World literacy has risen to 74% globally.
In 2002, the amount of stored information produced globally was equivalent to 37,000 new Library of Congress book collections. It would take about 30 feet of books to store the amount of recorded information produced per person in the world each year.
In the UK more than 4 million closed-circuit TV cameras are trained on public spaces; a shopper in London can expect to be captured on video several hundred times a day.
The world's fastest supercomputer, Blue Gene/L, run by IBM and the Department of Energy, can now run an exponentially staggering 270 trillion calculations per second.
Percentage of Brits who claimed no religious affiliation in 2000: 44%.
That percentage in 1983: 31%.
Percentage of the British population that will be attending church services in 2040: 0.5%
In the US, incidence of depression in the year 2000 was 10 times what it was in 1900.
Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea had 780,000 members in 2003.
An estimated 4 million people are smuggled or trafficked across international borders each year.
In 2003, transactions in counterfeit products accounted for more than 7 percent of global trade, or $500 billion. 10% of all car parts sold in Europe and 10 percent of all pharmaceuticals sold worldwide are black-market counterfeits. Ninety percent of the software running on computers in China has been pirated.
New strains of staphylococcus kill 20,000 patients a year in U.S. hospitals.
Tuberculosis had been nearly eliminated by modern drugs. But now 2 billion people are estimated to have the disease, 60 million of them victims of fatal, drug resistant forms.
The last pandemic, in 1918, killed 50 million people. WHO estimated that a new pandemic, the first of this century, would affect between 20 and 30 percent of the world's population; in its best-case scenarios of the nest pandemic, up to 7 million people would die and tens of millions would get sick.
There are 80,000 computer viruses "alive" in the world today.
In 2003, Americans spent $991 million on liposuction, $667 million on nose jobs, and $54 million on chin augmentation.
Tourism is the world's largest employer, accounting for one in every 10 workers worldwide. In 2003, 691 million people traveled the world as tourists, spending an estimated $523 billion.
Spectator sports are estimated to have revenues of $102.5 billion in 2008.
China has 94 million Internet users.
A mere 0.2 percent of the world's inhabitants had a mobile phone in 1991; by the end of 2004, 1.5 billion were mobile phone users, close to one out of every four people on the planet. In July 2004, China had 310.2 million mobile phone subscribers - an increase of 40.3 million since January 2004.
in 2004, more than 8 million people in the U.S. created their own blogs. 32 million U.S. citizens were regular blog readers.
By 2009, the worldwide market for online games could reach $9.8 billion.
China still uses only 10 percent of the energy used by Americans.
More than one billion people today lack access to safe drinking water, and almost 2.5 billion lack adequate sanitation. Five million children die each year from illnesses associated with dirty water.
In the U.S., a coronary artery bypass costs about $98,000, but in India it costs just $8,000.
1 billion people globally are in need of corrective lenses but cannot afford them.
The number of people living in poverty (defined as living on less than a dollar a day) is still 1.3 billion people, roughly a quarter of the global population.
Between 2002 and 2020, 68 million people will die from AIDS in the developing world.
There are typically around 30 significant conflicts (those with over 1,000 casualties, military and civilian raging in the world, and the vast majority of them are being fought within nations rather than between them.
There have been more than 20 major civil wars in Africa since 1960.
Income per person in the 20 poorest countries was $267 in 2002. In contrast, the richest 20 nations had per person income of $32,339.
In 1700, Earth was home to around 600 million people. By 1800 it was 900 million, and by 1900 it had doubled to 1.9 billion. During the last century alone, the population has nearly quadrupled to the current 6.5 billion. Every year 78 million people are born onto the planet. The world population is expected to increase by 50 percent to 9 billion by 2050.
In 1960, one-third of the world's population lived in the developed world; today it is one-fifth.
Right now, Europe has 35 pensioners for every 100 people of productive working age; that ration is projected to shift to 75 pensioners for every 100 workers by 2050.
99% of all population growth between now and 2050 will occur in the developing world, predominantly in its poorest nations.
Today, the planet's 1 billion wealthiest people consume more than 50 percent of the world's energy supply, while the 1 billion poorest use only 4 percent.
Today, more than 175 million people on the planet reside in a country other than the one in which they were born.
In the year 2000, 174.9 million people migrated from one country to another.
In 1985, there were only nine cities in the world with more than 10 million inhabitants. By 2015, there will be more than 20 cities of this scale. A third of those cities will be home to more than 20 million people. Sao Paulo and Mumbai both have roughly 18 million inhabitants; Shanghai has about 14 million, and Lagos roughly 13 million. Projections for their 2015 populations are extraordinary: Mumbai to 22 million, Sao Paulo to 21 million, Lagos to 16 million.
India now has 32 cities with more than a million residents; by 2015 it will increase to 50 cities. China already has more than 160 cities with populations of more than 1 million.
Every 20 minutes, a species of animal or plant life disappears from the planet, with more than 26,000 species lost every year.
All information for this blog came from Powerful Times: rising to the challenge of our uncertain world, Eamonn Kelly. 2006, Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 0-13-185520-4. The book is well worth the read.