"The Crisis of Civilization is a documentary feature film investigating how global crises like ecological disaster, financial meltdown, dwindling oil reserves, terrorism and food shortages are converging symptoms of a single, failed global system.
Weaving together archival film footage and animations, film-maker Dean Puckett and international security analyst Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed – author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It - take you on a surreal journey through an alarming tapestry of global systemic failure.
Offering a stunning wake-up call proving that 'another world' is not merely possible, but on its way, they warn that the inability to recognize the interconnections between different crises is preventing us, as a civilization, from saving ourselves."
The trailer is also available directly from YouTube.
Marking the start of a new century—and a new chapter in human history—United Nations Member States agreed in 2000 on eight Millennium Development Goals. The vision propelling the initiative, set out in the Millennium Declaration, is a world with less poverty, hunger and disease
and greater access to health care and education; a world in which women and men have equal opportunities and natural resources are conserved for future generations. The MDGs also call for a global partnership for development involving the private sector and civil society that includes sharing the benefits of new technologies with countries worldwide.
At two thirds of the way, how much progress so far?
Progress towards the MDGs is monitored through a set of 21 measurable and time-bound targets and 60 indicators. Most of the targets are to be achieved by 2015 and start from a 1990 baseline. This chart presents an assessment of progress so far for selected indicators and regions, on the basis of information available as of June 2010. While some indicators reflect data as recent as 2010, others rely on older statistics, dating as far back as 2005.
The Millennium Declaration in 2000 was a milestone in international cooperation, inspiring development efforts that have improved the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world. Ten years later, world leaders will gather again at the United Nations in New York to review progress, assess obstacles and gaps, and agree on concrete strategies and actions to meet the eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
The Goals represent human needs and basic rights that every individual around the world should be able to enjoy—freedom from extreme poverty and hunger; quality education, productive and decent employment, good health and shelter; the right of women to give birth without risking their lives; and a world where environmental sustainability is a priority, and women and men live in equality. Leaders also pledged to forge a wide-ranging global partnership for development to achieve these universal objectives.
This report shows how much progress has been made. Perhaps most important, it shows that the Goals are achievable when nationally owned development strategies, policies and programmes are supported by international development partners. At the same time, it is clear that improvements in the lives of the poor have been unacceptably slow, and some hard-won gains are being eroded by the climate, food and economic crises.
The world possesses the resources and knowledge to ensure that even the poorest countries, and others held back by disease, geographic isolation or civil strife, can be empowered to achieve the MDGs. Meeting the goals is everyone’s business. Falling short would multiply the dangers of our world – from instability to epidemic diseases to environmental degradation. But achieving the goals will put us on a fast track to a world that is more stable, more just, and more secure. Billions of people are looking to the international community to realize the great vision embodied in the Millennium Declaration. Let us keep that promise.
The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth
John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York
Monthly Review Press, October 2010
From the book cover:
"Humanity in the twenty-first century is facing what might be described as its ultimate environmental catastrophe: the destruction of the climate that has nurtured human civilization and with it the basis of life on earth as we know it. All ecosystems on the planet are now in decline. Enormous rifts have been driven through the delicate fabric of the biosphere. The economy and the earth are headed for a fateful collision—if we don’t alter course.
"In The Ecological Rift: Capitalism’s War on the Earth, environmental sociologists John Bellamy Foster, Brett Clark, and Richard York offer a radical assessment of both the problem and the solution. They argue that the source of our ecological crisis lies in the paradox of wealth in capitalist society, which expands individual riches at the expense of public wealth, including the wealth of nature. In the process, a huge ecological rift is driven between human beings and nature, undermining the conditions of sustainable existence: a rift in the metabolic relation between humanity and nature that is irreparable within capitalist society, since integral to its very laws of motion.
