(Translate this site)
Back to the MASTER Table of Contents of the Signposts Timeline
|-- Mankind Pursues Forbidden Fruit, Via Computer JAY BOOKMAN; COMPUTER NEWS DAILY - NYT SYNDICATE/Cox News Service, found on or about 4-11-2000|
Imperialism denotes a historical practice of domination over other peoples and/or lands by a particular government or society. Imperialism goes back to the very beginnings of human civilization. The most recent instances include European and American expansion during the industrial revolution, wherein America and Europe essentially took over many smaller or less powerful nations, in some cases classifying them as colonies. In the aftermath of World War II most of these nations gained their independence. However, many claim a new sort of imperialism has taken form since then, based on the trade policies, capital control, and power and influence of multi-national corporations and the governments of developed nations.
|-- "imperialism", page 389, The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, Second Edition, 1989, Columbia University Press|
There are signs this new imperialism may not only apply to developing countries, but increasingly threaten the individual citizens of developed nations as well. Threaten them how? With items like a worsening global environment, increasing health problems (and attendant higher medical bills), greater workplace stresses, stagnating or even declining living standards due to rising prices for food, shelter, and other necessities, and other generally undesirable changes to daily life. Governments and business are instituting deep and wide surveillance of the public, as well as routinely examining and using their medical records and other personal information to control or manipulate them, often without the knowledge or agreement of the rightful owners. Corporations are exploiting resource-short patent offices in nations like USAmerica, as well as the bureaucratic confusion caused by multiple disruptive technologies impacting society simultaneously (such as the internet, among others), to seize an enormous amount of future power and wealth by laying wild claims to huge swaths of effectively common knowledge and practices of the time (such as internet hyper-links in the case of British Telecom, to offer one example) or to possible but as yet unrealized exploitations of natural mechanisms such as particular human genes in vague but broad reaching patents upon same. Various copyrights for corporations are being essentially extended into perpetuity to guarantee indefinite cash flow from images and content created in some cases many, many decades before; thus, the concept of public domain is effectively being relegated to the trash heap. Even former 'fair use' policies for copyrighted materials by the public appear in danger. In nations like the USA there are ongoing attempts to effectively shut down public libraries by banning the practice of free access to knowledge or content of all sorts. Fortunately the phenomena of open source appears to offer one small light at the end of this particular tunnel, circa 2000.
20th century humanity shared 98.5% of its DNA with chimpanzees, 97.9% with gorillas, and 50% with yeast.
-- "Chimpanzees Offer Window In Time On Human Genes" By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent, Reuters/http://dailynews.yahoo.com/ News June 1 1999, and Mankind Pursues Forbidden Fruit, Via Computer JAY BOOKMAN; COMPUTER NEWS DAILY - NYT SYNDICATE/Cox News Service (http://www.coxnews.com), found on or about 4-11-2000
Humans possess about the same number of genes as corn (30,000).
-- 'Darwin vindicated!' By Arthur Caplan, Ph.D. SPECIAL TO MSNBC, Feb. 21, 2001
The past history of humanity amounts to less than 1% of the history of life itself on Earth.
-- We've Moved Up a Bit From the Center of the Universe By K.C. COLE, February 15, 2001, Los Angeles Times [NOTE: There's some confusion regarding dates here; 2001 was date-stamped on this article, and that's the year I found it online, but the LA Times HTML gave the year 2000 for the copyright date], http://www.latimes.com/news/science/science/20010215/t000013717.html
Roughly 85% of the genomes of mouse and human are the same.
-- The Newly Sequenced Genome Bares All by Jessa Netting and Linda Wang, From Science News, Vol. 159, No. 7, Feb. 17, 2001, p. 100; Science Service, sciserv.org; more information available at http://genome.ucsc.edu and http://www.celera.com
The typical person's entire genetic code could be stored in about the same disk space as Microsoft Office on CD.
-- The new convergence: Infotech, biotech and nanotech By Steve Jurvetson, February 14, 2001, CNET Networks, Inc
According to DNA, the ancestors of all people on Earth today were black Africans. Indeed, it may be impossible as of 2001 to determine the race of any given human DNA sample from anywhere in the world, as we are all so virtually identical at the genetic level. All people everywhere are 99.9+% indentical in their genetic make up.
Human beings have about twice the number of genes as certain types of worms and share 85% of their genetic sequences with dogs.
Evolution is driven by mutations in males, as that's where most occur. Thus, most evolutionary advances are generated in human males. However, males are responsible for most detrimental mutations too, such as genetically-based diseases and malformations.
-- Door opens on deeper mysteries by Tim Radford, February 12, 2001, The Guardian
The average human being thinks at two millimeters per hour, may use up to two Gigabytes of memory storage (brain-wise) at some point during their lives, and process 10 Terabytes of information by 80 years of age.
