Dean M. Chriss

Fun Facts About Nature and Us
January 12, 2018

The Wave, North Coyote Buttes Wilderness
The Wave, North Coyote Buttes Wilderness

There are about 247 births and 107 deaths per minute in the world, making a net increase of 141 people per minute. That's 203,040 people per day, or approximately the population of a city like Reno, Nevada, every day. World population doubles every thirty years so there will be twice as many people in thirty years, four times as many in sixty years, eight times as many in ninety years. Compounding the effect of our exploding numbers is the fact that on average each individual now uses far more resources than did a person of the previous generation. For instance, in the United States between 1950 and 2005, an average individual’s petroleum consumption tripled and the size of an average new single family home increased by over 2.3 times. The reason we always hear about China being a major polluter is because of China’s enormous population. On a per capita basis the average American is responsible for 4.3 times as much CO2 pollution (9.8 tons) as the average Chinese citizen (4.6 tons).

Worldwide, half of all children live in horrific poverty. 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, and 270 million have no access to health services. In 2003, 10.6 million children died before they reached five years of age. 24,000 people die of starvation every day. But these are the good old days. As our booming population collapses ecosystems that supply literally everything we have, the economics of supply and demand will pull multitudes into the clutches of poverty.

Humanity now consumes about 100 million metric tons of fish every year; more than four times the amount consumed per year in 1950. To put the number into perspective it works out to 190 metric tons per minute, or approximately the weight of 140 mid-size passenger cars every minute. Some fish stocks, like Newfoundland cod that fed the world for centuries, have virtually disappeared. Most others are well on their way.

From the Arctic to the Mediterranean to Hawaii, no part of the world's oceans is free of plastic. The average square kilometer of ocean contains around 20,000 micro-plastic pieces. Some researchers estimate there may be more plastic than fish in our oceans by the year 2050.

People devour about 96 acres of wilderness every minute. Worldwide a distinct species of plant or animal becomes extinct every 20 minutes. The last time anything comparable happened was 65 million years ago when scientists believe a meteorite struck the earth, changed its climate, and caused the last great mass extinction. This time we are the meteor.

Many common “backyard” American songbird populations have declined by over 70 percent since 1967.

Countless lakes in the northeast and Canada, acidified by air pollution that blows in from industrial cities, are so acidic that they are devoid of all aquatic life. Clouds over Great Smoky Mountains National Park can be literally as acidic as vinegar. Acid rain has killed entire forests at higher elevations.

Human activity releases greenhouse gases into our atmosphere at rates well over 700 tons per second. Such rates are unprecedented. To think this has no effect is moronic. NASA photos show that more than one third of all arctic sea ice has melted in recent decades. The U.S. Office of Naval Research predicts that summer sea ice in the arctic may vanish completely by 2050. Polar bears are drowning in record numbers for lack of floating ice upon which to rest. More are starving because they cannot catch enough food in open water. A UN report indicates that parts of Europe could lose up to 60 percent of all wildlife species by 2080 and as many as 130 million people across Asia could face severe food and water shortages 2050. By the 2080s climate change may make it impossible to grow wheat on the African continent. The report states that even with the most stringent mitigation efforts things will get worse before they get better. Instead of mitigating disaster America’s “leaders” take us back in time by championing fossil fuels and eliminating environmental protections. The phrase "fat, dumb, and happy" comes to mind.