No. 20, June 22, 2012
In This Issue:
Top Scientists to World Leaders: Do Something About Population, Consumption
Some of the world's top scientists sent a message to world leaders this week: Address human overpopulation and consumption or risk "potentially catastrophic implications for human well-being." The urging came from the world's 105 scientific academies, ahead of the United Nations' Rio +20 summit on sustainable development that began on Wednesday.
The statement came from a group representing the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and similar institutions around the world, including those of South Africa, Japan, Nicaragua, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. "We are delighted that the world's science academies have chosen to come together to highlight two of the most profound challenges to humanity -- population and consumption -- and to call for urgent and coordinated international action to address them," the group's leader said.
The message follows a study released this spring by the London-based Royal Society that population and consumption by rich countries present "profound" challenges to economies and the environment. It also included several recommendations, including support for voluntary family planning.
Speak Out on July 11, World Population Day
You don't have to be a member of a scientific academy to have your say about overpopulation. One of the best days to speak out is coming up soon on World Population Day, July 11. Write a letter to your local newspaper, start up a conversation at the coffee shop, or hand out some of our Endangered Species Condoms if you have them on hand.
The message is clear: With nearly 7.5 billion people now crowding onto our planet, the animals and plants we depend on to keep our world livable have fewer places to raise their young, less food to eat and water to drink, more pesticides to suffer, more polluted air to breathe. Wildlife extinction rates are 1,000 times higher than normal background levels, and human population growth is playing a key role in driving that catastrophe. It's time for overpopulation to be part of the conversation about the future of our planet. You can help by raising the issue in your own neighborhood -- heck, there's even a columnist in Arkansas who's doing his part.
Find out more about how to raise the issue here.
Fighting the Sprawl Mindset
The effects of overpopulation are all around if you take a good look. One of the places where the Center's battling its impacts on wildlife is in Los Angeles County, where developers want to build a sprawling development that would eventually include 60,000 housing units -- a project as big as a mid-sized city. But this kind of development comes at a huge cost: In this case, the Newhall Ranch project would be built in the floodplain of the Santa Clara River, the last mostly free-flowing river left in L.A. County. We're fighting that sprawling nightmare right now.
And the Center's just won an important victory on a similarly senseless project in nearby Riverside County, where a judge recently rejected a "Villages of Lakeview" development that would have put more than 11,000 residential units and 500,000 square feet of commercial space right next to the priceless San Jacinto Wildlife Area. The San Jacinto Valley is a biodiversity hotspot, home to more than 300 migratory birds, including burrowing owls, California gnatcatchers and yellow-billed cuckoos.
We'll keep fighting misguided projects like these, but we also need to wage a deeper campaign to shift the culture's ideas about how -- and where -- our human population grows. Join us!
Until next time,
The 7.5 billion and Counting Team
Center for Biological Diversity | P.O. Box 710, Tucson, AZ 85702-0710
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Photo of burrowing owl (c) Don Baccus.