Vital Signs, Volume 20 (2013)

Vital Signs Volume 20 (2013)
ISBN: 978-1-61091-456-7
Release date: July 2013.

Tracking key trends in the environment, agriculture, energy, society, and the economy to inform and inspire the changes needed to build a sustainable world.

Trend Collections

  • Energy and Transportation 
  • Environment and Climate 
  • Food and Agriculture 
  • Global Economy and Resources 
  • Population and Society 

From meat consumption to automobile production to hydropower, Vital Signs, Volume 20 documents over two dozen trends that are shaping our future in concise analyses and clear tables and graphs. The twentieth volume of the Worldwatch Institute series demonstrates that while remarkable progress has been made over the past year, much remains to be done to get the planet on a more sustainable track.
Worldwide, people are waking up to the realities of a resource-constrained planet: investments and subsidies for renewable energy have reached new heights, consumers are slowly shifting away from meat-heavy diets, and new employment structures like co-operatives are democratizing the global economy. Yet with over 1 billion people lacking access to electricity, natural disasters that are more costly than ever before, and an adherence to the factory farm model of food production, it is clear that many obstacles loom on the horizon. 
Covering a wide range of environmental, economic, and social themes, Vital Signs, Volume 20 is the go-to source for straightforward data and analyses on the latest issues facing an increasingly crowded planet. By placing each trend within a global framework, Vital Signs, Volume 20 identifies the solutions we need to transition toward a more sustainable world. 
This book will be especially useful for policymakers, environmental nonprofits, and students of environmental studies, sustainability, or economics.

Further highlights from the report:

  • Coal: Global coal production increased by 6,941 million tons of coal in 2011, making it the fastest-growing fossil fuel. Spurred mainly by demand growth in China and India, coal’s share in the global primary energy mix reached 28 percent in 2011—its highest point since record-keeping began in 1971.
  • Wind power: The global wind power capacity grew by 21 percent in 2011—lower than the 2010 rate of 24 percent and markedly lower than the 2009 rate of 31 percent.
  • Automobile production: Passenger-car production rose from 60.1 million in 2010 to 62.6 million in 2011—and 2012 may have brought a new all-time record of 66.1 million.
  • Meat production and consumption: Global meat production surpassed 300 million tons for the first time in 2012; annual meat consumption increased just .4 percent to 42.5 kilograms per capita.
  • Women farmers: Women farmers produce more than half of all food worldwide and currently account for 43 percent of the global agricultural workforce; at the same time, however, women own just 2 percent of global farmland.
  • Natural disasters: During 2011, a total of 820 natural catastrophes were documented, causing an estimated 27,000 deaths and costing a record $380 billion in losses.
  • Wage growth: Among the global workforce, wage growth has slowed from an average of 3 percent in 2007 to 2.1 percent in 2010 to 1.2 percent in 2011.
Vital Signs Online

Be sure to check out Vital Signs Online (VSO), our interactive, subscription-based tool that provides hard data and research-based insights on the sustainability trends that are shaping our future. Created for business leaders, policymakers, academics, and engaged citizens, VSO can be used for strategic planning, understanding world events, or as a reference source for presentations and reports.

Updated twice a month, Vital Signs Online includes more than 40 sustainability trends—and the list is growing.

A subscription includes:

  • More than 24 new or updated trends every year, released twice a month
  • Concise, unbiased, data-driven analysis by authoritative researchers
  • Presentation-ready charts and graphs
  • Excel worksheets for data manipulation and comparative analysis
  • Full endnote referencing
  • Global trends in five categories: Food & Agriculture, Energy & Transportation, Environment & Climate, Global Economy & Resources, Population & Society

For more information, visit

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