Environmental Facts



Over 40% of all tropical forests have been destroyed and another acre is lost each second.

Each year, humankind adds six to eight billion tons of carbon to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and destroying forest, pumping up the concentration of greenhouse gases responsible for global warming - an effect that could raise temperatures by three to ten degrees by the year 2050

While the U.S. makes up only 5% of the world's population, we produce 72% of all hazardous waste and consume 33% of the world's paper.

Worldwide, thousands of pounds of plutonium are being produced, used and stored under conditions of inadequate security. Using current technology, only two pounds of plutonium is required to make a nuclear device.

The annual catch in 13 of the world's 15 major fishing zones has declined and in four of those - three in the Atlantic and one in the Pacific oceans - the catch has shrunk by a startling 30%.



Taxpayers will lose over one billion dollars over the next decade as the Forest Service spends more money on building logging roads and preparing commercial timber sales than it makes on selling the timber.

In 1992, taxpayers subsidized the clearcutting of our Alaskan rain forest with an estimated $40 million.

Mining companies are allowed to buy our public lands for less than five dollars an acre - any they pay no royalties on the gold and other minerals they extract. This taxpayer giveaway, combined with the cost of massive environmental damage and cleanup, amounts to a billion dollars every year.

Grazing has led to soil erosion, watershed destruction and ruin of wildlife habitat on millions of acres of our public lands. Taxpayers subsidized grazing fees with $1.8 billion during the years 1985 - 1992.



As many as 70,000 people nationwide may die prematurely from heart and lung disease aggravated by particulate air pollution.

More than 100 million Americans live in urban areas where the air is officially classified by the EPA as unsafe to breathe.

In many urban areas, children are steadily exposed to high levels of pollutants, increasing the risk of chronic lung disease, cell damage and respiratory illness.

Dioxin and other persistent pollutants that are released into the air accumulate in our waterways, wildlife, food supply and human blood-streams. These poisons may cause cancer and reproductive disorders in human beings and other animal species.



Millions of pounds of toxic chemicals, like lead, mercury and pesticides, pour into our waterways each year contaminating wildlife, seafood and drinking water.

One-half of our nation's lakes and one-third of our rivers are too polluted to be completely safe for swimming or fishing.

Raw sewage, poison runoff and other pollution have caused 8,000 beach closures or advisories over the past five years.

We are losing once pristine national treasures - like the Everglades, Lake Superior, and the Columbia River System - to toxic pollution, chemical spills, development, and diversion of freshwater flows.

All but one species of the magnificent ocean-going salmon in the Pacific Northwest face a growing risk of extinction throughout most of their range, due to habitat degradation and over-fishing.



The United States is responsible for almost 25% of the world's total energy consumption. We use one million gallons of oil every two minutes.

Energy currently wasted by U.S. cars, homes and appliances equals more than twice the known energy reserves in Alaska and the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.

We could cut our nation's energy consumption in half by the year 2030 simply by using energy more efficiently and by using more renewable energy sources. In the process, we would promote economic growth by saving consumers $2.3 trillion and by producing one million new jobs.

When just 1% of America's 140 million car owners tune up their cars, we eliminate nearly a billion pounds of carbon dioxide - the key cause of global warming - from entering the atmosphere.



In 1991, 2.2 billion pounds of pesticides were used in the U.S. - eight pounds for every man, woman and child.

A 1991 NRDC study found that pesticide use can be reduced in nine major U.S. crops by 20 to 80 percent.

Americans are exposed to 70,000 chemicals, some 90% of which have never been subjected to adequate testing to determine their impact on our health.

In the early 1990's, 116 million Americans drank water from systems that violated the Safe Drinking Water Act.

As of 1994, 1.7 million American children, ages one to five, suffered from lead poisoning.

Of the trash that we Americans throw away every day, 30% by weight is packaging alone. In 1993, we threw away 14 billion pounds of plastic packaging.

Excerpted from:

Natural Resources Defense Council

25 Year Report

40 West 20th Street

New York, NY 10011

(212) 727-2700


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The Light Party

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Mill Valley, CA 94941

(415) 381-2357

Copyright © 1996. The Light Party.

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