The Knowledge

Knowledge is a powerful thing

Praxis is the practical application of theory. When you know something…you are empowered to act. Arming yourself with information and facts will empower you to act accordingly. Maybe even today…

Some Facts about Our World: 

Here’s our world in a wonderful 3-minute video…I urge you to watch it!

Did You Know that…?

The Earth’s population reached 7.874 billion in 2022.

Asia accounts for over 60% of the world population with almost 3.8 billion people—China and India alone comprise 36%. Africa follows with 840 million people, 12% of the world population. Europe’s 710 million people make up 11% of the world’s population. North America is home to 514 million (8%), South America to 371 million (5.3%) and Oceania to roughly 60 million (.9%).

According to Credit Suisse analysts, global wealth exceeds $280 trillion in mid-2017—and since 2007, global mean wealth per adult grew by 4.9% and reached a new record high of US$56,540 per adult. It is expected to grow to US$340 trillion by 2022 in 5 years.

Yet incredibly, the wealthiest 8 individuals (yes, just 8 people!) on the planet in 2016 control as much wealth as the bottom half of the entire world’s population–3.7 billion people. 6:3,700,000,000! Seems rather unfair. Seems wrong.

We clearly have enough, but inequality and distribution remain key impediments to economic development. As Mahatma Gandhi said over a century ago, “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

And according to UNICEF, about 21,000 people still die every day from hunger or hunger-related causes. This is down from ten years ago, and down from 41,000 thirty years ago. Clearly, we are making a dent and things are getting better…but 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life.

If the World Where 100 People: What would you fight for?


Today 10% of children in developing countries die before the age of five. This is down from 28% fifty years ago.

Did you know that having $3,600 in net worth puts you among the wealthiest half of the world!?

Educating Girls Matters…A Lot: It may be the best single idea humanity has ever had! 

A study using data from 219 countries from 1970 to 2009 found that, for every 1 additional year of education for women of reproductive age, child mortality decreased by 9.5 per cent. And increased educational attainment accounts for about 50 per cent of the economic growth. When more women work, economies grow—and faster too. It is calculated that women could increase their income globally by up to 76 per cent if the employment participation gap were closed. Evidence shows that increasing the share of household income controlled by women changes spending in ways that benefit children. These women have fewer children, they have healthier children and better educated children. It is a virtuous cycle.

Is the 21st century the Century of Women?


Famine and wars cause just 10% of hunger deaths, although these tend to be the ones you hear about most often. The majority of hunger deaths are caused by chronic malnutrition.

According to UNICEF, more than 8 million children die every year – about 21,000 per day – from avoidable, poverty-related causes. Among them are 4 million babies who will not survive the first month of life…that is ten 9/11 tragedies a day…think of the resources we could spend to stop this if we wanted to!

It is estimated that 1.2 million children per year…I’ll write it again…1.2 million children each and every year, are bought, sold and trafficked into organized crime networks for sweatshop labor and prostitution—sex slavery. The Lancet, the British medical journal, estimated that 10 million children under 17 may work in prostitution worldwide! BTW: The average cost of slave globally is $90!

The sad macro facts: 73% of the world’s poor have lived through a civil war; 29% live in countries dominated by revenue provided by a single natural resource; 30% live in either a bad regional neighborhood, are landlocked or are living in resource scare countries; and finally, 76% live in nations with both bad governance and weak domestic economic policies.

At least 900 million people now live in shantytowns and other makeshift settlements in cities vulnerable to disasters such as cyclones, flooding or earthquakes—those populations are growing at a rate of about 25 million a year, says said U.N. Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.

Think about this: The whole of sub-Saharan Africa has less the GDP than Belgium!

Think about it: Civil wars are basically development in reverse, and they last on average of 60-months main characteristics are a general lack of hope due to a lack of education, too many youths without jobs and kids without parents. BTW, the typical cost of an average civil war to the countries neighbors is over $60 billion. (The moral of the story? Spend a little now on efficient, smart aid—or a lot more later in an after-the-fact interventions…a simple cost-benefit analysis!)

Think about it: Failing states, states where a civil society doesn’t function well (i.e.: economic grow) for several reasons (see: Somalia, Congo, Afghanistan, Chad, Sudan, Syria, etc.) cost the international community on average $100 billion dollars. A civil conflict costs the average developing country roughly 30 years of GDP growth—30 years’ worth of growth! Economic analysts suggest that failed states could be averted with as little as $7 billion in efficiently given aid. (The moral of the story? Maybe it is time for international interventions.)

