Adam Lowe

Adam I. Lowe is a freelance environmental researcher based in Washington, D.C.

Wet's the Matter?

1.1 billion — the number of people worldwide who lack an adequate and safe supply of water for their daily needs, approximately one in five 5 million — the number of people, mostly children, who die each year from illnesses caused by poor-quality water supplies 5 — the minimum number of gallons of water needed to meet a person’s daily needs, according to the World Health Organization 4.5 — the average number of gallons of water consumed daily per person in Haiti in 1995 24 million — the number of people in Bangladesh estimated to be drinking water from arsenic-tainted …

Bean Counting

3,300 — number of cups of coffee that are consumed each second worldwide 6.3 million — metric tons of coffee produced in the world in the 1999-2000 crop year 25 million — number of farmers who grow coffee worldwide, the majority on small-scale farms 600-800 AD — the era in which an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi reportedly discovered coffee after observing that his goats become very excited upon eating coffee berries 60 — percentage of Ethiopia’s export earnings derived from coffee sales in 1995 40 — percentage of coffee-growing lands in Colombia, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean that …

Fool's Gold

125,000 metric tons — estimated amount of gold mined worldwide since historical times 2,500 metric tons — amount of gold mined worldwide in 1998 360 cubic feet — amount of waste rock removed in order to produce enough gold to make an average pair of gold wedding bands 31 — number of fatalities in gold mines in the U.S. from 1994 to 1998, an average of 1 death per 54.2 metric tons of gold 1,634 — number of fatalities in gold mines in South Africa from 1994 to 1998, an average of 1 death per 1.6 metric tons of gold …

Gas 'n' Uh-oh

40 percent — petroleum’s share of global energy consumed in 1998 $246 — amount spent by the author on gasoline to drive a 1987 Honda Accord 5,700 miles on a cross-country road trip from Feb. 15 to March 15, 2000 $433 — estimated amount the author would have spent if he had driven a new Ford Explorer 4WD, the most popular sports utility vehicle in the U.S. $725 — the cost of an equivalent amount of gas in 1981, adjusted for inflation to today’s dollars 1.7 billion — the number of urban residents in developing nations who are in danger …

Mercury Falling

1,931 advisories have been issued by state and local governments telling the public to limit consumption of fish caught in local water bodies due to mercury contamination 1 mercury-containing home fever thermometer can contaminate a 20-acre lake with enough mercury to provoke a fish consumption warning $3 – $5 is the extra cost of purchasing a mercury-free digital fever thermometer instead of a mercury-containing one 4,581 metric tons of mercury are stockpiled by the federal government, but have been declared surplus to the nation’s needs 2.8 billion home fever thermometers could be filled with the government’s surplus mercury 2,236 metric …

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