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Planet Earth: The Executive Summary

A few years ago a group of educators from BC, Canada set out to try to get an objective look at the state of the world. We wanted The Big Picture, not just this or that issue, but the most essential points of every important issue. The Executive Summary of the state of the planet.

This web site is the result of that search. The site (and the accompanying wall chart) are here to show you - in as clear, objective, and accessible a format as possible - the condition of the world -- both its natural and human elements.

Use this site to view the data, check out the wall chart, order a copy, or test your knowledge with the Earth Quiz. We welcome your feedback! Please take a moment to tell us what you think of the site using our contact form or the feedback boxes located on the left side of each topic page. Also, we now have a fantastic monthly newsletter that profiles one urgently important topic each month. Sign up here
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  In each topic:
  • Global Ecology
    Climate change, pollution, and deforestation are creating never before seen changes in Earth's living systems -- including a species extinction rate that is the highest in the planet's history. Learn about these changes, what's causing them, and what's likely to happen in the future.

  • Energy Supply
    Modern civilization is dependent upon cheap and reliable fossil fuel energy. Learn where energy resources are located around the world, who uses them, how long they are likely to last, and which regions consume the most energy (and emit the most C02) per person.

  • Fresh Water
    Only 2.5% of the world's water is fresh, and around 70% of fresh water is frozen in ice and permafrost. Find out what's happening to the remaining 0.75% of the world's water on which terrestrial life depends.

  • Development and Debt
  • How onerous are the debt burdens of poorer countries? Is loan based development effective? Are multilateral financial institutions (IMF and World Bank) helping or hindering sustainable development? Are poor countries catching up to rich ones? A brief series of graphs helps answer these questions.

  • Weapons
  • Charts and text on weapons spending, military manpower, nuclear arsenals, Depleted Uranium, and national arms exports (which countries produce most of the world's weapons).

  • Human Conditions
    Clear, factual information on the state of the world's people -- population, health, poverty, access to water and food, life expectancy, and the condition of cultural diversity worldwide.

  • Fishing and Aquaculture
    Learn where the world's fish stocks are concentrated, which regions consume the most wild and farmed fish, how fish is used, what countries claim as Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), and how heavily the world's fish stocks are being exploited.

  • Food and Soil
    Farming techniques have changed dramatically in the past 100 years as increasing population and consumption put pressure on the world's food supply. Learn how these changes have effected the planet's soil, how food is supply is related to fossil fuels, and more.

  • Toxic Pollution
    Learn about the history of toxic chemicals (including PCBs, DDT, Dioxin, PBDE, Lead, and Mercury), contamination levels, safety testing, and correlations between lead contamination levels and income in the United States.

  • Wealth
  • Over the past decades, wealth has become more concentrated worldwide, and the gap between rich and poor has widened. This page illustrates the distribution of wealth within countries, between countries, and between countries and large corporations.

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Take the Earth Quiz!

How much do you know about the state of the world?

In the past 40 years, how much of the world's cropland has been abandoned because of soil erosion and degradation?

5%(250 million hectares)
10%(500 million hectares)
30%(1.5 billion hectares)