GOOD
Issue 014

Whatever Happened To...

Whatever Happened To... Bird Flu?\rYou couldn't find a hotter health story in 2006 than bird flu–specifically, the H5N1 variety, which killed 60 percent of the people it infected and was predicted to kill between 5 million and 150 million more if a full-on outbreak were to occur. So why are we all still..\n

Whatever Happened To... Bird Flu?

You couldn't find a hotter health story in 2006 than bird flu–specifically, the H5N1 variety, which killed 60 percent of the people it infected and was predicted to kill between 5 million and 150 million more if a full-on outbreak were to occur. So why are we all still here? Mostly because the virus never mutated into a form that could transmit easily from birds to humans, and its spread in farmed birds has been largely contained through vaccination. Wild birds still contract and spread the disease, but outbreaks in 2008 were a fifth of what they were the year before, and the human death count last year was 59. The potential for a pandemic persists, but our lack of preparation has not, as yet, come home to roost.Photo Murdo Macleod / Polaris

\nWhatever Happened To... Killer Robots in Iraq?\n

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You Say You Want a Revolution?

\r\n"We are too poor to afford education. But until we have education, how will we ever not be poor?"\r\n\r\n- Headmaster in rural Nepal\r\n\r\nIt is such a simple solution to the issue of global poverty: Teach a child to read and you could vastly improve not only his or her life, but also the life of the family and..\r\n

"We are too poor to afford education. But until we have education, how will we ever not be poor?"- Headmaster in rural NepalIt is such a simple solution to the issue of global poverty: Teach a child to read and you could vastly improve not only his or her life, but also the life of the family and the wider community. Perhaps the simplicity in the solution is the reason it hasn't been seriously considered-such a complex problem as global poverty must call for a complex and expensive solution, right?This morning, more than 100 million children across the developing world woke up and did not put on a school uniform, did not walk to school, and did not sit at a desk and learn. An even bigger issue is that nearly 800 million people in the developing world are illiterate. That is one out of every eight human beings.Two-thirds of those who are illiterate are girls and women, which is a problem that pays itself forward in perpetuity. If you do the math, the risks here are staggering-if every one of those 500 million women has four children, then the world will have an additional 2 billion children growing up with an uneducated and illiterate mother. If we don't educate the girls and women, we won't educate the next generation. That will be the reality of the future, unless we take action now and turn global education into a mass movement.Why, when we have the means and the ability to lift a generation out of poverty through the lifelonggift of education, is so little being done? The United Nations sees educating girls as an extremely powerful tool in addressing global poverty, more powerful and effective than any other initiative implemented in the developing world. When a woman is educated, there's a spillover effect to the next generation and all subsequent generations. Better nutrition and overall health, lower infant mortality rates, higher income levels-all key metrics that determine the fate of a community-are dramatically improved. And even more marked is that this improvement is not simply a Band-Aid-it becomes a permanent repair of the deep wounds of generations who have lived in poverty.
Nearly 800 million people in the developing world are illiterate.
In just eight years, Room to Read, an NGO I helped found, has already had a positive effect on the livesof almost 2 million children in eight countries across Asia and Africa. We started with a donkey load of donated books and have since developed a widespread web of programs giving children opportunities to learn and read and finally have the awareness that they have choices-choices about how they want to live, what they want to do with their lives, and how they want to better their community. We view education as a hand up, not a handout, and we require active participation in building and running the schools and libraries funded by our organization. Our programs are extremely affordable-$250 will allow a girl to attend school for a year, and $25,000 will pay for construction of an entire school. I am not trying to give Room to Read a pat on the back, but attempting to illustrate how capable we are, in this generation of wealth creation, to attack global poverty directly, effectively, and cost-effectively.For millions of children in the poorest parts of the world, there are no schools, no libraries, no books, and no teachers. Every day we don't help is a day we don't get back. The clock is ticking. I believe, and I hope, that we can do better. If so, we will pick a generation up out of poverty. If not, our ancestors will look back and wonder whether we lacked foresight, or courage, or both.

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Who’s Learning What?

A look at how countries rank in math and science test scores.\r\r\r (Average score of a 15-year-old student on science and math literacy tests, out of a possible score of 1000.).\n

A look at how countries rank in math and science test scores.

