Human Consumption and Water Facts from the United Nations

These are some of the astounding facts from the 1997 United Nations Human Development Report on how, and who, in the world consumes $24 trillion per year of goods and services.

The Haves: The richest fifth of the world's people consumes 86 percent of all goods and services while the poorest fifth consumes just 1.3 percent. Indeed, the richest fifth consumes 45 percent of all meat and fish, 58 percent of all energy used and 84 percent of all paper, has 74 percent of all telephone lines an downs 87 percent of all vehicles. The Have Nots: Of the 4.4 billion people in developing countries, nearly three-fifth lack access to safe sewers, a third have no access to clean water, a quarter do not have adequate housing and a fifth have no access to modern health services of any kind.
The Ultra Rich: The three richest people in the world have assets that exceed the combined gross domestic product of the 48 least developed countries. Ice Cream and Water: Europeans spend $11 billion a year on ice cream – $2 billion more than the estimated annual total needed to provide clean water and safe sewers for the world's population.
The Super Rich: The world's 225 richest individuals, of whom 60 are Americans with a total assets of $311 billion, have a combined wealth of over $1 trillion – equal to the annual income of the poorest 47 percent of the entire world's population. Cosmetics and Education: Americans spend $8 billion a year on cosmetics – $2 billion more than the estimated annual total needed to provide basic education for everyone in the world.
Smoke: Of the estimated 2.7 million annual death from air pollution, 2.2 million are from indoor pollution – including smoke from dung and wood burned as fuel which is more harmful than tobacco smoke. Eighty percent of the victims are rural poor in developing countries. Telephone Lines: Sweden and United States have 681 and 626 telephone lines per 1,000 people, respectively. Afghanistan,Cambodia, Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have one line per 1,000 people.
Natural Resources: Since 1970, the world's forests have declined from 4.4 square miles per 1,000 people to 2.8 square miles per 1,000 people. In addition, a quarter of the world's fish stocks have been depleted or are in danger of being depleted and another 44 percent are being fished at their biological limit.  Meat: Americans each consume an average of 260 pounds of meat a year. In Bangladesh, the average is six and a half pounds.
The Ganges River: The Ganges River symbolizes purification to Hindus, who believe drinking or bathing in its waters will lead to salvation. But 29 cities, 70 towns and countless villages deposit about 345 million gallons of raw sewage a day directly into the river. Factories add 70 million gallons of industrial waste and farmers are responsible for another 6 million tons of chemical fertilizer and 9,000 tons of pesticides. Writwatches and Radios: Two thirds of India's 90 million lowest-income households live below the poverty line – but more than 50 percent of these impovershed people own wristwatches, 41 percent own bicycles, 31 percent own radios and 13 percent own fans.
Africa: The average African household today consumes 20 percent less than it did 25 years ago. Pet Food and World Health: Americans and Europeans spend $17 billion a year on pet food – $4 billion more than the estimated annual additional total needed to provide basic health and nutrition for everyone inthe world.
AIDS: At the end of 1997  over 30 million people were living with HIV. With about 16,000 new infections a day – 90 percent in developing counties – it is now estimated that more than 40 million people will be living with HIV in 2000. The Future: By 2050, 8 billion of the world's projected 9.5 billion people – up from about 6 billion today – will be living in developing countries.



...and Justice for All: It is estimated that the additional cost of achieving and maintaining universal access to basic education for all, basic health care for all, reproductive health care for all women, adequate food for all and clean water and safe sewers for all is roughly $40 billion a year – or less than 4 percent of the combined wealth of the 225 richest people in the world and less than the wealth of Bill Gates!