This is the most up-to-date information on a diverse range of global trends. Vital Signs, Volume 21 is all about growth. From natural disasters to cars to organic farming, the two dozen trends examined here indicate both increasing pressure on natural resources and scaled up efforts to live more sustainably.
In 2012, world car production set yet another record with passenger-car production rising to 66.7 million. That same year, the number of natural disasters climbed to 905, roughly one hundred more than the 10-year annual average, and 90 percent were weather related. Alongside these mounting pressures come investments in renewable energy and sustainable agriculture. The number of acres of land farmed organically has tripled since 1999, though it still makes up less than 1 per cent of total farmland.
Not all the statistics are going up. Key measures of development aid have fallen, as have global commodity prices. Yet the overall trend is expansion, both for the good and ill of the planet. Vital Signs provides the latest data available, but its value goes beyond simple numbers. Through insightful analysis of global trends, it offers a starting point for those seeking solutions to the future's intensifying challenges.
Energy and Transportation Trends
Growth of Global Solar and Wind Energy Continues to Outpace Other Technologies\ Matt Lucky, Michelle Ray, and Mark Konold
Policy Support for Renewable Energy Continues to Grow and Evolve \ Evan Musolino
Nuclear Power Recovers Slightly, But Global Future Uncertain \ Alexander Ochs and Michelle Ray
Fossil Fuels Dominate Primary Energy Consumption \ Milena Gonzalez and Matt Lucky
Energy/Electricity Subsidies \ Alexander Ochs and Philipp Tagwerker
Record High for Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions \ Katie Auth
Automobile Production Sets New Record, But Alternative Vehicles Grow Slowly \ Michael Renner
Air Transport Keeps Expanding \ Michael Renner
Food and Agriculture Trends
Global Food Prices Continue to Rise \Sophie Wenzlau
Agriculture and Livestock Remain Major Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions \ Laura Reynolds
Agricultural Populations \ Sophie Wenzlau
Agricultural Subsidies \ Grant Potter
Global Economy and Resources Trends
More Businesses Pursue Triple Bottom Line for a Sustainable Economy \ Colleen Cordes
Development Aid Falls Short, While Other Financial Flows Show Rising Volatility \ Michael Renner and Cameron Scherer
Commodity Supercycle Slows Down in 2012 \ Mark Konold
Global Economy: Looks Good from Afar But is Far from Good \ Mark Konold
Marine Conservation \ Katie Auth
Population and Society Trends
Natural Catastrophes in 2012 Dominated by U.S. Weather Extremes \ Petra Löw
Number of Displaced People Rises \ Michael Renner
Military Expenditures Remain Near Peak \ Michael Renner
World Population: Fertility Surprise Implies More Populous Future \ Robert Engelman
Women in Politics \ Robert Engelman and Janice Pratt
Mobile Phone Growth Slows as Mobile Devices Saturate the Market \ Grant Potter
The Vital signs Series
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Founded in 1974 by farmer and economist Lester Brown, Worldwatch was the first independent research institute devoted to the analysis of global environmental concerns. Worldwatch quickly became recognised by opinion leaders around the world for its accessible, fact-based analysis of critical global issues. Now under the leadership of population expert and author Robert Engelman, Worldwatch develops innovative solutions to intractable problems, emphasising a blend of government leadership, private sector enterprise, and citizen action that can make a sustainable future a reality.