Dean M. Chriss

Fun Facts About Nature and Us
January 12, 2018, Updated June 18, 2019

The Wave, North Coyote Buttes Wilderness
Undulating Stone, Arizona 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. Compounding the effect of our exploding numbers is the fact that on average each individual 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 2.2 times as much CO2 pollution (16.5 tons) as the average citizen of China (7.5 tons).

Right now more than 1 billion people suffer from hunger. 36 million people per year die of it.

Worldwide, half of all children live in horrific poverty. 640 million children live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, and 270 million have no access to health services. Approximately 15,000 children under age 5 die each day.

At least 80% of humanity (more than 6 billion people) live on less than 10 U.S. Dollars per day, about half ( more than 3.5 billion people) live on less than $5, and 10% live on less than $1.90 per day. One fourth of humanity lives without electricity. 774 million (more than twice the population of US) can't read. Just 12% of the world's population uses 85% of its water. As our booming population collapses the ecosystems that supply literally everything we have, the economics of supply and demand will pull additional 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, from the surface to the deepest depths, no part of the world's oceans is free of plastic. The average square kilometer of ocean contains around 20,000 micro-plastic pieces. Inland lakes and rivers are much worse. Some researchers estimate there may be more plastic than fish in our oceans by the year 2050.

Humans devour about 96 acres of wilderness every minute, and have significantly altered 75% of Earth's land area and 66% of marine ecosystems. More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are now devoted to crop or livestock production.

The most efficient way to support the maximum number of people is eliminate livestock and most wildlife, and use all 1.4 billion hectares (3.5 billion acres) of the world's arable land to grow plants that people can eat. If we do that, and everyone becomes vegetarian, the maximum human population the earth could sustainably support would be 9 to 10 billion. The current world population is about 7.5 billion. That is expected to grow to 9.7 billion by 2050 (about 30 years).

One million species already face extinction. On average 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 aquatic life. Clouds over Great Smoky Mountains National Park can often be as acidic as the vinegar in your kitchen.

Insects populations that used to be mostly killed off by winter's cold temperatures now survive winter in northern latitudes. Entire forests are dead or dying across the world. See some photos here, here, and here.

Human activity releases greenhouse gases into our atmosphere at rates well over 700 tons per second. Such rates are unprecedented. 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 130 million people across Asia could face severe food and water shortages 2050 and climate change may make it impossible to grow wheat on the African continent by 2080. If the most stringent mitigation efforts (which have not yet begun) were undertaken, things would still get worse before they got better. But instead of taking even a single step to mitigate disaster America’s “leaders” take us back in time by championing fossil fuels, increasing their production, and eliminating environmental protections. The phrase "dumb and happy" comes to mind. So does "criminal".