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The State of Humanity

This book provides a comprehensive and balanced assessment of the state of the Earth and its inhabitants at the close of the twentieth century. More than fifty scholars from all over the world present new, concise and accessible accounts of the present state of humanity and the prospects for its social and natural environment. The subjects range from deforestation, water pollution and ozone layer depletion to poverty, homelessness, mortality and murder. Each contributor considers the present situation, historical trends, likely future prospects, and the efficacy or otherwise of current activity and policy. The coverage is worldwide, with a particular emphasis on North America. The State of Humanity is a magnificent and eye-opening synthesis of cultural, social, economic and environmental perspectives. It will interest all those – including geographers, economists, sociologists and policy makers – concerned to understand some of the most pressing problems of our time.

Table of Contents

  •  
    • Acknowledgments   
    • 1    Introduction    1

    Pt. I    Life, Death, and Health    29

    • 2    Human Mortality Throughout History and Prehistory    30
    • 3    The Decline of Childhood Mortality    37
    • 4    Disease and Health through the Ages    51
    • 5    The Contribution of Improved Nutrition to the Decline in Mortality Rates in Europe and America    61
    • 6    Trends in Health of the US Population: 1957-89    72
    • 7    Mortality and Health in the former Soviet Union    85
    • 8    Worldwide Historical Trends in Murder and Suicide    91
    • 9    The History of Accident Rates in the United States    98
    • 10    World Trends in Smoking    106
    • 11    Long-Term Trends in the Consumption of Alcoholic Beverages    114

    Pt. II    Standard of Living, Productivity, and Poverty    123

    • 12    Trends in the Agricultural Labor Force    124
    • 13    The Standard of Living Through the Ages    135
    • 14    Long-Term Trends in the US Standard of Living    149
    • 15    Long-Term Trends in Productivity    161
    • 16    The Extent of Slavery and Freedom Throughout the Ages, in the World as a Whole and in Major Subareas    171
    • 17    Black Americans: Income and Standard of Living from the Days of Slavery to the Present    178
    • 18    The Long-Term Course of American Inequality: 1647-1969    188
    • 19    Trends in Unemployment in the United States    196
    • 20    Trends in Costs and Quality of Housing    203
    • 21    Trends in the Quantities of Education – USA and Elsewhere    208
    • 22    Trends in Free Time    224
    • 23    Trends in Poverty in the United States    231
    • 24    How "Poor" Are America’s Poor?    241
    • 25    Homelessness in America    257
    • 26    The Recent US Economy    271

    Pt. III    Natural Resources    279

    • 27    Long-Term Trends in Energy Prices    280
    • 28    Trends in the Price and Supply of Oil    287
    • 29    The Costs of Nuclear Power    294
    • 30    Trends in Availability of Non-Fuel Minerals    303
    • 31    Trends in Nonrenewable Resources    313
    • 32    Trends in Availability and Usage of Outdoor Recreation    323
    • 33    Global Forests Revisited    328
    • 34    Species Loss Revisited    346

    Pt. IV    Agriculture, Food, Land, and Water    363

    • 35    Agricultural Productivity Before the Green Revolution    364
    • 36    The World’s Rising Food Productivity    376
    • 37    Recent Trends in Food Availability and Nutritional Well-Being    394
    • 38    Trends in Grain Stocks    405
    • 39    Trends in Food from the Sea    411
    • 40    Trends in Soil Erosion and Farmland Quality    416
    • 41    Water, Water Everywhere But Not a Drop to Sell    425
    • 42    Trends in Land Use in the United States    434

    Pt. V    Pollution and the Environment    443

    • 43    Long-Run Trends in Environmental Quality    444
    • 44    Atmospheric Pollution Trends in the United Kingdom    476
    • 45    Trends in Air Pollution in the United States    491
    • 46    Comparative Trends in Resource Use and Pollution in Market and Socialist Economies    503
    • 47    Acid Rain    523
    • 48    Stratospheric Ozone: Science and Policy    536
    • 49    The Greenhouse Effect and Global Change: Review and Reappraisal    544
    • 50    Greenhouse Scenarios to Inform Decision Makers    565
    • 51    The Hazards of Nuclear Power    576
    • 52    Pesticides, Cancer, and Misconceptions    588
    • 53    The Carcinogen or Toxin of the Week Phenomenon: The Facts Behind the Scares    595

    Pt. VI    Thinking about the Issues    609

    • 54    American Public Opinion: Environment and Energy    610
    • 55    Public Opinion About, and Media Coverage of, Population Growth    619
    • 56    Risk Within Reason    628
    • 57    Natural Ecology Today and in the Future: A Personal View    637

    Pt. VII    Conclusion: From the Past to the Future    641

    • 58    What Does the Future Hold? The Forecast in a Nutshell    642
    • List of Figures    661
    • List of Tables    671
    • List of Contributors    673
    • Index    677