- Human activity is killing us all concludes
a Cornell University study of population trends, climate change, increasing
pollution and emerging diseases. LIFE ON EARTH IS KILLING LIFE ON EARTH!
- An estimated 40 percent of deaths around
the world can now be attributed to various environmental factors, especially
organic and chemical pollutants, according to an article published in the
October issue of the journal BioScience.
- "More and more of us are living
in crowded urban ecosystems that are ideal for the resurgence of old diseases
and the development of new diseases," said David Pimentel, professor
of ecology and agricultural sciences at Cornell and lead author of the
report, titled "Ecology of Increasing Disease: Population Growth and
- "We humans are further stressed
-- and disease prevalence is worsened -- by widespread malnutrition and
the unprecedented increase in air, water and soil pollutants," he
- Global climate change will make matters
even worse for humans and "better" for disease, the Cornell study
predicts. Increased heat favors most human diseases, as well as the diseases
and pests of food crops, and the coming century will see masses of weakened
"environmental refugees" fleeing their home areas in a desperate
search for food, the researchers said.
- The disease-ecology analysis was performed
by a team of 11 graduate student researchers who gathered data from a variety
of sources, such as the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as previous studies at Cornell
and other universities. Their findings span a planet made less habitable
by human habitation:
- -- Each year, air pollutants adversely
affect the health of 4 to 5 billion people worldwide. An expanding world
population is burning more fossil fuels, emitting more industrial chemicals
and driving more automobiles. The number of automobiles is increasing
three times faster than the rate of population growth.
- -- The snail-borne disease schistosomiasis
causes an estimated 1 million deaths annually and is expanding its range
as human activities provide more suitable habitats in contaminated fresh
water. Following construction in 1968 of Egypt's Aswan High Dam and associated
irrigation systems, prevalence of the Schistosoma mansoni organism in humans
in the region increased from five percent to 77 percent.
- -- Of the 80,000 pesticides and other
chemicals in use today, 10 percent are recognized as carcinogens. Cancer-related
deaths in the United States increased from 331,000 in 1970 to 521,000 in
1992, with as estimated 30,000 deaths attributed to chemical exposure.
- -- Smoke from indoor cooking fires that
burn fuelwood and dung is estimated to cause the death of 4 million children
each year worldwide.
- -- Lack of sanitary conditions contributes
each year to approximately 2 billion diarrhea infections and 4 million
deaths, mostly among infants and young children in developing countries.
In the United States, inadequate sanitation accounts for 940,000 diarrhea
infections and about 900 deaths each year.
- -- Dengue fever, spread by mosquitoes
that breed in old tires and other water-holding junk in crowded urban environments,
infects an additional 30 million to 60 million people each year.
- -- Less than one percent of 500 Chinese
cities have clean air. Respiratory disease is the leading cause of death
- -- In China, where tobacco smoking increased
from approximately 360 to nearly 1,800 cigarettes per person per year,
males smoke 98 percent of the cigarettes. However, mortality due to lung
cancer is approximately equal in males and females.
- -- Although the use of lead in U.S. gasoline
declined since 1985, other sources inject about 2 billion kilograms of
lead into the atmosphere in this country each year. An estimated 1.7 million
children in the United States have unacceptably high levels of lead in
- -- Production of another gasoline component,
the carcinogen benzene that causes leukemia even at low dosages, rose from
0.5 billion kilograms in the United States in 1950 to current levels of
about 7.5 kilograms per year.
- -- The global use of agricultural pesticides
rose from about 50 million kilograms a year in 1945 to current application
rates of approximately 2.5 billion kilograms per year. Most modern pesticides
are more than 10 times as toxic to living organisms than those used in
the 1950s. The only chance for relief, the researchers wrote in the BioScience
report, comes from "comprehensive, fair population-control policies
combined with effective environmental management programs. Without international
cooperative efforts," they predicted, "disease prevalence will
continue its rapid rise throughout the world and will diminish the quality
of life for all humans."
- For more information, contact Roger Segelken,
Cornell, (607)255-9736, email: email@example.com