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A Planet Packed With People
From Stephanie Feldstein, Population and Sustainability Program Director
World Population Day on July 11 came with an announcement from the United Nations: There will be 8 billion people on the planet before the end of the year. The UN was adamant that the population story is about more than just numbers — and it’s right. Behind the headlines are 8 billion lives and experiences. The central focus should be upholding human rights and dignity, and the urgency of advancing reproductive rights, gender equity, racial justice, education and economic opportunity for all.
But the UN made a mistake in insisting there’s no reason to worry about this population milestone. In praising the “infinite possibilities” of a planet packed with people, it ignored the fact that we’ve already used more resources than the Earth can replenish and that population pressure is a key driver of the climate and extinction emergencies. Population can be a sensitive issue, but it must be part of the conversation. Read on for new resources on how to talk about population and the latest updates on the extinction crisis.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced that it will evaluate how to reduce its purchases of single-use plastic, an important step toward stemming the tide of the plastic pollution crisis.
Bringing Anti-Racism Into the Population Conversation
As we get closer to reaching 8 billion, population will be back in the headlines while people debate the influence of population growth on global issues and whether — and how — to address it. For those of us who’ve long been concerned about the issue, this is an opportunity to educate people on these critical questions. But it’s crucial that, as population advocates, we reject eco-fascism and share the facts about how population growth interacts with consumption and, most importantly, how the only acceptable solutions are grounded in human rights and justice.
In the Center’s newly released guide on bringing anti-racism into the population conversation, we discuss why population pressure is still a relevant issue, how to recognize many of the common pitfalls that can unintentionally perpetuate white dominance and other oppressive systems, and how to approach the topic with sensitivity and nuance. We hope you’ll read the guide and share it with others.
How Biden Can Help Save the Amazon
In the first half of 2022, an area five times the size of New York was cleared in the Amazon. In June alone, the rainforest known as “the lungs of the planet” suffered the worst fires in 15 years. Most of these fires were set to clear land for cattle pasture or feed crops. In other words, this irreplaceable biodiversity hotspot that supports life on Earth is being destroyed for cheap hamburgers.
As Biden considers declaring a climate emergency and taking key steps to end our dependence on fossil fuels, he must also end U.S. complicity in devastating deforestation.
Here’s one thing you can do: Read and share Senior Food Campaigner Jennifer Molidor’s op-ed on the link between beef and the destruction of the Amazon, and how President Biden can help the lungs of the Earth breathe again.
New Research Heightens Extinction Warnings
A pair of recent reports highlights the urgency of addressing the extinction crisis — for the sake of other species and our own. One study, led by the University of Minnesota, found that nearly 1 in 3 species currently faces extinction or has already been driven extinct over the past 500 years. This is significantly more than previous estimates of 12.5% to 25%.
Another report, released by the United Nations — which previously stated that a million species are at risk of extinction — evaluated the profound impact that wildlife extinction will have on people around the world. According to researchers, about 1 of every 5 people relies on wildlife for food and income, and the loss of species jeopardizes the survival and livelihoods of billions of people.
Here’s one thing you can do: Tell the United States to join the Convention on Biological Diversity and commit to the global effort to stop extinction.
There’s a long history of women redefining people’s relationship with nature and environmentalism. And in recent years, as we fight the same opponents trying to strip away reproductive rights and environmental protections, it’s become clear that reproductive justice is environmental justice. This month, The Revelator honors ecofeminism with a review of 20 books that explore the connection between feminism and nature and celebrate inspiring female activists, leaders and naturalists. Check it out and expand your reading list.
Solutions for Ranchers and Farmers
Tune in on July 30, 2022, to the Rancher Advocacy Program (RAP) Summit. RAP is a program created by Rowdy Girl Sanctuary to help ranchers and farmers transition from animal agriculture to sustainable, humane livelihoods such as plant-based agriculture, renewable energy, farmers’ markets, feed stores, animal sanctuaries and rewilding. The summit is an annual online event bringing experts together to explore these solutions and the challenges facing producers. Register for the summit now. To learn more about the environmental harms of cattle ranching, check out our Grazing Facts website.
Wildlife Spotlight: American Crocodile
American crocodiles and alligators both live in South Florida, but the imperiled crocodiles tend to be shyer than their common gator relatives. Thanks to the positioning of their eyes and nostrils — and flaps of skin that help protect their ears — crocodiles can stay submerged in water with only the tops of their heads exposed without compromising their senses or their ability to breathe. Crocodiles are known to inhabit wetlands — including the cooling canal system of the Turkey Point Nuclear Plant, where the animals have lived for decades. But nearly 10 years ago, water-quality problems caused ecological collapse in the canals, and crocodiles starved and died.
Last month, the Center warned the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that they’re violating the Endangered Species Act because there’s never been a proper analysis of how the plant’s operations may be harming crocodiles and other threatened species.