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World Military and Social Expenditures by Ruth Sivard , 8th edition (1982)
 

Foreword by Carl Sagan

Viewed from space, the Earth seems exquisite and serene, carried by its star on a journey that by now is 4.5 billion years long. When we look more closely we find that life and intelligence have arisen and evolved on this world, and have filled it with a profusion of beauty. The most advanced species has in only a few centuries worked technological wonders, and is entirely able to provide for each of its 4.4 billion members.

But when we look more closely still, we find that the vast majority of the individuals of the species lead lives of misery and despair, never tasting the intellectual, bodily, and spiritual fulfillment of which they are capable. Soon they will be sending a trillion dollars a year on past, present, and future military activities. They have stockpiled an arsenal of over 17,000 targeted strategic weapons that can destroy their global technology and perhaps their species. They exhibit extreme devotion to various national, ethnic, religious and economic doctines, but hardly ever wonder about the well-being of their planet.

What would an extraterrestrial observer, with no emotional stake in the outcome of terrestrial events, make of this? In provincial isolation, we see only small pieces of the picture. But if we step back, if we embrace a planetary perspective, the picture that emerges is so clear, its implications so dangerous, that any thoughtful person must be moved to action. The annual surveys of World Military and Social Expenditures, written by Ruth Leger Sivard, are an indispensible introduction to that planetary perspective.

Carl Sagan
Awarded the Pulitzer Prize, 1978

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