Matters of Scale - Fire, Flood, and Drought

Number of people killed in international terrorist attacks in 1997
Number of people killed by human-exacerbated floods in the past 8 months
Population of the United States
270 million
Number of the 400 million people living in China's Yangtze river watershed who lost crops, were forced out of their homes or businesses, or suffered other damages from flooding of the Yangtze River in 1998
56 million
Area of land planted in cotton, worldwide
330,000 square kilometers
Area of land that is flooded by dams, worldwide
400,000 square kilometers
Area of land planted in potatoes, worldwide
180,000 square kilometers
Area of land that turns to desert each year
200,000 square kilometers
Area of land planted in orange groves, worldwide
48,000 square kilometers
Area of land burned by fires since mid-1997 (conservatively estimated)
87,000 square kilometers
Sources: Terrorism estimate: Patterns of Global Terrorism: 1997 (Washington, DC: Dept. of State Publication 10535, April 1998); flood dealths: Global Flood Archive 1998, Dartmouth Flood Observatory, , viewed 17 September 1998; China flooding: from official Chinese government reports as quoted in John Pomfret, "Chinese Flood Area Awash in Disorder," Washington Post, 12 August 1998; planted area estimates: UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), FAOSTAT Statistics Database, , viewed 14 September 1998; area flooded by dams: International Rivers Network, , viewed 23 September 1998; desertification estimate: Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential, 4th ed., 1994-95, edited by the Union of International Associations, ; fire estimate: Worldwatch calculation compiled from various reports.