19 May 2007 04:13
 
Column
  • Title: [SW Column](Toronto Star) As the millenium turns, a snapshot of who, what, where and when in the
          world of 2000.
  • From:[]
  • Date :[]02 Jan 2000


       As the millenium turns, a snapshot of who, what, where and when in the world of 2000

 At the turn of the century we are anxiously hurrying to a new  world of globalism, technology and cyberspace.   This was true for those of us living in have-countries. It wasn't for  those living in the have-not world, however.  As we ring in the new year, the gap between the two is frighteningly familiar.  In this section, The Sunday Star has compiled global statistics from a  variety of sources. They are a snapshot of where we are today, Sunday,  Jan. 2, 2000.

      The statistics reveal a ranking of countries in such areas as aging,  transportation, education, energy use, pollution, phone use, vehicle use, etc.  In many areas, Canada emerges as a middle country, neither top nor bottom. In some, we excel and in at least one - the environment - we have been  issued a wake-up call.  In spite of the rhetoric of federal and provincial governments, Canada  rates seventh in the world in carbon dioxide emissions, fifth in solid  hazardous waste generated, second in industrial waste generated, and third  in solid municipal waste generated.  In all of the above categories, only the United States is consistently dirtier and more wasteful. Except in one or two cases, none of the big polluters was a poor country.  In the highest car-ownership countries, Canada rated 12th with 457 cars per 1,000 persons, and sixth in the world with the longest road network.  Lebanon had the highest car ownership with 731 cars per 1,000 people, and  the Central African Republic, Somalia and Tajikistan the lowest with 0.1 cars per 1,000 persons. As a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) in health spending, Canada  ranks seventh after the U.S., Argentina, Germany, Croatia, Switzerland and France.  In contrast, the lowest in health spending are Sudan, Cameroon, Ghana,
Nigeria, Eritrea and Bangladesh, all countries that desperately need  higher standards of health care but can't afford it.
Canada ranks fourth in the world in energy consumption behind the United  Arab Emirates, Kuwait and the U.S. The bottom 10 hold no surprises,  including Yemen, Haiti and Bangladesh. We like to listen to radio - sixth in the world - and we're second when it comes to owning television sets. In comparison, there are five radios per   1,000 persons in Armenia, and two TV sets per 1,000 in Chad. We're sixth (609 users per 1,000 persons) when it comes to mainline telephones, the kind attached to telephone poles. Compare that with Bangladesh, where about 90 per cent of the country's 68,000 villages have no access to a phone.  Canada is 10th in the world in personal computers - 270.6 per 1,000  persons - compared with Niger, Guinea, Mali, Angola, Burkina Faso, Benin  and Cambodia with less than 1 per 1,000.  As for the Internet, we are eighth with 335.96 users per 10,000 persons, compared with Ecuador, the Philippines, El Salvador, and several other countries with less than two users per 10,000. What these statistics tell us is that we have a long way to go to create a world that takes the human condition of all of us into account. What we know is that 20 per cent of people living in the highest income countries have 86 per cent of global GDP, 68 per cent of foreign direct   investments and 74 per cent of world telephone lines. The bottom 20 per  cent in the world's poorest countries have about 1 per cent in each of the   above categories. What we know is that the forces that shaped the last century are the same ones that will continue to dominate the new century. And therein lies danger.   It is well described by historian Eric Hobsbawm in his critically acclaimed work, Age Of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century 1914-1991. ``We live in a world captured, uprooted and transformed by the titanic economic and techno-scientific process of the development of capitalism, which has dominated the past two or three centuries. ``We know, or at least it is reasonable to suppose, that it cannot go on  ad infinitum. The future cannot be a continuation of the past, and there are signs, both externally and, as it were, internally, that we have  reached a point of historic crisis. ``Our world risks both explosion and implosion. It must change.


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