State of the Earth in 50 Years




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Will the Millennial generation be leaving behind a livable world for their children and future generations?

  • Finite Planet + Finite Resources = Infinite Population Growth?—False!
    • Global Population Swells Through the Centuries
      • 1798: 1 billion
      • 1968: 3.5 billion
      • 2015: 7.3 billion
      • 2030: 8.5 billion
      • 2050: 9.7 billion
      • 2100: 11.2 billion
      • From 1950-2010 population increased around 2X in the US and 3X globally!
Though Earth’s population continues to expand, the number of people on the planet is not what’s threatening the world as we know it—it’s our ever growing rate of consumption!
  • But How Much Are We Consuming?
    • Americans Are at the Top of the Food Chain
      • In 2011, the average American consumed almost 1 ton of food— that’s 1,996 pounds of food/year
      • Total US meat consumption is escalating
        • 1950: 138 pounds/person/year
        • 2000: 195 pounds/person/year
      • The Top of the Garbage Pile
        • Average American’s Trash Consumption
          • 4.40 pounds/person/day
            • 1.51 recycled/composted)
          • 254 million tons of trash/year
            • 87 million tons of trash/year is recycled/composted
          • 34.3% recycling rate
      • ...and the End of the Dipstick
        • 25% of the world’s fossil fuel resources are burned in the US with < 5% of the world’s population
          • 25% of the coal
          • 26% of the oil
          • 27 % of natural gas
By 2050, if the large scale consumption of the Earth’s wealthiest countries was replicated in just 50% of the global population our climate, water supply, air quality, forests, biological diversity, and human health could take a catastrophic downturn

The State of the Earth in the 21st Century
  • Oceans
    • Sea-Level Rise: Rapid fossil fuel consumption is kicking Earth’s glacial melt into overdrive
      • As Earth’s climate gradually becomes warmer, sea level rise accelerates each year
      • By 2100 without rapid fossil fuel reduction
        • Earth could face 14-32 ft. of sea level rise
        • Causing an estimated 13,670 sq. mi. to be destroyed/severely affected in the U.S. alone
        • London, New York, and Shanghai are at risk of being submerged by rising sea levels
    • Ocean Acidification: Water with a side of burn
      • Rising CO2 levels are creating chemical imbalance in oceans
      • Slows growth of coral reefs, poisons coastal ecosystems, and kills fish
      • By 2100, oceans will be more acidic than they have been in the past 20 million years
    • Pollution: Earth’s biggest dumpster
      • 80% of oceanic pollution enters water through land runoff
      • 46,000 pieces of plastic per sq. mi. across the ocean
      • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
        • Floating mass of plastic the size of Texas that contains ⅓ of the oceans’ plastic
        • Located off the coast of California
      • By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish
  • The 6th Great Extinction
  • Rainforest Deforestation: Destroying our lungs and medicine cabinet
    • 70% of land animals and plants are found in forests
    • 50% of the world’s rainforests have already been cut down
    • 18 million acres of forest are destroyed every year, contributing 6-12% of annual CO2 emissions
    • At this rate in 2060, an India-sized-forest will be wiped off the planet
  • Plants and Animals: The Largest Die Off Since the Dinosaurs went Extinct
    • 38% of all plants and animals are currently under threat of extinction
    • Since 1900, 469 species of vertebrae have gone extinct
    • ¾ of all species could be dead within several generations if current rates continue
  • Fish: The First Ones to Go Bottoms Up
    • Since 1960, 90% of ocean’s apex predators have been killed (e.g., great white sharks, marlins, and killer whales)
    • 63% of fish populations are currently considered overfished
    • Without improvements the world’s fisheries will collapse by 2046
Forecasting the Future: What Can We Do for a Brighter Environmental Legacy?
  • Tackling Deforestation
    • Food Forests
      • Growing number of cities are planting food forests near dense populations
      • Provides free access to local food and helps prevent climbing temperatures
    • Reforesting Projects
      • China: Planting another Great Wall
        • 32 million acres of forest have been planted since 2008
        • Additional 2,800 mile forest is being planted across North and Northwest China
      • Pakistan: Billion Tree Tsunami
        • $300 million project to reforest Northwest Pakistan and provide work for unemployed
        • 1 billion trees by 2018
  • Combating Food Resources and Shortages
    • Sky Gardens
      • By 2050, 7 out of 10 people are projected to live in urban areas
      • Vegetation designed to filter out pollutants and retain CO2 will cover skyscrapers and other city dwellings
      • “Farmscrapers” will make much it much simpler to eat local as pesticide-free crops will be produced year round
    • Community Garden Spaces
      • Common community spaces will be dedicated to food production
      • Shorter transportation demands means less fuel consumption and carbon waste
  • Plastic Pollution Problems
    • The Ocean Cleanup project
      • Largest organized cleanup in global history
      • First feasible technological method to remove plastic from oceans
      • Predicted to take 10 years to remove just 42% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch