issue 230 - April 1992
THE EARTH DEVOURED
Who is polluting the world and consuming its resources? The New Internationalist tots up the environmental bill per head, North and South.
LIVE THREE QUARTERS OF THE WORLD'S PEOPLE WHO CONSUME JUST ONE SIXTH OF THE WORLD'S RESOURCES WITH AVERAGE INCOMES 18 TIMES LOWER THAN THOSE IN THE NORTH.
Australians and Bangladeshis both live in relatively warm climates, but Australians get through one hundred times more energy than Bangladeshis.
Western industrialized countries use roughly half the world's energy, while the Third World uses just one sixth.
From diapers to doors, from wrapping to writing paper, the average Canadian gets through 100 times more trees than the average Indian - and recycles less.
LIVE ONE QUARTER OF THE WORLD'S PEOPLE WHO PUMP OUT FOUR FIFTHS OF THE WORLD'S GREENHOUSE GASES WITH FACTORIES, CARS, AIR CONDITIONERS AND AEROSOL SPRAYS THAT ALSO RELEASE ALMOST 90 PER CENT OF THE CFC GASES THAT DESTROY THE OZONE LAYER.
The average US citizen produces 170 times more pollution from burning fossil fuels like oil and coal (which causes 'global warming') than the average citizen of Zaire.
There are three rungs on the ladder of the world's food consumption: at the bottom, 630 million people do not have enough to eat; in the middle, 3.4 billion grain eaters get most of their protein from plants; at the top, 1.25 billion meat eaters consume three times as much animal fat per person as the remaining four billion - and use 40 per cent of the world's grain to fatten the livestock they eat.
Between 1983 and 1989 a net total of $241 billion was transferred from South to North, mostly in the form of repayments on debts.
Trade protectionism in the North costs the South an estimated $100 billion a year in lost revenue from agricultural products and a further $50 billion a year for textiles.2
About 125,000 tons of toxic waste are sent to the Third World from Europe each year, and this is likely to increase with attempts to clean up Eastern Europe.5
1 Environment and Development: Towards a Common Strategy for the South in the UNCED Negotiations and Beyond, South Centre - the Follow-up Office of the South Commission, Geneva, 1991.
2 World Resources 1990-91, World Resources Institute.
3 State of the World 1990, Worldwatch Institute.
4 Human Development Report 1991, UNDP.
5 'Toxic waste for a small planet' by David Weir in Consumer Lifelines, IOCU, April 1989.
6 State of the World 1991, Worldwatch Institute.
7 US Department of Agriculture, 1989 figures.
8 Australian Board of Statistics 1989 figures.
9 New Zealand Meat Board 1989 figures.
10 Statistics Canada 1989 figures.
11 UK Meat Livestock Commission 1990 figures.