Did you know: That 80% of the people in the world live on less than $10 a day! And that the World Bank defines “extreme poverty” as living on less than $1.25 per day, and moderate poverty as less than $2 a day. It has been estimated that in 2008, about 23% of the world’s people live on less than $1.25 per—BUT that is down from 52% just 25 years ago! (Caused mostly by the economic growth in India and China. Africa has lagged.)

Fact: According to Forbes that just the richest 85 people on the Forbes 400 have more financial where with all than 3.5 billion other people combined! (WTF? 85:3,500,000,000…that does not seem smart, sustainable, ethical or moral!?)

Fact: To belong to the top 1 percent of the world’s wealthiest you need more than $500,000 in assets, something that 37 million people have achieved. Adults with more than $2,200 of assets were in the top 50% of the global wealth league table, while those with more than $61,000 were in the top 10 per cent. (The richer are always getting richer; but now the mega rich 1% are really getting richer.)

Fact: In 2015 the number of forcibly displaced people has topped 51 million, the highest figure since World War II. (What do we do? Build a wall around the affected regions, or us, to keep them out? Colonize them again and regain control? Allow strong armed leaders to enforce order? Redraw artificial borders? All difficult choices…maybe we should prevent dislocation in the first place.)

Fact: Two and a half billion humans still lack access to a rudimentary latrine, a venerable technology developed over 3,000 years ago.

Good news is occurring…According to the World Malaria Report 2014, the mortality rate for the disease decreased by 47% worldwide since 2000, and the number of people infected by it went from 173 million the same year to 128 million in 2013.

and yet, last year (2022), the World Bank announced that during the pandemic about 70 million more people were pushed into extreme poverty (subsisting on $2.15 a day or less) due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on jobs and education. That’s the largest increase since records began in 1990.


Cursed by geography: Some 38% of the poorest of the poor, the bottom billion, live in landlocked nations. (They need good neighbors with good infrastructure to get their exports to global markets.)

Fact: Nearly 80% of the world’s 1 billion smokers live in low- and middle-income countries. Tobacco kills around 6 million people each year. One in three cigarettes smoked in the world today are smoked in China.

Fact: Today, an estimated 35 million others are living with HIV/AIDS—10%, or more than 3 million are children. Already, the disease has killed more than 78 million people since the 1980’s. AIDS is still killing 4,600 people every day. (Because of people like Bill Gates, in 2000, the cost of a year’s supply of first-line HIV treatment was about US$10 000 per person; today, it is less than US$100 per person!)

Fact: Tuberculosis, or TB, is second only to HIV/AIDS as the greatest killer worldwide due to a single infectious agent that claims some 2-3 million lives around the world in 2013. There are an estimated 8.6 million new cases of TB worldwide each year with multidrug resistant TB (MDR-TB) cases growing by about 500,000 a year. (But, TB death rate dropped 45% between 1990 and 2013 because TB treatment costs about US$2,000 a patient if delivered early, whereas cost rises more than hundredfold to up to US$250,000 a patient with anti-microbial resistant TB.)

Fact: Malaria, a life-threatening disease caused by a mosquito bite (that is both preventable and curable) effects about 350–500 million people (mostly already poor) and kills about 600,000 annually—a child in Africa dies every minute from malaria. (The good news is that it was much worse before 2000, and malaria mortality rates have fallen by 47% globally since 2000 due to simple cost-effective preventions (Long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) & Indoor residual spraying (IRS) with insecticides & cheap antimalarial medicines) and treatments.)

Fact: While a baby girl born in Japan today can expect to live for about 85 years, a girl born at the same moment in Sierra Leone has a life expectancy of 36 years.

Fact: According to a 2014 World Bank report, fragile and conflict-affected states (FCS), whose deepening poverty puts them at risk from terrorism, armed conflict and epidemic disease, have jumped to 33 from 17 since 2003.

Fact: According to a 2015 NPR survey, the average American thinks that the US gives away an estimated 26% of the federal budget as “foreign aid”. Fifty-six percent of the poll respondents thought the U.S. spends “too much” on foreign aid. Official U.S. foreign assistance to the least developed countries topped $32 billion in 2013—less than 1% of the $4 trillion federal budget goes to foreign aid

BTW: Once they were told that the U.S. spends less than 1% of the federal budget on foreign aid, just 28% still thought the nation was overspending.

