No. 22, August 24, 2012
In This Issue:
The Biggest Gamble in Vegas
What happens in Las Vegas doesn't always stay in Las Vegas. A proposed water grab to feed irresponsible urban sprawl in Sin City will suck about 37.5 billion gallons of water each year out of eastern Nevada and western Utah and come at a steep price for wildlife and the environment. A new Bureau of Land Management analysis finds that more than 137,000 acres of wildlife habitat will be permanently destroyed and a wide range of animals and plants -- from 25 species of Great Basin springsnails and 14 types of desert fish to sage grouse and Rocky Mountain elk -- will be affected.
Human population growth is an underlying driver of this project. Nevada's population grew by 35 percent between 2000 and 2010, nearly four times faster than the national average, and Las Vegas was one of the fastest-growing areas of the state. But the city is in the middle of a vast desert, so accommodating that explosive growth means importing water.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority's solution is to suck water out of eastern Nevada and ship it to Vegas via a 300-mile pipeline. The Center for Biological Diversity is fighting this disastrous project -- but we know we're also fighting a mindset that values senseless sprawl and consumption over wildlife, pristine waterways and wild places.
Read the latest about the Las Vegas water grab and take action to stop it, then check out the Center's report last year outlining the top 10 species threatened by population growth.
Los Angeles Times: 'Overpopulation Is Everyone's Problem'
The Los Angeles Times just wrapped up a series of stories on human population, consumption and the future of our planet. The series, "Beyond 7 Billion," examined a sweeping range of conflicts connected with unsustainable population growth, including the staggering depletion of land, water and other natural resources -- and raises significant questions about what it will take for us to cope with a population of 9 billion by 2050.
The paper followed the series with an editorial called "Overpopulation Is Everyone's Problem" highlighting the importance of family-planning assistance around the globe, one of the key points in the Center's 7.5 billion and Counting campaign. "How big one's family should be is a highly personal choice that should not be subject to any form of coercion," the editorial reads. "As it happens, though, many women would choose to have fewer children. According to the Worldwatch Institute, 1 in 5 births results from an unwanted pregnancy. If just those pregnancies were prevented, the birthrate would fall below replacement level."
Another Day, Another Quarter-million People
It can be hard to get your head around the human population crisis. Last year's 7.5 billion threshold helped, but the number of us can still seem so big that it's basically abstract. That's why it's healthy to get information in smaller, more digestible bites. The Population Reference Bureau just put out its "2012 World Population Data Sheet," a great resource for parsing population growth.
We've zoomed past 7 billion, of course, and every day adds a net gain of 230,000 people to our planet -- roughly 160 people per minute. And although the Bureau notes that population growth is slowing in the United States and growing in less industrialized parts of the world, it doesn't account for the outsized consumption of natural resources by rich countries -- the wildlife habitat that's lost, the species that disappear, the trees that are cut down, the air that's polluted, the climate that's compromised.
Speaking of species struggling against overpopulation, we just got some good news about four Texas salamanders we mentioned in the last issue of Pop X. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the Jolllyville plateau, Austin blind, Georgetown and Salado salamanders should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. Significantly, two of the threats listed by the agency were “increasing urbanization and population growth.” Glad to see the message getting through.
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 Las Vegas courtesy Flickr Commons/larrylobster.