Earth Day reminds us to appreciate our global home,
to assess its health and how it is changing — then consider simple ways to protect it. Here is a 50-point tour of Earth facts, tips and advice.
Our Stomping Grounds
1. The planet is 4.5 billion years old.
2. Global warming followed each of several ice ages starting in the Precambrian time more than 600 million years ago.
3. 1.75 million years ago, ice covered all of Europe and most of North America.
4. 18,000 years ago, winter temperatures were 27 to 36 degrees cooler. Ice Age Florida was like Quebec.
5. As the India tectonic plate pressures the Eurasian plate, Mount Everest is rising at 3 cm. a year.
6. Earth tilts 23.5 degrees on its axis, causing our seasonal weather variations.
7. More than 11 million species live on the planet.
8. Humans have named about 1.7 million.
9. Oceans cover 70% of Earth’s surface.
10. Forests harbor 80% of Earth’s biodiversity.
11. The last decade had the highest average temperatures on record.
12. Global temperatures may rise as much as 10.4 degrees by 2100.
13. More than 70 million barrels of crude oil are produced a day.
14. The 806 million cars and light trucks in the world burn 260 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel a year.
16. Every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of plastic trash.
17. Extreme weather may force relocation of 150 million to 200 million people by 2050.
18. Known species extinctions since 1500: 869.
19. Known species at risk for extinction today: 18,351.
20. Sea levels are predicted to be 3 feet higher in 2100.
21. Ocean temperatures have risen 1.4 degrees since 1970.
22. One-third of the oceans’ rise is because of higher ocean temperature.
23. In the last 8,000 years Earth has lost 11,000 square miles of forest.
24. Renewable energy provides 8% of total U.S. energy. Other sources: petroleum (37%), natural gas (25%), coal (21%), nuclear (9%).
25. Sources of greenhouse gases: electric power (35%), transportation (27%), industry (20%), agriculture (7%), commercial (6%), residential (5%).