"Critically examining the sanguine arguments of mainstream economists and technologists, Foster, Clark, and York insist instead that fundamental changes in social relations must occur if the ecological (and social) problems presently facing us are to be transcended. Their analysis relies on the development of a deep dialectical naturalism concerned with issues of ecology and evolution and their interaction with the economy. Importantly, they offer reasons for revolutionary hope in moving beyond the regime of capital and toward a society of sustainable human development."
Enough Is Enough: Ideas for a Sustainable Economy in a World of Finite Resources
From the CASSE web site: "Do you suspect that the idea of perpetual economic growth on a finite planet is folly? Are you searching for ways to solve our profound social and environmental problems? "Do you want to know how we can construct an economy that (1) meets our needs without undermining the life-support systems of the planet and (2) achieves sustainable and equitable well-being for all people?
"Enough is Enough is the single most complete collection of policy initiatives, tools, and reforms for an economy that makes enough its goal instead of more. The report, generated from the inspirational ideas of the Steady State Economy Conference, consists of three parts: Part One describes why economic growth is becoming an obsolete goal and provides a crystal-clear description of the desirable alternative — a steady state economy; Part Two examines ten key areas where change is needed to achieve a steady state economy; Part Three provides a blueprint for moving boldly from ideas to action.
"Please read the report, discuss the ideas contained in it, and do what you can to help get us on the path to a better economy. If you are interested in engaging with others in online discussions of report topics, then please visit the SteadyStaters Google Group and request an invitation to join."
2010 Human Development Report: 40-year Trends Analysis Shows Poor Countries Making Faster Development Gains
Human Development Report Office
United Nations Development Program
UNIS/INF/392 4 November 2010
The 20th anniversary UNDP Human Development Report (HDR) finds that long-term progress in health and education is not determined by income; and introduces new indices for gender, poverty, and inequality. For the first time, the HDR looks back rigorously at the past several decades and identifies often surprising trends and patterns with important lessons for the future. These varied pathways to human development show that there is no single formula for sustainable progress—and that impressive gains can be achieved even without consistent economic growth.
United Nations, 4 November 2010—Most
developing countries made dramatic yet often underestimated progress in
health, education and basic living standards in recent decades, with
many of the poorest countries posting the greatest gains, reveals a
detailed new analysis of long-term
Human Development Index (HDI) trends in the
2010 Human Development Report, released here today.
For more information about the HDR 2010, click here.
For free download, click here.
The Human Development Reports, commissioned annually by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) since 1990, are
editorially independent from UNDP.
The 2010 Report—The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development—was launched today by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, and Nobel laureate
Amartya Sen, who helped devise the
HDI for the first Human Development Report in 1990 with the late economist
Mahbub ul Haq,
the series founder. The Human Development Reports and the HDI
challenged purely economic measures of national achievement and helped
lay the conceptual foundation for the UN’s Millennium Development
Goals, calling for consistent global tracking of progress in health,
education and overall living standards.
“The Human Development Reports have changed the way we see
the world,” Ban Ki-moon said today. “We have learned that while
economic growth is very important, what ultimately matters is using
national income to give all people a chance at a longer, healthier and
more productive life.”
first Human Development Reportintroduced its pioneering
and analyzed previous decades of development indicators, concluding
that “there is no automatic link between economic growth and human
2010 Report’s rigorous review of longer-term trends—looking back at
for most countries from 1970—shows there is no consistent correlation
between national economic performance and achievement in the non-income
HDI areas of health and education.
Helen Clark said, “the Report shows that people today are healthier,
wealthier and better educated than before. While not all trends are
positive, there is much that countries can do to improve people’s
lives, even in adverse conditions. This requires courageous local
leadership as well as the continuing commitment of the international
Overall, as shown in the Report’s analysis of all countries for which
complete HDI data
are available for the past 40 years, life expectancy climbed from 59
years in 1970 to 70 in 2010, school enrolment rose from just 55 percent
of all primary and secondary school-age children to 70 percent, and
per capita GDP doubled to more than US$10,000. People in all regions
shared in this progress, though to varying degrees. Life expectancy,
for example, rose by 18 years in the Arab states between 1970 and 2010,
compared to eight years in sub-Saharan Africa. The 135 countries
studied include 92 percent of the world’s population.
