Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The appaling things we do to our planet

One of the jobs I've been doing lately is translating for an Australian company that runs rainforest conservation projects. I translated all the needed legals, the company mission statement etc. so I already knew more about how badly we need to start changing our carbon footprint but still, nothing hit base quite as hard as the statistics I've recently finished translating.

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Did you know, that:

* 55% of the world's largest rainforest stands to be severely damaged from agriculture, drought, fire, logging and livestock ranching over the next 22 years?

* 2000 trees, or the equivalent of 7 football fields, are being cut down every minute in the Amazon rainforest?

* only 4% of original forests in the United States remain, the rest are gone?

* the length of time carbon dioxide stays in the earth's atmosphere before it is absorbed into carbon sinks is between 50 and 200 years?

* in The United States, cars and trucks emit 314 metric tonnes of CO2 every year, and that is the equivalent to burning as much coal as would fit in an over 80 000 kilometres long train?

* an average tree absorbs about 20 kilograms of Carbon Dioxide per year. The average person produces 7 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide per year?

* in 2008 the arctic seasonal sea ice melt outpaced normal levels by 34% and there has been a 70% increase in the rate of Greenland's ice melt over the last five years?

* on average, the 140 million cars in The United States are estimated to travel over 6.4 billion kilometres in a day, and according to the Department of Transportation, they use over 200 million gallons of gasoline doing it?

* the consumption of oil in the United States and Canada alone is said to be close to 11 litres per person, per day. In other countries that are part of the OECD, the consumption of oil is 5.2 litres per person, per day. In other nations that are not part of the OECD, the consumption is as little as 0.76 litres per person per day?

* in 2007 $1.6 billion of jet fuel was burned by planes waiting in line to take off at airports?

* 1% of Australia's untapped geothermal power potential could provide enough energy to last 26,000 years?

* citizens in the United States spend $25 billion a year on lawn care. Residential lawns and gardens are doused with 80 million pounds of chemical pesticides and 70 million tonnes of fertilizers annually?

* only 1% of China's 560 million city residents breathe air that is considered safe by the European Union. Cancer is now becoming China's leading cause of death?

* very few oil spills are ever officially reported. On average there are 27 oil spills every day somewhere in the oceans of the world?

* with current human population growth and global warming, the world is going to be fighting over drinkable water supplies by mid-century?  

* by the time you finish reading this sentence, more than 50 000 aluminum cans are made in The United States?

* in The United States they throw away enough aluminium cans to rebuild their entire commercial air fleet every three months?

* the US, Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 per cent of which will never be recycled?

* about 1% of U.S. landfill space is devoted entirely to disposable diapers, which take 500 years to decompose?

* for every single garbage bin that you take outside on garbage day, 70 equivalent cans of garbage were produced by all the various manufacturing processes that created the bin in the first place?

* if the entire world lived like the average American citizen, we'd need 5 planets to provide enough resources?

* cigarette manufacturing uses almost 6.5 kilometres of paper just for rolling and packaging cigarettes? That is one tree for every 300 cigarettes produced.

* there's a swirling vortex of waste and debris in the Pacific Ocean, which covers an area twice the size of the continental U.S. and is believed to hold almost 100 million tonnes of garbage?

* with the current levels of rainforest destruction many local species are going extinct at a rate of 100 species per day?

If you're one of them skeptics but with an open mind, a recource you might wanna check - Skeptical Science.

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As for me, I can already see a change in my behaviour when it comes to consuming some of the goods. More about that in one of the following blogs though, together with a couple of real simple pointers about what we can do that will slightly change how we live and mightly change the impact of our lives on the planet.

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