UNEP “Keeping track of our changing environment” Report


Click to access keeping_track.pdf

I recently came across this excellent and fascinating report from UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) which looks at changes in environmental and social indicators over the 20 years since the first Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. It contains lots of great statistics e.g.

  • The human population has increased by 26%, or 1.45bn, since 1992
  • 33% of the urban population live in slums
  • Global use of natural resource materials has increased by 41% since 1992
  • Global CO2 emissions increased by 36% between 1992 and 2008
  • Consumption of ozone-depleting substances has decreased by 93% since 1992 and the size of the ozone-hole over Antarctica has now stabilised
  • Global mean temperature has increased by 0.4 degrees C since 1992
  • Sea level is rising at an average rate of 2.5mm per year
  • Sanitation coverage has improved from 54% globally in 1992 to 61% in 2010, but remains well short of the 2015 MDG target of 75%
  • The Living Planet Index (which measures the health of the Earth’s ecosystems) has decreased by 12% since 1992
  • Plastics production has increased by 130%. The average use of plastics in developed countries is 100kg per year per capita, and 30kg in developing countries
  • Food production has risen by 45%, although population has only increased by 26%
  • 52% of global fish stocks are fully exploited and 33% are overexploited, depleted or recovering
  • Energy consumption in developed countries is nearly 12 times higher than in developing countries
  • Renewable energy accounts for 13% of global energy supply, with 10% of this being biomass e.g. wood, waste (largely used domestically in developing countries)
  • Investment in renewable energy increased by 540% between 2004 and 2010
  • Passenger air travel has doubled since 1992

Finally, on page 89, UNEP generate a “wordcloud” (which I unfortunately couldn’t copy here), where the size of the words represent the popularity of a number of buzzwords in a Google search. Not unexpectedly, “recycling” is the most popular word, but it is interesting to see that “sustainability” is also large, while “solar energy” and “energy efficiency” are very small. It would be interesting to see a similar exercise done with more words…



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