“Our results confirm, with new data and analysis, two central contentions of the Human Development Report
from the outset: human development is different from economic growth,
and substantial achievements are possible even without fast growth,”
said Jeni Klugman, the lead author. “We also gained new insights about
the countries that performed best, and the varying patterns of
The “Top 10 Movers” highlighted in the 2010 Report—those countries
among the 135 that improved most in HDI terms over the past 40
years—were led by Oman, which invested energy earnings over the decades
in education and public health.
The other nine “
are China, Nepal, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Laos, Tunisia, South Korea,
Algeria and Morocco. Remarkably, China was the only country that made
the “Top 10” list due solely to income performance; the main drivers of
HDI achievement were in health and education. The next 10 leaders in
HDI improvement over the past 40 years include several low-income but
high HDI-achieving countries “not typically described as success
stories,” the Report notes, among them Ethiopia (#11), Cambodia (#15)
and Benin (#18)—all of which made big gains in education and public
Within the pattern of overall global progress, the variation among
countries is striking: Over the past 40 years, the lowest-performing 25
percent experienced less than a 20 percent improvement in HDI
performance, while the top-performing group averaged gains of
54 percent. Yet as a group, the quartile of countries at the bottom
of the HDI scale in 1970 improved even faster than those then at the
top, with an average gain of 61 percent. The diverse national pathways
to development documented in the Report show that there is no single
formula for sustainable progress, the authors stress.
The region with the fastest
HDI progress since 1970
was East Asia, led by China and Indonesia. The Arab countries also
posted major gains, with 8 of the 20 world leaders in HDI improvement
over the past 40 years. Many countries from sub-Saharan Africa and the
former Soviet Union lagged behind, however, due to the impact of AIDS,
conflict, economic upheaval and other factors. Life expectancy actually
declined over the past 40 years in three countries of the former
Soviet Union—Belarus, Ukraine and the Russian Federation—and six in
sub-Saharan Africa: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lesotho,
South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The dominant trend in life expectancy globally is convergence, with
average life spans in most poor countries getting increasingly close to
those in developed countries. In income, though, the pattern remains
one of divergence, with most rich countries getting steadily richer,
while sustained growth eludes many poor countries.
“We see great advances, but changes over the past few decades have
by no means been wholly positive,” the authors write. “Some countries
have suffered serious setbacks, particularly in health, sometimes
erasing in a few years the gains accumulated over several decades.
Economic growth has been extremely unequal, both in countries
experiencing fast growth and in groups benefiting from national
progress. And the gaps in human development across the world, while
narrowing, remain huge.”
2010 HDI plus new Indices for Inequality, Gender and Poverty
The Report this year includes new
2010 HDI rankings,
with modifications to several key indicators. The top 10 countries in
the 2010 HDI are Norway, Australia, New Zealand, the United States,
Ireland, Lichtenstein, the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden and Germany. At
the bottom of the 2010 HDI rankings of 169 countries are, in order:
Mali, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Burundi,
Niger, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zimbabwe.
Country ranking changes in the HDI are now reported over a five-year
comparative period, rather than on a year-to-year basis, to better
reflect long-term development trends. Due to methodological refinements
of the HDI formula, the 2010 rankings are not directly comparable to
those in earlier Reports.
The 2010 Human Development Report continues the
of measurement innovation by introducing new indices that address
crucial development factors not directly reflected in the HDI:
Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (IHDI)
For the first time, this year’s Report examines HDI data through the
lens of inequality, adjusting HDI achievements to reflect disparities
in income, health and education. “The HDI alone, as a composite of
national averages, hides disparities within countries, so these
adjustments for inequality provide a fuller picture of people’s
well-being,” said Jeni Klugman.
