs of Keeping the Peace

World military expenditures in 2001 were conservatively estimated at $839 billion—almost $100 million every hour or $2.3 billion each day. The United States is now the world’s sole military colossus, accounting for 36 percent of all military spending, or $302 billion.

Different Diseases Afflict Rich and Poor

Infectious and parasitic diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria cause a quarter of the world''s deaths each year. Cancer, heart disease, and chronic respiratory disease cause twice that.

E-Waste Stains Technology's Clean Image

Often seen as a clean technology, semiconductors—the brains behind modern electronics—can have substantial environmental costs. The total weight of fossil fuels and chemicals used to produce a 2-gram memory chip is 630 times the weight of the chip itself.

Giant CEO Earnings Dwarf Workers' Pay

In 2001, the average annual pay of U.S. CEOs topped $11 million—some 350 times as much as the U.S. factory worker, who earned on average $31,260.
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