Wednesday, July 16, 2003

If the world were a village of 1000 people


Concerning Donella Meadows' original "Global Village" article, this was published as follows:

The Global Citizen May 31, 1990

Donella H. Meadows


If the world were a village of 1000 people:
584 would be Asians
123 would be Africans
95 would be East and West Europeans
84 Latin Americans
55 Soviets (still including for the moment Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, etc.)
52 North Americans
6 Australians and New Zealanders

The people of the village would have considerable difficulty communicating:
165 people would speak Mandarin
86 would speak English
83 Hindi/Urdu
64 Spanish
58 Russian
37 Arabic
That list accounts for the mother-tongues of only half the villagers. The other half speak (in descending order of frequency) Bengali, Portuguese, Indonesian, Japanese, German, French, and 200 other languages.
In the village there would be:
300 Christians (183 Catholics, 84 Protestants, 33 Orthodox)
175 Moslems
128 Hindus
55 Buddhists
47 Animists
210 all other religions (including atheists)

One-third (330) of the people in the village would be children. Half the children would be immunized against the preventable infectious diseases such as measles and polio.
Sixty of the thousand villagers would be over the age of 65.
Just under half of the married women would have access to and be using modern contraceptives.
Each year 28 babies would be born.
Each year 10 people would die, three of them for lack of food, one from cancer. Two of the deaths would be to babies born within the year.
One person in the village would be infected with the HIV virus; that person would most likely not yet have developed a full-blown case of AIDS.
With the 28 births and 10 deaths, the population of the village in the next year would be 1018.

In this thousand-person community, 200 people would receive three-fourths of the income; another 200 would receive only 2% of the income.
Only 70 people would own an automobile (some of them more than one automobile).
About one-third would not have access to clean, safe drinking water.
Of the 670 adults in the village half would be illiterate.

The village would have 6 acres of land per person, 6000 acres in all of which:
700 acres is cropland
1400 acres pasture
1900 acres woodland
2000 acres desert, tundra, pavement, and other wasteland.
The woodland would be declining rapidly; the wasteland increasing; the other land categories would be roughly stable. The village would allocate 83 percent of its fertilizer to 40 percent of its cropland -- that owned by the richest and best-fed 270 people. Excess fertilizer running off this land would cause pollution in lakes and wells. The remaining 60 percent of the land, with its 17 percent of the fertilizer, would produce 28 percent of the foodgrain and feed 73 percent of the people. The average grain yield on that land would be one-third the yields gotten by the richer villagers.

If the world were a village of 1000 persons, there would be five soldiers, seven teachers, one doctor. Of the village's total annual expenditures of just over $3 million per year, $181,000 would go for weapons and warfare, $159,000 for education, $132,000 for health care.

The village would have buried beneath it enough explosive power in nuclear weapons to blow itself to smithereens many times over. These weapons would be under the control of just 100 of the people. The other 900 people would be watching them with deep anxiety, wondering whether the 100 can learn to get along together, and if they do, whether they might set off the weapons anyway through inattention or technical bungling, and if they ever decide to dismantle the weapons, where in the village they will dispose of the dangerous radioactive materials of which the weapons are made.

Perhaps the one person who can be thanked for getting wider attention for the original article is David Copeland of an organisation called Value Earth, based in New Jersey. David Copeland, with Donella Meadows' permission, had 50,000 posters made based on 'The Global Village', for the 1992 Rio de Janiero Earth Summit,
which was attended by people from some 175 countries!

Details of this and the posting of the original article can be found at ttp://

The email version, which has circulated for several years reads:

"If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following. There would be:

57 Asians
21 Europeans
14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south
8 Africans

52 would be female
48 would be male

70 would be non-white
30 would be white

70 would be non-Christian
30 would be Christian

89 would be heterosexual
11 would be homosexual

6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth and
all 6 would be from the United States

80 would live in substandard housing

70 would be unable to read

50 would suffer from malnutrition

1 would be near death; 1 would be near birth

1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education

1 would own a computer

When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for both acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent."

It is with a mixed sense of great sadness and joy that I reached this point of the journey. Sadness because mine and Donella's paths came so close to crossing while she was alive. Joy, because of the timing of my being able to conclude this journey and attribute The Global Village article to it's rightful author.

This is my tribute to a remarkable woman.

There were a number of memorial services held around the US on the weekend of 21st April. Information concerning these can be found at the website of the Sustainability Institute (Donella Meadows' last great unfinished project). The general site is The specific website address for the memorial plans is:

April 2001 - Copyright David Taub, member of the National Union of Journalists (UK)
His website can be found at

============I found this very enlightening:~)

more later