The speed of human thought circa 2000 AD is two millimeters per hour, in terms of the pace of its molecular processes. The brain's neural network of 100 billion neurons, each connected to a thousand of the others, allows for about 200 calculations every second.
-- Bill Gates runs M$ at 2mm per hour By Drew Cullen, 06/07/2000
In tests human subjects required about a fourth of a second (or 250-300 milliseconds) for understanding of an image is begin to coalesce, and 250-450 milliseconds more for full comprehension (complete identification of the object in the picture) to take place. When the object displayed was familiar to the subject, comprehension occured slightly faster than described above.
-- "Hopkins Scientists Clock The Speed Of Comprehension New Data To Aid Efforts To Understand How The Brain Processes Language", Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions , 5-25-98
The utilized memory space of a single human being may range somewhere between 200 Megabytes and 2 Gigabytes over a lifetime.
-- How Much Information Is There In the World? by Michael Lesk (found on the web on or about 3-11-99).
Another measure of human consciousness might be not the quantity stored, but the quantity processed.
The average 80 year old person will have processed some 10 terabytes of data during their lifetime.
-- estimate from British Telecom, according to Fortean Slips: The Soul Catcher by D. Trull Enigma Editor firstname.lastname@example.org, 1996, found on or about 3-6-2000
The average person probably has a maximum potential of reading (with full comprehension) around 600 words per minute (this is also their maximum information input/processing rate in general). The average business manager might read one million words a week.
-- Consequences of the Digital Age, the San Jose Mercury News, found on or about 3-7-97
Some fundamental aspects of human nature circa 1998 included desires to learn, act in a moral way, be socially and sexually accepted and involved in various relationships with others, gain prestige and influence among chosen social circles, engage in physical activities, be independent, retaliate against perceived offenses, and see justice served. Dislikes or discomfort stemmed from hunger, pain, and anxiety.
To scientists, only the desires for justice and independence, and the fear of rejection seem to be unrelated to genetic imperatives (and so be culturally-instilled behaviors or goals).
|-- "PEOPLE GUIDED BY 15 FUNDAMENTAL DESIRES AND VALUES, STUDY FINDS", 6-15-98, Ohio State University|
As of 1999 AD computing speed was doubling each and every year, in terms of unit cost
|-- The Web Within Us By Ray Kurzweil, email@example.com, Business 2.0: WEB FUTURE, December 1999: The Next 1000 Years, http://www.business2.com/|
Computer-related viruses cost humanity some $17 billion in 2000
Computer viruses cost the world over $17 billion in 2000 alone-- up from $12 billion in 1999.
-- Virus Attacks Cost Organizations $17.1 Billion in 2000, January 5, 2001, Computer Economics, Inc., Carlsbad, California, Contact: Michael Erbschloe, Phone: 760-438-8100, ext. 157 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
As of 1997, despite all our pride in modern science and technology, Mother Earth was still paying roughly half our true bills
Researchers in 1997 determined a conservative estimate of $33 trillion per year for the value of goods and services provided to humanity by natural processes on Earth. This value does not include the fossil fuels and mineral resources being extracted and consumed. The annual GNP of the world at this time is around $18 trillion.
|-- A price tag on the planet's ecosystems by C. Mlot, May 17, 1997, Science News Online, http://www.sciencenews.org|
In 1999 as much as 33% of the global economy may have been dependent upon the variability of climate. Thus, even tiny changes in world climate could have huge effects upon humanity's economic welfare
|-- UniSci Daily 02-Dec-1999, http://unisci.com, Contact: Jonathan Overpeck|
In 2000 farm animal species represent 30-40% of all the economic value in world farming, and two species of such were going extinct on average every week.
One of the very first and most potent resources of early human civilization-- as well as a vital component of contemporary human welfare and productivity-- was and is domesticated animal and plant species.
As of late 2000 the world was losing two such animal species per week, to extinction. Around 1000 such species have already been lost since 1900. Domesticated farm animals are the source of 30-40% of the economic value of farming worldwide.
-- World Loses Two Animal Breeds a Week, Reuters/Yahoo! Science Headlines, December 5, 2000
Fully 25% of all world economic activity and value appears to be concentrated in just 200 corporations, which combined employ less than one percent of of the labor force worldwide; Over half of the 100 largest economies on Earth are now corporations rather than nations
51 of the 100 biggest economic bodies in the world are now corporations rather than nations. Over 25% of the global economy is based upon only 200 corporations, which altogether employ under one percent of the world's labor force.
From 1983 to 1999 profits of the 200 companies described above increased by over 360% while their employment rolls grew by only 14%.
82 of the 200 companies are USA corporations. 41 are Japanese.
