Trends in global concerns September 27, 2007Posted by dorigo in internet, news, politics, science.
Google trends is a wonderful toy. When I use it I am both happy and angry: happy for the information I receive, angry because it was not created earlier – it only accesses data from 2004 onwards.
I used it today to verify whether my own perception of the concerns about AIDS in our society is correct or biased. I feel the problem of AIDS, the concerns about its diffusion, the prevention campaigns, have all been fading in the background of other “global concerns”: among them the war on terror and global warming, most notably.
In Italy, a recent poll found that 52% of young women use no protection during occasional sexual intercourse. And there in fact seems to be a trend toward avoiding the use of condoms, or using them only towards the end of intercourse, especially among youngsters. What is worse, there seems to be an increase in demand of oral sex by young men, which is mostly performed with no protection.
To me this decline of attention to the prevention of HIV is strikingly at odds with the diffusion of the virus, which to my knowledge is continuing to increase and is literally a pandemic. I was unable to find a more up-to-date graph of global AIDS diffusion (if you know a better source, let me know), but the plot on the left shows a continuing increase, mostly driven by Africa but not confined there.
So let us see what google trends tells us as far as HIV is concerned. A comparison can be made with two other important “global concerns”: global warming, and terrorism. The results are shown below.
The trend of HIV is in blue, that of global warming is in red, and that of terrorism is in yellow. They are plotted from 2004 to end 2007. One can clearly see that the interest in HIV has declined by about 20% in the last three years. Interesting to know that terrorism has also been strongly declining, while in the same period global warming has more than doubled.
I think global warming is indeed a concern, but despite its importance for the future generations, I believe a prevention of AIDS and more attention toward avoiding the spread of that plague is a more pressing issue, and a more direct challenge to humanity in the XXIst century. Italian girls and boys should be taught at school of the danger they face, but unfortunately that is hard to achieve in Italy, where the catholic church still pretends to dictate how to live our life, what to teach our kids, whether women aiming for an assisted fecundation should have the right to check the embryos for genetic malformations, and similar issues.
The catholic church is incapable of understanding the changes in our society and the challenges we face, and instead of claiming a seat at the table where these challenges will be addressed, is manouvering into a fundamentalist position which, eventually, will be the cause of its decline.