"The use of paper, perhaps more than any other single product, reflects the throwaway mentality that evolved during the last century. There is an enormous possibility for reducing paper use simply by replacing facial tissues, paper napkins, disposable diapers, and paper shopping bags with reusable cloth alternatives." –Lester R. Brown, Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization.
Need data? Sometimes numbers can tell a story. Here are some of the figures from the behind-the-scenes research for the latest book from Earth Policy Institute, Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, by Lester R. Brown. Complete data sets and charts are now available.
Did you know?:
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.
But not all the news is bad:
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.