Seven of the US companies actually received net tax credits from the federal government rather than paying any taxes for 1998. 44 of the 82 US companies paid less than the 35% federal income tax normally required between 1996 and 1998.
-- Study Reinforces Public Distrust of Corporations, the Institute for Policy Studies, found on or about 12-14-2000
As of 1997, an inflation adjusted scorecard of the return on various investments made in 1802 showed gold as the worst investment of all, and stocks the best
One USAmerican dollar invested in 1802 in:
...a reasonable group of stocks for the time, would be worth a bit more than half a million dollars today.
... in long-term government bonds, would be worth $803 today.
... in short-term bills, $275.
...in gold, 84 cents today (yes, it would have actually lost value).
|-- Robot Wisdom WebLog for June 1998 citing http://www.nybooks.com/nyrev/WWWfeatdisplay.cgi?1998062522F|
As 1999 ended, 120 democracies existed on Earth. A gain of three in a year, and the highest number in history. Most all women everywhere (but for a few Muslim nations) can vote in their native states
|-- World Turned Toward Freedom in 1999, U.S. Says, Reuters/Yahoo! Top Stories Headlines, February 25 2000|
Today, but for a handful of Muslim nations, women worldwide enjoy the right to vote for their political representation.
-- page 905, "woman suffrage", The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, Second Edition, 1989, Columbia University Press
Over two billion people in 86 nations, or almost 41% of the global population was considered to be living in freedom by one study in 2000.
Over one billion people in a separate 59 nations (almost 24% of the global population) were considered to be partially free.
Over 35% of the human population, living in another 47 countries were considered not to be free at all.
During a nine year stint nations classified as free grew 70% faster economically than unfree countries.
-- Survey Shows a Record 40 Percent of World Is Free, Yahoo!/Reuters, Top Stories, December 20, 2000
It may be the peoples of east Asia are more accepting of top-down authority and less naturally dynamic in certain kinds of socio-economic activity than westerners, by their very nature. If true, this would go far to explain the present and past history of both regions, comparatively speaking
East Asians seem to be less surprised than westerners like Americans when events turn out differently than expected, perhaps largely due to different attitudes or mindsets in general. East Asians may allow for more complexity and contradiction in events than westerners do.
Some implications of this may include western populations which are more easily moved to action in response to events, and less accepting of circumstances, while east asians are less easily stirred by unexpected outcomes, and more accepting of same. Such conditions would seem to suggest a greater dynamism of potential social and economic change among westerners, as well as less tolerance for poverty, corruption, dictatorships and totalitarian societies, as compared to east Asians. And indeed, such seems to be the case if present conditions and past histories of both regions are examined.
Note that another possibility here is that westerners simply pay less attention to their fellows and surroundings than eastern peoples, living more inside themselves. This would allow them to be more self-absorbed while also less cognizant of external circumstances-- and thus more easily surprised, scared, outraged, insulted, or angered than many easterners. Such extra emotional charges could easily fuel greater socio-economic activity and individual initiative on the part of westerners compared to their more subdued eastern cousins.
-- Western Mind Sets Itself Up for Surprise By Merritt McKinney, Yahoo!/Reuters Health, December 22, 2000; Cited sources include the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 2000;6:890-905
Modern human populations are disproportionately clustered along coastlines and waterways-- thereby making them very vulnerable to sea level rises due to global warming, as well as tsunamis from earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, cosmic impacts, or undersea landslides and nuclear detonations.
About 33.5% (1.88 billion) of the world's population lives less than 100 vertical meters above sea level, on the mere 15.6% of the Earth's inhabited land which falls into this altitude range. 37% live within 100 horizontal kilometers of a coastline. Please note the difference in units given here (meters versus km).
|-- Populations Taken at the Flood by Robert Irion, 30 November 1998, INSCiGHT/APNet, The American Association for the Advancement of Science|
As of late 2000, roughly 33% of humanity (1.8 billion people) have no more access to electricity than what may be obtained from an automobile battery.
|-- People power by Fred Pearce, From New Scientist magazine, 18 November 2000|
Less than half of current humanity has ever made a phone call (most people have no access to a telephone line as of 2001)
The technology gap between rich and poor nations is widening as of 2001.
Ratios of phone lines per people in the world:
Developed nations: About 50 per 100 persons.
Developing nations: Less than two per 100 persons.
Over 50% of the world's population have never made a single phone call in their entire lives.
Under 5% of the computers on the internet are based in developing nations.
