Matters of Scale - At Large and Presumed Dangerous

Number of live landmines that lie in unknown places around the world
65 to 100 million
?Number of people - 80 percent of them civilians - who have been killed or maimed by landmines in 62 countries over the past 20 years
1 million
"Over the past few years?in certain countries landmines have become the single most crucial long term rehabilitation issue." -Larry Minear and Thomas G. Weiss, Humanitarian Action in Times of War - A Handbook for Practitioners, 1993
Time it could take to clear all the mines in Afghanistan, according to an estimate by the International Red Cross
over 2,000 years
?Time it would take to clear Cambodia of its landmines, if all of the income of all of its people were spent on nothing but that task
over 2 years
"And the mines continue to be laid far faster than they are being removed: each year, even as mine-clearing operations struggle to remove roughly 80,000 mines, perhaps as many as 2 million new ones are being laid." -Michael Renner, Budgeting for Disarmament, Worldwatch Paper 122, 1994
Quantity of poison gas warehoused in the former Soviet Union, to be disposed of under the international convention on chemical weapons
40,000 tons
?Quantity of poison gas still unaccounted for in the former Soviet countries
150,000 to 400,000 tons
"At hundreds of sites, containers of poison gas were carelessly put aside, perhaps with no clear indication of what was being left behind?.In the town of Chapayesvk, for example, soldiers simply buried 1,200 tons of mustard gas outside factory walls in the 1960s....A new special commission for ecological security reports that half of Russia's territory is already polluted with nerve gas." -Der Spiegel
Sources: Number of mines: Landmines: A Deadly Legacy (New York, Human Rights Watch, 1993); number of victims: James P. Grant, Executive Director, U.N. Children's Fund, 1994; time required to clear mines: Michael Renner, Budgeting for Disarmament: The Cost of War and Peace, Worldwatch Paper 122, 1994; quantity of poison gas: World Press Review, October 1994. Compiled by Ed Ayres.