life expectancy North Korea

Korea was divided into the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the north and the Republic of Korea in the south due to opposing political ideologies. Before the 1990s, the World Bank estimated that the life expectancy of North Korea was similar to that of South Korea. Men were expected to live to 65.9 years, and women 73 years. Here are 10 facts about life expectancy in North Korea that will list what factors have had the largest impact on the growth or decline or this rate.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in North Korea

  1. The 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union in Russia led to an economic decline that ultimately decreased North Korea’s life expectancy. This decline was the direct cause of the mid-1990s famine in North Korea, which caused a mortality crisis that lowered its life expectancy by 5.6 years in men and 4.7 years in women.
  2. Though North Korea shares a similar issue with South Korea regarding mortality rates among small children and adults older than 55, the famine-affected North Korea more heavily, leading to a gap between the two countries of 11.14 years among men and 9.90 years among women by the year 2008.
  3. Currently, North Korean men are expected to live to 68.2 years and female life expectancy is 75.5 years. This places the country as 103 on the ranking of life expectancy rates. Unlike several countries in the top 10, North Korea’s national leading cause of death is not suicide, but rather stroke. This is also different from its leading cause for the life expectancy gap between North and South Korea, which is infant mortality.
  4. South Koreans may live longer, but North Koreans have more babies. For the past decade, South Korea has struggled to boost its birth rate, hitting an all-time low in 2017 with only 1.05 births per woman. In comparison, North Korea had a birth rate of 1.91.
  5. Food shortages were thought to be the primary reason why North Koreans also fell behind South Koreans in terms of height, with an average difference of 3-8 cm. Some originally thought that this difference was the result of genetics, but Professor Daniel Schwekendiek from Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul rejected this claim. Additionally, Schewekendiek disproved the theory that North Korean refugees are shorter as a result of poverty. The height difference can provide some insight into the correlation between a person’s height and their life expectancy.
  6. North Korea has directed the majority of its funds to its military. An estimated 25 percent of the nation’s GFP is going into these programs. A major cause of young men leaving the workplace is that most take part in some form of military training. As a result, although 40 percent of its population currently lives below the poverty line, North Korea has the world’s fourth-largest army.
  7. North Korea ranks pretty low among countries in terms of carbon emissions. In 2013, North Koreans kept their emissions to 63.8 metric tons while South Koreans put out more than 10 times as much with 673.5 metric tons. This gap has been one of the most significant factors of North Korea’s recent rise in life expectancy. While there are still debates about a nation’s level of carbon emissions and its overall effect on the world, a lot of studies have proven that there is a relationship between carbon emissions, life expectancy and income.
  8. North Koreans struggle with poverty. Citizens of nations with low carbon emissions are predicted to be unable to achieve higher levels of income. This is because these low-emission nations tend to have a stronger focus on exporting goods in order to keep its economy afloat. While these low carbon emissions provide a healthier territorial range for its citizens, without a moderately sufficient and independent economy, the majority of North Koreans still remain in lower-income levels of poverty.
  9. North Koreans have attempted to redirect their focus to their country’s nutrition and health problems. The government has taken steps to increase the number of young children receiving Vitamin A supplements in order to combat the effects of North Korea’s many food shortages. The World Health Organization encouraged the consumption of Vitamin A in 2000. Additionally, North Korea has mandated that nutrition be a part of medical curricula.
  10. In the past, North Korea has prided itself on being a self-reliant country. However, this attitude has been theorized to be the primary cause of the nation’s chronic food shortages since the nation was reluctant to request international food aid. However, after the North Korea’s 2008 population census revealed its significantly poor health conditions, North Korea began a collaboration with the World Health Organization Centre for Primary Health Care Development to improve the nation’s poor health situation.

North Korea’s reclusive and secretive nature means that there is still a lot that remains unknown. However, these 10 facts about life expectancy in North Korea provide some insight into what areas may need more attention from the country’s government and international human rights organizations.