-- Computers Deepen Divide between World's Haves, Have-Nots by Anthony Shadid, found 1-27-2001, The Boston Globe, http://www.boston.com/globe/
More than 200 million people (women and children) are essentially enslaved worldwide today; Organized crime buys and sells up to two million people annually
Organized crime's biggest profit center is illegal drug sales; the second is enslavement of women and children for purposes including but not limited to prostitution. Such slavery is the most rapidly growing international and illegal commerce recognized today. The number of defacto slaves worldwide numbers over 200 million, circa 2000, with 700,000 to 2,000,000 people being bought and sold annually, resulting in criminal profits of perhaps seven billion dollars a year, just from the prostitution revenues. It appears a sizeable number of the globally enslaved toil within the borders of the USA.
-- Mafia Makes Billions From Trafficking People By Philip Pullella, Reuters/Yahoo! Top Stories Headlines, December 14, 2000
About 1,000,000,000 people on Earth go hungry every day. 34,000,000 of the hungry actually live in developed nations like USAmerica. The percentage has remained about the same for five years. Malnourishment results in sickly newborns, failing students in schools, and adults too weak to work their way out of poverty. There are indications that simply reducing world hunger would likely increase world economic growth and prosperity for everyone. But aid from developed nations to developing states was falling rather than rising in the latter years of the 20th century.
Almost one billion people on Earth don't have enough to eat on a daily basis. Close to 400 million of these are in India and China.
-- Age-Old Foe Hunger Can Be Halved Soon--Report, Reuters/Yahoo! Top Stories Headlines, February 10, 2000
Over ten million children younger than five die annually worldwide. The majority of these deaths are due to lack of nourishing food or diseases which could have been prevented. Ten percent of children are disabled. 120 million children, about 60% of them girls, are receiving no primary school education whatsoever.
-- Children still suffering around the world, UNICEF says By EDITH M. LEDERER, http://www.nandotimes.com, Nando Media/Nando Times/Associated Press, January 30, 2001
The percentage of world hungry has remained the same for five years now. 792 million of these are in developing nations, with 34 million in developed countries and/or nations in the midst of changing from developing to developed. Persistent hunger makes for children doing more poorly in school, more weak and ill newborns, and adults without the strength to make the extra effort needed to escape from poverty.
-- UN Reports No Progress in Reducing World Hunger By Hillary Mayell October 16, 2000; related URL: http://www.fao.org/focus/e/sofi00/sofi001-e.htm
The average adult human being can be sustained in good health with food costing less than $2.00 per day (with careful shopping and avoidance of convenience and snack foods). It costs about 25 cents more per day to sustain a man than a woman.
|-- Total daily nutrients cost less than $2 a day By Charnicia E. Huggins, Yahoo!/Reuters Health Headlines April 18 2000|
Actually, since the diet above would probably reduce the total calories and salt consumed compared to an average American's diet of the time, it would likely leave a person in excellent health rather than merely good.
|-- Anti-ageing pill moves closer, BBC news, 24 May, 2000, http://news.bbc.co.uk|
It may be that just as economic growth allows health improvements in a given population, the opposite may also be true: that health improvements themselves can lead to economic growth.
Improvements in health increase productivity and energy on the part of a population, as well as less down time. Health improvements boost life expectancy, which may bring with it a greater demand for education-- since the longer the lifespan the more useful an education can be. More education leads to more productivity and higher incomes. Longer lifespans also make for increased investment, since people must plan for retirement. This expanding investment pool itself allows for more economic growth in a nation-- as well as further improvements in health...
|-- Healthy nations more likely to become wealthy, Reuters Health/Yahoo! Health Headlines, February 17 2000|
International aid from rich to poor nations overall fell by some $7 billion between 1996 and 1997. Humanitarian emergency assistance also fell 40% during the same period.
Such aid is declining even as the need is rising-- there were three times more natural major disasters worldwide during the nineties than the sixties. Part of the tragedy comes from population pressures forcing more and more people to live on marginal lands which are often more subject to disasters of various sorts than other regions.
Increasingly, the selection of who does and does not receive aid is dependent on major news media coverage of events in the developed nations. This often results in some victims/refugees receiving more help than required, while others receive none at all.
|-- What about the disasters that CNN misses? By PETER FORD, Nando Media/Christian Science Monitor Service, August 26, 1999, http://www.nandotimes.com|
A disaster-in-the-making looked imminent in late 2000 as certain governments and corporations sought to seize control of future food production from previously open access and public seed banks; an action which appears foolhardy in the face of looming climate change and booming global populations
In late 2000 certain governments and corporations were attempting to seize control of future world food supplies from international seed banks, via the World Trade Organization. One result may be the banks and associated labs would be forced to auction off their assets into private hands, setting the stage for higher food costs world-wide, and more starvation-- as well as higher profits for mega-corporations. It might increase risks regarding future food availability even for rich nations as well, since effectively destroying the previous open research and development efforts regarding food plants could leave humanity more vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters-- because overall food plant diversity would likely decline, and there'd be fewer potential alternatives to replace species which fall prey to disease or pests or climate variations.
