According to recent studies, toxic pollution affects over 200 million people worldwide, with the number increasing day by day. We all know things are getting worse. The climate crisis is becoming an active reality to more and more people on what seems like a daily basis. As we produce more, we waste more, and as the waste piles up and countries don’t know what to do with it.
We’ve compiled some land pollution facts that bring the reality home. It doesn’t always make for a comfortable read, but then, these are uncomfortable times. Our goal is to show you the facts and to help you make better more sustainable decisions for your future.
How things currently stand
As the recent IPCC report showed, it’s now recognized as undeniable that climate change is due to humans. Much of what we are seeing regarding climate change is unprecedented in thousands, and potentially hundreds of thousands of years.
And many changes that are now in motion, such as the rising sea levels, could take as long to reverse. It’s pretty sobering reading, hopefully, sobering enough that governments and individuals like me and you can do more with what we have.
There is no denying that land pollution has reached an extreme level.
Most of the contamination and pollution on the Earth’s land surface is a direct result of household garbage and industrial waste.
In fact, most people would be surprised and shocked at the sheer amount of garbage that has been accumulated on land!
And the problem is that land pollution is one of the most ignored environmental issues and one of the issues that most people know nothing about.
Land pollution causes a huge imbalance in nature, exposing the land and the ecosystem to harmful chemicals, which in turn lessen the quality of the soil. Not to mention that it takes up a lot of space.
We don’t want to sound alarming, but land pollution really is a massive problem, so much so that sometimes it can be hard to picture just how bad it is.
So to help you put it all into perspective a little bit, we’ve compiled 15 of the most significant facts about land pollution that will absolutely blow your mind.
16 Land Pollution facts that should concern us all
1. Almost all solid waste is industrial waste
The University of Utah has provided research results that show that industries use around 4 million pounds of materials that are used to produce the products that an average American family needs for one year. That’s a lot of materials!
2. Hazardous waste volumes are increasing in Australia
In Australia, hazardous waste volumes are increasing year by year, at a dangerous and alarming speed. In 2010 and 2011 the waste was at 4.6 million tonnes, which increased to 5.7 million tonnes in 2013 and 2014.
For the years 2033 and 2034, this is expected to have grown to around 9.9 million tonnes, which is shocking. At this rate, Australia will be an island made up completely of waste!
3. Lithium-ion batteries are one of the most serious hazards
Lithium-ion batteries are used worldwide for a large variety of items and uses and are pretty much the default for most things.
The production of these batteries has been increasing every year at a rate of about 20 percent.
By the year 2036, the waste from these batteries is expected to reach around 136,000 tonnes! Not only is this an insane amount, they are also a massive fire and explosion risk.
4. The UK is producing more and more waste every year
According to the Local Government Association, the UL disposes of more than 27 million tonnes of garbage every single year, which goes straight to their landfills. But what happens when these get full?
5. America and China are the biggest polluters
Americans make up 5% of the world’s population, but they produce 30% of global waste. China isn’t far behind.
According to the United Nations, the US sends about 53% of its 222 million tonnes of solid waste to landfills, while China sends 43% of its 148 million tonnes of solid waste to landfills.
6. E-waste is increasing dangerously
Electronic waste is increasing year by year, as more and more electronic appliances are used and discarded. Nowadays, e-waste makes up around 2% of the municipal solid waste within the US.
And this is just the waste side of it. The materials that are harvested from the Earth, causing more damage is also at an all-time high. We need more sustainable options, tech that can be repaired and reused. In so many ways we are at the mercy of these companies and their products as so much of our lives are built around them.
Someone must hold them to account! And in the meantime, we do what we can do.
7. The planet loses 24 billion tonnes of topsoil to land pollution every year
An ecology professor from Cornell University conducted a study in 1995 which revealed that 30% of arable land was lost due to erosion in the previous 40 years.
And also, 2.5cm of topsoil takes about 200 to 1000 years to form.
With the amount of erosion that solid waste causes, the planet is losing topsoil of its land year by year, at an alarming rate that is not sustainable.
8. 80% of agriculture land is affected by soil erosion
Non-sustainable agricultural practices lead to most soil erosion, more than wind and water. This in turn reduces the amount of land that could be used for agriculture, so we’re left with less and less space every year!
Increases in biodiverse practices can help change this, as can future farming methods, and growing at home. We can all play our part in this.
9. 70% of the world’s dryland is being degraded
According to the UN, about 3.6 thousand million hectares of dryland have already been degraded because of land pollution. The USA has lost many miles of forest cover from this, and it keeps increasing.
10. Landfills cause fires
The high amounts of gas emissions produced by landfills generate heat, which sometimes leads to fires. This not only causes huge amounts of damage to the local area, but it also increases air pollution.
11. Almost all of Chinese soil is contaminated
82.8% of the soil in China is contaminated with copper, lead, mercury, arsenic, and more. Just let that sink in. This means this soil is essentially unusable, and toxic.
12. Americans generate enough daily trash to fill 63,000 garbage trucks
Yup, 63,000 garbage trucks a day. That’s a lot, isn’t it? And the thing is, over 80% of this trash is sent to landfills, and no, this isn’t recycled.
The frustrating part is that most of it could be recycled, but it just isn’t.
14. Solid waste is estimated to reach 3.40 billion tonnes by 2050
With the current rate at which solid waste is increasing year on year, it is expected to reach an insane 3.40 billion tonnes by 2050. That’s a 70% increase, and shows the rapid rate that we are still polluting, despite the extreme warnings. It’s a scary amount.
Plastic is considered to be a major part of the solid waste, and that is the plastic waste on land, much of it from the single-use plastics that are still seemingly everywhere. Roughly 90% of ocean pollution is from plastic. Think about that for a minute!
15. Land pollution is a health hazard
Land pollution doesn’t just take up space and contaminates the Earth, it also causes plenty of health hazards to humans. Skin problems, respiratory problems, birth defects, and much more.
In fact, a study published by Cornell University stated that 40% of deaths are caused by pollution, one way or another.
16. Land pollution affects drinking water
Around half of the world’s population does not have access to safe and clean drinking water.
Land pollution is partly to blame, and as it contaminates many sources of water, it increases water-based diseases which are believed to cause around 10 million deaths every single year.
What can you do to reduce land pollution?
If you’ve read through all these facts and you’re now feeling pretty hopeless and down, we completely understand.
The image isn’t good, and the odds are pretty much against us at this point. It shows us how much harm humans are causing to the planet, and in consequence, to ourselves.
Most land pollution cannot be solved by individuals. It’s the big industrial companies and governments that have to change their ways and take a stand for a better future.
Nevertheless, you can also play your own little part by making small changes in your day to day to live in a more environmentally friendly manner.