photo by Fartre

Where do you think the world is heading?

Are things getting better or going downhill?

Obviously, the state of the Earth is no utopian fantasy, but it’s not quite the post-apocalyptic landscape of ‘The Road’ yet either.

But The Road not yet traveled is perhaps more likely than some sort of new Eden.

Why or why not?

Over the past 20 years:

  • World population is growing to unsustainable numbers, though it is expected to stabilize this century.
  • Life expectancy is on the rise, though it’s still around 50 in some very poor countries. This connects with a falling global infant mortality rate.
  • Extreme poverty is falling overall, but not that much in South Asia and Africa, where it rose during the previous decade. Over 1bn still live in extreme poverty.
  • Food production is going up, but food prices are rising, resulting in growing hunger. Furthermore, industrial agriculture is polluting and damaging land and bodies of water.
  • Per person GDP is going up overall, but not significantly in low-income countries.
  • War-related deaths are up and down, but generally on the decline.
  • School attendance, literacy and women in positions of power have all gone up.
  • People have moved from rural areas to cities in great numbers.
  • Ecological footprints (CO2, land use, deforestation, overfishing, etc) have all grown vastly the past 20 years, polluting, taxing biodiversity and driving climate change.

In honor of the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, which begins tomorrow, Vote on the Guardian if you think things are getting better, staying the same or getting worse and see what other people think!