Juxtaposition: The U.S. consumer weight loss market worth $60.5 billion in 2013!

Juxtaposition: The entire United Nations 2013 budget for development-related activities was $24 billion. In 2013, Chevron had profits in excess of $21 billion…ExxonMobil’s were more than $33 billion!

Fact: The bottom half of the world’s adult population—or about 1.85 billion people—owns collectively only one percent of the world’s assets….whereas, the top 1 percent of the world’s adult population (about 37 million people) owns 40 percent of the world’s wealth, while top 10 percent owns 85 percent. The gap is getting bigger!

Fact: Although slavery is illegal in most of the world, an estimated 21-36 million people live in bondage, according to Free the Slaves, a Washington D.C.-based non-profit group working to eradicate the phenomenon globally–about 10 to 20 percent of the cases she sees also involve sexual abuse and rape.

Here is a quick 2 minute by Hans Rosling called The Joy of Stats…you can fascinatingly see the world change! I urge you to watch it…

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.” – General and President Dwight Eisenhower

The Good News: Progress is 

Frankly, the best news you never hear about is that the world is a far better place today than yesterday. It is true. It is true because the world 100 or 50 years ago was such a bad place. We have made remarkable progress–yet much more needs to be done. In reality, the world is a healthier, safer and wealthier place than ever in human history. This goes against our nightly news broadcasts and the headlines, but as Bill Clinton used to tell me, don’t mistake the headlines for the trendlines. So our heart and head are aligned: we are very optimistic, and hopeful about our collective future. Know that the world can be awful, but better at the same time. These twin truths drive us at the GreatEscape Foundation.

In 1990, 35% of the people on Earth lived on less than $1.90 a day, adjusted for local prices. By 2013, barely 10 percent of people did. That is great news, but that still means that 710 million people are direly poor.

Population demographics have changed too: until the late 1960s, each woman had on average more than 5 children, and at such high fertility rates, population growth is fast. But, the global fertility rate has halved in the last 50 years (better women’s education, contraceptives, family planning, economic opportunities), to fewer than 2.5 children. The world population growth rate has halved to just above 1 percent.

Since 1960, child deaths have plummeted from 20 million a year to about 5.6 million. Remarkable, but still so much to do. Imagine how awful it must be to see your child die–and it happens to 11 parents every minute!

We live in an odd time; a time when things can be both bad and good at the same time. The good is things are getting better, remarkably so. The bad is there is still so much to do. Here’s more proof…the dark green and blue are going away.

Do we just have to accept that? Is that just how the world is? We think not…

There’s more good news…

Taking a broader perspective, global famine deaths in the past several years remain a fraction of levels of previous decades. Between 2010 and 2016, the average human’s risk of dying in a famine was .006 of the risk in the 1960s (yes, six onethousandths).

Less people are dying in wars than, well, ever! It is true…yes, the continued conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Congo, Yemen, and South Sudan are horrific, but the facts are that less people are dying in wars.  Average battle deaths per 100,000 people worldwide were 5.7 a year between 1946 and 1989, compared with one per 100,000 each year between 1990 and 2010. We’re also continuing to see the almost-complete extinction of inter-state war.

Fewer kids are killed by preventable diseases; the latest World Health Organization numbers suggests that vaccination rates against diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus have reached 86 percent, their highest level ever. Measles, rubella and polio virus deaths are down significantly; the Guinea worm disease has all but been eradicated due to the single mindedness of a great humanitarian–Jimmy Carter.

More good news…2018 is an economic tipping point for the world: just over 50 percent of the world’s population, or some 3.8 billion people, live in households with enough discretionary expenditure to be considered “middle class” or “rich.” About the same number of people are living in households that are poor or vulnerable to poverty.

Tomorrow, it will be better…

And Little Closer to Home…

The USA needs a net inflow of capital of $3 billion a day from the rest of the world to keep our consumer-driven economy afloat. In 2015, we owe the rest of the world $18.5 trillion dollars–$58,000 per man, woman and child. (Maybe our standard of living is not sustainable?)

The United States imports while the rest of the world exports; the United States borrows, and the rest of the world lends. Financial flows are so lopsided that last year America soaked up 80% of the surplus savings in the entire world.

According to research conducted by the Hunger in America, 30% of US seniors households had to choose between buying food and buying needed medicine in 2010.

