With the national concern about global warming and other environmental emergencies, it can seem as though the planet’s inhabitants are at a crossroads when it comes to preservation. Although things can always get worse, the idea – and the focus of many environmental regulations – is to prevent that from happening. Here are some facts about the current state of the global climate and environment.
- Studies by the U.S. Global Change Research Program show that the temperature in the United States has gone up by two degrees in the past 50 years and that precipitation has increased by five percent.
- A study by a doctoral candidate at the University of Georgia in Athens concluded that rising ocean water levels caused by climate change could permanently flood hundreds of U.S. counties. Miami-Dade County in Florida, where two million people could be forced to relocate, would be the hardest hit.
- According to the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. exports account for more than 30 percent of the wheat, rice and corn on the global market. Global warming creates changes in the planet’s temperature, amount of carbon dioxide, and the frequency and intensity of extreme weather, which could have significant impacts on crop yields and lead to food shortages.
Flora and Fauna
- Climate change is taking its toll on Earth’s species. The golden toad is said to be the first species to go extinct due to habitat loss and climate change.
- During 1998, the hottest year on record, 16 percent of the world’s coral reefs were destroyed by rising water temperatures.
- The planet’s oceans are becoming more acidic because of increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide. This could harm shellfish by weakening their shells, which are made of calcium and can be damaged by increasing acidity.
- In February 2007, the EPA finalized a rule to limit the benzene content of gasoline and reduce toxic emissions from passenger vehicles and gas cans. The EPA estimates that in 2030 this rule would reduce total emissions of mobile-source air toxins by 330,000 tons and VOC emissions by more than 1 million tons.
- Improvements in air quality between 2000 and 2007 may have added up to four months to the average person’s life.
- Cutting air pollution through the Clean Air Act is expected to prevent at least 230,000 deaths and save $2 trillion annually by 2020.
- In the United States, 46 percent of the lakes as well as 40 percent of the rivers are too polluted and unhealthy for swimming, fishing or supporting aquatic life.
- The EPA estimates that every year, 1.2 trillion gallons of sewage from households, industry and restaurants is dumped into national waters.
- The headwaters of 40 percent of Western rivers are contaminated with toxic discharge from abandoned mines, according to the EPA.
- A study by the Pacific Institute concluded that more than 1.3 million people in the San Joaquin Valley of California, mostly in poor farming communities, have unsafe drinking water because of nitrate contamination related to fertilizer and pesticide use.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 24 million homes in the United States have deteriorated leaded paint and elevated levels of lead-contaminated house dust. One or more young children live in four million of these homes.
- Women living near landfill sites may be at risk for having babies with low birth weight, higher mortality rates, spontaneous abortion or birth defects, depending what types of chemicals are present at the site.
- A 2009 study of CDC data showed that about one in 40 women of childbearing age had mercury in her blood above 5.8 micrograms per liter of blood — a level that could present a risk to a developing fetus.
In the United States, 310,000 one- to five-year-old children annually are found to have unsafe levels of lead in their blood.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.