Jordan Melinda Washington
Photo: Unsplash

Fight Poverty By Improving Cooking in Africa
One of the goals in the 2015 Millennium Development Goals was to eradicate hunger and poverty. New technologies and programs are currently being developed to achieve this global challenge. One important focus of such innovations is to fight poverty by improving cooking.

A shortage of fuel and the use of biomass and kerosene for cooking both cause many health issues in Africa, such as physical ailments from collecting firewood, burns and respiratory problems due to the inhalation of deadly smoke fumes. In order to feed their families, African women in poor communities face life-threatening attacks and rape.

Furthermore, in some places where local firewood sources have been completely used up, women have to resort to digging up tree roots or travel increasingly further away from their homes in order to find firewood. The practice of cooking with wood fuel contributes to poverty in Africa by taking up time and resources families could be using to buy food and generate income. Fortunately, new technologies in Africa are making the process of cooking cleaner and more efficient.

One example is the fuel-efficient woodstove created by the global innovating charity, Practical Action. The woodstoves are easy to use, affordable and require less wood fuel. Their high sides allow for improved heat transfer. Best of all, they can be made with clay and bricks that are readily available in local communities. Practical Action has also trained more than 150 women to use its new stoves as well as to practice fuel saving methods, like using dry wood, pre-soaking beans prior to cooking, using a weighted lid and regulating the air supply to the fire.

Another initiative that is helping to fight poverty by improving cooking is the SCORE (Stove for Cooking, Refrigeration and Electricity) project. Also supported by Practical Action, the stove was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and created under the collaboration of the University of Nottingham, City University, the University of Manchester and Queen Mary and the University of London.

SCORE is a smokeless cooking stove with a generator powered by burning different kinds of biomass like wood and animal dung. It converts the generated heat to acoustical energy and then to electricity, allowing for even the waste heat to be utilized when cooking. The SCORE project aims to halve the household fuel consumption and to use local, low-cost materials as much as possible.

Other innovative efforts to fight poverty by improving cooking include introducing new construction materials, improving designs for basic cooking stoves and intermediate rocket stoves as well as enabling for more customization in design. Such efforts are led by multistakeholder initiatives such as EnDev and ProBEC, national cookstove programs as well as NGOs like GERES in Africa and Southeast Asia and HELPS in Central America.

However, reducing the combustion of solid cooking fuels, in general, is important to the health of the poor. Burning fuels like charcoal, wood and coal produce significant emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAP) that have potential carcinogenic and other harmful effects. According to a recent World Health Organization study, HAP emissions contributed to 4.3 million premature deaths in 2012 and more than 110 million years lost due to ill-health disability or early death in 2010.

Forced draft and natural draft gasifier stoves are a promising technological solution. Their side-loaded design significantly decreases emissions without requiring the user to prepare or refill the fuel. While advanced biomass stoves are still at a very early stage for commercialization and field testing, they have the greatest potential to improve cooking health conditions.

BioLite’s patented Direct Conduction Thermoelectric System, the HomeStove, is a great example of this. Not only does it autonomously power an internal fan, but it also generates extra electricity to charge LED lights and mobile phones.

As for the renewable fuel sector, cookstoves are still in embryonic stages. They also typically remain expensive. One promising biogas digester model is that of SimGas Tanzania. It is small and custom designed for East African farmers to use by feeding in manure as its power source.

These improved cookstoves, from the cheaper ones produced by artisan collectives like GEREs and EnDev to the high-tech ones manufactured on the global mass scale, face several common challenges. The growing cost of materials and labor make it difficult for such producers to make cookstoves that the poor would be able to afford as well as to transport cookstoves where the poor would have access to them. This makes quality control and, in turn, safety additional issues. Lastly, they also lack access to capital markets.

While many improvements have been made to fight poverty by improving cooking in Africa, much still needs to be done in making improved cookstoves available to the poor.

– Connie Loo

Photo: Flickr

Paris AgreementThe United States and China, the two biggest global carbon-emitting countries, have ratified the Paris Climate Change Agreement. On Sep. 3, 2016 both U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping submitted their plans to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The ratification was announced in advance of the Group of 20 (G20) meeting being held in Hangzhou, China.

