For Immediate Release, December 23, 2014
Contact: Stephanie Feldstein, (734) 395-0770
Florida Population Now Tops New York's, But Boom Is a Bust for Wildlife
Sunshine State Adding 800 People Per Day
MIAMI— Florida has surpassed New York to become the third-most populous state in the country, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates released today. The news comes as Florida’s unique biodiversity faces increasing threats from habitat loss, urban sprawl and development, water withdrawals, sea-level rise and other effects of rapid human population growth in the region.
“From the amazing manatees at risk of death from boat strikes to the incredibly rare Miami tiger beetle threatened by yet another new Walmart, Florida’s wildlife has felt the squeeze of the state’s growth in the past year,” said Stephanie Feldstein, the Center for Biological Diversity’s Population and Sustainability director. “This latest landmark of growth should be cause for concern, not celebration. If Florida doesn’t get its growth under control, it’ll be a loss for wildlife and Florida residents.”
According to U.S. Census Bureau figures, Florida adds an average of 803 residents every day. This year the state’s population of 19.9 million people surpassed New York’s population of 19.7 million. Florida’s growing population — which doubles every 20 years — has overrun wildlife habitat and continues to bring multiple threats, including sea-level rise caused by climate change, beach degradation and pollution.
“Between condos, Walmarts, beach development and roads, Florida’s wildlife is running out of room to run,” said Feldstein. “Florida is a beautiful state, but it’s risking losing its rich biodiversity forever.”
Florida’s unique natural landscape includes the last remaining pine rockland forest habitat, which is home to a range of species, among them two extremely rare butterflies; Florida bonneted bats; and recently rediscovered Miami tiger beetles. Unchecked growth has destroyed all but 2 percent of pine rockland habitat, part of which is currently threatened by a shopping mall featuring a Walmart and a new theme park.
There are a number of steps Florida can take to begin to address these problems, from improving access to family planning, contraception and reproductive healthcare to enhancing smart growth policies that protect habitat and coastal ecosystems, create room for species to move inland and embrace renewable energy and energy efficiency.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 800,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.