No. 34, Sept. 13, 2013
In This Issue:
Eat Bugs and Save the World
Last September we invited our readers to become vegetarians; this September we're taking it one step further. According to the United Nations, the insect-eating that's common in many parts of the world -- so much so that more than 2 billion people eat bugs on a regular basis -- would help combat climate change and combat hunger as the human population continues to grow.
Bugs are an excellent source of protein and other nutrients, said the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization in a report published in May. There are almost 2,000 known edible insect species on Earth, including many kinds of beetles, mealworms, crickets, locusts, bees, flies and stinkbugs (rumored to taste like apples). And more bug-based cuisine is emerging every day -- think cricket power bars, cookbooks like Eat-a-Bug and high-end "insect fine dining" in London.
Insects are easy to raise and have a far lower carbon footprint than other forms of meat; plus, as an added bonus, eating insect pests would cut down on the need for chemical pesticides. As we press the world's governments to take action on global warming and family planning, maybe committed meat-eaters can do their part to reduce carbon pollution by noshing on animals with six legs instead of four.
Read an article in The Ecologist and watch a National Geographic video of a family learning to whip up some mealworms.
Population Growth, the Climate Danger and What We Can Do
The San Francisco Chronicle just ran a compelling feature on the major impacts of human population growth on our climate future -- and the way the looming population issue is being swept under the rug. This spring more than 1,000 scientists signed a consensus statement that the Earth is reaching a tipping point; so complete is human domination of the planet, and so huge the changes we've wrought, that some scientists have tried to coin a new term to describe our geologic epoch: the "Anthropocene."
At the root of almost all our environmental crises is runaway population growth, with 7 billion people on the globe in 2011 and another billion expected to be added in the next 12 years alone. But we can curb that growth if we want to: More than 40 percent of the world's 208 million pregnancies each year are unplanned, and a global birth rate of 1.5 children -- just under the current European average -- would reduce the number of people on the planet to 3 billion by 2200, with huge positive effects.
"The combination of climate change and 9 billion people to me is one that is just fraught with potential catastrophes," said John Harte, a UC Berkeley scientist quoted in the piece. "What many of us really worry about is that there will be this crash landing, from a planet with 9 billion, rapidly down to 5 or so.”
But if we act now to curb the Homo sapiens explosion, we can still hope to avoid tragedies like mass extinction and mass famine.
Read the article now.
Two Texas Plants Get Protection
When we talk about how population growth and overconsumption are pushing species to the brink, we often think of animals. But we shouldn't overlook our oxygen-producing pals in the plant world. The more of us there are, and the more wild territory we destroy and pollute, the harder it is for plants to survive. Unlike some animals, they can't outrun our sprawl or changing climate.
So it was great news this week when three plants the Center has been fighting for got much-needed Endangered Species Act protection.
The first two live in East Texas. The Texas golden gladecress, which sports egg-shaped leaves and deep-yellow flowers, has lost much of its habitat to quarries and other human development. The Neches River rose mallow, which grows tall and features occasional one-day-a-year blooms, has been struggling against habitat destruction and herbicides. Both, along with 1,500 acres of habitat, will now get full protections under the Act thanks to an agreement the Center reached with the government in 2011.
That same agreement also led to a federal proposal this week to protect the Georgia rockcress -- a flower that only lives in Georgia and Alabama -- along with more than 700 acres of habitat.
Read more here and here.
Until next time,
The 7 Billion and Counting Team
Center for Biological Diversity | P.O. Box 710, Tucson, AZ 85702-0710
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Stinkbug image courtesy Flickr/Harshjeet Singh Bal.