Handle on Reality

I have been listening to the fear campaign that accompanies the approach of elections, and it appears that our government actually believes that terrorism is the biggest threat to human civilization.
I decided that I was willing to bet that there were bigger threats to human beings than terrorism. Just off the top of my head, I came up with the notion that probably the number one worldwide killer of human beings was poverty and its associated mix of poor living conditions and lack of access to medical care. In this frame of mind, I went to my Google guru and put in the phrase “death toll of poverty,” and up came a whole raft of more or less associated information.
One of the links went to a geocities home page for Donald McBride. I kept skating around his reference links, particularly the ones on death rates , and I discovered that in 2002 worldwide terrorism was not in the top 20. Road traffic accidents was number 10, and number 14 was self-inflicted.
Here at home in the USA, the top ranked cause of death is disease, with 749 deaths per 100,000 in 2001, and we are allowed to note that death from disease is possibly poverty-related. Number 4 is natural disaster with 0.2 per 100,000, and as we saw in New Orleans, natural disaster is not an effect of poverty, but death from natural disaster is related to poverty. War is blamed for 5.7 deaths per 100,000 from 1941 to 2004. Terrorism hits the chart at 0.06 deaths per 100,000 from 1982 to 2004.
So I am going to go out on a limb here and state that terrorism is not our biggest problem. Too bad we couldn’t get a government that was obsessed with getting everyone medical insurance or planning evacuation procedures for people who can’t hop in their SUV.
Much thanks to Donald McBride for the site!

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