"The seemingly impossible is possible.".
Try keeping up with this guy:
Professor of International Health at the Karolinska Institutet of Stockholm, renowned 'statistics guru', and sword-swallower (?!) Hans Rosling - in these two speeches from the 2006 and 2007 TED Conferences respectively.
With his fury of statistical analysis, his peculiar rapid fire Power Point presentation style and his penchant for the odd self-deprecating Swedish joke - Rosling, it seems to me, basically statistically demonstrates the logic behind the consensual idea of the Millennium Development Goals i.e. how the combination of family planning/birth control/rights for women combined with public investment in a social services infrastructure like health and education and roads combined with the possibility of microcredit all leading the way to a market really can begin to end global poverty as we know it. Or as he says - "It seems to me that you can move much faster if you are healthy first, as opposed to wealthy first.". But along the way, however, he really challenges our preconceptions of what constitutes a 'developing nation' versus an 'industrialized nation' and how these distinctions are becoming more and more meaningless, in addition to really making the case for the public availability of statistics and how the differences within nations are often more important than the differences between nations.
Though Rosling does argue that 'everything is necessary for development' - human rights, gender equity, government,etc. - he does state that the most important thing is economic growth. But (as you see in his 2007 lecture), he points out that no country has yet increased its collective wealth and thus its collective health without greatly increasing its carbon emissions as well. 'Something we have to work on', he says.
NationMaster.com - a site dedicating to comparing statistics among nations.