(Average score of a 15-year-old student on science and math literacy tests, out of a possible score of 1000.)

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Rise of the Global Middle Class

America has had the biggest demand in the global economy for so long that we can't remember what it was like when that wasn't the case. But that's all about to change. I'll let you in on a little secret about globalization: It is demand that determines power, not supply. Consumption is king; everybody..

America has had the biggest demand in the global economy for so long that we can't remember what it was like when that wasn't the case. But that's all about to change.

I'll let you in on a little secret about globalization: It is demand that determines power, not supply. Consumption is king; everybody else serves at will. So it ain't about who's got the biggest military complex but who's got the biggest middle class. Everybody's got the dream. What matters is who can pay for it.For as long as we can remember, that's been America-the consumer around which the entire global economy revolved. What's it like to be the global demand center? The world revolves around your needs, your desires, and your ambitions. Your favorite stories become the world's most popular entertainment. Your fears become the dominant political issues. You are the E. F. Hutton of consumption: When you talk, everybody listens. That was the role the Boomers played for decades in America and-by extension-around the world through their unprecedented purchasing power. But that dominance is nearing an end.In coming decades, it won't belong to Americans, but to Asians. So say hello to your new master, corporate America: Mr. and Mrs. M. C. Chindia.The rise of the Asian middle class, a binary system centered in China and India, alters the very gravity of the global economy. The vast sucking sound you hear is not American jobs going overseas, but damn near every natural resource being drawn into Asia's yawning maw. Achieving middle-class status means shifting from needs to wants, so Asia's rise means that Asia's wants will determine our planet's future-perhaps its very survival. And as any environmentalist with a calculator knows, it isn't possible for China and India to replicate the West's consumption model, so however this plays out, the world must learn to live with their translation of the American dream.As for the new middle class's relative size, think bread truck, not breadbasket: Over the next couple of decades, the percent of the world's population that can be considered middle class, judging by purchasing power, will almost double, from just over a quarter of the population to more like half. The bulk of this increase will occur in China and India, where the percentage shifts will be similar. So if we round off China and India today as having 2.5 billion people, then their middle class will jump in numerical size from being roughly equivalent to the population of North America or the European Union to being their combined total.
The vast sucking sound you hear is not American jobs going overseas, but damn near every natural resource being drawn into Asia's yawning maw.
No, it won't be your father's middle class-not at first. Much of that Asian wave now crests at a household income level that most Americans would associate with the working poor, but it will grow into solid middle-class status over the coming years through urbanization and job migration from manufacturing to services. And for global companies that thrive on selling to the middle class, this is already where all the sales growth is occurring, and it's only going to get bigger. As far as global business is concerned, there is no sweeter spot than an emerging demand center, because we're talking about an entire generation in need of branding-more than 500 million teenagers looking to forge consumer identities.There are also essentially two unknowable wild cards associated with the rise of China's and India's middle classes: First, how can they achieve an acceptable standard of living without replicating the West's resource-wasteful version? And second, what would happen if that middle-class lifestyle was suddenly threatened or even reversed? The planet must have an answer to the first question, even as it hopes to avoid ever addressing the second. Here's where those two fears may converge: As their income rises, their diets change. Not just taking in more food, but far more resource-intensive food, like dairy and meat. Right now, China imports vast amounts of food and India is just barely self-sufficient in the all-important grains category. Both are likely to suffer losses in agricultural production in coming years and decades, thanks to global warming, just as internal demand balloons with that middle class. Meanwhile, roughly one-third of world's advanced-lifestyle afflictions-like diabetes or cancer-will be found in China and India by 2030. Toss in the fact that much of the population lives along the low-lying coasts, and our notional middle-class couple could eventually cast the deciding global votes on the issue of whether or not global warming is worth addressing aggressively.Whoever captures the middle-class flag in coming years will have to possess the soft power necessary to shape globalization's soul in this century, because humanity's very survival depends on our generation's ability to channel today's rising social anger into a lengthy period of social reform. This era's global capitalism must first be shamed (populism) and then tamed (progressivism), just as America's rapacious version was more than a century ago. Today's global financial crisis simply marks the opening bell in a worldwide fight that is destined to go many rounds.

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