A product of The World Watch Institute, "Vital Signs" is the only book out there that attempts to provide the Big Picture of massive global trends - and succeeds. Unlike any other study, it gives a unique snapshot of the social, economic, and environmental trends that determine the quality of our lives and the future of our children's lives. It answers the question, "Where has development brought us?" And although we might not want to hear the answer, it is necessary if we wish to steer ourselves in the right direction. To quote the introduction, "a candied appraisal reveals disparities between rich and poor, mounting health challenges, battered ecosystems, and persistent social and political conflicts." More specifically, we see that the global temperature is rising; forests are fading; pesticide use is skyrocketing (as are pesticide-resistant pests); soda beverage drinking is up as with its concomitants, obesity and diabetes, and food-borne illness is widespread, among other things to numerous to mention. The "key indicators" Vital Signs focuses on are food and agricultural trends, energy trends, atmospheric trends, economic trends, transportation trends, communication trends, health and social trends, and finally military trends. The second half of this slim, compact, hard-hitting book focuses on "special issues." These include environmental features (like the deterioration of farmland and the increase of "unseen toxic wastes"), economy and finance features (from foreign spending to the cruise industry), resource economic features (the biotech and water issues, for example), health features (such as asthma and food-borne illness), social features (like persisting poverty and voter decline), and military features - in particularly, progress against landmines. As you can the see, the scope of the book is vast, but the presentation is clean and seamless. It won't bog you down and intimidate. A veritable resource treasure house. If you want global awareness or simply need to scrape together some important and up-to-date facts for a research paper, look no further. Baseline information for anyone interested in the future of the planet.