Matters of Scale - Just a Minute

In the past year, the following changes occurred in the world every minute. In most cases, the rate this year and next will be even faster.

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The net amount of forest in Australia, which has very little forest to begin with, was reduced by an area the size of a soccer field.1
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The net amount of tropical forest in the world was reduced—mostly by burning—by an area the size of 60 football fields.2
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In the United States, suburban sprawl spread over another one hectare (2.5 acres) of land.3
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Almost one-half square kilometer of good land turned to desert.4
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570 people were driven from their homes by weather disasters, many of which had been greatly worsened by global warming, deforestation, and other human actions.5
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23 children died of starvation or malnutrition.6
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50 people died of pesticide poisoning.7
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245,000 gallons of raw municipal sewage were dumped into the Ganges River in India, which is regarded by Hindus as a Holy Place, and is where millions bathe to be purified.8
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$19,000 worth of endangered animals or animal parts were sold on the global black market for endangered species.9
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The global economy burned up an amount of energy (mostly fossil fuels), each minute, that the planet took 10,000 minutes to produce through solar energy collection and photosynthesis.10
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Sources: 1Ashley Mattoon, WORLD WATCH; 2Ed Ayres, God’s Last Offer: Negotiating for a Sustainable Future; 3Eben Fodor, Better Not Bigger; 4Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential; 5Janet Abramovitz, Worldwatch Institute; 6Optimum Population Trust; 7Paul Hawken, Ecology of Commerce; 8UNDP, Human Development Report; 9Donovan Webster, New York Times Magazine; 10Hawken.