Worldwatch Institute

Vital Signs 2010


From rising meat and seafood production to changes in the climate, Vital Signs 2010 documents 24 trends that are shaping our future and includes concise analyses and clear graphs.

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From rising meat and seafood production to changes in the climate, Vital Signs 2010 documents 24 trends that are shaping our future and includes concise analyses and clear graphs.

This seventeenth edition of the Worldwatch Institute series shows that climate change continues to cast a long shadow over the world’s leading economic, social, and environmental trends.

Some of the trends revealed are:

  • Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels were up 2 percent, despite high oil prices and the economic recession.
  • The most devastating types of natural disasters continued to rise steadily, especially for weather-related events.
  • Meat consumption in the developing world has increased 17 percent over the last 10 years, although people in the industrial world still eat more than twice as much meat per person.
  • Grain yields have increased 146 percent over the last 46 years, even though the land dedicated to grain has remained relatively stable for the past 15 years.
  • Aquaculture continued to expand, with exports for species like catfish and tilapia growing at more than 50 percent a year.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Preface

Energy and Transportation Trends
Wind Power Increase in 2008 Exceeds 10-year Average Growth Rate 
Global Auto Industry in Crisis
Solar Power Experiences Strongest Year of Growth Yet 
Solar Thermal Heating Up Sharply 
Fossil Fuel Production Up Despite Recession 
Biofuel Production Up Despite Economic Downturn

Environment and Climate Trends
One Fifth of Coral Reefs Lost, Rest Threatened by Climate Change and Human Activities 
Growth in Protected Areas Slows 
Devastating Natural Disasters Continue Steady Rise 
Water Scarcity Looms
Climate Change Proceeds Down Worrisome Path

Food and Agriculture Trends
Irrigated Area Expands Slowly 
Organic Agriculture More than Doubled Since 2000 
Grain Production Continues Growth After Mixed Decade
Meat Production Continues to Rise 
Fish Production Reaches a Record

Global Economy and Resources Trends
World Metals Production Surges 
World Labor Force Growing at Divergent Rates 
Growth in World Economic Output Slows 
Ad Spending Slumps in 2008, Projected to Decline Significantly in 2009

Population and Society Trends
Despite Significant Increase Since 1990, Access to Sanitation Still Inadequate 
Population Growth Steady in Recent Years
Income Poverty Still Falling, But More Slowly 
Health Assistance to Developing Countries Soars



Please also see Vital Signs Online

Vital Signs Online is a convenient and easy-to-access online version of Vital Signs. Vital Signs Online is an interactive, subscription-based tool that provides hard data and research-based insights on the sustainability trends that are shaping our future. 

With an annual subscription to Vital Signs Online, you’ll get:

  • Unlimited access to more than 30 sustainability trends in five categories: Food & Agriculture; Energy & Transportation; Environment & Climate; Global Economy & Resources; and Population & Society
  • Worldwatch’s highly respected, clear analysis providing global context for each trend 
    Presentation-ready charts and graphs that can be customized
  • Excel spreadsheets that allow data manipulation for instructional and comparative purposes according to personal or organizational needs
  • Full endnote referencing


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