Saluting New Internationalist

So New Internationalist is celebrating its 40th anniversary. It’s extraordinary how this upstart student magazine of the 1970s became so quickly a must-read for anyone concerned to understand the real state of the world and campaign for global justice.

In the 40th Anniversary edition the original visionary who founded New Internationalist, Peter Adamson, looks at how the world has changed since the magazine started. And the tally of progress even in the poorest countries surprised me:

  • life expectancy  has increased from 40 to just under 60
  • child malnutrition and death rates have been more than halved
  • almost all children can expect more than eight years of education
  • average family size has halved from 6 to 3 children per couple
  • immunisation has rised from under 20% to almost 80%
  • and child polio victims have gone from half a million every year to around 200.

Remarkable achievements, though, as Peter points out, there is still so much more to do, especially to combat growing inequality. So New Internationalist’s campaigns remain as vital as ever.

And the theme of inequality was one I worked on with Peter in 1981 – trying to find a way to visualise just how great the disparities are. This is how we expressed it back then – when the population was just 4.5 billion, compared with today’s 7 billion.

Filmed in 1981 and based on the global statistics at the time, this sequence aims to show both the makeup of the human family and its glaring disparities.

We have plans to update this living graphic with updated statistics – though probably this time in animation, since last time finding and bringing together people with all the right nationalities was a real challenge. Though finishing with the picnic also made it a fun day out.

And more than 30 years later Peter’s conclusion on today’s priorities couldn’t be clearer:

” If progress and protest is to be made against the Age of Inequality then, as in the 1970s, new measures are needed to reflect that new priority…to underpin the message that, in the years ahead, progress that leaves the poorest behind is not to be considered progress at all.”

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