We cannot sustain our lives without our planet. Plus, there’s only one Earth, and it’s in shambles.

What can we do to save our home?

Environment statistics show us the impact we’ve had on the planet so far and the drastic changes needed to preserve it.

Little Known Environment Statistics and Facts

  • Air pollution kills over seven million people each year.
  • Close to 63 million people in the US don’t have access to clean water.
  • 37% of global methane comes from factory farming.
  • Two new cars hit the road every second.
  • 8%–10% of all US fires are from discarded cigarettes.
  • 85% of textile ends up in the dump.
  • 70% of greenhouse gas emissions stem from the meat and dairy industry.
  • UK air pollution causes 40,000 early deaths every year.
  • Nearly 5,000 Australians die each year from air pollution.
  • Experts predict that the rainforests will be entirely excavated by 2100.

Environmental Issues Statistics

When we talk about environmental problems, we refer to a vast range of topics, notably different pollution types.

1. Air Pollution Kills Over Seven Million People Each Year

(Source: WHO)

  • 4.2 million of these deaths are due to outdoor pollutants.
  • 91% of people breathe bad air that’s not within the WHO guideline limits for pollutants. Unfortunately, low and middle-income countries suffer the most.
  • 3.8 million air pollution deaths come from household exposure like fuels and smoke.

Air pollution is a growing concern for many countries, and it’s the worst in India. But more on that a bit later.

2. Land-Based Sources Account for 80% of Ocean Pollution

(Source: UNESCO)

  • Over 500 dead zones worldwide measure a staggering 94,595 mi — that’s the size of the UK. 
  • Plastic kills over one million seabirds annually.
  • Scientists estimate 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean.

Environment pollution statistics show alarming trends that could lead to irreversible Earth changes. 

3. Close to 63 Million People in the US Don’t Have Access to Clean Water

(Source: Alliance Disposal)

  • If you think that’s bad, water pollution is worse — 780 million people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water. 
  • Contaminated drinking water and lack of sanitation cause 88% of deaths from diarrheal diseases. It’s a severe problem in developing countries.
  • Two million tons of agricultural, industrial, and sewerage waste get released into our water every day. To put that into perspective, it’s nearly the weight of the entire world population. 

Sadly, facts about the environment and pollution are only getting worse. More and more people suffer daily and struggle to access clean drinking water — something we constantly take for granted.

4. Mines Generated Two Billion Pounds of Toxic Waste in 2017

(Source: High Country News)

  • That’s the same as 5,000 Boeing 747s. Additionally, this accounts for more than 50% of toxic waste produced by all US industries.
  • A 2013 study reported that out of the gold producing mines, 93% had at least one pipeline spill. Three-quarters of that polluted the surrounding water supplies.
  • Mines pollute 50 million gallons of water daily.

The human impact on the environment, as statistics show, comes from massive industries like mines, airlines, and transportation. 

heavy traffic on the highway

Statistics on How Human Activities Impact the Environment

By now, there’s no denying that we’re the number one cause of climate change and pollution on the planet.

5. Between 2002–2019, We Lost an Average of 8.3 Million Acres of Tropical Forest a Year

(Source: Conservation.org)

  • Humanity has destroyed over half of the world’s tropical forests since the 1960s.
  • Every six seconds, we lose a soccer field-sized area of rainforest.
  • Brasil lost 218,148 square miles of tree cover between 2001‒2019. That’s bigger than the entire state of California.

We’ve been deforesting the Earth for centuries. But that has a domino effect, causing the constantly growing number of endangered animals

6. 37% of Methane Emissions Come From Factory Farming 

(Source: Do Something)

  • Factory farming and the environment statistics display another domino effect — making the fertilizer for animal feed crops creates an astounding 41 million metric tons of CO2 per year.
  • Confined animals produce 450 million tonnes of manure annually. That’s three times the amount of waste generated by Americans and contributes significantly to methane emissions.
  • The antibiotics and hormones needed to maintain factory farming make their way into the water sources, affecting your health. 

Intensive animal farming isn’t without consequences and has a dramatic effect on environmental pollution statistics.

7. Two New Cars Hit the Road Every Second

(Source: The World Counts)

  • Fuel consumption accounts for 80%–90% of vehicles’ impact on the environment. 
  • In 2019, human activities produced 43.1 billion tons of CO2. From 1850–2019, a total of 2,400 gigatons of CO2 were emitted. 
  • 950 tons of that CO2 were released into the atmosphere, while the ocean and land absorbed the rest. 

The number of cars and the environment statistics increase every year, and humans are the most significant reason. Heating, electricity, and transportation create the greenhouse gasses that are the main culprit. 

