Tackling Population Pressure
Every day we add 227,000 more people to the planet — and the UN predicts human population will surpass 11 billion by the end of the century. As the world's population grows, so do its demands for water, land, trees and fossil fuels — all of which come at a steep price for already endangered plants and animals.Global population growth and the destructive consumption habits of high-wealth countries put pressure on biodiversity and human communities, exacerbating food and water shortages, reducing resilience in the face of climate change, and making it harder for vulnerable groups to rise out of intergenerational poverty.
Reproductive health, rights and justice are threatened by the same systems of oppression that overexploit the environment and drive the extinction crisis. But through solutions like gender equity and a just transition to sustainable consumption and production, we can promote human rights; decrease poverty and overcrowding; raise standards of living; and allow people and nature to thrive.
The Center has been working to address the connection between human population pressure and the extinction crisis since 2009. Our innovative campaigns focus on commonsense solutions such as gender empowerment, the education of all people, universal access to all forms of sexual and reproductive healthcare, sustainable and equitable lifestyle choices, an economy that doesn’t rely on endless growth, and a societal commitment to improve living conditions for all species.
Endangered Species Condoms
Endangered Species Condoms offer a fun, unique way to break through the taboo and get people talking about the link between human population growth and the wildlife extinction crisis.
The Extinction Crisis
Most biologists agree we're in the midst of the Earth's sixth mass extinction event; species are disappearing at the greatest rate since dinosaurs roamed the planet. This time, though, it isn't because of geologic or cosmic forces — it's because of our unsustainable growth and consumption.
Human Population Growth and Urban Sprawl
As our human footprint reaches farther and farther into remote areas in search of room to build cities, housing developments, golf courses and new farms, we're squeezing wildlife into ever smaller habitat refuges, often leaving endangered species with nowhere to go.
A 2009 study of the relationship between population growth and global warming determined that the “carbon legacy” of just one child in the United States can produce 20 times more greenhouse gas than a person is able to conserve by taking other energy-saving actions.
Bringing Population Back Into the Conversation
Human population growth and consumption are at the root of our most pressing environmental crises, but they’re often left out of the conversation. We can fight to curb climate change, stop habitat loss, and clean up pollution, but if we don't also fight for reproductive justice for those most severely harmed by these environmental crises — including young people, immigrants, Black, Indigenous and people of color, minoritized ethnic and religious groups, LGBTQIA+ communities and rural communities — it'll remain an uphill battle we can't win. The first step to solving a problem is getting people to talk about it.
The Center is working to put the spotlight back on human population growth and the need to fight for reproductive and environmental justice. We're using creative media like our award-winning Endangered Species Condoms to start conversations on a person-to-person basis nationwide; we’re circulating videos to explain the connections between population growth and other environmental problems and highlight the importance of healthcare for all. We're also bringing the message to museums, science centers and classrooms through fun and interactive Pillow Talk events, via virtual and in-person film series, and through social media campaigns.
Supporting Reproductive Justice
Everyone plays a role in human population growth, but when it comes to reproductive decisions, women and gender-diverse people are disproportionately affected by a lack of empowerment and access to healthcare, which not only affects their reproductive futures but also income and wealth equity, education, and leadership opportunities. Many people worldwide and in the United States are unable to get the sexual and reproductive healthcare they want or need. Unfortunately U.S. lawmakers and courts are currently doing everything they can to restrict reproductive freedom, including bans on comprehensive sex education and abortion.
Reproductive justice is environmental justice. In order to make sure we leave room for wildlife, it's critical that every pregnancy is planned and that people have the ability to decide when — or if — they want their family to grow. When people have access to voluntary contraception and equal education, they tend to choose to delay childbearing and have smaller families, leading to lower fertility rates.
The Center supports unfettered access to education, reproductive healthcare and gender equity for all. Every person should have the tools, information and autonomy to make the best reproductive choice for themselves and the planet.