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Über dieses Buch

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.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Energy and Transportation Trends

Frontmatter

Growth in Global Oil Market Slows

Abstract
Global oil consumption increased by 0.7 percent in 2011 to reach an all-time high of 88.03 million barrels per day.1 (See Figure 1.) This rate of increase was considerably slower than in 2010, when oil consumption rose by 3.3 percent following a decline of 1.3 percent in 2009 due to the global financial crisis.2 China’s oil consumption increased by 5.5 percent in 2011, and China accounted for about 85 percent of global net growth.3 An increase in oil consumption of 5.7 percent in the former Soviet Union contributed another 37 percent of net growth.4 But these increases were offset by declines in the United States and European Union, where oil consumption fell by 1.8 and 2.8 percent.5
Shakuntala Makhijani

Global Coal and Natural Gas Consumption Continue to Grow

Abstract
Global consumption of coal and natural gas continued to grow in 2011. Coal use increased by 5.4 percent to 3,724.3 million tons of oil equivalent (mtoe) from the end of 2010 to the end of 2011.1 Demand for natural gas grew by 2.2 percent in 2011, reaching 2,905.6 mtoe.2
Matt Lucky, Reese Rogers

China Drives Global Wind Growth

Abstract
In 2011, global wind power capacity topped out at 238,000 megawatts (MW) after adding just over 41,000 MW.1 (See Figure 1.) This means that the global 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.2 Nonetheless, the world now has four times as much installed wind power capacity as in 2005, just seven years ago.3
Mark Konold, Samantha Bresler

Hydropower and Geothermal Growth Slows

Abstract
Although hydropower and geothermal power are in very different stages of development, the market for these forms of electricity generation is increasing. These two sources are not subject to the variability that plagues wind and solar energy. Their greater reliability can thus be harnessed to provide baseload power.1
Evan Musolino

Smart Grid and Energy Storage Installations Rising

Abstract
Driven by increasing shares of renewable energy in the electricity generation mix and by the need to update aging grid infrastructure, global investment in “smart grid” technologies rose 7 percent in 2012, totaling $13.9 billion worldwide.1 A smart grid is an electricity network that uses digital information and communications technologies to improve the efficiency and reliability of electricity transport.2 The increasing use of highly variable energy resources requires sophisticated control systems to facilitate their integration into the electricity grid.
Reese Rogers

Fossil Fuel and Renewable Energy Subsidies on the Rise

Abstract
A recent projection places the total value of conventional global fossil fuel subsidies between $775 billion and more than $1 trillion in 2012, depending on which supports are included in the calculation.1 In contrast, total subsidies for renewable energy stood at $66 billion in 2010, although that was a 10 percent increase from the previous year.2 Two thirds of these subsidies went to renewable electricity resources and the remaining third to biofuels.3
Alexander Ochs, Eric Anderson, Reese Rogers

Continued Growth in Renewable Energy Investments

Abstract
Emerging from the global economic recession, investments in renewable energy technologies continued their steady rise in 2011. Total new investments in renewable power and fuels (excluding large hydropower and solar hot water) jumped 17 percent—reaching $257 billion, up from $220 billion in 2010.1 (See Figure 1.) In a year marked by falling costs for renewable energy technologies, net investment in renewable power capacity was $40 billion greater than investment in fossil fuel capacity.2 (Through the first half of 2012, however, total investment fell behind the impressive pace set the previous year, attracting slightly under $108 billion compared with nearly $125 billion in the first half of 2011.)3
Evan Musolino, Xing Fu-Bertaux

Auto Production Roars to New Records

Abstract
Following a plunge in output triggered by the global economic crisis, world auto production came roaring back to new peaks. According to London-based IHS Automotive, passengercar 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.1 (See Figure 1.) Even though output of light trucks has declined, the combined numbers for passenger vehicles rose from 74.4 million in 2010 to 76.8 million in 2011 and may have surpassed 80 million in 2012.2
Michael Renner

Environment and Climate Trends

Frontmatter

Carbon Dioxide Emissions and Concentrations on the Rise as Kyoto Era Fades

Abstract
According to on-site measurements by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, global atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations reached 391.3 parts per million (ppm) in 2011, up from 388.56 ppm in 2010 and from 280 ppm in preindustrial times.1 (See Figure 1.) Carbon dioxide accounts for more than 70 percent of the greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere and—thanks to its very long life span—is the most important anthropogenic greenhouse gas responsible for global warming.2
Xing Fu-Bertaux

Carbon Capture and Storage Experiences Limited Growth in 2011

Abstract
Funding for large-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects remained relatively unchanged in 2011, with total funding from governments reaching $23.5 billion.1 (See Figure 1.) Overall, the number of active and planned largescale CCS projects declined in 2011, although the total operating storage capacity increased.
Matt Lucky