8. Discarded Cigarettes Cause 8%–10% of All US Fires

(Source: WHO)

  • Globally, cigarette butts are the most common waste, weighing on average the astounding 175,200 tonnes every year. 
  • Six trillion cigarettes are produced every year, making over 300 billion single packets of cigarettes. These packets make 1,800,000 tonnes of packaging waste.
  • Annually, we throw away 1,830,000 tonnes of plastic bottles. But just the cigarette cartons and packaging materials accumulate 2,000,000 tonnes of waste in the same period. 
  • What’s more, each year, we lose 200,000 hectares of forest to tobacco production.  

The connection between smoking and the environment statistics isn’t usually studied as closely as other pollutants, but it’s causing massive issues for our planet. 

9. The Fashion Industry Generates More Carbon Than Flights and Maritime Shipping Combined

(Source: Business Insider)

  • 10% of all our carbon emissions come from the fashion industry. Also, it’s the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply. 
  • On top of that, 85% of all textiles end up in the dump, which is truly horrifying. So many people don’t have access to what we take for granted.
  • The equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is dumped in a landfill every second.

Unfortunately, fast fashion environment statistics show no signs of slowing down, with consumption increasing by 60% between 2000–2014.

10. 70% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Stem From the Meat and Dairy Industry

(Source: The Vegan Society)

  • If everyone in the UK substituted one meat meal a week, the environmental result would be the same as removing 16 million cars off the road.
  • Cows require 45 billion gallons of water and 135 billion pounds of food daily. That’s nine times more than humans.
  • Farming is responsible for up to 91% of the Amazon rainforests’ destruction.

We can learn a lot from vegan environment statistics. They can help us see the effect of small changes each of us can make. The good news? Millennials are fast-tracking climate change issues.

11. 81% of Millennials Believe the World Is Warming 

(Source: Business Insider)

  • Interestingly, that’s 10% more than the general public.
  • Additionally, 65% of millennials feel that humans are the number one cause of climate change.
  • More than one million students from 123 countries skipped school on March 15th, 2019, demanding more implemented changes to stop climate change.

The data on millennials and the environment statistics show promising numbers of change and new mindsets. 

garbage on the beach

Environment Statistics United States

As the US is one of the main contributors to climate change, let’s take a closer look.

12. We Need One Acre of Land and Highway for Each Person

(Source: Environmental Protection) 

  • Meanwhile, over 1,700,000 people are born in the US each year. That’s a lot of additional resources needed.
  • With the growing population, the energy and water demand will increase by 50% between 2020–2030.
  • Abandoned mines are at the forefront of US environmental destruction facts. In Colorado alone, they’ve contaminated over 1,400 miles of streams.

Unfortunately, the United States environment statistics are only going to get worse unless we do something soon. You’ll find out how you can help a bit later.

Environment Statistics Worldwide

While the US is a significant contributor, it’s far from the only culprit. It’s not even the most accountable.

13. China Is the Third Highest Country to Experience Natural Disasters

(Source: Statista)

  • It’s right behind the US and Indonesia, but climate change brings more natural disasters than ever recorded. Pollution disasters caused Sichuan, China, an economic loss of $5,180,794,200 in 2018.
  • In 2018, 50% of China couldn’t access drinking water. 
  • Unfortunately, due to the Chinese boom in cheap, quick, and fast production, 90% of their water system is contaminated, even in the most highly populated cities.

If that’s not bad enough, India and its environment statistics are even worse.

14. New Delhi Was the World’s Most Polluted City in 2013 and 2016

(Source: Earth.org)

  • Air quality data in India shows that four cities (Ahmedabad, Delhi, Patna, Gurugram, and Lucknow) have incredibly high pollution levels. The city of Ahmedabad reached a 484 AQI — anything over 300 is hazardous.
  • The PM2.5 value (a particulate matter) in New Delhi more than doubles the government-regulated allowance for clean air.
  • This particular level increases the chances of long-term mortality risks by 15%.

But that’s not all, environment statistics for the UK are pretty shocking too.

15. UK Air Pollution Causes 40,000 Early Deaths Every Year

(Source: Client Earth)

  • 75% of recorded UK air pollution zones are above the legal limit. Studies show that this will soon increase to 100%.
  • There is one car for every two people living in England. What’s more, vehicles’ CO2 emissions account for 13% of the total UK’s pollution. 
  • Rearing livestock in the UK is the highest pollutant at 50%.

Developed nations, like the UK and the US, have growing populations. With their demands for oil, heating, and electricity resources, pollution will only get worse.

