Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Interesting Fun Facts

As some of you may have noticed by now, I just love trivia. In fact, I love to tell people that I'm a very trivial person. Another dose of environmental trivia.

o If just 25% of U.S. families used 10 fewer plastic bags a month, we would save over 2.5 BILLION bags a year.

o On the average, the 140 million cars in America are estimated to travel almost 4 billion miles in a day, and according to the Department of Transportation, they use over 200 million gallons of gasoline doing it.

o Every year we throw away 24 million tons of leaves and grass. Leaves alone account for 75% of our solid waste in the fall. (Compost, compost, compost!!)

o Over 100 pesticide ingredients are suspected to cause birth defects, cancer, and gene mutations. (It was designed to kill bugs, wasn't it?)

o Every ton of recycled office paper saves 380 gallons of oil. (Every sticky note counts here.)

o About 1% of U.S. landfill space is full of disposable diapers, which take 500 years to decompose. (This has been on your baby's delicate bottom.)

o Americans use 50 million tons of paper annually -- consuming more than 850 million trees.

o Homeowners use up to 10 times more toxic chemicals per acre than farmers. (Now that's scary.)

o Insulating your attic reduces the amount of energy loss in most houses by up to 20%.

o One ton of carbon dioxide that is released in the air can be prevented by replacing every 75 watt light bulbs with energy efficient bulbs.

o Many banks lent large sums of money to developing nations. In order to pay those debts plus interest many nations have turned to the mining of their natural resources as a source of financial aid.

o Every day 40,000 children die from preventable diseases. (Most of these are in the lesser developed countries.)

o The human population of the world is expected to be nearly tripled by the year 2100.

o A three percent annual growth rate will result in the doubling of consumption and production of food and other products in 25 short years. The amount of motor vehicles that are expected to be operated will increase 15 million a year until at least 2010. (On the up side, accidents are expected to decline due to the near zero visibility rate experienced by drivers. This is caused by the ever increasing smog demanding a 5 mph limit on all major highways worldwide.)

o The world's per capita grain production has been on the downfall since 1985 despite the use of fertilizers and pesticides.

o Already a train system has been developed (back in 1987) which is based on magnetic levitation and causes minimal pollution. These versions of a train are already in use in several countries.

o Fibre optics, made of glass, are being used to replace copper cables throughout the world.

o The uncontrolled fishing that is allowed has reduced the amount of commercial species. Some species, up to one-tenth of their original population. Every day 50 to 100 species of plants and animals become extinct as their habitat and human influences destroy them. (And yet we keep insisting on helping Mother Nature.)

o Deserts are advancing and taking over the land. In Mali the desert has taken over about 220 miles in as few as 20 years. Deserts can be repelled, by developing tree-planting projects, having better agriculture and by managing the land better. However, governments still are reluctant to fund anti-desertification, despite horrific droughts that have occurred in recent years.

o The Earth has been around for 4.6 billion years. Scaling this time down to 46 years we have been around for 4 hours and our Industrial Revolution began just 1 minute ago. During this short time period we have ransacked the planet for ways to get fuels and raw materials, have been the cause of extinction of an unthinkable amount of plants and animals, and have multiplied our population to that of a plague. (Just think: Had we listened to Mother Nature instead of each other, we'd probably still be in the Garden of Eden.)

o Despite all of the damage we have caused the environment most of it is reversible. We can restore habitats and return species to them; clean rivers; renovate buildings; replenish the topsoil, replant forests. However, these activities do not relieve the worst symptoms of the damage. We still have to fix the source of these problems, us and our vision that we must progress.

o In Peninsular Malaysia, more tree species are found in 125 acres of Tropical Forest than in the entire North America.

o In Peru a single bush may contain more ant species than in the British Isles.

o A study has shown that there are possibly over 30 million species of insects dwelling in the canopies of tropical forests.

o 63,000 square miles of Rainforests are being destroyed each year.

o Rainforests higher than 3,000 feet above sea level are called cloud forests.

o Already over half of the world's tropical forests have been lost.

o Madagascar is the home to a rainforest where 60 percent of it's 12,000 different plant species are unique to that island.

o When you visit a pharmacist, one in every four purchases will have come from a tropical forest.

o Medicine produced in tropical forests bring in commercially 30 billion dollars a year.

o Large areas of South and Central America are cleared and burned for cattle ranching. This is so that farmers can provide cheap beef to consumers in the West.

o Every year approximately four billion tons of carbon accumulates in the air each year, about 30% of this comes directly from the continued burning of the rainforests.

o More than anything else, rainforest is destroyed by peasant farmers. However, the responsibility for this lies largely with the governments who fail to promote land reform and sustainable agricultural practices as an alternative to forest clearance.

o Greater than a quarter of our rainforest is in Brazil.

o Penguins live only in the Southern Hemisphere and never in the Northern Hemisphere.

o A scallop moves by sucking water into its shell and then squirting it out suddenly. It likes to wander around and this gives it enough force to push it in front in a zig zag manner.

o A male garibaldi damselfish attracts females for mating by covering a rock with a thick layer of algae. A male which cleans off a rock to allow only algae to live have a higher chance of mating. The algae is also used to protect the eggs of the fish.

o To prevent the nest from getting soaked, the rare white-chinned swift, which nests behind the waterfalls of Latin America, plant pieces of moss in the nest which then grow and reinforce the nest. (Natural architecture at its best.)

o A porcupine loves salt so much that it would walk into a camp and gnaw on anything that has been touched by salt or even by perspiring hands. (I understand his dilemma. I just love the taste of natural sea salt.)

o Despite having a shell of armour for the body, an armadillo has teeth that do not have enamel and thus are very soft. It can only eat equally soft food such as ants, termites, grubs and bugs.

o If a mole does not find food within 12 hours, it will die. Its chief food consists of insects and earthworms.

o A male nightingale stops singing when its eggs have hatched so as not to attract unnecessary attention to the nest. However he gives short calls to tell the female that all is well or danger is approaching.

o Bolas spiders snare moths by producing chemicals similar to pheromones used by several species of female moths to attract mates.

o The webbed feet of the stormy petrel enable it to 'walk' on water. It spends almost its entire life over the ocean and only comes to land to breed. If a storm arises, they can't walk on water and are forced to remain in the air all day and night.

o Some giant land turtles are able to bellow. (So could my ex-mother-in-law.)

o No one knows what happens to the seahorse during winter as it is only seen during the summertime.

o The arctic tern, a migrating bird is able to travel back and forth as much as 22,000 miles in a course of a year.

o The Amazon army ant raids the nests of certain black ants. They carry the cocoons and larvae back with them to their own homes. When the cocoons hatch, they will become the slaves of these army ants doing all their work.

o The huge nest of an osprey is an attractive one which is not hidden from sight. Each year the bird adds new material to the same nest causing some of them to weigh up to 450 kilograms.

o The Grasslands cover one-fifth of the land on Earth.

o The majority of grasslands are found around the tropics.

o Natural grasslands are; the savannahs of Africa, the North American prairies, and in southern USSR-the dry steppes.

o Semi-natural grasslands are where the forest has been cleared and grazing, cutting or burning maintains the grass cover. Tending to be more productive most South and South-East Asian grasslands are semi-natural grasslands.

o The temperate grassland soil contains a lot of organic material (more than the tropical).
The cheeky comments in brackets are mine.

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