Food and Agriculture Trends

Frontmatter

Global Grain Production at Record High Despite Extreme Climatic Events

Abstract
In 2012, global grain production was expected to reach a record high of 2.37 billion tons, an increase of 1 percent from 2011 levels.1 (See Figure 1.) Grain crops are used for human consumption, animal feed, and biofuels. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the production of grain for animal feed is growing the fastest—a 2.1 percent increase from 2011.2 Grain for direct consumption by people grew 1.1 percent from 2011.3 Grain used for biofuel production and other non-feed uses has slowed to a 1 percent increase from 2011 (compared with an 8.2 percent increase from 2008 to 2009).4
Danielle Nierenberg, Katie Spoden

Disease and Drought Curb Meat Production and Consumption

Abstract
Global meat production rose to 297 million tons in 2011, an increase of 0.8 percent over 2010 production levels.1 By the end of 2012, meat production was projected to reach 302 million tons, an increase of 1.6 percent over 2011.2 These are relatively low rates of growth compared with previous years: in 2010, meat production rose by 2.6 percent, and since 2001 production has risen by 20 percent.3 (See Figure 1.) According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), record drought in the American Midwest, disease outbreaks, and rising prices of livestock feed in 2011 and 2012 all contributed to the lower rises in production.4 Natural disasters in Japan and Pakistan also constrained output and disrupted trade.5
Laura Reynolds, Danielle Nierenberg

Farm Animal Populations Continue to Grow

Abstract
Farm animal populations continue to increase worldwide. The number of chickens raised for human consumption increased 169 percent between 1980 and 2010, from 7.2 billion to 19.4 billion.1 (See Table 1.) During the same period, the population of goats and sheep reached 2 billion, and the cattle population grew 17 percent to reach 1.4 billion.2 The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research estimates that by 2050 the global poultry population will grow to nearly 35 billion, the goat and sheep population to 2.7 billion, and the cattle population to 2.6 billion animals.3
Danielle Nierenberg, Laura Reynolds

Aquaculture Tries to Fill World’s Insatiable Appetite for Seafood

Abstract
Total global fish production, including both wild capture fish and aquaculture, reached an all-time high of 154 million tons in 2011.1 (See Figure 1.) Wild capture was 90.4 million tons that year, up 2 percent from 2010.2 This followed a 1.6 percent decline from 2009 to 2010.3 The 2011 global capture figure matched the 2007 total of 90.3 million tons, which broke a four-year pattern of declining global wild capture.4 Since the late 1980s, however, wild capture production has essentially stagnated.5
Katie Spoden, Danielle Nierenberg

Area Equipped for Irrigation at Record Levels, But Expansion Slows

Abstract
In 2009, the most recent year for which global data are available from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 311 million hectares in the world were equipped for irrigation.1 (See Figure 1.) As of 2010, the countries with the largest areas were India (66.3 million), China (62.9 million hectares), and the United States (24.7 million).2
Judith Renner

Organic Agriculture Contributes to Sustainable Food Security

Abstract
In 2010, the most recent year for which data are available, organic farming accounted for approximately 0.9 percent of total agricultural land around the world.1 While this is still a minuscule share, since 1999 the land area farmed organically has expanded more than threefold: 37 million hectares of land are now organically farmed, including land that is in the process of being converted from conventional agricultural practices.2 (See Figure 1.)
Catherine Ward, Laura Reynolds

Investing in Women Farmers

Abstract
Women farmers produce more than half of all food worldwide and currently account for 43 percent of the global agricultural labor force.1 Indeed, the global food and agriculture system depends more on the contributions of women farmers today than ever before. Women produce as much as 50 percent of the agricultural output in South Asia and 80 percent in sub-Saharan Africa.2 (See Table 1.)
Seyyada A. Burney, Danielle Nierenberg

Foreign Investment in Agricultural Land Down from 2009 Peak

Abstract
Since 2000, an estimated 70.2 million hectares (ha) of agricultural land have been sold or leased to private and public investors.1 This is a land mass roughly the size of the Democratic Republic of Congo and is 1.4 percent of the world’s agricultural land.2 The bulk of these acquisitions, which are called “land grabs” by some observers, took place between 2008 and 2010 (the most recent year for which data are available), peaking in 2009. Although data for 2010 indicate that the area acquired dropped considerably after the 2009 peak, the figure still remains well above pre-2005 levels.3 (See Figure 1.)
Cameron Scherer

Global Economy and Resources Trends

Frontmatter

Wage Gap Widens as Wages Fail to Keep Pace with Productivity

Abstract
The economic crisis in 2008 was one of the harsher signs that economic globalization has gone hand in hand with increased volatility and turbulence. It caused the ranks of the unemployed to swell from 169 million in 2007 to 198.4 million in 2009, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).1 Although the number temporarily dipped to 193.1 million in 2011, a preliminary estimate for 2012 indicated it was back up to 197.3 million.2 And the number of workers in vulnerable employment globally was estimated at close to 1.54 billion in 2012—about 55 percent of total employment worldwide—up from 1.39 billion in 2000.3
Michael Renner

