World problems in colour


Have you ever wondered, how and from where, we at People Tree learn about sustainability and environmental issues? Well, to shortly answer the how part: we are curious. We are a team of human rights enthusiasts, suffering of information hunger. And while we do our own, first hand research, with an incredible lead by our CEO, Safia Minney on the fore front exploring fair trade producers, production techniques, social community backgrounds and topics on sustainability, we are also bookworms.

Going down this line, we have decided to share on a weekly basis with you what books are piled on our shelves at the People Tree base. We would like to share the knowledge, create discussion and bring awareness.

If you wish to purchase the books we feature in this series, you can do so here.


This week we have been looking at the 9th edition of THE STATE OF THE WORLD ATLAS by Dan Smith, which is a very visual geographic depiction of major world problems grouped under five main categories involving `Wealth & Poverty`, `War & Peace`, `Rights & Respect`, `Health of the People` and `Health of the Planet`. The New York Times has described Dan`s book as “the bad dreams of the modern world, given color and shape and submitted to a grid that can be grasped instantaneously”.

Dan manages to translate lengthy statistics to often surprising or shocking graphics. This book is the cartography of politics, human rights, diversity and pollution. And while difficult topics are tackled, they appear grouped into clear and understandable visual signs. This is a book for us adults to get a grip of world reality, while a useful tool to educate our children.

“In every corner of our lives as individuals and as communities and societies, there is change. “ – writes Dan in the foreword. We are living in a period of change, which is continual and comes in multiple forms and on multiple levels. Besides many more, we face technical, economic, environmental and social changes, which often are rather challenging. But change is persistent, eternal and needed, as Dan remarks too. The future is shaped by our reactions to these changes, whether we manage to overcome them will be up to our decisions and life styles.

We loved flipping through The State of the World Atlas and took a close look at the `Health of the people` and `Health of the planet` chapters as the topic is close to our hearts: people and planet, the fundamental focuses of People Tree.

As a personal note here on my side I remember my grandma used to always say: “You can have a lot of money my dear, but if you have no good health, it is good for nothing. “ Good health is very important, if not the most important thing on this globe. If you don`t have it, what can you do? Of course natural illnesses and diseases exist unfortunately, and have always existed but Dan shines the light on a fact we tend to forget. Even when health care is provided, “that is no guarantee that our patterns of behaviour will be healthy”. We need to remember that personal responsibility and individual action have huge impacts on human health.

As it does on the health of our gorgeous planet, on Mother Nature. Although we see growing awareness on the environmental crisis and sustainability, our 21st century short-termism, corruption and habitual attachment to norms and policies hinder us from immediate action.  This is the age of more, most and never before. We produce more than ever, more of us live in cities than ever before and we generate way more waste than before. We can already see the negative results of fast consumption but the author warns that what is yet to be discovered is the combined effects of different, interacting negative impacts.

To summarise our thoughts we would like to share this quote that we have come across in our Places Like This, 2015 Plan B Diary also published by New Internationalist.


If you want the easiest way to take part in the movement for sustainability and environmental care, as well as for people, visit our main website. Every purchase you make is a message to other companies that they need to be more aware of the wider effects of what they are doing.

Judit Nagy

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