Even prior to this development it was estimated that the world was losing some 2% of such plant varieties per year.
Corporate desires to turn up-to-now free plant varieties into patented cash crops is a major factor in current events. Governments of nations possessing resources like rainforests are also shutting out public seed banks in hopes of generating enormous profits by selling to business.
-- Sold to the highest bidder by Fred Pearce, From New Scientist magazine, 16 December 2000
Perhaps as much as half of modern humanity is suffering a decline in intelligence due to environmental pollution and other problems. Even worse, we often cannot detect our own losses in mental ability, requiring the notice of others to alert us. Half of all cancer cases also seem to stem from mounting toxins in the environment
Man-made poisons in the environment, as well as the loss of certain critical micro-nutrients in the soils producing the world's food, may be reducing the intelligence of millions (or even billions) around the globe. Worse still, our lack of an integrated research effort into these areas leaves us with almost no means to accurately gauge the damage.
-- Pollution 'makes you stupid' By Alex Kirby, 22 April, 2000, BBC News Sci/Tech
The major causes of cancer (well over 50%) stem from exposure to harmful elements of the environment-- not from genetic causes.
-- Nurture Not Nature Main Cause of Cancer - Report By Gene Emery, Reuters/Yahoo! Top Stories, July 13, 2000
Studies show people can lose some intellectual skills without even realizing it. This means for some things we are dependent upon others to note changes in our capabilities which might require medical attention or other elements to remedy or avoid a further decline in same.
This may apply to people of all ages.
-- Declining mental skills can catch you unaware, 14 FEBRUARY 2001, EurekAlert!, US Contact: Barbara Hale, email@example.com, 814-865-9481, Penn State
Over 95% of the world's adults were NOT accessing/using the internet in early 2000.
Under 5% of the world's adults (192 million) is online. Over 50% are non-Americans.
|-- Global growth threatens U.S. reign over the Internet, by Jim Nesbitt, Newhouse News Service, The Seattle Times Company, April 9, 2000|
Of the less than 5% of the world's adults accessing/using the internet in 2000, half speak English as a native language (but only 50% of the total are Americans). 78-80% of web sites are in English. 6% of all world adults speak English natively. 59% of email accounts reside in USAmerica.
By 2000 50% of web users speak English natively. 78% of web sites are in English. Typical office workers receive an average of 40 e-mails a day. 59% of email accounts reside in USAmerica.
The total number of both static and dynamically served pages on the web appears to be around half a trillion (550 billion), of which 95% is accessible to the public. Directly accessible static pages may number 2.5 billion, and be growing at over 7 million a day.
For every single new page of web content created per year, 500 times more e-mail content is produced.
Global newspaper production declined 2% in the previous year while book production rose 2%.
56% of all magnetically stored data resides inside individual desktop PCs. Office workers are creating around 90% of all original hard copy documents in the world.
Pressures are mounting for off-site data storage/archival/security and management services, as well as innovations in data searching and compilation technology.
-- UC Berkeley Professors Measure Exploding World Production Of New Information, Source: University Of California, Berkeley (http://www.berkeley.edu); 10/19/2000, http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2000/10/18_info.html
Under 5% of the world's adults (192 million) is online. Over 50% are non-Americans.
-- Global growth threatens U.S. reign over the Internet, by Jim Nesbitt, Newhouse News Service, The Seattle Times Company, April 9, 2000
80% of the Web is in the English language today, while only 6% of the world population speaks English natively Some claim that the power and accuracy of language translation software for the web is improving at the same pace as microprocessors, invoking Moore's law of doubling in performance every 18 months.
Though human translation efforts would typically offer more accuracy, they would also cost around $50-$60 per page of the web, compared to the basically free services available for this on the web today.
-- Web embraces language translation By Martha L. Stone July 21, 1998, http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn
The circa 2000 world wide web consists of 7,000,000 different sites, of which only 40% are free to the public at large
The web in 2000 possesses 7 million different sites, of which only 40% offer content free of charge to the public. 21% of sites are either password protected or otherwise meant for private use. The rest are temporary placeholders because of ongoing construction or other matters.
-- NEWSFLASH! The Web Is Really -- Nonpublic? http://www.researchbuzz.com/ citing http://library.northernlight.com/FC20001016530000256.html
There existed around 6000 different human languages in 1999. Only half were being taught in schools in 2000. The other 3000 or so languages look certain to disappear soon, due to each possessing less than 10,000 speakers worldwide.
50% of the 6000 different human languages in use on Earth in 1999 were spoken by less than 10,000 people-- 25% by less than 1000.
-- How many active languages are there in the world? from The Learning Kingdom's Cool Fact of the Day for November 30, 1999, http://www.LearningKingdom.com
Less than half of the 6000 languages are being taught in schools as of 2000-- which may help to kill off the rest.
