By the Numbers

Beyond propaganda and rhetoric, numbers tell the real story

Access to vaccinations after natural disasters, such as in Bangladesh, are lowering childhood deaths. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

For the first time since record keeping began in 1960, the number of deaths of children under age 5 around the world has fallen below 10 million a year, to 9.7 million, according to a Sept. 13 article in The New York Times. Officials at the United Nations Children’s Fund, which compiled the data, say the decline in mortality is due to an increase in the use of vitamins and mosquito nets, campaigns against measles, malaria and bottle-feeding, and economic improvements experienced by much of the world outside Africa, the Times reported. In 1960, about 20 million children died annually, but the drop since then has been steeper than 50 percent because of world population growth, the Times article stated. At 1960 rates, 25 million babies would have died this year.
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More than 1.35 million doctorates were awarded in the United States between 1920 and 1999 — 62 percent in science and engineering and 38 percent in other fields, according to the latest data from the National Science Foundation. The share of doctorates earned by women nearly tripled in the 80-year period, from 15 percent in the early 1920s to 41 percent in the late 1990s. Foreign nationals comprise an increasing portion of doctorate recipients: About one in three Ph.D.s was awarded to a foreign national in the 1990s compared to one in four in the late 1980s. Most foreign students who received doctorates studied science and engineering.
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The number of Kirtland’s warblers, one of the first species listed under the 1967 Endangered Species Act, is on the rise. A new nest was discovered this spring on land owned by Plum Creek Timber Co. in central Wisconsin, while others have been sighted in recent years in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, northern Wisconsin and Ontario, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. The songbird’s population fell from 432 males in 1951 to 201 males in 1971, but rebounded to 1,486 males in 2006, according to federal officials. The warbler was first described in 1851 after a male was sighted in the outskirts of Cleveland, Ohio. The first nests were discovered in the jack pine forests of Michigan’s Oscoda County in 1903 and, for nearly a century after, all nests were found within 60 miles of that site.
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Air quality continues to improve according to data in the 2007 edition of the Index of Leading Environmental Indicators published by the Pacific Research Institute. Air emissions overall decreased by 53.2 percent between 1970 and 2005. According to the report, “Emissions for all but one pollutant, NOx, are less than half what they were in 1970, despite the substantial increases in population, economic activity, and miles traveled by Americans that have occurred since then.”
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Soil erosion on U.S. cropland diminished by 43 percent nationwide between 1989 and 2003, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The erosion of cropland from water decreased 41.86 percent, and erosion from wind decreased 44.17 percent. In the Great Lakes basin, erosion has declined by nearly 26 percent.
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The population of Michigan whitetails currently exceeds the state goal by 496,000, but the number of hunters is in decline.

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