Monday, October 15, 2007

Serve God, Save the Planet (Part I)

Tara recently got me reading a book that we picked up for her birthday titled, Serve God, Save the Planet by J. Matthew Sleeth, MD. You may recall back in this post where I began describing some of our journey towards intentionally respecting the earth that God so amazingly created. Seeing that today is Blog Action Day, I thought I'd pass on some ecological/lifestyle stats from Sleeth's book that jumped out at me. I've decided not to comment on them much at this point because they paint a fascinating & jolting picture all in their own right:
  • Rate of forest destruction worldwide = 1 acre per second

  • Number of species going extinct = more than 100 per day

  • The U.S. uses more natural resources than any country in history
  • In the next ten years, 20 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer (1 out of every 15)
  • Currently, more than 700 man-made toxins can be found in human tissues
  • If every household changed its five most used light bulbs to compact fluorescents, the country could take 21 coal-fired power plants off-line tomorrow
    • "This would keep one trillion pounds of poisonous gases and soot out of the air we breathe and would have the same beneficial impact as taking eight million cars off the road" (Sleeth 66).
  • Approximately 64,000 Americans die annually as a result of soot in the air
  • One power plant in Massachusetts was alone found to cause 1,200 ER visits, 3,000 asthma attacks, 110 deaths annually
  • The average American watches 1,700 hours of television annually
    • The average school-age child attends 900 hours of classes a year
  • By the time a typical American reaches age 71, they will have spent a solid 10 waking years in front of a TV
  • There are 300 million television sets in America, which consume five times more energy than is produced by all the geothermal, biomass, solar, & wind sources in the U.S. combined
  • Ten times more energy, water, & grain is needed to produce a pound of beef or pork than to produce a pound of milk or cheese
  • The loss of rain forests in South America means that the clouds they once made no longer blow across the Atlantic to drop their water on Africa
    • As a result the Sahara grows by thousands of acres per year
  • Nearly a billion people live in chronic hunger
  • Every 10 days, a quarter of a million people die from starvation (25,000 every day)
  • Haiti's forests have been cut down and shipped to the U.S. As a result, Haiti has lost 90% of its topsoil
  • In America, junk mail fills 340,000 garbage trucks per year all bound for landfills
    • 4 out of 5 pieces of junk mail aren't recycled
  • About 70% of U.S. electricity is generated by fossil fuels, 20% nuclear, 9% hydropower
    • Solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and methane combine for the remaining 1%
    • We have been developing these alternative sources for three decades

This is a lot to take in at once, but my goal in relaying this info is to drive at a major theme: an element of interconnectedness defines these statistics. Nearly ALL of us in America play a role in the problems, and ALL of us have the option sitting right in front of us to play a role in the solutions...

*Note: While I haven't taken the time to research and provide cited references, I have a reasonably high degree of confidence in validity of each of the above statistics. Of course, I'm completely willing to be persuaded otherwise if contradictory data is out there... but I haven't seen any.


Unknown said...

This is a great Book. I think it is the book that started our lifestyle changes. Stephanie and I still pick up this book and find ways we can continue to be greener.

J Trusty said...

wow. i'm japanese though

Yard said...

The light bulb fact is hard to even fathom. Brings the question, WHY DON'T WE JUST CHANGE THEM TO FLUORESCENTS THEN!??!?!?!

A little pricier, but come on people!!

maventheavenger aka jamie said...

I've been wanting to read that...