-- Explorers-in-Residence See Gloom and Gleam in the Future By David Braun, http://www.ngnews.com/, 4-11-2000
The unprecedented loss of human languages underway in 2001 is taking with it much potentially valuable knowledge and as yet unrecorded human history-- as well as possibly allowing mega-corporations more power than ever over our futures
At this time even the foremost experts remain woefully unaware of the vast majority of humanity's history and prehistory, as well as the bulk of its accumulated knowledge and wisdom.
And, of course, humanity-at-large knows virtually nothing at all of these matters. Why?
Because of the fact that modern human civilization has come to be dominated by only a handful of relative infant languages such as English, Spanish, French, etc., etc., while virtually all its elder languages and their attendent knowledge languish in obscurity, little-noted, and vanishing completely at a rate of one every two weeks.
Most people's attention today is focused squarely on 'new' knowledge being generated in laboratories and universities. However, much of this apparently consists of redundant efforts searching for knowledge already present in many dying human languages and peoples-- especially in fields like medicine and biology. The possible waste of financial resources in these fields alone is staggering.
Plus, are we actually gaining useful knowledge in these areas faster than we are losing it? No one knows. Few are even attempting to measure or define what's being lost, much less capture it for posterity.
Part of the reason for all this may be that discovering medical knowledge in proprietary settings offer corporations much stronger legal grounds for profiteering from such knowledge, as well as allows them to more easily concoct a laborious and complex process of manufacturing for a product-- after all, medicines which can simply be grown in one's backyard for free don't make for huge profit windfalls.
|-- Vanishing tongues By Gareth Cook, page A01, the Boston Globe, 11/5/2000, Globe Newspaper Company|
The world's healthiest people are the Japanese, while France appears to possess the best health care system overall. The United States spends more per person on health care every year than any of the other 190 countries in the study, yet ranks only 37th in terms of health care quality.
The World Health Organization studied health care quality and cost in 191 countries worldwide, announcing their conclusions around mid-2000 AD. Among them were these items of note:
WHO's study focused primarily upon the cost-effectiveness of each nation's health care, compared to all others. Important factors included the health of a country's native population relative to others, the treatment of the nation's minorities and poor, and how well a country's public health system does at preventing sickness in the first place.
The people of Japan were judged to be the most healthy population overall, living on average 4.5 years more in good health during their lifespan than Americans. Japan spends an average of $1,759 per person in health care.
France was judged to possess the best health care system overall, with Italy coming in second. The French live on average three more years in good health than Americans. France spends an annual average of $2,125 per person on health care.
Japan, Singapore, and Spain ranked among the top ten best health care systems in the world.
Britain and Canada, which offer a free national health service and a widely acclaimed system respectively, came in 18th and 30th on the scorecard.
The United States came in 37th in ranking, despite spending more per person on health care every year than any of the other 190 countries in the study ($3,724).
Professionals commenting on the study pointed out that Italy probably benefits from the advantages of the so-called Mediterranean diet, which includes substantial amounts of olive oil, known to help maintain good health. They also said the USA was good in the area of expensive, high end health care-- it's in the realm of low cost prevention that it does poorly, compared to some of those countries scoring higher on the list. Other observations were that government-run health insurance isn't necessary to have a good system, according to the study. Some nations perform well with combinations of public and private programs.
-- Controversial study finds France has world's best health-care system By LAURAN NEERGAARD, Associated Press, June 20, 2000, http://www.nandotimes.com
The total healthcare monies spent in the US annually per person around 2000 amounted to $4,187, by one measure. By contrast, Costa Rica spent only $226. The US also enjoyed twice as many doctors per person as Costa Rica. Some results of this vast resource disparity include higher life expectancies at birth for Costa Rican men than US men-- with expectancies for women just a bit less in Costa Rica than the US. Why? Perhaps because basic healthcare services focused on prevention are available to most Costa Ricans, and the Costa Rican economic policies allow most everyone sufficient income for food and housing for themselves and their families. The biggest healthcare difference all the extra money spent in the US seems to bring is the addition of a bit more lifespan via advanced technology to old folks near the end of their lives.
|-- The slowing pace of progress By Phillip J. Longman, US News & World Report, found on or about 12-30-2000|
In 1999 total human population on Earth hit six billion
|-- 6 billionth Earthling was born today By Margot Higgins, ENN Daily News -- 10/12/1999, Environmental News Network, http://www.enn.com/|
According to some estimates, roughly five to eight percent of all human beings ever born were alive around 1990. By 1995, the world population's median age was 25.
-- Why Are There So Many of Us? Description and Diagnosis of
a Planetary Ecopathological Process by Warren M. Hern, University of Colorado, Why Are There So Many of Us? (http://www.drhern.com/fulltext/why/paper.html), found on or about 1-17-2000.
