If it can be said that I have a hobby, it would probably be data. Numbers fascinate me.
Data was a vital part of my latest book from Earth Policy Institute, Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization.
Here are some facts from the book that may interest you:
The eight warmest years on record have all occurred in the last decade.
For seven of the last eight years, the world has consumed more grain than it produced; grain stocks are now at a historic low.
One fifth of the U.S. grain harvest is now being turned into fuel ethanol.One third of reptile, amphibian, and fish species examined by the World Conservation Union are considered to be threatened with extinction.
Grain yields increased half as fast in the 1990s as they did in the 1960s.
Life expectancy in sub-Saharan Africa today is lower than it was in the late 1980s.
Today’s economically recoverable reserves of lead, tin, and copper could be depleted within the next 25 years if their extraction expands at current rates.
Nearly half of the annual global military budget of $1.2 trillion is spent by one country: the United States.
And here are some optimistic facts:
South Korea leads the world in paper recycling, recovering an estimated 77 percent of its paper products.
Conservation agriculture is practiced on more than 100 million hectares around the world.
Four years after London introduced a fee on motor vehicles entering the city center, average car traffic had fallen by 36 percent while bicycle trips had increased by 49 percent.
The world produces 110 million bicycles a year, more than twice the annual production of 49 million cars.
Fish farming, largely of herbivorous species, is the fastest growing source of animal protein worldwide, increasing by an average of 7 percent each year since 1995.
World soybean production has quadrupled since 1977.
Coal use in Germany has dropped 37 percent since 1990; in the United Kingdom it has fallen by 43 percent.
Solar cell production is doubling every two years, making it the world’s fastest growing energy source.
Electricity used for lighting around the world can be cut by 65 percent through efficiency improvements like switching from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents.
Data for these, and in fact all of the behind-the-scenes research that went into Plan B 3.0 we have posted for free downloading. For you data hobbyists, I encourage you to check out these amazing data sets and charts.
Lester Brown is founder and director of the Earth Policy Institute and a regular contributor to TreeHugger. Learn more about alternative energy and solutions for a sustainable future in his previous columns or read a review of and download Plan B 3.0.