No. 13, November 25, 2011
In This Issue:
Number Crunching on 7 Billion
Planet Earth now has more than 7 billion people living on it. We reached that milestone on Oct. 31 and saw hundreds of news stories trying to tease out what it means. And yet the answer is fairly clear: We need to slow growth dramatically to leave room for the rest of the world's creatures and our own quality of life.
For those of you who've been working on our 7 Billion and Counting campaign -- handing out Endangered Species Condoms, writing letters to the editor, even launching sometimes awkward conversations with friends, family and strangers -- I thank you.
Here are a few numbers from the campaign:
Number of people added to the world population each day: 227,000
Rank, in national population, held by the United States: 3
Number of free Endangered Species Condoms sent to volunteer distributors: 100,000
Number of volunteer distributors: 1,200
Number who reported handing them out on Halloween in a condom costume: 1
Number who planned to hand them out to high school students: 25
Longest distance traveled by condoms: 11,000 miles (Tucson, Ariz. to Antarctica)
Number of condoms given out in Antarctica: 80
Number of hotels said to put the condoms in guest rooms: 2
Number of Facebook fans on the Center's 7 Billion and Counting page: 1,099
While we're on numbers -- ever wonder what number you were? You can use this online form to calculate what the population was when you were born. (I was Bundle of Joy # 4,371,671,443.)
Breaking the Silence: NY Times Article Turns Up the Volume
On the day we hit 7 billion, The New York Times posted a lengthy story on the Center for Biological Diversity's groundbreaking overpopulation work. The Times article said the Center is "virtually alone" in breaking the taboo against talking about the population crisis "by directly tying population growth to environmental problems through efforts like giving away condoms in colorful packages depicting endangered animals." It also featured a great color photo of a volunteer distributor handing out condoms on a tray at an event in Portland, Ore.
Every major news outlet had some coverage of this global population benchmark, many noting that it took just 12 years to add the most recent billion people. But few of the experts were willing to present the dire consequences of exponential population growth quite like the Center's Kierán Suckling: "All the species that we save from extinction will eventually be gobbled up if the human population keeps growing."
You can also read our Huffington Post op-ed from Oct. 31 and listen to a radio interview about the Center's efforts to raise awareness of population growth and its role in the extinction crisis.
Next Steps: More of Us = Fewer of Them
So we've hit 7 billion. Now what? The milestone isn't the end of this campaign but a beginning. As the world's population counter keeps ticking higher, more and more species are being driven toward extinction.
In fact, just as we reached 7 billion the Vietnamese Javan rhino, the last mainland Asian rhino, was declared extinct. And this past week, its related western black rhino species in Africa was also declared extinct. Like so many rare species, these rhinos simply ran out of places to live. More humans meant fewer of them, until the last of their kind vanished.
What to do next? We've got to build on the momentum generated by 7 billion and keep overpopulation and endangered species in the headlines.
We recently posted a new report on 10 U.S. plants and animals threatened by the effects of overpopulation: loss of habitat, freshwater scarcity, pesticide bombing and an ever-expanding network of roads that keep the threats traveling faster and farther. Check out these species and then find out about imperiled species near you with our online Species Finder. Help us bring species protection into the conversation by becoming an "expert" on the plants and animals that are threatened by population growth in your area.
We're also hashing it out and keeping you updated on a new Twitter feed, @EndSpcsCondoms. How else is it possible for the Duggars, supermodel Christy Turlington, sex-ed teachers and the American burying beetle to all show up on one feed?
Report: Water Wars Forecast for West
The Pacific Institute just released an important report on how much water it takes to keep the lights on in the Intermountain West -- and what that cost will be as the population continues to swell and the climate continues to change. The short answer: We're in for a fight if we don't change our ways. "Climate change, along with continued population and economic growth, suggest that the future in the Intermountain West will be characterized by increased conflict and competition for limited water resources," reads the study.
The report looked at river water in the West, which we rely on to produce electricity from coal, wind, dams and other sources. The authors estimate that the average water withdrawals for electricity generation in the Intermountain West in 2010 were more than 1 billion gallons per day. Although there's potential for making these systems more efficient, the study found that the overall water withdrawal is still expected to increase because of demand over the next 25 years.
Sucking water out of rivers and from landscape, of course, comes at a steep cost for plants and animals. Look no further than the Southern Nevada Water Authority's plan to pump billions of gallons of groundwater from eastern Nevada and western Utah to fuel urban growth in Las Vegas. That project alone would spell disaster for dozens of species, including the Bonneville cutthroat trout, greater sage grouse and scores of fish and springsnails.
Less is more,
Overpopulation Campaign Coordinator
Center for Biological Diversity | P.O. Box 710, Tucson, AZ 85702-0710
This is an unmonitored email address, please do not reply. To sign up for condoms, click here. If you'd like more information on the Center's overpopulation campaign, visit our website. To make a donation, click here. Specific population-related questions can be directed to email@example.com. Please allow a few days for a response. To stop receiving Pop X, click here.
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Black rhino photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Matthew Field.