10 Eco-Facts & Questions

Many thousands of years were needed for the human population to reach one billion by 1800 AD. Just 130 years later it doubled. A mere 44 years later it doubled again. Estimates suggest it will double yet again by 2024. Remarkably, nearly one-tenth of all people who ever lived at any time are still breathing. How many people can this planet sustain?
Source: World population. (2008, May 12). In Wikipedia: The free encyclopedia. Retrieved May 30, 2008 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_population

Each year some 27 billion tons of CO2, 330 million tons of anthroprogenic CH4, 120 million tons of S02, 5 million tons of N20, and 2,000 tons of mercury are released into the air. Is that a breath of relief?

Sources: (1) Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. (2007). China now #1 in CO2 emissions. Retrieved June 28, 2008 from http://www.mnp.nl/en/dossiers/Climatechange/moreinfo/Chinanowno1inCO2emissionsUSAinsecondposition.html. (2) Bouwman, A. F., Droeze, C., Taylor, J.A. (1996). On sources and atmospheric concentrations on nitrous oxide. The Earth Observer. Retrieved June 30, 2008 from http://eospso.gsfc.nasa.gov/eos_observ/11_12_96/p28.html. (3) Pacynaa, E. G., Pacynaa, J. M., Wilson, S. (2006). Global anthropogenic mercury emission inventory for 2000. Atmospheric Environment. 40 (22), 4048-4063. (4) United National Environment Programme. (1997). Global Environment Outlook-1. Retrieved July 1, 2008 from Figure 4.6. http://www.unep.org/GEO/geo1/fig/fig4_6.htm

The average car spews out 3 tons of CO2 per year & now over 590 million autos are moving across this planet. Where are we heading?

Sources: (1) Eco Schools in Fife. (n.d.) Eco-Facts: Transportation. Retrieved June 2, 2008 from http://www.fife-education.org.uk/Ecoschools/ ecofacts/transport.htm. (2) University of Sheffield SASI Group & Newman, M. (2003). WorldMapper. Retrieved June12, 2008 from http://www.sasi.group.shef.ac.uk/worldmapper/display.php?selected=31

Many shellfish and coral may disappear within a century if current CO2 emission rates continue. Moreover, many fish species seem likely to become extinct. Since these are near the base of many food chains, what will happen to the life forms depending on them?

Sources: (1) Gray, R. (2001, April 11). Mussels face extinction as oceans turn acidic. The Daily Telegraph. (Science Column). Retrieved June 28, 2008 from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2007/11/04/eamussels104.xml. (2) Author Unknown. (2007, October 17). Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations may lead to hard coral extinction in 100 years. Retrieved June 28, 2008 from http://gmarkets.wordpress.com/2007/10/17/rising-atmospheric-co2-concentrations-may-lead-to-hard-coral-extinction-in-100-years/. (3) Worm, B. (2006). News release, SeaWeb. Science, 314. pp 787-790. (cited by D. DeNoon (2006, November 3). Salt-water fish extinction seen by 2048. Retrieved June 30, 2008 from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/11/02/health/webmd/main2147223.shtml)

At least 15% of the world's pollution is from military activities. The Pentagon alone guzzles 320,000 barrels of oil per day. About 20% of all aircraft are for military use. Frequently flying at high altitudes and supersonic speeds, they damage the ozone layer while spewing out toxic gas. How are we defending this planet?

Source: (1) Schriner, R. (2003). U.S. Military Consumption. Retrieved June 12, 2008 from http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/schrinrj.html. (2) Karbuz, S. (2007, February 17). US military oil pains. Energy Bulletin. Retrieved June 30, 2008 from http://www.energybulletin.net/node/26194.

Depleted uranium may have caused more deaths than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs combined. And since depleted uranium has a half-life of 4.5 million years, the horrors from uranium shells will last longer than most people want to contemplate. Could any weapon with such long-term effects be considered ethical?

Source: (1) Paulinson, P. (2006, November, 16). Depleted uranium, another gift from the imperialists. Retrieved June 12, 2008 from http://www.countercurrents.org/us-paulinson161106.htm. (2) Gutierrez, D. (2008, May 20). Depleted uranium shells used by U.S. military worse than nuclear weapons. Retrieved June 12, 2008 from http://www.naturalnews.com/023274.html.

At least 100 million tons of garbage (90% of which is plastic) are floating in the Pacific, killing around 100,000 marine mammals and many birds every year. Can we afford to treat our oceans like waste dumps?

Source: Marks, K. (2008, February 5). The world's rubbish dump: A garbage tip that stretches from Hawaii to Japan. The Independent. Retrieved June 28, 2008 from http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/the-worlds-rubbish-dump-a-garbage-tip-that-stretches-from-hawaii-to-japan-778016.html

Only about 9% of all plastics are recycled. Why isn't this figure higher?

Source: Environmental Protection Agency, 2000. (cited by Eco-Facts, 2004)

An estimated 3,000 oil spills occur each year, releasing 148,000 tons of oil into to the ocean annually, based on 1970 – 2007 averages. Will we ever gauge the full cost of our petroleum addiction?

Source: (1) Lamba, B. (2005, September 9) Nanotechnology for recovery and reuse of spilled oil. Retrieved June 28, 2008 from http://www.physorg.com/news6358.html. (2) Wong, N. (2008, May 29). Annual quantity of oil spilled 1970-2007. Retrieved June 28, 2008 from http://www.swivel.com/data_sets/show/1015750

Over 50,000,000 acres of rainforest vanish every year. This not only reduces global oxygen supplies, but also hastens the extinction of many species. Who profits?

Sources: (1) Ozone Hole Organization (n.d.). Rainforest facts. Retrieved June 30, 2008 from http://www.solcomhouse.com/rainforest.htm. (2) Conservation Now. (2005). Untitled page. Retrieved June 30, 2008 from http://www.conservationnow.org/