Quartermaster’s Reports

The Quartermaster supervises, stores, and distributes supplies and provisions. The Quartermaster is also the one responsible for making sure equipment, materials, and systems are available and functioning. The purpose of the Quartermaster’s Report is to research and publish the data that describes the status of the ship, in this case “This Spaceship Earth.” The reason for taking a planetary perspective is to realign our individual viewpoints and assumptions about resource quantity, quality and demand with that of TSE’s current operational capability, capacity and actual status. This is not about what is preferred or desired, but what is. Therefore, in the world of the Quartermaster, if a 16 oz. glass has eight ounces of liquid, the glass is neither half full nor half empty – it simply has eight ounces of liquid.



Quartermaster’s Report

Because climate is such a dynamic, complex and interconnected system, we update the statistics on this page frequently. Our climate is rapidly changing, and the tools and technologies available to monitor and measure the hundreds of different components driving those changes are growing ever more sophisticated and ubiquitous. 


Crew Onboard


Human population reached 8 billion people on 15 November 2022


Human population: 8,036,357,257 (at 13:05 ET, 1 June 2023 )

In 2015  the net population growth rate was 2.5 people per second.

In 2023 the net population growth has slowed to 2 people per second.

In 2015 the world population was 7,426,597,537.

So, the net population change has been 609,759,720 individuals.


To help put that number in perspective, the population increase since 2015 has been more than the current population of the Tokyo, Delhi, Shanghai, Dhaka, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Cairo, Beijing, Mumbai, Osaka, Chongqing, Karachi, Kinshasa, Lagos, Istanbul, Buenos Aires, Kolkata, Manila, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Lahore, Rio de Janeiro, Bangalore, Shenzhen, Moscow, Chennai, Bogota, Jakarta, Paris, Lima, Bangkok, Hyderabad, Seoul, Nanjing, Chengdu, London, and Nagoya combined; which are the 37 most populous cities in the world.


Currently 56% of the world’s population lives in cities.  To put that into perspective, more people live in cities today than were alive on the planet in 1980.







122 million youth crewmembers

Lacking minimum literacy skills

775 million adult crewmembers

Chronically undernourished

805 million crewmembers


1.3  billion crewmembers


600 million crewmembers 18 and older

Overweight or obese

  42 million crewmembers age 5 or younger

No access to clean water

783 million crewmembers

Not enough access to clean water

for adequate sanitation

 2.5 billion crewmembers

No access to safe and affordable surgery

 4.8 billion crewmembers


334 million crewmembers

No access to electricity

 1.3 billion crewmembers

Rely on the use of biomass for cooking

 2.7 billion crewmembers



Status of the Life Support System of TSE


Air Quality


  • 99% of the global populations breathes air that exceeds World Health Organization (WHO) air quality limits.
  • In 2015, 1 in 8 global deaths is attributable to air pollution exposure.
  • In 2023, 1 in 5 deaths worldwide was attributable to air pollution.
  • In 2015, Air pollution was considered the largest single environmental health risk and it remains so in 2023.
  • More people die from air pollution exposure than die from breast, lung, a colorectal cancers combined.
  • Air pollution was also linked to low birth weight in babies, miscarriages, pediatric cancer, asthma attacks, and reduced fertility in both males and females.
  • Air pollution is associated with stress, psychological distress, increased risk of dementia, and Alzheimer’s, depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and personality disorder.



Water Availability


  • All the water that will ever be on Earth already exists. Earth does not “make new water,” it recirculates water.
  • The total volume of water of Earth/TSE is estimated at 1.386 billion km³ (333 million cubic miles), with 97.5% being salt water and only 2.5% being fresh water.
  • Of the fresh water, only 0.3% is in liquid form on the surface.
  • Of all the Earth’s water 1.7% is ground water which represents 30.1% of the freshwater supply.
  • With every 1oC (1.8oF) increase in temperature, the atmosphere can hold 7% more water.
  • Water is increasingly in short supply due to growing demands from agriculture, an expanding population, energy production, industry, Global Warming, and Climate Change. 
  • 2 billion people on TSE lack access to safe drinking water (up from 1 billion in 2015).
  • 6 billion people lack adequate sanitation services.
  • 700 million people suffer today from water scarcity.
  • 7 billion find water scarce for at least one month of the year.   
  • Agriculture uses 70% of the world’s accessible freshwater.