16. Nearly 5,000 Australians Die From Exposure to Air Pollution Each Year

(Source: Environmental Justice Australia) 

  • Health gives rise to the most prominent concern of the environment statistics in Australia. On average, 233 babies with reduced weight are born annually in New South Wales because of pollution. 
  • The five power stations in New South Wales alone take 2,614 years of life annually. 
  • Compared to others, Australia has been on top of sorting their pollution issues. That said, coal ash remains a massive problem and accounts for one-fifth of their waste.

Environment stats show that Australia has been very proactive in lowering it’s pollution rate. But there’s still more more it can do.

17. Between 2000‒2017, Coal Extraction in the Philippines Increased Ninefold

(Source: Philippines Statistics Authority) 

  • In 2017, natural gas extractions amounted to 138.5 billion cubic feet in the country.
  • Non-renewable energy sources contributed 0.46% of the total economy in 2019.
  • Class C oil reserves can’t be used for commercial use, and those account for 87% of the Philippines’ total. 

Environment statistics in the Philippines show its richness in natural resources. That said, the third-world country doesn’t use most of them, leaving much of the nation destitute. In such cases, we can’t help but put forward the argument of human life vs. the life of the planet.

18. COVID-19 Has Had a Dramatic Effect on Our Planet

(Source: Geneva Environment Network)

  • Climate change could be the ultimate reason why COVID-19 spread from animals to humans. The ever-changing habitats force many animals into more densely human-populated areas.
  • Plastic use has exploded with all the masks and gloves we need. That’s why we recommend using high-quality washable means of protection.  
  • As COVID-19 forces zoos to close their doors, lockdowns could bring the extinction of 77 species.

The good news? Staying indoors worldwide has decreased air pollution. But as we open up again, environmental damage facts will soar once more, possibly even worse than before.  

power station releasing chemical smoke in the environment

Shocking Environmental Statistics

So, we’ve learned quite a bit about the climate in different countries. But what does this mean for our planet?

19. Between 2020‒2030 Consumers Will Grow by 1.7 Billion People

(The World Counts)

  • We’re already overspending the planet by more than 70%. As it isn’t logically sustainable, we could soon be facing an entirely different world.
  • The number of extracted natural resources will double between 2000‒2050, making pollution even worse and destroying our planet quickly.
  • Each year we extract over 90 billion tons of natural resources — that’s 11 tons per person. 

If nothing changes, statistics about the environment are going to get far worse.

20. The World’s Rainforests Are Predicted to Be Entirely Excavated by 2100

(The World Counts)

  • We may run out of seafood within the next 26 years.
  • To limit the Earth’s temperature by 34,7°F, we need to reduce all emissions by 55% until 2030.
  • Methane is 28 times more potent than carbon dioxide, and it has increased by over 170% since the Industrial Revolution.

Beyond that, we are currently in the world’s biggest mass extinction. But try not to panic. There are things we can do to help turn the environment statistics. 

How to Help the Environment Statistics in 2021

All hope is not lost. As bad as the numbers may seem, there’s a lot we can do as individuals and communities to save the planet. Let’s dive right in.

21. The Biggest Impact You Can Make Is Using Your Voice

(Source: WWF)

  • If you have a basic scientific understanding of our impact on the planet, you can support your discussion about environmental issues with facts. Spread the word to help our world.
  • Travel responsibly by making use of public transport whenever possible. After all, transportation is among the leading climate change causes.
  • The food we eat is responsible for over 60% of the global biodiversity loss. Eat sustainably and support small local businesses.

As an individual, you can make a massive difference to our planet and the environment statistics. 

22. Think about Your Waste

(Source: WWF)

  • Go through the products in your kitchen. How many of them are recyclable? What will go to waste? Do you really need all of the products? It’s worth asking these questions as a first step to change your purchase behavior.
  • Read the labels to find sustainably sourced products and have as little impact on the planet as possible.
  • Countless initiatives do their best to delay our planet’s demise. Do your research on any local green organizations and donate what you can or volunteer to help

Environmental and ecological statistics are vital for us to understand what we’re doing to the Earth. The more we know, the more inclined we are to make impactful changes.

Wrap Up

Our environmental impact is coming back to bite us.

Globally, people are dying from pollution at an alarming rate. Meanwhile, the list of endangered animals keeps growing, and their habitat loss could lead to diseases much worse than COVID-19. Unfortunately, environment statistics show that developing countries are the worst affected, with many people dying from unsanitary conditions. 

But all hope is not lost. Millennials are trying to fast-track the changes needed to save the Earth. We only have one planet, so we all need to put in the effort to keep it. 

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