20 Shocking Facts About The Environment

What is happening to the Earth at the hand of humans is shocking, and not necessarily in a good way. Climate change is no longer a debate, at least not amongst scientists, where around 97 percent are sure that humans’ behaviors are causing global temperatures to increase at alarming rates. That being said, we are not doomed. Renewable energy could easily save us. All we have to do is use it. From the rapidly melting ice caps to the amount of geothermal energy in Australia alone, read on to find out some of the most mind-blowing facts about the envrionment today.

1. China Is Not Deemed A Safe Place To Live By European Air Standards

China has roughly 560 million residents in its cities, and only one percent of them breathe air that the European Union considers safe. Cancer due to air pollution has become the number one cause of death in China. Thick clouds of pollution constantly loom over Chinese cities to the point where some people have never even seen the sky.

2. The Sixth Mass Extinction Event Is Underway As We Speak

One-fourth of mammals are at risk of becoming extinct. Marine mammals’ numbers are even more grim, at one third. Humans are to blame, unlike the past five mass extinction events. Those were caused by natural events. Humans have stolen the animals’ habitats, polluted the earth, and we’ve also been eating them. If we do not make more effort to conserve the animal kingdom, the next 50 years will see so much extinction that it will take at least three million years for nature to recover.

3. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Over Three Times The Size Of Texas

Humans treat the Pacific Ocean like a great big landfill. There is a floating island of trash that has been coined the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). It expands for 600,000 square miles. What’s worse, it is continually growing. Plastic occupies about 79,000 tons of the GPGP, killing up to one million sea creatures every year. Based on previous reporting, that number is anywhere from four to sixteen times more plastic in the ocean than there was before.

4. Ocean Dead Zones Now Occupy A Space The Size Of Oregon

Dead zones in the ocean are areas not able to sustain life. Spanish researchers recently discovered that the ocean becomes uninhabitable at certain oxygen levels, and those levels are worse than they though. Farm fertilizers, automobile and factory emissions, as well as sewage and other pollution runoff causes too much nitrogen in the water, thereby causing the dead zones. Many dead zones are along continental coastlines that normally would support the fishing industry.

5. In The Last 50 Years, The Population Has Risen More Than It Did In 4 Million Years

In the early 1800s, the human population reached one billion. In 1965, it was at 3.5 billion. As of 2017, it was already at 7.5 billion. Around 74 million people are added every year, maybe more. With humans’ carbon footprint already causing problems, not to mention our exhaustion of resources, this looks like trouble.

6. An American’s Carbon Footprint Is At Least Double The Average Non-American’s

If you are an American and you don’t pay attention to things like your carbon footprint, yours is probably much higher than double the rest of the world’s. In order to be sustainable, Americans would have to reduce their carbon emissions by about 83 percent. That’s actually pretty doable if the country has a shift toward renewable energy and really puts an effort into conservation.

7. Australia Has Enough Geothermal Power Potential To Last 26,000 Years

Geothermal power is one of the lower cost options in renewable energy. In Australia alone, just one percent of their unused geothermal power potential could provide energy for 26,000 years. The ability to tap into that resource is not currently an option, but eventually, it will be if the government invests in it.

8. Not Even One Percent Of Earth’s Freshwater Is Readily Available to Use

Contamination and pollution are a major cause for why water that is safe to use is diminishing. By the middle of this century, the world might be fighting over water. Today, so much water is wasted, especially in the US and Australia. For example, almost 90 percent of freshwater is used for agriculture, but because of inept watering systems, up to 60 percent of it is wasted.

9. The Arctic May Be Ice-Free By The Summer of 2040

Global warming means the ice caps are melting, and it also means summers in the region will become quite balmy. Some predictions say there will be no ice in the Arctic region by 2040, others 2060, others 2105, the last a hopeful number. Unfortunately, such a quick melt will cause the heating of the oceans at an even faster rate than it would have just by air temperature increase.