Water Quality


  • Annually 3,535,000 people die from water related diseases – 2.2 million of them are children
  • As of 15:17 hrs. on 1 June 2023, there were 5,198,708,354 people did not have access to sewage systems.
  • Unsafe water generates 4 billion cases of diarrhea per year resulting in 2,200,000 deaths per year – mostly in children under the age of 5.
  • Every day, 2 million tons of sewage and other effluents drain into the world’s waters.


We add 800,000,000,000,000 plastic microbeads to the wastewater treatment system everyday in the USA. An estimated 8 trillion of those microbeads are discharged into aquatic environments daily. The remainder of the microbeads are trapped in the solids or sludge of the settling tanks and may re-enter the environment depending upon how the solids and sludge are processed.


Every year, more people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war.



Aquatic and Marine Environments


  • Marine vertebrate populations have declined by 49% between 1970 and 2012.
  • Tropical Reefs have lost more than half their reef-building corals over the last 30 years.
  • Globally, there are 405 dead zones (places with too little oxygen to support marine life) in coastal waters. Collectively, they comprise an area of 95,000 square miles and the number of dead zones increased by 33% between 1995 and 2007.


In 1997, Charles Moore discovered a region of the Pacific Ocean with a large amount of plastic debris. This area is commonly referred to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP).  While the gyre resulting from ocean currents defines the location of the garbage patch it is land-based plastics and marine debris that constitute the make-up of the GPGP.  Plastics do not biodegrade but physically break down into smaller and smaller pieces over an extended period of time.  The slow rate of mechanical breakdown of plastics combined with the high volume of use of plastics results in the growing dimension of the GPGP.  


Subsequent to the discovery of the GPGP, 4 other garbage patches have been found – one in each ocean. In 2013, UNESCO symbolically recognized the Garbage Patch Nation comprised of the 5 areas of concentrated discarded material – one in each major gyre of the North Pacific, the South Pacific, the North Atlantic, the South Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. At the time of recognition, the population of the Garbage Patch Nation consisted of an estimated 36,939 tons of garbage and covered an area of 15, 915,933 square miles. It is estimated that 80% of the population is from land-based sources.



Food Supply


Fish stocks     

  • Overexploited/depleted stocks are at 30% (up from 10% in 1974).
  • Fully exploited fish stocks are at 57% (up from 51% in 1974).
  • Non-fully exploited fish stocks are at 13% (down from 40% in 1974).
  • Populations of the fish family that include tuna, mackerel, and bonito, have fallen by almost 75% since 1970.


Livestock population

  • In 2023 there are 34.4 billion chickens in the world up from 19 billion chickens 2015.
  • In 2022 the pig population was 784 million, goat and sheep populations were each over 1 billion animals, and the cattle/cow population was approximately 940 million.



Land Use


  • Humans have altered 97% of the Earth’s land surface.
  • Only 3% of the world’s ecosystems are biologically intact
  • 71% of the land on the planet is habitable. Of that 50 % is used for agriculture.
  • 77% of the agricultural land is used for livestock and 23% is used for crops.
  • In 2020, 35% of the corn crop in the US went to animal feed, 31% to biofuels, 32% to industrial uses and 2% was for human consumption.
  • 33% of the croplands on TSE are used for livestock feed production.
  • Current loss of arable land is 46,332 sq. miles/yr (12,000,000 hectares/year) due to drought and desertification. This rate is 30-35 times the historical rate.
  • Half of the topsoil on TSE has been lost in the last 150 years.
  • Rate of deforestation: 46,000-58,000 square miles per year (11. – 15. million hectares/yr).