Gender Inequality Index (GII)
The 2010 Report introduces a new measure of gender inequities,
including maternal mortality rates and women’s representation in
parliaments. “The Gender Inequality Index is designed to measure the
negative human development impact of deep social and economic
disparities between men and women,” said Klugman. The GII calculates
national HDI losses from gender inequities, from the Netherlands (the
most equal in GII terms) to Yemen (the least).
Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI)
The Report features a new multidimensional poverty measure that
complements income-based poverty assessments by looking at multiple
factors at the household level, from basic living standards to access
to schooling, clean water and health care. About 1.7 billion
people—fully a third of the population in the 104 countries
included in the MPI—are estimated to live in multidimensional poverty,
more than the estimated 1.3 billion who live on $1.25 a day or less.
calls for further research and better data to assess challenges in
other critical aspects of human development, including political
empowerment and environmental sustainability.
To encourage continuing innovation for the 20th anniversary of the Report, the Human Development Report Office
re-launched its website (
with extensive new resources, revised statistical country profiles for
all UN member states and interactive tools, including a “build your
own index” option for visitors.
Amartya Sen writes in his introduction to the new Report: “Twenty years after the appearance of the first Human Development Report,
there is much to celebrate in what has been achieved. But we also have
to be alive to ways and means of improving the assessment of old
adversities and of recognizing—and responding to—new threats that
endanger human well-being and freedom.
For more information on the 20th anniversary Human Development Report and the complete press kit please visit: hdr.undp.org
ABOUT THIS REPORT: Since its inception in 1990, the Human Development Report has provided fresh insights into some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity. The Human Development Report is an independent yearly publication of the United Nations Development Programme. Jeni Klugman is the lead author of the 2010 Report, which is translated into more than a dozen languages and launched in more than 100 countries annually. The Report is published in English by Palgrave Macmillan. Complete texts of the 2010 Report and all previous Reports since 1990 are available for free downloading in major UN languages on the Report website: hdr.undp.org
ABOUT UNDP: UNDP is the UN's global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working collaboratively on their own solutions to national and global development challenges. Please visit: www.undp.org
The International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG), formerly the International Poverty Centre, is a partnership between the Poverty Practice of the Bureau for Development Policy, UNDP and the Government of Brazil. Located in Brasilia, IPC-IG facilitates South-South learning with the aim of expanding developing countries’ knowledge and capacities to design, implement and evaluate effective policies towards the attainment of high inclusive growth. IPC-IG is a hub for South-South dialogue on applied research and training on development policy.
The Sustainable Scale Project provides educational material and resources to assist government decision makers, civil society organizations, and educators/students, to understand the implications of the sustainable scale concept and, how to integrate attractive solutions into sustainable scale relevant policies and practices.
Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), Columbia University. The PERN eLibrary is an important and unique reference tool for classic population-environment literature; journal articles; conference and working papers; relevant data sets; and educational resources. The eLibrary database is annotated and includes bibliographic citation information, Internet links to the materials, and keywords.
Building on work started in the early 1990s in collaboration with the Global Scenario Group (GSG) of the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), the Tellus Institute's Great Transition Initiative web site provides what may be the most comprehensive/integrated scenarios of the sustainable development process at the regional and global levels. The reader is invited to explore these links:
7. Visualizations of the Sustainable Development Process
An interactive world atlas with country statistics related to sustainable development. Globalis aims to create an understanding for similarities and differences in human societies, as well as how we influence life on the planet. Click on the map to visit the Globalis interactive map:
The Zeitgeist Movement Film Series
Zeitgeist: Moving Forward, by director Peter Joseph, is a feature length documentary work which will present a case for a needed transition out of the current socioeconomic monetary paradigm which governs the entire world society. This subject matter will transcend the issues of cultural relativism and traditional ideology and move to relate the core, empirical "life ground" attributes of human and social survival, extrapolating those immutable natural laws into a new sustainable social paradigm called a "Resource-Based Economy".