The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris was signed and adopted by 195 parties in December 2015. It asks the nations “to combat climate change and to accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a sustainable low-carbon future.” This agreement has come to be known as the Paris Agreement.

The UNFCCC in December 2015 saw a global compact to slash greenhouse gases and keep global temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius. However, with the U.N.’s weather agency reporting that 2016 is on course to be the warmest year on record since records have been kept; it is already being questioned whether this goal can be reached. With the U.S. and China ratifying their agreements, and the U.N. Climate week in late September, a surge of ratifications is hoped for and expected.

U.N. Chief Ban said in a ceremony for the two countries: “With China and the United States making this historic step, we now have 26 countries who have ratified and 39% of global emissions accounted for…” It is hoped that with these two countries leading the way, more countries will follow suit. For the agreement to take effect, 29 more countries, which represent 16% of worldwide emissions, need to ratify their agreements. Once 55 countries that account for 55% of the greenhouse gases emitted have signed ratifications and filed them with the U.N., the agreement will go into force within 30 days.

The four countries with the highest emissions are China with 20.09%, the U.S. with 17.9%, Russia with 7.5% and India with 4.1%. The signing of the agreement was convened by U.N. Chief Ban in New York in April 2016. Country representatives signed the agreement before ratification. Once a country has signed the Paris Agreement, “it is obliged to refrain from acts that would defeat its object and purpose. The next step, ratification, signifies a country’s intent to be legally bound to the terms of the treaty at the international level.”

Before China and the U.S. ratified the Paris Agreement, only 24 other countries had done so and their emission impact on the globe represented only one percent. Now that these two large countries and large carbon emitters have ratified their agreements with the U.N., there is a bigger likelihood that the Paris Agreement will be set into place before the end of the year which is when it was expected. The agreement may even be enacted before November’s U.N. Climate Summit in Marrakesh.

Rhonda Marrone

Photo: Flickr

A group of Pacific Islanders has joined environmentalists in protesting climate change in Australia by blockading the Newcastle coal port, the world’s largest coal export terminal, with canoes, surfboards and kayaks. The members of island nations have come together in protest to attract scrutiny over Australia’s commitment to coal and its ultimate effect on the island nations.

The Pacific Climate Warriors’ Blockade

The activist group, the Pacific Climate Warriors, is comprised of members from a variety of island nations, including the Marshall Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu, Tokelau, the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Although there has been an annual environmental blockade of the Newcastle coal port for many years now, this is the first time the blockade has been strengthened with a Pacific Islander activist group.

The blockade only acts as a minor delay for the ships, which are headed by police escorts. The ships are still capable of leaving the massive port that sees more than 4,000 ship movements annually. Demonstrating the serious consequences of climate change that has resulted in the imminent loss of their island homes, the protesters have chosen not to passively wait as their nations become submerged. Instead, they have decided to fight against climate change.

The evidence of climate change is already apparent to the islanders through coastal erosion and the rising sea level, forcing the relocation of whole villages and threatening the very existence of the Pacific Islands and especially the atolls that encircle the seaboards.

Natural Disasters and Protests

Earlier in the year, massive floods during the seasonal tides hit the Marshall Islands, engulfing the capital, Majuro, and forcing the island’s president, Chris Loeak, to declare a state of emergency. In addition to increasingly severe weather, the sea level is expected to rice seven feet by the end of the century, due to a melting ice sheet in Western Antarctica.

The protest follows the recent role the Pacific Islanders took at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York in September, demonstrating to the many nations present at the summit the actions the island states were taking to combat climate change.

The protests have targeted Australia in particular due to its contribution to climate change. As the second largest coal exporter with the highest carbon emissions per capita in the world, Australia is heavily reliant on coal-fired power stations that employ tens of thousands of workers, causing whole towns to be reliant upon the mines for their livelihoods.

Hope and Politicians

In July, the conservative government, led by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, repealed a carbon tax on approximately 350 of the country’s largest polluters, depriving the government of an expected $7 billion over the next four years and requiring a new plan to reduce emissions that has yet to be seen.

