Environment Facts

Global Warming

  • Climate change to date has had a relatively small impact on our standard of living. But it will only take a CO2 induced 6°C rise in average global temperature to wipe out the human race.
  • We are producing 30 billion tonnes of CO2 p.a. and only 50% is absorbed by our fast disappearing forests and increasingly polluted oceans. The rest is accumulating in our atmosphere and warming the planet.

The Atmosphere

Global atmospheric concentrations of CO2 have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values over the past 650,000 years.

  • CO2 Percentage of world total CO2 Emissions (2003):
    • USA: 22.27%; China: 17.34%; EU: 15.43%; Russia: 6.1%; Japan: 4.8%; India: 4.4%; Australia: 1.3%
  • In just 200 years, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has increased by 30%.
  • Yearly global output of CO2 is equivalent to a mountain one mile high and twelve miles in circumference.

Water

  • 97% of the planets water is undrinkable salt water, 2% is trapped in ice caps and glaciers; only 0.003% of all the earths water is available as fresh water in the form of surface water.
  • The global bottled water market is growing at 12% per year (2005: $35bn); most bottles are made from PET a petroleum based plastic (of which only a small percentage is recycled).

Biosphere

  • Around 30% of the worlds fish stocks have collapsed.
  • Planet Earth could lose 50% of its species by 2050.
  • Approximately 27,000 species disappear each year.
  • Each year we are losing 40 million acres of our forest through logging and land clearing only 12% of the planets forests are still in their natural state.
  • 70% of once forested tracts of the Amazon are now used as pasture.
  • In 2007 a record amount of surface ice was lost over Greenland, 12% more than the previous worst year (2005); nearly quadruple the amount that melted just 15 years ago.

Waste & Recycling

Paper

  • Paper makes up to 70 per cent of office waste.

Landfill Waste & Recycling

  • We produce and use about 7 trillion plastic bags per year (these bags last anything form 20 to 1,000 years).
  • The Styrofoam cups used every year would circle the planet at least five times, they are not biodegradable and are rarely recycled.
  • Recycling an aluminium can uses only 5% of the energy required to make a new one. Recycling glass uses 26% of the energy. Every tonne of paper recycled saves almost 13 trees, 4,100 kilowatts of electricity and more than 30,000 litres of water.
  • Daily worldwide sales figures of biros exceed 14 million: A plastic pen in landfill will still be there in 50,000 years.

Cigarettes

  • Contain some 3,900 chemicals (many of which are dangerous to humans and living organisms). Filters are designed to trap some of the more dangerous by-products making the butt a poisonous pellet.
  • Butts take 15 years to break down in our climate. Most butts are washed into stormwater drains and end up in the ocean.
  • 4.5 trillion butts are littered worldwide each year.

Little Known Facts

  • Standard plastic bags last for thousands of years in the environment
  • Glass bottles can take one million years to biodegrade
  • A disposable nappy can take 300 million years to decompose naturally
  • A plastic bottle or ink cartridge can last indefinitely
  • Mobile phones and iPods are made from metals that do not biodegrade at all

Home and Office

  • An unplugged mobile phone charger wastes 95% of the energy used doing nothing.
  • Leaving the lights on, combined with computers left on standby, can double a companys energy bill. Lights left on generate unnecessary heat, requiring the air-conditioner to work overtime, using even more electricity.
  • An ordinary incandescent bulb converts most of the energy into heat not light. An energy efficient bulb can use up to 80% less energy and lasts about 8 times longer. Although it costs about 10 times more than an ordinary $1 bulb it will save over $80 in electricity.

"Developed countries represent 25% of the global population but use 80% of its resources and produce 75% of its waste."

Transportation & Travel

  • If you commute for 2 hours every day, in 40 years you will have spent 2.3 years commuting.
  • The aviation industry generates 2% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Boeing alone is expected to deliver more than 27,000 aircraft over the next 20 years (doubling the existing worldwide fleet).

So what's the answer?

"The 6.75 billion world population has reached a stage where the amount of resources needed to sustain it exceeds what is available."
United Nations' Global Environment Outlook-4 report, October 2007

  • Nuclear? To produce the same amount of electricity requires a million times more oil or gas than it does uranium. However, long term effect of accidents & storage of nuclear waste is still a major concern.
  • Bio fuels? Definitely not the answer, as native forests are chopped down to make way for plantations.
  • Wind generators? Example: To supply the UK's present electricity needs would require 276,000 wind generators (3 per square mile if national parks, urban, suburban and industrial areas are excluded).

Why Should Businesses Act?

Failure to act on climate change could result in serious financial and legal risk to companies in the future. The green challenge is an opportunity for new markets, new jobs, new technologies and new exports.

  • All pollution and waste is lost profit.


Close Map