The 2012 estimate for global anthropogenic CO2 emissions was 34,500,000,000 tonnes,

which is the equivalent of launching 273 elephants/sec into the air for an entire year – assuming an average elephant body weight of 4 tonnes.


Since the industrial revolution:

  • Atmospheric CO2 has risen from 277 ppm to 401.52 ppm (31 March 2015). The increase in CO2 has not been linear.
  • The average CO2 level for April 2023 was 422.73 ppm.
  • On 31 May 2023, the CO2 level for that day was 424.65 ppm
  • From 1850 to 1950, CO2 levels rose from 288ppm to 315 ppm, an increase of 27 ppm over 100 years.
  • From 1950 to 2015, CO2 levels have risen from 315 ppm to 401 ppm, an increase of 86ppm in 65 years.
  • In 1950, CO2 emissions were just over 6 billion tonnes per year.
  • In 2015, CO2 emissions are 34.5 billion tonnes per year.
  • In 2022, CO2 releases to the atmosphere were 50 billion tons.



NASA, NOAA Data Show 2016 Warmest Year on Record Globally


Globally – averaged temperatures in 2016 were 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit (0.99 degrees Celsius) warmer than the mid:20th century mean. This makes 2016 the third year in a row to set a new record for global average surface temperatures.



Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said. “It’s unprecedented in 1,000 years. There’s no period that has the trend seen in the 20th century in terms of the inclination (of temperatures).”




Global Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions

17,384,818,472 tons as of 15 June 2017

from fossil-fuel combustion and industrial processes


2017:                  35,295,474,384 tonnes+

2014:                  35,900,000,000 tonnes*

2012:                  34,500,000,000 tonnes (data used for 1st QMR)

+ estimate based on current rate of emissions




Translation Equivalency : global anthropogenic CO2 emissions measured in units of 4 tonne Elephants launched into the air/second /year

2017:                  280 elephants/second based on current emission rates

2014:                  284 elephants/second

2012:                  273 elephants/second


Quartermaster’s Note

In 2015, the available information was in terms of emissions – emissions as defined by the International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) reporting structure. That is to say, the numbers reflected the CO2 emissions that governments were using in their international conversation and reports.  Those ONLY included emissions from fossil fuel use related to energy production and the making of cement.  These did NOT include CO2 emissions from forest fires and land clearing, etc.

Also in 2015, the focus was on CO2, not all the greenhouse gases that lead to Global Warming and Climate Change.


The current atmospheric CO2 levels are the highest they have been in 800,000 years. Homo sapiens have been on TSE for 350,000 years.



Sea level


  • Prior to 1900, sea level in the modern era had been relatively constant.
  • From 1900 to 1990, tide gauge data indicates that sea level was rising at approximately 0.047 inches per year (1.2 mm per year).
  • From 1990 to 2010, sea level rose at a rate of 0.12 inches per year (3mm per year) or 2.5 times faster than it had in the previous 90 years.
  • In 2015, Global Mean Sea Level has risen 4 to 8 inches since 1900.
  • Current projections indicate that Global Mean Sea Level will rise by another 12-18 inches by 2045.



Average Global Temperature


  • The average global temperature in 2014 was 58.42 F (14.68C), which was 1.22 F (0.68 C) above a 1951-1980 average.
  • 2014 marked the 38th straight year in which the global average temperatures were above the 20th-century average.
  • May, June, August, September, October, and December of 2014 were all the warmest months on record, globally.
  • The amount of warming is not uniform across the planet, with the greatest warming occurring between 40N and 70N Latitude.




  • The population of non-human vertebrate species has declined by 52% since 1970.
  • Currently, 25% of all mammal species, 12.5% of all bird species, 33% of all amphibian species, and 70% of all assessed plant species are considered threatened or endangered.





