Environmental Statistics

4.1  Statistics Experiment

  • 80% of the world’s forests are gone.
  • 2000 trees a minute are cut down in the Amazon alone. That is 7 football fields a minute!
  • The US has less than 4% of its forests left.
  • 40% of our waterways are undrinkable.
  • The US has 5% of the world’s population and 30% of the waste.
  • 75% of global fisheries have been fished beyond capacity.
  • 100,000 synthetic chemicals are used in production today.
  • Bromated Flame Retardants (BFR) neurotoxins (toxins to brain) are in computers, mattresses, pillows
  • Food with highest level of contaminants is mother’s milk.
  • 200,000 people a day are moving to cities from environments that no longer support them.
  • US industry *admits* to 4 billion pounds of toxic pollution released per year (likely far more).
  • Average person consumes twice as much as 50 years ago.
  • We see more ads in one year than people 50 years ago saw in a lifetime. 3,000 ads a day!
  • People in US spend three to four times as much time shopping as Europeans do.
  • Average house size has doubled in the US since the 1970’s.
  • Average American creates 4.5 lbs. garbage a day — an amount doubled from 30 years ago.
  • For every one garbage can you put out at the curb, 70 cans were filled by all the processes
    needed in order to make it.
  • 99% of all those things we buy are not in use after 6 months

4.2 Stats Discussion

What about the previous stats were they surprising?

We have this sense that if we make some changes to impact the environment, it’s just a drop in the bucket – many more people need to also make those changes in order for the impact to be real. This is a very discouraging thought & one which keeps many of us from taking positive action. On the other hand, if all of us who had these discouraging thoughts on a regular basis actually did what we knew was right, we might actually have the impact that we would like.

Some related stats**:

  • Percentage of Americans in 1990 who believed that a “major national effort” was needed to improve the environment: 78%
  • Percentage actively working toward solutions: 22%

**From “Facts Out of Context” (citing Roper Center for Public Research), In Context, No. 26, Summer 1990, p. 5.

Conflicting Information
Another issue related to the topic of the environment is that we receive conflicting information all the time.

1) Many scientists believe that global warming is a very real phenomenon to which humans have greatly contributed. There is a small minority of scientists who say that global warming is a natural phenomenon that is not really being influenced by human acts.

2) There are those who say we should recycle & those who say recycling itself uses more natural resources than it saves.

3) There are those who say humans are negatively impacting fragile ecosystems and those who say the earth is in a constant state of change & that ecosystem change is just part of the natural order of things.

How do we sift through all of this information to figure out what is true?

Well, I can’t give you the grand answer to that, but I can say that you need to look at who is presenting the information. Many websites provide a skewed few of the facts or they give you information that may be true but leave out other important information that might influence your opinion on a topic.

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