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close this bookWIT's World Ecology Report - Vol. 16, No. 1, Spring (WIT; 2004; 16 pages)
View the documentSpecial Focus: A Pandemic That Knows No Borders
View the documentHealth and Environment: Health and the UN's Millennium Development Goals
View the documentFood for Thought: International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN)
View the documentChornobyl Update: Chornobyl Accident: Estimation of the Thyroid Doses
View the documentDid You Know?
View the documentA "Did You Know" Special Report: Arab Human Development Report 2003
View the documentGood News
View the documentVoices
View the documentPoint of View: One Small School, One Bright Hope
View the documentWorld Information Transfer: Mission Statement

Did You Know?

Ocean Pollution

Approximately 80% of ocean pollution originates from land-based activities. Pollutants include persistent organic pollutants (POPs), heavy metals, radioactive substances, nutrients, oils, and litter.

Source: UNEP website:

Mercury in Cars

Although in 1995 the Big Three US automakers committed to phase out mercury, which causes brain, lung and kidney damage in children, they failed to do so and continued using mercury in light switches, brake switches and mercury vapor headlights.

Source: Environment Magazine

Following a court decision, the automakers are required to pay to remove mercury that otherwise would be released into the environment from junked cars.

Source: Environmental Defense, Vol. 34, No. 6 2003

Statistics on Youth

Nearly half of the world's 6.3 billion people are under 25 years of age.

1.2 billion people, or one person in five, are adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19. 87% of these adolescents live in developing countries.

Approximately 238 million youth, or roughly one person in four, live in extreme poverty.

153 million young people between the ages of 15 and 24 are illiterate, of which 62% are female. Approximately 5 million girls ages 15 to 19 or 25% of the total female population in this age group, will undergo unsafe abortions.

Source: State of the World's Population 2003, UNFPA,

Source: Solutions, Environmental Defense

Azerbaijan Testing Survey

A 2002 survey in Azerbaijan measuring literacy and numeric achievement found that (1) all of the boys tested passed the literacy tests, while only 52% of the girls passed; (2) all boys passed numeric tests, while 52% of girls passed.

Source: State of the World's Children, 2004, UNICEF,

Health and Climate Change

According to the World Health Organization, climate change is responsible for 2.4% of all cases of diarrhea worldwide and for 2 % of all cases of malaria. An estimated 150,000 deaths were caused in the 2000 due to climate change.

Source: WHO, 11 December 2003, Geneva

Afghanistan at a Glance

Population: ______________________________


Area: __________________________________

652,000 sq km

No. of telephone mainlines per 1,000 people: ___


No. of cellular subscribers per 1,000 people: ____


Daily newspapers per 1,000 people: __________


Radios per 1,000 people: ___________________


Television sets per 1,000 people: ____________



Sources: Human Development Report 2003, UNDP Global ICT for Development Factbook, World Bank ICT at a Glance Tables

Pesticides and Prostate Cancer

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute have released a study showing that farmers using certain pesticides have a 14% greater risk of developing prostate cancer. One particular pesticide, methyl bromide, was particularly correlated with increased risk.

Source: American Journal of Epidemiology

Children at Risk

The World Health Organization and the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) issued a study warning that children are most at risk of developing skin cancers as a result of the long-term decline in the earth's protective ozone layer. UNEP has initiated the Intersun Project, a program that is distributing sun education packages to schools in nations particularly affected by ozone depletion.

Source: United Nations Environment Program

Deforestation in Indonesia

Every two years, Indonesia loses about 15,500 square miles of forest, an area roughly the size of Switzerland, to rapacious logging.

Source: United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia-Pacific (UNESCAP)

Fishing to Famine

The world's growing population and related over fishing will mean around one billion people in developing countries will face shortages of fish, their most important source of protein, within 20 years.

Source: WorldFish Center

Heat and Species Extinction

Global warming over the next half-century could put more than a million species of plants and animals on the road to extinction, according to an international study released by researchers at England's University of Leeds. The study forecasts that more than one-third of 1,103 native species studied in six regions of the world could vanish by 2050 as climate change turns plains into deserts or alters forests.

Source: NATURE

Water, Water and Not a Drop to Drink

Only one one-hundredth of one percent of the earth's water is readily accessible for human use. The World Resources Institute (WRI) estimates that 2.3 billion people currently live in "water-stressed areas." Hydrologists cite much of Africa, northern China, pockets of India, Mexico, the Middle East, and parts of western North America as regions facing severe water shortages. Some of the world's largest cities, including Mexico City, Bangkok, and Jakarta, have severely over-pumped their groundwater aquifers.

As world population continues to increase, water scarcity will affect two out of every three people by 2025, according to UN estimates. In the 20th century, demand for fresh water grew twice as fast as population. This imbalance is largely due to industrial agriculture, but is also a product of unequal development in standards of living versus sound water management.

Additionally, scientists at Harvard University point out that global warming could significantly harm water availability. A warmer atmosphere could lead to higher rates of evaporation, causing droughts and more severe weather. Faster runoff rates and slower infiltration of groundwater could follow. Warmer water may also promote detrimental algal and microbial blooms, which may lead to more water-borne illnesses. And ironically, as the climate heats up, people will want to use more water for drinking, bathing, and watering plants.

Source: E/The Environment

World Bank/WHO: LDCs LAG vs. Health Goals

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank today warned that many developing countries will not be able to reach health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) unless clear actions are taken, starting now and with a concerted effort over the next 12 years. More worryingly still, the organizations noted that the health Goals are particularly difficult to meet and that progress towards them is slower than towards some other MDGs.

The World Bank estimates that progress against child mortality has so far been so slow that no sub-Saharan country in Africa is on target to reach that MDG. At the current pace in the developing world as a whole, only 16% of countries (representing 19% of the developing world's population) are on track for this goal. Similarly, only 17% of developing countries are likely to meet the maternal mortality MDG; here, Latin America and the Caribbean are faring worst, with just 4.2% of countries on track to meet the target. In addition, only 40% of developing countries are on track to reach the malnutrition MDG.

Source: WHO Press Release, January 8, 2004


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