  • 1,300,000,000 tons of the food produced for human consumption is lost and/or wasted every year. That is approximately 1/3 of the food produced.
  • Approximately 1/3 of the worldwide fisheries catch of 93 million tons is wasted — thrown back into the sea dead or dying. This by catch is not included in the above data.
  • Globally, we generate 1,300,000,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste per year.
  • The average American throws out 5 pounds of trash per day.
  • 500 pounds of non-biodegradable plastic enters the marine ecosystem every second.
  • Over 58% of the total amount of energy produced in the United States from all sources is lost before reaching the appliance.


The increase in pollution coupled with the degradation of resources is an indication that TSE is currently being operated outside its margins of safety.


At present, humanity is operating TSE at a level that would require 1.6 TSEs to balance both the consumption of resources and the generation of pollutants with TSE’s bio-capacity to generate useful biological material and absorb waste. Humanity has pushed TSE 60% over the red line, and the overshoot is increasing.



Humanity’s Ecological Footprint


The number of Planet Earths we need to meet our demand for renewable resources and absorption of our waste is measured by ecological footprint.


Humanity’s Global Footprint









































Humanity’s ecological footprint was first calculated in 1961. At that time, humanity operated in a manner that maintained a surplus of resources. By 1970, humanity was in a break-even model of demand for resources relative to the regeneration of resources. Unfortunately, in the early 1970s, we crossed the line and ever since have been operating with a growing deficit. It now takes the capacity of more than one Planet Earth to meet our demands and neutralize our waste.


Since 1961, Humanity’s ecological footprint has more than doubled, increasing from 0.7 planets/TSEs to 1.6 planets/TSEs. The largest change has been in the carbon footprint, which has increased from 36% of the footprint to 53%. In 2014, Earth Overshoot Day was August 19th. Earth Overshoot Day is the date on which humanity consumption of resources exceeds TSE’s capacity to regenerate those resources in a year.





Earth Overshoot Day

2017:                  2 August

2016:                  8 August

1st QMR:            13 August

net change:      six days earlier than 2016, 11 days earlier than 2015/QMR


Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. Minimum safe date for balancing demand with resources and services is December 31st.






Natural Gas Increases Global Warming Potential

In an effort to reduce CO2 emissions, companies and countries are reducing their use of coal and switching to and increasing their use of natural gas. Given that natural gas is a fossil fuel composed almost entirely of methane, (https://www.aga.org/what-natural-gas), this switch can actually increase Global Warming as methane has 21 times the global warming potential of CO2


As we examine the viability of alternative fuels and energy sources, we need to make sure that we are reducing the overall global warming potential of the fuels we use, not just looking at the relative reduction of a single component and assuming that means a net-positive improvement in reducing or reversing global warming.



Rate of Global Ice Loss increasing



Greenland is losing 350 gigatonnes of ice annually – 50% from ice melt, and 50% from glaciers moving into the ocean and breaking up into icebergs, which then melt.

The loss of Greenland ice is six times the volume of all the glaciers in the Alps.

Greenland has been melting more mass than it accumulates since 2000, putting Greenland in a negative balance.




Because the planet is warming, the glaciers in the Antarctic are losing an average of 83 gigatonnes of ice per year (91.5 billion US tons). This is the equivalent of losing the water weight of Mount Everest every two years. “The mass loss of these glaciers is increasing at an amazing rate,” said scientist Isabella Velicogna.




Status of Coral Reefs


Coral reefs, the “rainforests of the sea,” are some of the most biodiverse and productive ecosystems on earth. They occupy only 0.2% of the ocean, yet are home to a quarter of all marine species: crustaceans, reptiles, seaweeds, bacteria, fungi, and over 4000 species of fish make their home in coral reefs. With an annual global economic value of $375 billion, coral reefs provide food and resources for over 500 million people in 94 countries and territories. But tragically, coral reefs are in crisis.



The world has lost roughly half its coral reefs in the last 30 years. 



