Matters of Scale - Liquidating Our Assets

Amount of water returned to the Ogallala Aquifer by rainfall each year
2.4 billion gallons
Amount drawn from the Ogallala for irrigation and other human uses each year
20.0 billion gallons
Amount of topsoil created by nature each year
0.4 billion tons
Amount lost to erosion
25.0 billion tons
Time it takes the global human economy to consume the equivalent of 22 million tons of oil
1 day
Time it took the planet to create that energy
10,000 days
Number of species lost to extinction each year, on average, during the past 65 million years
1 to 10
Number lost in the past year (conservatively estimated)
1,000 to 10,000
Time it took for the world to lose 1 percent of its forests, on average, during the 30 centuries prior to the Industrial Revolution
100 years
Time it is taking to lose 1 percent now
1 year
Number of endangered black-footed ferrets known to remain in the wild
Number of endangered Madagascan tree boas found in a suitcase being carried by smuggler Simon David Harris in 1996
Number of threatened Peninsular bighorn sheep in California's Coachella Valley
Number of habitat-displacing golf courses in the Coachella Valley
Sources: Paul Hawkin, The Ecology of Commerce (New York: Harper Collins, 1993). G. Tyler Miller, Living in the Environment (Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Co., 1992). Vital Signs 1997 (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997). John C. Ryan, Life Support: Conserving Biological Diversity, Worldwatch Paper 108 (Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute, April 1992). Janet Abramovitz, "Valuing Nature's Services," in State of the World 1997 (New York: W.W. Norton, 1997). Alan Durning, Saving the Forests, Worldwatch Paper 117 (Washington, DC: Worldwatch Institute, December 1993). Donovan Webster, New York Times Magazine, February 16, 1997. Diana Marcum, Los Angeles Times Washington, DC edition, March 17, 1997.