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.
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.
In 2000, Americans drove 128 million cars, traveling 2.3 trillion miles. They consumed 8.2 million barrels of fuel per day and emitted 302 million tons of carbon. People outside the United States use their cars less than Americans. The average car in the United States travels 10 percent more per year than a car in the United Kingdom, about 50 percent more than one in Germany, and almost 200 percent more than a car in Japan.
At the end of 2001, more than 13 million children under the age of 15 in Africa, Asia, and Latin America had lost a parent to AIDS. More than 11 million of these children live in Africa. "Double orphans"—those who have lost both parents—are on the rise. The number of double orphans who have lost at least one parent to AIDS is expected to increase from 3.8 million in 2001 to 6.9 million in 2010.
Global illicit drug sales are estimated between $300 billion and $500 billion each year. This rivals annual drug sales for the pharmaceutical industry, which are $300 billion.
In 2002, international tourism and related activities generated an estimated 199 million jobs—one in every 13 positions worldwide. Despite an industry slowdown caused by the September 2001 terrorist attacks and the global economic situation, tourism-related spending accounted for some $4.2 trillion of global economic activity in 2002.
The human family has more than doubled since 1960. World population pushed over 6.2 billion in 2002, yet last year's growth of 1.18 percent was the lowest since rates peaked above 2 percent in the mid-1960s.
Americans will celebrate Independence Day on July 4 by watching fireworks and firing up their grills. The world’s appetite for meat continues to grow, with 242 million tons produced in 2002, up 2.5 percent from 2001.
From June 30 through July 5, the 27th session of the World Heritage Committee will meet to designate new World Heritage Sites. Between 1978 and 2002, the number of World Heritage Sites worldwide increased from 12 to 730.
Global production of bicycles is on a downward slide, as dealers focus on ridding themselves of excess inventories. But growing interest in more diverse urban transportation systems around the world could put a sluggish market on a new roll.