A total past and present population of 40 billion human beings was apparently estimated before or during 1997, in the article cited below.
-- DOOM SOON by Jim Holt, Lingua Franca,Inc., 1997
A total past and present population of 105 billion, counting from 50,000 BC, resulting in 5.5% of all people who ever lived being alive today, comes from How Many People Have Ever Lived on Earth? By Carl Haub, found on or about 5-31-2000
Note that if some 5,250,000,000 people populated the Earth in 1990, then it would appear something like 66 billion total human beings have been born on the planet up through 1990 (based on the first citation above).
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The article cited above does not disclose the author's criteria for exactly what constitutes a human being. That is, the author did not specify at what point they considered apes to have ended and human beings to have begun. END NOTE.
In 1995 the populations of less developed nations outnumbered those in developed states by four to one. The world population's median age in 1995 was 25-- up from roughly 20 circa 1900.
-- Congressional Briefing 23Feb98, World Population Implosion? Nicholas Eberstadt, Population Research Institute
Around 2000 humanity was just beginning to realize its true vulnerability to extinction
Rogue comet and asteroid impacts, nuclear/biological terrorism, accidents, and conflicts, cyberwar, and once-in-a-thousand-years solar flares (capable of frying half the world's electronics and resulting in one hemisphere with 21st century tech and the other with 19th century tech) aren't the only real dangers which could dramatically change the world as we know it at any moment....Scientists are now finding indications that the solar system could at any time pass into a vast, thick molecular gas cloud in space, which almost overnight could radically change Earth's climate (think super Ice Age or Hellfire Eon), with effects lasting for possibly thousands of years. Similar results could also come from radiation resulting from a far off star like Betelgeuse exploding as a super nova. Indeed, such things may have already happened to Earth in the past, prior to the establishment of human civilization. Just how big an effect could such a gas cloud or super nova explosion have on us? As big as the event which killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
But these aren't the worst of the dangers we face...it turns out that on occasion entire living worlds are destroyed by massive explosions within their home galaxy which can render even planets thousands of lightyears away from the blast virtually lifeless and uninhabitable for millions of years afterwards, by way of a bath of gamma rays....
However, human authorities choose to ignore virtually all these possibilities for the time being...
SPECIAL NOTE TO WORLD-SAVER HOPEFULS: The Edgar Wilson Award (a pot of $20,000 per year) will be divided up among amateur astronomers who report a new comet to the International Astronomical Union and have their name assigned to it (typically there's around five comets discovered annually). So you might even earn money while trying to save Earth from a world buster. -- "Pennies from heaven", New Scientist, 6-27-98 END NOTE.
We're at least 100 million years overdue for extinction, according to some estimates.
We might get a few days warning as to an approaching bath of killer cosmic rays. The clues might include a glowing blue spot in the sky a bit bigger than the full moon. Previous cosmic ray jets killed as much as 95% of all animal life on Earth.
Somewhat lengther warning times could be garnered by close observation of all binary neutron star systems in the region of galaxy within a million lightyears or so to Earth, as collisions between the two stars in such pairs seem to be the source of the deadly rays-- and a million lightyears may be their killing range. Note that the entire Milky Way galaxy is only some 100,000 lightyears in diameter, and Earth is located around 25,000 lightyears from the center of the galaxy.
Such catastrophic ray bursts seem to occur within killing range of Earth about once every 100 million years on average-- and the most recent one seems to have been around 200 million years ago. So we're overdue.
Of the five major mass extinctions of the last 500 million years, only that of 65 million years ago (the dinosaurs) seems well accounted for as to cause: a cosmic impact on Earth. The causes of the other four are still in question.
The average such radiation bath Earth might experience would be much more than enough to kill every human being on the planet, within a couple days, by destroying their central nervous systems. Such ray bursts can last as long as a month, thereby destroying the ozone layer and breaking the food chain on the planet. The effect would almost certainly be worldwide but for the most briefest of exposures from sources well outside our galaxy as well as on the far side from our galactic location (thus, the overwhelming majority of such events would likely take Earth back to 500 million BC or so in life evolution stages).
Even several hundred meters of seawater or crustal depth would not be sufficient to prevent fatality in complex lifeforms like the plant and animal life with which most people are familiar. Whatever life was left would suffer a higher than normal mutation rate, thereby accelerating the emergence of new species.
Insects usually survive such radiation baths due to their typical capacity to endure radiation levels as much as 20 times greater than that the majority of vertebrates can withstand. Only one of the known major mass entinction events of the past exerted a substantial effect on insect life (30% of insect species were killed), around 251 million BC.
