Get a free issue of Pop X delivered right to your inbox each month by signing up here:
Toxic Drought Threatens Salt Lake City
From Stephanie Feldstein, Population and Sustainability Program Director
Three-quarters of Utah’s population lives around the Great Salt Lake, a region that continues to be one of the fastest-growing areas of the country. That rapid growth, along with the climate crisis, has increased pressure on a lake that has already shrunk by two-thirds, creating an “environmental nuclear bomb.” The danger of dropping water levels isn’t just about the ecosystem and migratory birds depending on it or the availability of water to the surrounding communities — though those are both serious concerns. The lakebed also has high levels of arsenic that will become exposed to wind as it dries up, creating toxic dust pollution.
As western states face yet another year of historic drought and water restrictions, people are looking for ways they can reduce their water footprint. But as Senior Food Campaigner Jennifer Molidor points out in the Los Angeles Times, the problem isn’t just about individuals skipping the car wash. Municipalities must hold accountable the largest water-users, like animal agriculture and other major institutions.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Center released a new Endangered Species Condom celebrating the imperiled North Atlantic right whale.
What Does 8 Billion Look Like?
Global population is projected to top 8 billion people as soon as the end of this year — that’s a billion people added over the past 11 years. Population Matters recently released an interactive online tool to help people understand how quickly our population has grown and how that growth interacts with our biggest environmental crises, including biodiversity loss, climate change, and the depletion of resources like food, water and habitat. The tool also gives tips on how to take action to advance key solutions like family planning, education, empowering women and girls, and creating sustainable economies.
Here's one thing you can do: This year Earth Overshoot Day will fall on July 28, marking the point when we’ve used up all the resources the planet can regenerate in a single year. If every other family has one less child and every family postpones parenthood by two years, by 2050 we can move Overshoot Day back 49 days. Help #MoveTheDate by signing up to start population conversations with free Endangered Species Condoms.
Cattle vs. Grasshoppers in the Wild West
In the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s campaign to protect the interests of livestock operators, even grasshoppers are targeted for the crime of eating grass. The USDA oversees and funds the spraying of pesticides across millions of acres of grasslands in 17 states to prevent native grasshoppers from competing with cattle for forage. In the process, these insecticides also harm bees, butterflies, beetles and other insects — as well as putting endangered fish, birds and other wildlife at risk.
The Center and our allies took legal action against the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for failing to consider harms to endangered species caused by this widespread insecticide spraying. “It’s outrageous that amid our heartbreaking extinction crisis, APHIS continues to give itself carte blanche to spray incredibly toxic poisons on millions of acres of wildlife habitat throughout the West,” said Lori Ann Burd, director of environmental health at the Center.
Here's one thing you can do: The USDA’s wildlife killing programs are driven by America’s outsized demand for beef. Replace beef on the grill this summer with an extinction-free barbecue.
Watch: Solutions to Build Resilience in Climate Plans
The Center recently held a webinar discussing how to build resilience with reuse, sustainable food and gender empowerment in municipal climate plans and policies. The webinar included information to support the need for these solutions as well as specific steps that policymakers can take. You can watch the presentation online and share the presentation with your local officials. If you work for a government agency or institution and would like to discuss how to integrate these solutions into your plans, please reach out.
Single-Use Plastic to Be Phased Out on Public Lands
On World Oceans Day, the Biden administration announced a commitment to ban single-use plastic in national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands in an effort to reduce plastic pollution. The administration will begin reducing sales of plastic water bottles and other plastic packaging, including utensils, bags and straws while they identify alternatives, with a total ban going into effect by 2032. The Interior Department is required to not just replace single-use items, but to figure out how to change public behavior and add infrastructure to support reusing containers, like bottle-filling stations.
Here’s one thing you can do: Reducing plastic pollution relies on increasing the availability of reusable options. Learn more from Upstream about how you can support reusable-friendly businesses in your community.
U.S. Map of Abortion Access
In anticipation of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, Guttmacher Institute released an interactive map tracking abortion policies across the United States. On top of states that already have restrictive policies, abortion may be quickly banned in 26 states if the Supreme Court reverses the right to safe, legal abortion. Eleven states have some form of protective policies in place that protect abortion providers, increase access to abortion at health clinics, or require health insurance to cover abortion.
Here’s one thing you can do: If you’re able to do so, donate to the National Network of Abortion Funds or a fund in your community to help remove barriers to abortion access. You can also contact your state and federal legislators and ask them to protect the right to abortion.
Wildlife Spotlight: California Condor
California condors are the largest birds in North America, using their massive wingspan to fly up to 200 miles a day scavenging for food. These prehistoric-looking birds are known to be social and even playful. They nest high up in rocky cliffs, sharing parenting duties until their fledglings learn to fly. Condors are perhaps most famous for narrowly escaping extinction in the mid-1980s thanks to a successful captive-breeding program. But a number of released condors have died or been returned to captivity, and their recovery is still at risk. One of the greatest ongoing threats is poisoning by ingestion of lead shot in carcasses left behind by hunters.
The Center and our allies filed a legal petition earlier this month calling on the U.S. Department of Interior to phase out the use of lead ammunition and fishing tackle on national wildlife refuges to prevent poisoning of more than 130 different species of wildlife, including condors, and health risks to people.
Center for Biological Diversity | Saving Life on Earth
Donate now to support the Center's work.
Photo credits: Drought via Canva; right whale illustration used with permission; crowd via Canva; grasshopper by Silas Jaeger; triptych of images used with permission; plastic water bottles by Jonathan Chng/Unsplash; abortion-rights access map courtesy Guttmacher Institute; California condor by Wade Tregaskis.
Center for Biological Diversity
P.O. Box 710
Tucson, AZ 85702