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Some statistics to chew on

November 18, 2009 - Steve Murch
I took a few days off and among the things I did was catch up on some reading. I picked up National Geographic's EarthPulse State of the Earth 2010. It's basically a magazine of analysis with graphs, maps and statistics. I love statistics, so it was right up my alley.

There were several things that stand out in the publication – some are interesting, some are hard to believe and some are just things to ponder.

Some that stood out to me: We consume 1.4 Earths worth of resources per year. If everyone consumed the way Americans do, we'd consume 5.4 Earths worth of resources. Um, at some point don't we run out of resources?

There are 20 cities with 10 million or more people, four of which are in India (three in North America)

Gobi Desert in China is growing at a rate of nearly 4,000 square miles per year. Isn't that adding to a dwindling Earth's resources?

20 percent of the world's population lives within 25 kilometers of a border. I found that a little hard to believe. I looked at maps I the magazine, but couldn't quite figure it out. While it's hard to tell how close some of the cities were to borders, the only thing I could think of is that National Geographic considered living on an ocean/sea as living on the border. Interesting nonetheless.

There would be a 106 percent increase in global oil consumption if China consumed like Americans. When combined with the overall consumption in the first item, it certainly shows we like to consume everything here in the good old U.S.A.

75 percent of the world's population lives in countries where consumption levels are outpacing environmental renewal rates. See, we aren't the only ones who over comsume.

The six largest ports in terms of container traffic are in Asia (Singapore is No. 1), while Los Angeles at No. 10 is the only U.S. port. It just shows that all the goods sold around the world are made cheaply in Asia.

Four of the top airports in terms of air cargo are in the U.S., with No. 1 Memphis (FedEx), and No. 9 Louisville (UPS) included.

27 percent of the food available for consumption in the U.S. is discarded. 20 million people could be fed every day if just 25 percent of the discarded U.S. food wasn't wasted.

17 percent of the garbage sent to U.S. landfills is food scraps.

64 million immigrants lived in Europe, 42 percent more than Canada and the U.S. combined. More interesting is that Europe in general is starting to see a decrease in population that is expected to continue until 2050. While U.S. is still the destination of choice, it looks like Europe is really going to be melting pot.

Does any of that surprise you? Nothing surprised me, and I even knew some of it, but it still makes you wonder.


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