Circa late 1998 there were five known multiple star systems in our galaxy including a pair of neutron stars in their makeup, which might eventually cause such a radiation burst affecting Earth. The worst of those systems seemed to be some 50 million years away from initiating such a cataclysm. Unfortunately, there seems to be other neutron star pairs in the galaxy we haven't yet found. It would take only one of these unmapped pairs to kill us tomorrow.
Keep in mind that as of 1998 much of the above is heavily theoretical, and as yet unproven. It's simply the best grasp on such things we have at the moment.
-- Extinction is eons overdue by Michael Brooks, August 07, 1998, Weekly Mail & Guardian, and other sources
Sources include an article about the Hale-Bopp comet from "the Age" (on or around 3-7-97), information in "2015: Power and Progress" from the Institute for National Strategic Studies, July 1996, edited by Patrick M. Cronin, reports about solar flares on or about 4-9-97 from CNN, a piece on the threat of dense molecular gas clouds to Earth, published in New Scientist Planet Science (around 8-16-97), a New York Times article about Los Alamos National Lab scientists running a sophistocated simulation of an impact from space (datestamp 1-8-98), "Scientific Debate Rages Over Danger of Asteroid; Interception Possible", March 13, 1998, The New York Times, "FYI Earth faces potentially devastating calamities every day By Michael Cabbage", Knight Ridder Newspapers, 4-13-98, the Kansas City Star, "Peculiar Bulges Detected on Giant Star in Orion" by MALCOLM W. BROWNE April 14, 1998, the New York Times, Staring at the Sun, 9 April 1998, the Guardian Online, "Recently Discovered Cosmic Blast May Be Biggest Since Big Bang" by MALCOLM W. BROWNE, 5-7-98, The New York Times, and others
The star Eta Carinae is 7500 light years distant from us, and is one of the largest and most powerful stars known in the universe, some 100 times the size and five times the power of our Sun. It first caught our attention in the 1840s with a massive flaring in brightness. Today it seems to be acting in a worrisome and unpredictable fashion, perhaps leading to a hypernova explosion sometime in the next 10,000 years capable of threatening even life on Earth with sporadic waves of gamma radiation.
-- "Astronomers perplexed by star's weird behavior", Associated Press/CNN, found on or about 6-7-99
But space-related phenomena don't just present a danger to cities, nations, and the world-- they may also strike at us as individuals. Specifically, solar flare activity and magnetic field fluctuations in space may sometimes spark heart attacks in some people on Earth, and perhaps in other subtle ways increase automobile accidents among us-- perhaps by slowing or interfering with brain activity at an inopportune moment.
Analysis of years of calls to Russian ambulance services indicates a 15% rise in calls related to strokes, heart attacks, and auto accidents involving fatalities, for days following substantial activity of this kind in space.
-- Storms in space 'may cause heart attacks' By Roger Highfield and Nick Flowers, Electronic Telegraph Connected, 22 July 1999, http://www.telegraph.co.uk
The gist of the Doomsday Argument is, first, assume that humanity has a long and prosperous future ahead of it. This logically implies that its numbers will increase dramatically over today's, as we colonize the galaxy. Or, in other words, virtually every human being who ever lives will do so in the far future.
Perhaps no more than 40 billion people have ever lived on Earth up through the present (including those alive today). But 40 billion would be a drop in the bucket compared to our numbers spread across the galaxy a million or more years from now.
If the above turned out to be true, then those of us alive today would make up a very unique population. Extraordinarily rare 'elders' of a mighty race yet to be. In other words, we'd be very unusual-- an anomaly of sorts. Especially when you consider the fact that (as of late 2000) it appears any and all intelligent races which may have come before us in the universe never got that far themselves (to the magnificent galactic civilization part).
On the other hand, what if the reverse happens? We go extinct very soon, for some reason. That would mean we are either at or near our peak right now. Combine this more pessimistic perspective along with the evidence that all other races in the universe never got very far off planet either (and since we're only decades from doing so we'd have to die soon to join the club), and the plausibility that we'll soon be absent from the galaxy skyrockets.
Just as there's a scientific argument that we exist in this particular universe because it's better suited to life than others, there's also one stating we exist in the present because the distant past and the future are less hospitable to us for some reason. There's evidence that gamma ray bursters were the rudeness which prevented us from arriving sooner-- and they might be responsible for us leaving again rather quickly, too. Or something else could do us in (there's plenty of candidates).
Anyway, Bayes theorem plays into all this, helping support some aspects of the logic. To see more about the likely fate of other civilizations like ours in our galaxy, refer to CONTACT! Alien Speculations: The Rise and Fall of Star Faring Civilizations in Our Own Galaxy.
-- DOOM SOON by Jim Holt, Lingua Franca,Inc., 1997
Back to the MASTER Table of Contents of the Signposts Timeline