The world set more records last year, some good and some bad. The down side: It's hotter, and there's less to eat. The up side: People are earning more, voting in more free elections and riding more bicycles.
On balance, says Worldwatch Institute's annual report on the global pulse, we're still in trouble.
In its 169-page "Vital Signs 1996," issued Sunday, the group focuses on the worsening global climate, which it says is at the root of grain shortages, rising insurance claims and predictions of food price increases throughout the world.
With statistics from a variety of government and private sources, Worldwatch notes records last year for a variety of what it says are basic factors affecting human welfare:
It was the warmest year on the planet since record-keeping began 130 years ago. The average global temperatures hit 59.70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Insurance industry payouts for weather-related damage reached $48 billion for the 1990s, compared with $16 billion for all of the 1980s.
The world grain harvest was the smallest since 1988 and grain reserves - the grain available to the world if all production stopped - were at a record low of just 48 days worth. …