20 Gut-Wrenching Statistics About the Destruction of the Planet and Those Living Upon It

post of ocean water with "infinite" written below with "in" crossed out

gfpeck / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

Every so often it is good to remind ourselves why we are working so hard to protect the environment and all its creatures. While many of these statistics are depressing, the good news is that we are currently working towards a solution for each one of these and making some pretty sizable progress.

Did You Know...

night lights flat map of earth

woodleywonderworks / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

  • The United States makes up less than 5 percent of the population on earth, yet we easily consume over 30 percent of its resources. While us humans would appear to be doing well, spreading our population like wild fire across the globe, the diminishing resources and other life forms on the planet tell a different story. "We are in the midst of a mass extinction, an event not seen since the disappearance of the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago," says Worldwatch Institute.
  • 110 million Americans live amongst such high levels of air pollution, the federal government considers it to be harmful to their health.
  • A one years worth subscription to the New York Times weighs well over 500 pounds. The good and bad news however, is that more and more newspapers are being forced into extinction, many of them becoming online news sources. While newspapers have been a tradition and they will be one day missed, the great part about online news is that is can be up to the minute on breaking news stories.
  • Using recycled paper for one days worth of the New York Times Sunday Edition would save approximately 75,000 trees.
piles of plastic waste outside

Zainub Ravzi / Flickr / CC BY SA 2.0 

  • Billions of plastic bags are made each year. Of these bags, one hundred billion are thrown away according to Worldwatch Institute, with less than 1 percent finding their way into a recycle bin. The end result of this is around 1 billion birds and mammals dying each year by the ingestion of plastic.
  • Americans dump 16 tons of sewage into their waters, every minute.
  • If the number of cars keeps increasing at its present rate, there will be over one billion on the road by 2025. There is currently around 700 million cars on the road today producing 900 million tons of carbon dioxide each year. This equals approximately 15 percent of our total output. Sadly, one half of these trips in the U.S. are within 3 miles and could easily be walked in less than an hour.
  • A single quart of motor oil dumped on the ground or in the trash, can contaminate up to two million gallons of fresh water.
  • A large study has found that up to one half of all plants and animals species on dry land could face extinction by the year 2050 due to global warming. According to the World Resources Institute, 100 species die each day due to tropical deforestation.
  • A plant called the rosy periwinkle, which grows in the "rainforests" of Madagascar, has been used to make a drug that can cure some kinds of cancer. Imagine all the other miracles we may have already lost out on.

Discover more gut-wrenching facts about the destruction of the environment on page 2.

View Article Sources
  1. Progress Cleaning the Air and Improving People's Health.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

  2. Roepke, Jonathan, et al.  “Vinca Drug Components Accumulate Exclusively in Leaf Exudates of Madagascar Periwinkle.”  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 107, 2010, pp. 15287-15292., doi:10.1073/pnas.0911451107