Economist 10/22/15

  1. ROAD traffic accidents kill an estimated 1.25m people a year, according to a new report by the World Health Organisation. The number has remained relatively stable since the WHO’s first assessment in 2007, even as the number of people and vehicles rises.Road accidents kill more men than women, and are the biggest killer of 15- to 29-year olds globally. As well as the human toll, it is an economic burden, costing the global economy an estimated 3% of GDP, and up to 5% in the poor and middle-income countries where 90% of deaths occur but only half the world’s vehicles are driven. Africa is the least safe place for a road user, with 26.9 fatalities for every 100,000 people in 2013 compared with 9.3 in Europe—which has ten times more cars as a share of its population. And Africa’s safety record has worsened since 2007, the only region to do so. Of the ten nations with the highest death rates, eight are African.
  2. Only Egypt requires vehicles to meet basic international safety standards such as softer bumpers to lessen impacts. Many roads are unpaved and do not have safe space for pedestrians, who account for 40% of deaths of all road users against a global average of 22%.Making the unsafest countries safer will be hard. In the three years since 2010, 16m more motorised vehicles hit the roads, half of them in poorer countries with laxer standards.he ten-largest nations account for 700,000 deaths, yet none makes the grade on all five risks (America fails on all of them but has a low death-rate).
  3. ELECTRIC lighting, television, the internet and caffeine all get blamed for reducing the amount of time people sleep compared with the days before such luxuries existed. Such alleged sleep deprivation is sometimes held responsible for a rise of obesity, mood disorders and other modern ailments. The trouble with this argument, though, is that no one really knows how long people slept before coffee and light bulbs existed.A study just published in Current Biology by Jerome Siegel of the University of California, Los Angeles and Gandhi Yetish of the University of New Mexico tries to provide an answer.In total, the researchers collected 1,165 days’ worth of data from 3 tribes – Hadza of northern Tanzania, the Ju/’hoansi San of the Kalahari Desert, in southern Africa, and the Tsimané in Bolivia.. They found that people from all three groups slept for between 5.7 and 7.1 hours a day, with an average that hovered around 6.5 hours. Far from exceeding those of a modern city-dweller,An average 7.5 hours a night is the norm there.
  4. Their bedtimes appeared to be regulated by the temperature, rather than by daylight, and it takes several hours after the sun has set for things to cool down.The study also calls into question the idea that siestas are a feature of human behaviour that has been suppressed by modern ways of life. The volunteers rarely napped in summer (doing so on about one day in five), and almost never in winter.There were some differences. One was that hunter-gatherers exhibited a bigger seasonal variation in the amount of sleep they took than “modern” folk do. They slept almost an hour longer in winter than in summer, whereas the wired sleep about 20 minutes longer. Perhaps more intriguingly, they barely suffered from insomnia.
  5. In 2014 the capacity of the global fleet of merchant ships grew by 3.5%, to a total of 1.75 billion deadweight tonnage (a measure of how much vessels can transport). This was the lowest annual growth rate in over a decade. Ships are delivered several years after they are bought: the slowdown reflects the fact that those arriving in 2014 were ordered in the post-crisis years. Greece and Japan remain the two largest ship-owning countries by capacity, controlling almost 30% of the world’s tonnage in 2014. But China now owns the most ships. Many countries’ ships are registered under foreign flags of convenience, but China has a large proportion of nationally flagged ships used in coastal shipping.

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