50 Facts to change the world
There’s nothing quite like a good statistic or strange fact to get people to come round to your point of view.
Roll up Jessica Williams, who has collected a series of seemingly random facts and written a helpful introduction to the issues raised by each of the alarming statistics. Williams’ aim is simple – each of the fifty facts can change the way we think, which is consequential because “when it comes to changing the world, that’s the most important step we can take.” I like this woman, she speaks sense. There is no high-fallutin’ jargon that no one understands and is interesting for ignoramuses and those already interested in healing the world and making it a better place alike.
- An average Japanese woman can expect to live to 84; her counterpart in Botswana will die at 39.
- Black men born in the US stand a one-in-three chance of going to jail. For white men the odds are one in 17.
- One in five of the world’s population - 1.25 billion people - is undernourished.
- One third of the world population is in war. In 2002, 30 countries were fighting in 37 armed conflicts - a combined population of 2.29 billion people.
- A quarter of the world’s armed conflicts of recent years have involved a struggle for natural resources.
- Childeren living in poverty are three times more likely to suffer mental illness than children from wealthy families.
- Eighty-one per cent of the world’s executions in 2002 took place in just three countries: China, Iran and the USA.
- Supermarkets in the UK know more about their customers than the government does. They use loyalty cards to determine your income and what your interests are.
- Same-sex relationships are illegal in more than 70 countries. In nine - including Afghanistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia - the penalty is death.
- The UK has the second-highest rate of teen pregnancies in the developed world, behind the US. There are 30.8 births for every 1,000 teenagers. Teenage mothers are twice as likely to live in poverty.
- There are 44 million child labourers in India, some working 16-hour days.
- People in industrialised countries eat between six and seven kilograms of food additives every year. A ham sandwich can contain up to 13 E-numbers.
- Every hour, UK households throw away enough rubbish to fill the Royal Albert Hall.
- There are 27 million slaves in the world.
- In 2003 the defence budget of the USA was roughly 396 billion (thousand million), which is 33 times the total budget of the 7 rogue states - Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria together.
- The US owes the United Nations $1bn in unpaid dues. Yet it spends the same amount on its military programme every 23 hours.
- Roughly 70% of the world population has never heard a dialing tone.
- Every cow in the EEG gets a subsidy of $2,50. Three out of four Africans have less than that to live on.
- One of five people have to live from less then $1,00 a day.
- In China, as a result of the preference for sons over daughters and the country’s one-child-per-family law, there are 44 million fewer women than men.
- Golfer Tiger Woods is the world’s highest-paid sportsman, earning $78 million a year ($148.= per second), including $55,000 a day for wearing Nike caps - which Thai workers get $5.00 a day to make.
- Every week an average 88 children are expelled from US schools for carrying a gun.
- Landmines kill or maim one person every hour.
- Cars kill two people every minute.
- There are at least 300,000 prisoners of conscience, often held in appalling conditions, sometimes tortured, simply for peacefully expressing their own beliefs.
- Twenty-six million people voted in the 2001 UK General Election. More than 32 million votes were cast in the first series of Pop Idol.
- Nearly half of British 15-year-olds have tried illegal drugs and nearly a quarter are regular cigarette smokers.
- In Kenya, bribery payments make up a third of the average household budget.
- The world’s trade in illegal drugs is estimated to be worth around £225bn - about the same as the world’s pharmaceutical industry.
- To fly a kiwi fruit from New Zealand to the UK means five times its weight in greenhouse gases being pumped into the atmosphere.
- More than 150 countries are known to use torture.
- Americans spend £5.6bn on pornography every year - the same amount their government spends on foreign aid.
- The average urban Briton is caught on camera 300 times a day. With 10 per cent of the world’s 30 million CCTV cameras, we are the most watched nation in the world.
- In 2001, 13.2 million Americans and 2.5 million Britons had plastic surgery.
- Brazil has more Avon ladies than members of its armed forces. Physical beauty is so highly prized that calling someone vain is a compliment.
- Eighty-two per cent of the world’s smokers live in developing countries.
- The world’s oil reserves could be exhausted by 2040.
- Almost 30 million Africans are HIV-positive. By 2050 the disease may have claimed as many as 280 million lives.
- Ten languages die out every year.
- More people die from suicide than in armed conflicts. In the past 45 years, suicide rates have grown by 60 per cent worldwide.
- Seven million American women and one million American men suffer from an eating disorder.
- There are 67,000 people employed in the lobbying industry in Washington DC - 125 for each member of Congress.
- Since 1977, there have been 80,000 acts of violence or disruption at abortion clinics in North America.
- There are 300,000 child soldiers fighting in conflicts around the world.
- More people can identify the golden arches of McDonald’s than the Christian cross. The same goes for the Shell oil logo, the Mercedes badge and the Olympic rings.
- A third of the world’s obese people live in the developing world. Campaigners blame Western countries for dumping cheap, processed, fatty foods on poorer nations.
- More than 12,000 women are killed in Russia every year as a result of domestic violence.
- Sixty-one per cent of British teenagers believe aliens have landed on Earth, while 39 per cent have any belief in Christianity.
- Two million girls and women are subjected to genital mutilation every year.
- Some 120,000 women and girls are trafficked into Western Europe every year. The UN estimates the trade is worth £4bn a year.
- 50 facts that should change the world, Jessica Williams, 2004
- Ikon, Dutch Broadcast, De andere wereld.