Facts about the state of the world

The list of developments with disastrous effects to the planet is long and growing daily. The facts listed here, published by reputable scientific sources, are not meant to be exhaustive and are incomplete even in terms of the ‘most significant changes’ occurring; but they have been selected to give a first impression of what is going on.

Website GA-E Menüpunkt Daten und Fakten

A few general  information sources:

Weather, Extremes and Atmosphere – The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact ResearchClimate Change 2023 – Synthesis Report -IPPC

Every day the acidification of the oceans increases

The effect is a chain reaction of chemical and biological changes that cause – among others –  dangerous harm for all ocean dwellers that build calcareous shells, such as molluscs and sea angels. This is because they then have to expend more energy to build and maintain their calcareous shells. Consequently their shells get thinner and possibly disintegrate, thus offering less protection against predators.

Ocean Acidification
Ocean acidification, explained
Knowledge at a Glance: Facts on Ocean Acidification

Around 30,000 hectares of forest are destroyed every day

Deforestation promotes climate change, which in turn leads to forest dieback – a devastating dynamic that contributes massively to climate change and species extinction

Why deforestation matters
Forest Pulse: The Latest on the World’s Forests
Global deforestation pledge will be missed without urgent action, say researchers
10 Deforestation Facts You Should Know About

Approximately 30,000 tons of plastic waste are dumped in the oceans every day

This has serious implications for marine life – and, through food chains, as yet unassessable impacts on terrestrial life as well.
Plastic particles are eaten with every third fish consumed.
The “Pacific garbage vortex” alone is now 1.6 million square kilometers in size – i.e. five times the size of Germany. Also interesting: only 9% of the plastic waste currently produced is recycled, 12% is incinerated and the rest ends up in landfills or in the sea – the latter to such an extent that 500 dead zones have already been created in the world’s oceans and every 3rd fish consumed contains plastic.

Problems Plastic Pollution Creates for Wildlife in the Ocean
Fact Sheet: Plastics in the Ocean
Top 25 recycling facts and statistics for 2022

Every day, an estimated 100 to 250 species disappear

Although it is difficult to come to terms with the extinction of species with figures – serious studies usually assume 50,000 to 100,000 per year, with a strong upward trend.
If this continues, one million animal species are at risk of extinction within the next decade – the largest exodus since the end of the dinosaur age and with devastating consequences for life as a whole on the planet.

Percent of species in critical risk of extinction
Half of migratory animal species are in decline – many face extinction
What we lose when animals go extinct
Endangered Species

The desert is growing every day

Currently by 192 km² – that is by 70,000 km² per year, which corresponds to the area of Ireland.

Defining Desertification
Desertification facts and information

Gigantic areas are sealed every day

In Germany alone, a total of 18509 km² of soil was sealed by 2018 – 5,100 % of the total country area. In Europe this was topped only by Netherlands, Belgium and Malta, the latter with 20 % of the country area.  between 1992 and 2020. That is an average of 170 km² per year or 47 ha per day. Although appropriate measures have led to a trend towards a reduction in sealing, the fact remains that enormous areas of land continue to be taken away from animal and plant life, water storage and filtration, and agricultural use on a daily basis.
Restoring fertile soil, such as for food production, is much more costly in terms of time and effort than previously thought, because fertile soils are the result of long physical, chemical, and biological processes.
By the way, only 12 percent of the earth’s surface is arable.

Soil sealing and ecosystem impacts
Soil Sealing and the Complex Bundle of Influential Factors

Genetic engineering is gaining ground

According to one estimate, GE crops were already grown on nearly 13% of the world’s arable land in 2019.
GE crops are a major contributor to the growing use of weed killers, which in turn contribute significantly to species reduction in flora and fauna

Impacts of genetically engineered crops
Herbicide tolerance and GM Crops

In 2024, there are 412 nuclear reactors in operation in 32 countries worldwide

Despite the fact that the frequency of natural disasters such as storms, hurricanes and tsunamis is increasing due to climate change, 179 reactors are located about one kilometer or less from the sea, including new construction projects in France, Japan, China, Finland, Turkey and Brazil.
Each reactor produces 20 to 30 tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste per year.
That is currently about 11,000 tons per year or 30 tons per day. And this without there being even a single final repository yet, let alone one that promises safety.

The 7 reasons why nuclear energy is not the answer to solve climate change
Former Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair argues nuclear power isn’t a climate solution

Annual rise in temperatures and sea level

… – but not linearly. Therefore, precise data are not possible. However, cautious and preliminary estimates suggest that by 2100, temperatures will rise by 1.8 to 4 degrees and sea levels by up to two meters. The melting of the poles and the glaciers is proceeding much faster than initially assumed, with a self-reinforcing effect and therefore increasing speed.

Sea levels are rising at an extraordinary pace. Here’s what to know.
Climate Change: Global Sea Level
Sea Level Change/NASA

The wealth of the richest is multiplying at an almost explosive rate

According to Oxfam’s 2023 study, “both the wealth of billionaires* and the speed at which they are increasing their wealth in the Corona pandemic [are] unprecedented in human history. Since March 2020, the wealth of the current 2,755 billionaires has increased by five trillion US dollars, from 8.6 to 13.8 trillion. They have thus increased their wealth more during the pandemic than in the entire previous fourteen years – fourteen years that themselves already resembled a gold rush for the super-rich.”

165 million people fell into poverty between 2020 to 2023
Global Wealth Has Grown, But at the Expense of Future Prosperity: World Bank

The latest Oxfam study, published in January 2024, found that the five richest men on the planet have more than doubled their wealth since 2020, equating to an hourly gain of 14 million US dollars. In the same period – how could it be otherwise! – 4.77 billion people have become poorer.
Accordingly, the Global Hunger Index 2023 records that “since 2015 … the hunger situation in 14 countries with moderate, severe or very severe hunger scores (has) not improved significantly. In a further 18 countries in these categories, the situation has even worsened. Too many people around the world are still suffering from hunger. In 43 countries, the situation remains serious or very serious. Almost three quarters of a billion people are denied their right to adequate food.”
The Global Report on Food Crises 2023 states that, according to the available data (not all countries cooperated), more than a quarter of a billion people were at risk of starvation in 2022.

At the same time – how could it be otherwise! – the number of those forced to live below the World Bank-defined poverty line of $5.50 per day has increased by 163 million people! In total, 3.36 billion people are currently living below the poverty line – this corresponds to almost half of humanity. Of these 3.36 billion people 700 million live in extreme poverty, which means they are surviving on less than $1.90 a day.

According to the Oxfam study, however, corporations have ” amassed insane profits in 2023. 148 of the world’s largest corporations raked in a total of 1.8 trillion US dollars in profits in the twelve months to June 2023. This represents a 52.5 percent increase on average net profits for the period 2018-2021. Their excess profits, defined as profits exceeding the 2018-21 average by more than 20 percent, rose to almost 700 billion US dollars.”
Furthermore, according to the study, share ownership “primarily benefits the world’s richest people. The world’s richest one percent own 43% of total financial assets. In Germany, the richest one percent own 41.1 percent of total financial assets.”

Inequality Inc. (Oxfam)

More people on the run than ever before

According to a report by UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR’s partner), 89.3 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations.

Forced Displacement in 2022