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Can we end hunger and poverty, halt climate change and achieve gender equality in the next 15 years? The governments of the world think we can. Meeting at the UN in September 2015, they agreed to a new set of Global Goals for the development of the world to 2030. Social progress expert Michael Green invites us to imagine how these goals and their vision for a better world can be achieved.
In resource-rich Meghalaya, India, the demand for coal is transforming the environment and the people who depend on it. Coal mine owners are prospering from booming production, but few laws regulate the dangerous and polluting practice of rat hole coal mining. Until now. State officials recently banned rat hole mining in the region, shutting down the economy. Coal mine owners and workers staged protests, while people living downstream from the mines are trying to cope with a dead river that once provided their livelihoods, food, and drinking water. Nepalese migrants who crossed the border to mine coal are stuck in the middle.
This animation shows the global pattern of human land use over the last eight thousand years, a time when human populations began expanding following the origins of agriculture. The earliest areas of human land use are in Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent areas of southwest Asia, followed by increasing areas of land use in China, India, and Europe.
Watch for the areas of intensive land use developing in India, especially along the Ganges River plane, and in Northern China along the lower Yellow and Yangtze rivers.
As time goes on, you will see areas of land use developing in South America, along the Andes, and in Africa, especially in the Sahel region.
By classical times, land use in Europe is very intense with up to 60% of the land under human uses, but we start to see fluctuations around this time too, with some areas abandoned corresponding with wars, famine, and other historical events that affected human populations. As time continues through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, land use in Europe and Chine increase greatly following the development of cities and towns.
Now pay careful attention to South America. Following the first contact with Europeans around 1500, nearly 90% of the indigenous people of the Americas were killed, mainly by disease. This collapse in populations led to massive regrowth of natural vegetation, especially forests in the Amazon, Andes, and Mesoamerica.
The use of contraceptives dates all the way back to 1850 B.C., when women in ancient Egypt used honey, acacia leaves, and lint to block sperm. This two-minute animation traces the history of contraception through the centuries, from sea sponges (500 B.C.), linen sheath condoms (1564), lemon cervical caps (1700), and the "rhythm method" (1920) to modern advancements such as vaginal rings, hormone injections, IUDs, and patches.
There are more than 7 billion people on the planet, and we're adding 227,000 more every day. The toll on wildlife is impossible to miss: Species are disappearing 1,000 to 10,000 times faster than the natural rate -- the fastest rate since dinosaurs roamed the planet.