More than 1 in 6 American households (17 million) in 2013 were food insecure, meaning they were either hungry or unsure of where their next meal would come from. 12 million of these Americans were children. (BTW: 40% of food is thrown out in the US every year, or about $165 billion worth. All of this uneaten food could feed 25 million Americans.)

The nation’s official 2015 poverty rate remained statistically 14.5%, 44 million people; its highest level since the end of the Reagan-Bush era in 1993. There were about 578,000 sheltered and unsheltered homeless people nationwide in 2014.

The latest data from the National Center for Health Statistics show that 36% of US adults aged 20 and older are obese. The percentage of young people who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980.

In 1993, at the time of President Clinton’s doomed health care reform proposal, the nation’s medical system made up 13.7% of its GDP; 22 years later, in 2015, health care spending exceeded $3 trillion, amounting to a full 17.7% of the nation’s GDP ($8,500+ per person)–compared to 9% in Ireland, 9% In Australia and 10% in Canada. (BTW: The United States spends more than $1000 per capita per year–or close to four hundred billion dollars–on health-care-related paperwork and administration, whereas Canada, for example, spends only about three hundred dollars per capita.

American life expectancy at birth (infant mortality rates) ranks behind 45 other nations, all of which spend proportionately far less on health care.

Bankruptcy laws changed in 2005 when 2 million Americans filed. Since the changes, making it much harder to file, files have started to creep back up, and in 2014, 937,000 people filed for bankruptcy protection—1 in every 120 households! Half the families in bankruptcy filings have serious medical problems.

Roughly 1 percent of adults in this country are incarcerated. We have 4 percent of the world’s population but 25 percent of its prisoners. No other nation has as large a proportion of its population in prison. The cost? Each prisoner costs taxpayers $35,000 a year….over $60 billion a year! (BTW: The average cost of a year of college including room and board is $23,410.)

Finally, one last quick video about a typical person in the world today. I urge you to watch it…

Destinations The Global Scavenger Hunt has visited since 2002:

Level I – Low-income countries = <$3.00 a day (1 billion people: Nepal, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe)

Level II – Lower-middle income countries = <$10.00 a day (3 billion people: Indonesia, Kenya, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Myanmar, Vietnam, Zambia, India)

Level III – Upper-middle income countries = <$32.00 a day (2 billion people): Fiji, Peru, Romania, Botswana, Jordan, China, Colombia, Thailand, Malaysia, Turkey, Mexico, South Africa)

Level IV – High-income countries = >$32.00 a day (1 billion people: Oman, Argentina, Uruguay, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, UAE, Qatar, Estonia, etc. etc…)


How to Better Understand the World?
Pay attention and read. Action inevitably follows education. Start here to empower yourself:

Rosling, Hans. (2018) Factfulness.

Pinker, Steven. (2018) Enlightenment Now.

Sachs, Jeffrey. (2015) The Age of Sustainable Development.

Sedlak, David. (2015) Water 4.0.

Kolbert, Elizabeth (2015) The Sixth Extinction.

Kristof, Nicholas & Sheryl WuDunn (2014). A Path Appears.

Nussbaum, Martha C. (2013) Creating Capabilities.

Farmer, Paul (2013). To Repair The World.

Alexander, Jessica (2013). Chasing Chaos.

Ruxin, Josh (2013). A Thousand Hills to Heaven.

Thurow, Roger (2013) The Last Hunger Season. 

Banerjee, Abhijit & Esther Duflo (2012) Poor Economics.

Karlan, Dean (2012) More Than Good Intentions.

Lutz, Mark (2010) UnPoverty.

Collins, Daryl (2010) Portfolios of the Poor. 

Yunas, Muhammed (2009) Creating a World Without Poverty.

Kristof, Nicholas & Sheryl WuDunn (2009). Half the Sky.

Collier, Paul (2008). The Bottom Billion.

Sachs, Jeffrey (2008). Common Wealth.

Mortensen, Greg (2006). Three Cups of Tea.

Sachs, Jeffrey (2005). The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time.

Bornstein, David (2004). How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas.

Smith, Stephen (2005). Ending Global Poverty: A Guide to What Works.

Diamond, Jared (2004). Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.

Kidder, Tracy (2003). Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World.

Yunus, Mohammad (2003). Banker to the Poor: Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty.

Easterly, William (2002). The Elusive Quest for Growth.

Sen, Amartya (2000). Development as Freedom.

Finally, the very way we think about non-profits needs to change, here’s why:

Thank you for paying attention…it is the critical first step!

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