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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Resource-related conflicts during the 1990s killed more than 5 million people and displaced 17 to 21 million. Roughly one-quarter of the world’s 50 wars and armed conflicts of recent years have involved a struggle for control of natural resources like gemstones, timber, and oil—all of which are highly valued by wealthy consumers in the developed world.
Wind power is now the world's fastest growing power source. Global wind-generating capacity grew by 27 percent in 2002 and is projected to expand 15-fold over the next 20 years. Europe houses nearly 73 percent of global wind capacity, with more than half of this capacity in Germany.