Metals Production Recovers

Abstract
Global production of key metals surged 14.3 percent in 2010 (the latest year with data) to a record 1.48 billion tons, in a robust recovery from the sharp decline spurred by the 2009 global recession.1 (See Figure 1.) The increase marks a return to the steep rise in metals production of the past decade, driven in part by the rapid economic expansion of newly prosperous developing countries such as China, India, and Brazil.
Gary Gardner

Municipal Solid Waste Growing

Abstract
Some 1.3 billion tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) are generated globally each year, a volume that is increasing rapidly as urbanization, mass consumption, and throw-away lifestyles become more prevalent worldwide.1 The volume of MSW generated globally is projected to double by 2025 as two drivers of garbage generation—prosperity and urbanization—continue to advance, particularly in developing countries.2 The trend poses serious environmental and health challenges to cities worldwide.3 To the extent that MSW is not treated as a resource—and in most countries it is not—it stands as an indicator of economic unsustainability.
Gary Gardner

Losses from Natural Disasters Reach New Peak in 2011

Abstract
During 2011, a total of 820 natural catastrophes were documented, a decrease of 15 percent from the 970 events registered in 2010.1 But the 2011 figure is in line with the average of 790 events during 2001–10 and is considerably above the average of 630 events during 1981–2010.2 (See Figure 1.)
Petra Löw

The Looming Threat of Water Scarcity

Abstract
Some 1.2 billion people—almost one fifth of the world—live in areas of physical water scarcity, while another 1.6 billion face what can be called economic water shortage.1 The situation is only expected to worsen as population growth, climate change, investment and management shortfalls, and inefficient use of existing resources restrict the amount of water available to people. It is estimated that by 2025, fully 1.8 billion people will live in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, with almost half of the world living in conditions of water stress.2
Supriya Kumar

Advertising Spending Continues Gradual Rebound, Driven by Growth in Internet Media

Abstract
Global expenditures on advertising grew 3.3 percent in 2012 to $497.3 billion.1 (See Figure 1.) The United States continues to account for the largest share of total spending, although its share is shrinking. U.S. advertising expenditures grew by 4.3 percent in 2012 and are still nearly a third of the global total.2 (See Figure 2.) The Asia Pacific region accounted for the fastest growth, however, with ad spending there increasing by 7.9 percent in 2012 (excluding Japan, which grew by 3.1 percent and is measured separately as a fully industrialized economy).3 Expenditures fell by 2.2 percent in Western Europe, the only region to see a decline, largely due to the ongoing Eurozone crisis.4 The 2012 growth continues the gradual rebound since advertising spending worldwide dropped by a sudden 9.6 percent in 2009 as a result of the global economic downturn.5
Shakuntala Makhijani

Population and Society Trends

Frontmatter

Emerging Co-operatives

Abstract
Approximately 1 billion people in 96 countries now belong to a co-operative—a form of business characterized by democratic ownership and governance—according to the International Co-operative Alliance.1 Co-operatives are low-profile but powerful economic actors, with the world’s 300 largest ones generating revenues in 2008 of more than $1.6 trillion.2 If these businesses were a national economy, they would rank ninth in the world—ahead of the economy of Spain.3
Gary Gardner

Climate Change Migration Often Short-Distance and Circular

Abstract
Recent reports suggest that climate change, and in particular sea level rise, may be occurring faster than earlier anticipated.1 This has increased policy and public discussions as to climate change’s likely impacts on population movements, both internal and international. Traditional understandings of migration fall increasingly short of integrating the panoply of reasons why people now decide to move.
Lori Hunter

Urbanizing the Developing World

Abstract
Census data in 2010 indicate that cities are home to 3.5 billion people, which is 50.5 percent of the world’s population.1 Only two centuries ago, humans were predominately rural dwellers, with just 3 percent of us living in cities.2 According to U.N. estimates, the balance tipped sometime in 2008, when more people lived in urban areas than in rural communities—a first in the history of humanity.3
Grant Potter

U.N. Funding Increases, But Falls Short of Global Tasks

Abstract
Governments have tasked the United Nations with a growing number of global mandates, but they have provided it with very few resources to carry out the work. U.N. funding is minuscule in contrast with that of other public bodies. The regular budget of the organization—$2.2 billion in 2011—is less than the total annual spending of the Tokyo Fire Department.1 The United Nations’ host city, New York, had a 2011 budget of $66 billion, about 30 times bigger than U.N. core outlays.2 The small U.N. budget is striking in view of the multiplying global crises that need commonly decided international solutions—including climate change, financial instability, resource limits, transborder disease, and poverty.
Michael Renner, James Paul

Backmatter

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