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1 Promising and 9 Scary Facts about the State of the Planet

The 2012 WWF (World Wildlife Fund, not the former World Wrestling Federation, as some of you may know me) has released its 2012 report about the state of the planet.  The information in this 160-page document contains fascinating global research about the environment and biodiversity.  It highlights global issues as well as presents specific case studies.

Here are 10 facts that jumped out at me:

  1. Global temperature index has increased by nearly one third.  The greatest ecological footprint is clearly in the U.S., Europe and Africa.
  2. Wealthy people are more destructive than any other socioeconomic group.  If everyone lived like an average resident of the USA, a total of 4 earths would be required to regenerate humanity’s annual demand on nature.
  3. Low-income countries are also to blame – but not for energy use or impact, but for population growth increases.  The ecological footprint of low-income countries has increased by 323% since 1961 due to rapid population growth.
  4. Water is becoming more and more scarce for billions of people.  2.7 billion people experience severe water scarcity for at least one month a year.
  5. Agricultural production accounts for 92% of the total global water footprint (it uses freshwater).  Freshwater is important because it is scarce; making up only 2.5 % of the water on the planet, 70% of which is locked up in the ice and snow of mountainous regions, the Arctic and Antarctic.
  6. Fishing 5 times what we used to in only 50 years has left an impact on fisheries.  For instance, Atlantic cod has declined by about 74% over the last 50 years.
  7. Destroying forests accounts for nearly 20% of carbon dioxide emissions.  Forest and habitat loss as lead to a 64% decrease in biodiversity in the most severe area (the Indo-pacific region, including southeast Asia).
  8. Droughts, which can be the result of climate change, cause greater carbon emissions into the atmosphere.  Extreme droughts in the Amazon have released a massive amount of carbon into the atmosphere (an amount comparable all emissions in 2005).
  9. We’re at a point where it’s not about prevention, it’s about restoration.  If we do nothing right now, we’ll lose 232 million hectacres of forests by 2030 vs. only 55.5 million if we take serious, targeted action.
  10. It is possible to save the earth and its species. To quote Nelson Mandela, “it always seems impossible until it’s done.”  So true.  The only way to restore our ecosystem is by adapting a multi-component model worldwide.  Chile has already started doing so; as a large supplier of the world’s pulp and paper (8%, which is huge for such a small country) and has already been planting trees in order to be more environmentally and socially sustainable.

 

Click here to read the full report.

 

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