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February 2005: World Statistics

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These statistics come from the Living Planet Report 2004 of the World Wildlife Fund, as printed in the December 2004 issue of HortIdeas:

  • Humans currently consume 20% more natural resources than the Earth can produce.
  • Freshwater and marine species fell 40% on average between 1970 and 2000.
  • Humans' ecological footprint has increased two and a half times since 1970. Energy use, "the fastest growing component of the ecological footprint, increased by nearly 700% between 1961 and 2000."

An untitled page of the December/January 2004 issue of The Ecologist reflects on the importance of genetic diversity. 30 varieties of potatoes are depicted with the following facts:

  • 5,000 varieties of potato have been developed by the people of the Andes.
  • 100 varieties are grown in the UK.
  • 4 varieties account for 50 percent of potatoes grown in the UK.
  • 1 variety was planted across much of Ireland in the 1840s. When a fungus from Europe took hold, it spread rapidly across the monoculture, causing the Irish Potato Famine.
  • 1,000,000 people died.

From "World Population, Agriculture and Malnutrition" by David Pimentel and Anne Wilson in the September/October 2004 issue of World Watch:
- Per capita, cropland has fallen by more than half since 1960 and is now only about 0.23 hectare (just over half an acre).

  • Global population has doubled during the last 45 years.
  • The populations of China and India constitute more than one-third of total world population.
  • US population has doubled during the past 60 years.
  • More than 99.7 percent of human food calories come from the terrestrial sources.
  • Each year an estimated 10 million hectares of cropland worldwide are abandoned due to soil erosion. Another 10 million are critically damaged by salinization.
  • More than 60% of deforestation worldwide comes from the need to increase crop production.
  • In Beijing China, the groundwater level is falling about 1 meter per year. In Tianjin, China, it is dropping 4.4 meters per year. In the US groundwater overdraft averages 25% greater than replacement rates.
  • About 70% of water removed from all sources worldwide is used for irrigation.
  • Natural gas supplies are already in short supply in the United States, and U.S. reserves may be depleted in as little as 20 years.
  • U.S. net imports of oil rose to about 53 percent of total consumption in 2002 and are still going up.



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