Furthermore, a $16.5 billion project was approved over the summer to create what could possibly be the world’s largest coal mine. Despite the blockade’s physical ineffectiveness, the Pacific Islanders hope to amend the world’s apparent indifference to climate change.

William Ying

Sources: The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2, Al Jazeera 1, Al Jazeera 2, Huffington Post
Photo: Credo Action

environmental protection
Women suffer the most when it comes to climate change and natural disasters, yet in many areas around the world, women do not have a large say in the policies surrounding environment or how finances are used towards environmental protection. In areas where it has been tested though, empowering women can lead to better preparedness for disasters and better governance of natural resources. Overall, gender equality can lead to better environmental governance.

Rachel Carson created the modern day environmental movement with her book Silent Spring. Today women following her footsteps around the world are essential in the protection of our environment.

In Nepal and India, when more than the minimum threshold of one-third women participated in forest committees, it resulted in forest regeneration and a decrease in illegal extraction of forest resources.

Another success story took place in Kenya and Ethiopia, where women took a leadership role managing the risks regarding the 2005-08 drought cycle. The women generated income by diversifying livelihoods and then saved using women’s savings and loan groups. By doing this, women were able to preserve resources, which then lead to better food security.

Women also play an important role in protecting the environment because they can have a strong impact on the amount of carbon emissions in our atmosphere.

Due to gender norms that exist regarding labor in the household, many of women’s day-to-day tasks have a direct impact on carbon emissions. This means that when a goal is set to reduce carbon emissions, it is up to women to make environmentally friendly decisions regarding cooking, farming and what they purchase for their families.

Women’s decisions regarding cooking fuel, cooking technology and which foods they choose to buy have an impact on the amount of carbon emission released. Women also often have a say in agricultural practices that have an impact because they can determine whether carbon is released or stored in agricultural soils and above ground biomass. In many areas, women are the ones making household purchasing decisions at markets. Because of this women directly impact the amount of carbon emitted through the production, distribution, use and disposal of goods.

From leadership roles to every day decisions, women are an important component in protecting the environment for now and for future generations.

– Kim Tierney 

Sources: World Bank, UN Women
Photo: Environment and Society

Currently, carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels are sought to be decreased on an international scale. Nations have been working together to combat the dilemma of climate change by seeking zero emissions technologies and by addressing carbon emissions within their own borders. 

However, what makes it more difficult to calculate carbon emissions by country is that many institutions of wealthy, developed nations have been able to outsource their carbon emissions to developing countries. Apparently, studies show that, “the United States, Japan and many Western European nations have managed to ‘outsource’ more than half of their carbon dioxide emissions and evade responsibility for their share of the climate-altering pollution.”

There is already a prevalence of goods manufactured in developing countries such as India or China and consumed in developed countries in the United States and Europe. Accordingly, the carbon emissions produced by businesses or corporations are often unconsidered in regards to their total impact on the world.

After all, climate change is a global issue rather than regional or domestic. When carbon emissions are outsourced, the only winner is the public image of the institution that outsources the pollution—that is unless it is uncovered.

With prior calculations of carbon emissions categorized by country, analysts say that they will apparently have to be redone to account for all of the outsourcing. The implications are substantial for European countries who—in comparison to the rest of the world—seem to have low carbon emissons. However, with European nations accounting for a large amount of carbon emission outsourcing, the numbers may reflect their status differently.

Additionally, nations such as China and India—who attain international status as some of the highest ranking carbon polluters—see that many of their emissions actually ought to be attributed to institutions of other developed nations, such as the United States.

China and India in particular serve as examples that reflect the problems that may arise from outsourcing outdated and polluting technologies to developing countries in order to boost their economies. While their rapid industrialization has been able to increase their economic status to an extent, it has done much harm to the environment with their heavy reliance on fossil fuels.

Therefore, the issues presented require much more in-depth analysis on the true extent of carbon emissions. Thus it seems as though categorizing emissions by nation are essentially misleading.

Jugal Patel 

Sources: Carnegie Science, The Guardian, Stanford
Photo: Lemonde