Over the last 30 to 40 years, 80% of coral in the Caribbean have been destroyed as well as 50% of coral reefs in Indonesia and the Pacific.




Soil Loss


24 billion tonnes of fertile or 12 million hectares of topsoil are lost every year. The world population continues to increase while we destroy more and more topsoil. If this is allowed to continue there won’t be enough fertile soil left to feed a growing world population.



Earth has lost a third of arable land in the past 40 years.



It takes approximately 500 years to replace 25 millimeters (1 inch) of topsoil lost to erosion. The minimal soil depth for agricultural production is 150 millimeters. From this perspective, productive fertile soil is a nonrenewable, endangered ecosystem. 



“Average (US) soil loss rate is 5.8 tons per acre per year, and increasing.”

“Soil can only rebuild at a rate of 0.24 tons per acre per year.”

Stan Buman, head of Land O’ Lakes Sustain program



The United States is losing soil 10 times faster – and China and India are losing soil 30 to 40 times faster – than the natural replenishment rate.




Plastics and Pollution in the Ocean


Plastic Pollution in the World’s Oceans: More than Five Trillion Plastic Pieces Weighing over 250,000 Tons Afloat at Sea



Eight million metric tones of plastic pollution enter the oceans each year from the world’s 192 coastal countries based on 2010 data. That is the equivalent of five grocery bags full of plastic trash on every foot (30 cm) of every nation’s coastline around the globe.



Between 15% and 31% of the estimated 9.5 m tonnes (IUCN 2016) of plastic released into the oceans each year could be primary microplastics, almost two-thirds of which come from the washing of synthetic textiles and the abrasion of tires while driving.


Tiny plastic particles washed off products such as synthetic clothes and car tires could contribute up to 30% of the ‘plastic soup’ polluting the world’s oceans and – in many developed countries – are a bigger source of marine plastic pollution than plastic waste.




Rate of Plastic Pollution


2010 – 551 lbs/sec

2016 – 664 lbs/sec


Pollution has Worked its Way Down to the World’s Deepest Waters


Alan Jamieson of Newcastle University, England and his team have been able to sample amphipods from the Mariana Trench in the northern Pacific – the deepest part of the world’s oceans.


Examination of the Amphipods showed that they were contaminated with PCBs — polychlorinated biphenyls*. “Every sample we had,” Jamieson says, “had contaminants in it at very high or extraordinarily high levels.” He compared the contamination level in his Mariana amphipods to crabs living in waters fed by one of China’s most polluted rivers, as well as amphipods from other parts of the world. “And what we were finding in the deepest place in the world were (levels) hugely higher, 50 times in some cases,” he says. He thinks the pollutants might get to the trenches by latching on to plastic that’s floating in the ocean. Fish and other marine animals absorb pollutants, as well. Eventually, the plastic and the dead animals fall to the bottom.






*(PCB production was banned by the United States Congress in 1979 and by the Stockholm Convention of Persistent Organic Pollutants in 2001.

Porta, M; Zumeta, E (2002).”Implementing the Stockholm Treaty on Persistent Organic Pollutants”. (Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 59:651:2.)



PCBs in Marine Mammals


One of the highest concentrations of toxic pollutants ever recorded in a marine mammal has been revealed in a Scottish killer whale that died in 2016. The adult whale, known as Lulu, was a member of the UK’s last resident pod. The level of PCBs found in Lulu’s blubber were 950mg/kg, more than 100 times the 9mg/kg limit above which damage to the health of marine mammals is known to occur. A 2016 analysis showed the average concentration for killer whales in the Northeast Atlantic was about 150mg/kg.



Submitted by

Tim Rumage

Co-author, This Spaceship Earth

Co-founder, This Spaceship Earth, Inc.

Chief Science Officer and Quartermaster – This Spaceship Earth



Quartermaster’s Update

4 September 2016

Comparing data from today with the 1st (2015) Quartermaster’s Report (QMR)


Human Population

2016 – 7,448,116, 815 people

2015 QMR – 7,307,492,161

net increase   140,624,654



(the net increase is approximately the combined populations of the Tokyo, Delhi, Shanghai, Mumbai, Beijing, New York City, and Calcutta metropolitan areas.)



