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You've Come a Long Way, Maybe
Published on Saturday, April 23, 2005 by Grist Magazine
You've Come a Long Way, Maybe
by Todd Hymas
 

Stats on how far we've come (or haven't) since the first Earth Day

  • 3.7 billion -- world population in 19701
  • 6.4 billion -- world population in 20051
  • 1,535 billion -- kilowatt-hours of electricity used in the U.S. in 19702
  • 3,837 billion -- kilowatt-hours of electricity expected to be used in the U.S. in 20053
  • 6.0 -- percentage of electricity in U.S. consumed in 1970 produced from renewable sources4
  • 6.7 -- percentage of electricity in U.S. expected to be consumed in 2005 produced from renewable sources3
  • 14.7 million -- barrels of petroleum consumed per day in the U.S. in 19705
  • 20.9 million -- barrels of petroleum expected to be consumed per day in the U.S. in 20053
  • 10.4 million -- acres of wilderness preserved in the U.S. as of 19706
  • 106.5 million -- acres of wilderness preserved in the U.S. as of 20057
  • 3.3 -- pounds of municipal solid waste generated per person per day in the U.S. in 19708
  • 4.4 -- pounds of municipal solid waste expected to be generated per person per day in the U.S. in 20059
  • 1,500 -- square footage of average new U.S. single-family home in 197010
  • 2,330 -- square footage of average new U.S. single-family home in 2003*10
  • 89.2 million -- number of passenger cars in the U.S. in 197011
  • 135.7 million -- number of passenger cars in the U.S. in 2003*11
  • 1.7 million -- miles of paved roads in the U.S. in 197012
  • 2.6 million -- miles of paved roads in the U.S. in 2003*12
  • 0 -- percentage of U.S. soybean crop that was genetically modified in 1970 (by acreage)13
  • 85 -- percentage of U.S. soybean crop that was genetically modified in 2004* (by acreage)14
  • 36 -- percentage of world population living in cities in 197015
  • 49 -- percentage of world population living in cities in 200515
  • 0 -- number of beacons in the smog in 1970
  • 1 -- number of beacons in the smog in 2005
  • * Most recent year for which data are available.

    Sources:

    1. "Total Midyear Population for the World: 1950-2050," U.S. Census Bureau.

    2. Statement of Energy Information Administration's Mary J. Hutzler [PDF], hearing on sources of energy and consumption before the Committee on Ways and Means, Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, U.S. House of Representatives, May 3, 2001.

    3. "Short Term Energy Outlook -- April 2005," Energy Information Administration.

    4. "Energy Consumption by Source, 1949-2003," Energy Information Administration.

    5. "Petroleum: An Energy Profile 1999" [PDF], Energy Information Administration, pg 8, and "Petroleum Overview, 1949-2003," Energy Information Administration, Table 5.1.

    6. "National Wilderness Preservation System and National Wild and Scenic River System, 1968-1999," Council on Environmental Quality, 1997 Environmental Quality report, Table 3.2.

    7. "Wilderness Fast Facts" (data current as of Dec. 27, 2004), Wilderness.net.

    8. Total municipal solid waste generated in U.S. in 1970: "EPA Municipal solid waste basic facts," and "Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 2001 Facts and Figures" [PDF], Table ES-1, pg 2. 1970 U.S. population: "Demographic Trends in the 20th Century" [PDF], November 2002.

    9. Total municipal solid waste to be generated in 2005 in the U.S., projected: "Characterization of Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 1998 Update" [PDF]. 2005 U.S. population, U.S. Census Bureau population clock.

    10. "Housing Facts" [PDF], National Association of Homebuilders, January 2005, pg 8.

    11. "National Transportation Statistics 2004," Bureau of Transportation Statistics, January 2005, Table 1-11.

    12. "National Transportation Statistics 2004," Bureau of Transportation Statistics, January 2005, Table 1-4.

    13. "Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S.," Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    14. Genetically engineered (GE) soybean varieties by State and United States, 2000-2004, "Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S.," Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    15. "World Urbanization Prospects, 2003" [PDF], United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, Table II.1, pg 14. (2005 stats are projected.)

    Todd Hymas is Grist's editorial assistant.

    © 2005 Grist Magazine, Ltd.

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