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English Detective #97 World Data Trends: Good news & Bad 1-2-18
January 02, 2018

A common type of American joke starts “I have good news and bad news…” I’ve been thinking about some big world issues, and we have plenty of good—AND bad-- news.

The mid-November issue of English Detective looked at reasons for hope on climate change. That’s the good news. The bad news on the climate is that it may be too late to prevent some major disasters.

When I started looking into other major world trends with both good and bad news (poverty, global health, violence, and more), I found far too many interesting articles for one issue.

So several of the next issues may also look at recent global trends—and the vocabulary for discussing and charting trends (increasing, declining, stable, etc.)

In this issue I want to look at the overall picture of changes, using two surveys over the last year and a half and an editorial this week. The next issues may talk about some specific areas of concern: poverty, diseases, conflict, etc.

In May 2015, researchers surveyed people all over the world about their biggest fear—the thing they considered to be the biggest threat to the world. The responses varied depending on where the respondents lived.

Another group of researchers surveyed Britons on the same subject in 2016, but was interested in the differences between what respondents considered global threats, national threats, or local or personal threats. They drew some interesting conclusions based on those differences.

A number of threats mentioned in those surveys are no longer such a worry. (Other threats like North Korea have replaced them!) However, what I found most interesting (and hope you will notice) is the ways they compared and evaluated their data.

Finally, a New Year’s editorial in the Philippines tried to look on the bright side, though it also acknowledged plenty of problems to deal with.

Vocabulary from these Articles

global—all over the globe= worldwide

identify- to recognize who someone is (or what something is.)

issue- a problem to discuss. (An issue can also be a specific number of a newsletter or any periodical—any newspaper or magazine that goes out ‘periodically’—daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) For example, this is issue 97 of English Detective. I have mailed an issue every two weeks or month for several years. Each has different content, but all are part of English detective.

major- important

perceive- to recognize with the senses, or to look at things a certain way. Perception is the act of sensing (seeing, hearing, etc.)

respondents- people who respond (answer)—in this case, those who have answered the survey questions.

security- safety

survey- a questionnaire given to a large number of people to learn public attitudes about a subject. (Survey can also be a verb meaning to ask people’s opinions on a subject.)

terrorism- bombings and other attacks on groups of civilians for the purpose of creating disorder and terror in a society

x-axis- the horizontal bottom line of a graph

y-axis- the vertical line going up the left side of the graph. To read a graph you need to know what the x-axis and the y-axis represent. For example, in one of the articles in this issue, the y-axis represented percent and the x axis represented the number of threats (increasing left to right from one to seven.)

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