Net population increase

2016 – 159 people/min

2015 QMR – 148 people/min

net increase      11 people/min



Food Waste

2016 1,600,000,000 tons

1st QMR 1,300,000,000 tons

net increase –  300,000,000 tons


It takes 250,000 billion liters (66,043 billion gallons) of water,

1.4 billion hectares (14 million sq. km. or 3.5 billion acres or 5.5 million sq. mi.) of land,

and 3.3 billion metric tonnes (3.6 US tons) of CO2 emissions to generate this food waste which has a global economic value of US$750, 000,000,000.




July 2016 was the hottest July ever recorded globally in 136 years of modern record keeping. July continued a streak of ten consecutive months (since October 2015) that have set new monthly high-temperature records.


Gavin Schmidt, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said. “It’s unprecedented in 1,000 years. There’s no period that has the trend seen in the 20th century in terms of the inclination (of temperatures).”




Global Anthropogenic CO2 Emissions

from fossil-fuel combustion and industrial processes


2014 – 35,900,000,000 tonnes*

2012 – 34,500,000,000 tonnes (data used for 1st QMR)

net increase     1,400,000,000 tonnes



Translation Equivalency – global anthropogenic CO2 emissions measured in units of 4 tonne Elephants launched into the air/second /year


2014 – 284 elephants/second

2012 – 273 elephants/second

net increase   11 elephants/second


Annual Average Atmospheric Concentrations of CO2

in parts per million (ppm)

2015 – 400.83 ppm

2014 – 398.61 ppm

2013 – 396.48 ppm

2012 – 393.82 ppm



preindustrial levels ~ 278 ppm

net increase ~122 ppm, ~ 143% increase in CO2 concentrations



Earth Overshoot Day comes earlier

2016 –    8 August

1st QMR – 13 August

net change –     5 days earlier

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. Minimum safe date for balancing demand with resources and services is December 31st.


World’s Ecological Footprint rises to 1.6 Earths

2016 – 1.6 planets

1st QMR 1.56 planets

net increase    .04 planets


Today humanity uses the equivalent of 1.6 planets to provide the renewable resources we use and absorb our waste. This means it now takes the Earth 19.2 months to regenerate what we use in 12 months



Fish Stocks (overexploited/depleted/fully exploited)

2016 – 89.9%

1st QMR 87.0%

net increase     2.9%



Quartermaster’s Additional Considerations

Changes in Land Surface


In the past 30 years

115,000 sq. km (44,000 sq. miles) of land is now covered in water and

173,000 sq. km (67,000 sq. miles) of water has now become land.


The increase in land covered by water is due to sea level rise, the reservoirs that result from damming rivers, and the melt of glaciers thus turning them into lakes.


The two leading causes of increased land area are the drainage of lakes/inland seas and creation of artificial islands for real estate development and territorial claims.





Subsidence: The gradual caving in or sinking of an area of land


Due to over pumping of ground water, many coastal cities are subsiding (sinking) faster than sea level is rising.



Extinction Rate:

Extrapolating from the UN Environment Programme estimate, 54,750 – 73,000 species go extinct per year.

According to the UN Environment Programme, the Earth is in the midst of a mass extinction of life. Scientists estimate that 150-200 species of plant, insect, bird and mammal become extinct every 24 hours.






Submitted by

Tim Rumage

Co-author, This Spaceship Earth

Co-founder, thisspaceshipearth.org

Chief Science Officer and Quartermaster – This Spaceship Earth


Crew, There are two questions you might consider as you review this update.

First – how well do your assumptions about each topic match the reality of the data?

Second – does the information reflect an outcome that you wish humanity to achieve?

Your reflection and your response to your answers of those two questions will determine your consciousness and participation in defining and creating our common future.