10. In 10 Years Time, 20 Percent Of America’s Power Could Come From Wind

Theoretically, North Dakota, which is not even the state with the greatest potential for this renewable resource (Texas is), could power twenty-five percent of the US. Wind turbines placed offshore may very well be able to produce the same amount of energy as every power plant in the US. In order to do this, the technology would have to be modernized to harness wind energy, but it would only take about 10 years.

11. If We Recycled All Newspapers, 250 Billion Trees A Year Would Be Saved

Sunday newspapers require 500,000 trees to be cut down every week. Recycling the Sunday New York Times alone would save 75,000 trees a week. Americans would only have to recycle one in ten of their newspapers to save 25 million trees every year. No one’s saying print journalism has to die. All we need to do to save the trees is recycle.

12. Just A Tiny Part Of The Wall Street Bailout Money Could End World Hunger

About $700 billion dollars was charged to taxpayers from the Wall Street bailout. Even with only four percent of that, world hunger could become a thing of the past by putting in place agricultural programs that cost about $30 billion per year.  With one out of seven people in the world starving, it seems like we should reallocate those bailout funds to something more valuable.

13. 50 Million Acres Or More Of Rainforest Are Destroyed Every Year

Maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal because most people don’t live in rainforests, but tell that to the 50 percent of all living creatures that do live there. Around 100 species a year are already disappearing. Humans deforest tropical regions for agricultural purposes. Aside from all the animal extinctions, it causes carbon dioxide to remain in the atmosphere, actively worsening the rate of climate change.

14. Waste From Electronics Totals Up To 50 Million Metric Tons Per Year

The lead, zinc, mercury, cadmium, chromium, and polyvinyl chlorides from the electronics we throw away are absorbed into the earth, water, and atmosphere. Electronic waste is the stream of waste that is growing the fastest and is one of the most dangerous. Think of all the cell phones and computers alone that people get rid of daily. Meanwhile, the chemicals from their disposal is toxic and cancer-causing.

15. Average Global Temperatures Might Be 12 Degrees Warmer By The Year 2100

It has taken the planet 15,000 years to warm 7.2 degrees, and now it might warm even more in one single century. Greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are the primary culprit for global warming. Scientists predict that even if the earth warms by only 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit, this would cause global catastrophe. Hundreds of species would go extinct, there would be water and food shortage crises worldwide, and widespread floods would create a massive refugee crisis.

16. The US Produces A Sickening Amount Of Trash

In an hour, Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles, which ends up at 22 billion plastic bottles a year. About 570 disposable diapers are tossed out every second. In a day, the weight of US trash amounts to the same as the Empire State Building, and in a year, our garbage stacked up could make it halfway to the moon.

17. Recycling Saves The World From Astronomical Amounts Of Waste

Recycling is ridiculously important for the health of the world and human beings. For instance, one ton of paper recycled saves seventeen trees, sixty pounds of air pollution, two barrels of oil, about three cubic yards of space in a landfill, and over 4,000 kilowatts of energy. Recycle one aluminum can (which can be recycled over and over) and power a television for three hours.

18. By 2030, Climate Change Could Be Irreversible

If the world does not come together and act soon, global warming and its devastating effects on the planet and humankind could be inevitable. Scientists are predicting that the cutoff for widspread, massive action could be the year 2030. The coral reefs are already diminishing, but they could be completely wiped out. Extreme heat, drought, and immense flooding at the hands of climate change may very well be imminent.

19. $5.6 Trillion Was Spent On The Iraq War

Imagine a world where $5.6 trillion was spent on solar power, pollution clean up, universal healthcare, mass transit, and cancer research. Perhaps the nearly inevitable upcoming crises climate change will cause would have been evaded. Perhaps cancer already be cured.

20. 35 Percent Of Landfills Consist Of Packaging Materials

Almost everything we buy comes in packaging. So really, it should come as no surprise how much space packaging materials take up in landfills. Your plastic water bottles, single-use coffee cups, toothpaste tubes, individually wrapped snacks, makeup containers — you name it, they are all packaged.