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Helmut Lasarcyk


Living together - the world seen as a village


If the world were a village of 1,000 people, it would include:
584 Asians, 124 Africans, 95 Eastern and Western Europeans, 55 former Soviets (including Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, and other national groups), 6 Australians and New Zealanders

The people of the village have difficulty in communicating:
165 people speak Mandarin, 86 English, 83 Hindu/Urdu, 64 Spanish, 58 Russian, 37 Arabic
(The list above accounts for the mother tongues of only half of the villagers. The other half speak, in descending order of frequency: Bengali, Portuguese, Indonesian, Japanese, German, French, and 200 other languages).

In this village of 1,000 people there are: 
329 Christians (among them 187 Catholics, 84 Protestants, 31 Orthodox), 178 Muslims ,
167 "non-religious", 132 Hindus, 60 Buddhists, 45 Atheists, 3 Jews, 86 all other religions

One-third (330 people) of the 1000 in the world are children. Half of these children are immunized against preventable infectious diseases such as measles and polio. 60 villagers are over the age of 65. Just under half of the married women in the village have access to and use modern contraceptives.

This year: 
28 babies will be born, 10 people will die (3 from starvation, 1 from cancer, 2 of the newborn babies will die within a year), 1 person is infected with the HIV virus; that person most likely has not yet developed full-blown AIDS. The total population of the village next year will be: 1,018

In this 1,000-person community: 
200 people receive 75% of the income, 200 people will receive only 2% of the income, 70 people own automobiles (some own more than 1)

About 1/3 have access to clean, safe drinking water.

Of the 670 adults in the village, half are illiterate.

The village has 6 acres of land per person - 6,000 acres in all - of which:
700 acres are cropland, 1,400 acres are pasture, 1,900 acres are woodland, 2,000 acres desert, tundra, pavement, and other wasteland. The woodland is declining rapidly; the wasteland is increasing. The other land categories are roughly stable.

The village allocates 83% of its fertilizer to 40% of its cropland -- that owned by the richest and best-fed 270 people. Excess fertilizer running off this land causes pollution in lakes and wells. The remaining 30% of the land, with its 17% of the fertilizer, produces only 28% of the food grains but feeds 73% of the people. The average grain yield on the land is 1/3 of the harvest achieved by the richer villagers.

The village also has: 
5 soldiers, 7 teachers, 1 doctor, 3 refugees driven from home by war or drought

The village's total yearly budget, public and private: 
$3 million or $3000 per person if distributed evenly (which it isn't). Of the total $3 million: 
$181,000 goes to weapons and warfare, $159,000 goes to education, $132,000 goes to health care

The village has buried beneath it enough explosive power in nuclear weapons to blow itself to smithereens many times over. These weapons are under the control of just 2 people. The other 998 are watching them with deep anxiety, wondering whether they 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 decide to dismantle the weapons, where in the world-village will they dispose of the radioactive materials of which the weapons are made.

Donella H. Meadows: "If the World Were a Village of 1,000 People" (1992) appeared in the anthology Futures by Design: The Practice of Ecological Planning, edited by Doug Ashley. Copyright 1994 by Doug Ashley.