Raise awareness of environmental health issues in order to better protect our children and future generations.

EMF Studies

04 June 2015

World Environment Day



5 June is World Environment Day, a time to reflect on our habits of consumption and taking more responsibility to ensure a sustainable planet and healthy future.

The theme this year is “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.” Living within planetary boundaries is the most promising strategy for ensuring a healthy future. Human prosperity need not cost the earth. Living sustainably is about doing more and better with less. It is about knowing that rising rates of natural resource use and the environmental impacts that occur are not a necessary by-product of economic growth.

Many of the Earth’s ecosystems are nearing critical tipping points of depletion or irreversible change, pushed by high population growth and economic development. By 2050, if current consumption and production patterns remain the same and with a rising population expected to reach 9.6 billion, we will need three planets to sustain our ways of living and consumption.



Key facts
Water

- Population growth and expanded water use have outweighed the effect of water saving technology and behavior.
- Less than 3 per cent of the world’s water is fresh (drinkable), of which 2.5 per cent is frozen in the Antarctica, Arctic and glaciers. Humanity must therefore rely on 0.5 per cent for all of man’s ecosystem’s and fresh water needs.
- Man is polluting water faster than nature can recycle and purify water in rivers and lakes.
- More than 1 billion people still do not have access to fresh water.
- Excessive use of water contributes to the global water stress.
- Water is free from nature but the infrastructure needed to deliver it is expensive.

Energy

Despite technological advances that have promoted energy efficiency gains, energy use in OECD countries will continue to grow another 35% by 2020. Commercial and residential energy use is the second most rapidly growing area of global energy use after transport.

In 2002 the motor vehicle stock in OECD countries was 550 million vehicles (75% of which were personal cars). A 32% increase in vehicle ownership is expected by 2020. At the same time, motor vehicle kilometres are projected to increase by 40% and global air travel is projected to triple in the same period.

- We can shift our consumption patterns towards goods and services with lower energy and material intensity without compromising quality of life.
- Households consume 29% of global energy and consequently contribute to 21% of resultant CO2 emissions.The cost of renewable energy is increasingly competitive with that derived from fossil fuels. One-fifth of the world’s final energy consumption in 2013 was from renewables.
- Globally, energy consumption grew most quickly in the transport and service sectors, driven by rising passenger travel and freight transport, and a rapid expansion in the service economy.

Food

While substantial environmental impacts from food occur in the production phase (agriculture, food processing), households influence these impacts through their dietary choices and habits. This consequently affects the environment through food-related energy consumption and waste generation.

- 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year while almost 1 billion people go undernourished and another 1 billion hungry.

- Overconsumption of food is detrimental to our health and the environment.
  - 1.5 billion people globally are overweight or obese.
  - Land degradation, declining soil fertility, unsustainable water use, overfishing and marine environment degradation are all lessening the ability of the natural resource base to supply food.
  - The food sector accounts for around 30% of the world’s total energy consumption and accounts for around 22% of total Greenhouse Gas emissions.

- Increased consumption adversely affects food security.
  - Increase in food prices.
  - Upsurge in production methods that use more resource-intensive food products.
  - Resource-intensive foods deplete the agro-ecological resource base, affecting its ability to produce plentiful food.

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