A Global Treaty on Plastics
From Stephanie Feldstein, Population and Sustainability Program Director
The scale of the plastic pollution problem is hard to comprehend. More than 380 million tons are produced each year, weighing about as much as two-thirds of the global human population. By 2050 plastic is projected to outweigh fish in the ocean. And yet the industry wants us to believe recycling will solve the problem, even though less than 10% of all the plastic ever produced has been recycled.
But the tide is turning on plastic. Earlier this month 175 nations endorsed a historic resolution to develop a first-of-its-kind, legally binding global treaty on plastics. This is a chance to move beyond weak voluntary measures and meaningfully address plastic problems from production and design to waste prevention and management. You can take action to urge the U.S. delegation to finalize an ambitious treaty; then read on for the latest on the U.S. census, new resources on beef, and more.
Big Bear Lake is home to an array of wildlife, including successfully breeding bald eagles and rare plants. A recent court ruling against a controversial development of 50 luxury custom-built houses will help keep it wild.
U.S. Census Miscounts 19M People
The U.S. census is conducted once every 10 years, and it’s important that we get it right — not only to understand how population dynamics are shifting, but to ensure everyone is counted for political representation, government funding, social services and community planning. Preparation for the 2020 census was plagued by issues, including underfunding, missed deadlines, and proposals from the Trump administration that would discourage or exclude immigrants from being counted. Then, just as the effort was underway, the pandemic hit, making it harder to complete the door-to-door count.
This month the Census Bureau admitted that it miscounted nearly 19 million people in the 2020 census, undercounting (not for the first time) Black, Hispanic and Indigenous people by about 3%, 5% and 6%, respectively, while overcounting white and Asian American residents. While total population numbers appear to be accurate, this mistake could result in Black, Hispanic and Native American communities continuing to be underrepresented and underserved for the next decade.
Cattle grazing is a controversial and often confusing topic, rife with misinformation about the impact of cattle on the climate and ecosystems. That’s why we teamed up with A Well-Fed World to create this Grazing Facts website, a compilation of facts and science about the interaction of cattle with biodiversity, grasslands, public lands, soil, water and wildfires.
This week we also kicked off a webinar series with experts including researchers, ecologists, environmental scientists, scholars, and environmental justice activists to separate fact from fiction in the conversation around cattle grazing.
Here’s one thing you can do: Watch this week’s webinar and sign up to join the rest of the series.
Become an Earth Day Condom Volunteer
More than 4 billion people have been added to the planet since the first Earth Day. By next year, the human population will reach 8 billion. As our numbers continue to grow, we need to keep talking about the pressure our population puts on the natural world. If you’re planning an Earth Day event or activity, we have free Endangered Species Condoms to help you get the conversation started. Sign up by April 1 to volunteer to distribute our condoms.
We’re especially interested in volunteers who have an opportunity to engage in a discussion about the condoms’ message. Please be sure to let us know if there’s a specific date you need to receive the condoms by and how many condoms you’d like for your event.
America’s Troubling Trophy Trade
Newly released data shows that U.S. hunters imported more than 700,000 wildlife trophies taken from giraffes, rhinos and other species between 2016 and 2020. The trade in hunting trophies steadily rose during the Trump administration, declining only after the Covid-19 pandemic struck. But even the pandemic didn’t stop the exploitation of wildlife. “While most people in the United States were on lockdown, with many living paycheck to paycheck, elite trophy hunters were still jetsetting around to kill wildlife for skins, skulls, mounts, bones, wings, teeth and feet,” said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center. The United States is a leading importer in the wildlife trade, contributing to the biodiversity crisis worldwide.
Here's one thing you can do: U.S. trophy hunters bring home more than half of all leopard trophies worldwide. Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to stop allowing leopard trophies into the country and to list the African leopard as endangered.
The Post-Pandemic Wedding Boom
The pandemic put wedding plans on hold for many couples, but now that more people are vaccinated and Covid-related restrictions are lifting, it’s estimated that 2.6 million couples will get married in the United States this year. All of those big days add up to a big environmental impact — each of those weddings could generate an average of 400 pounds of trash and 60 tons of carbon dioxide.
Population and Sustainability Organizer Sarah Baillie wrote in Grist about how couples and the wedding industry can make weddings less wasteful.
Here’s one thing you can do: Whether you’re planning a wedding, a birthday party, or any other event, use our SoKind Registry to ask for alternative gifts such as homemade goods, personalized experiences, or day-of-event help.
Wildlife Spotlight: Suckley’s Cuckoo Bumblebee
Female Suckley’s cuckoo bumblebees aren’t able to produce the worker bees that provide necessary help around the hive nor do they have the wax-production or pollen-collection abilities needed to raise their young on their own. So Suckley’s cuckoo bumblebees take over existing hives of other bumblebees and trick those worker bees into caring for their young. While this parasitic relationship may seem harmful to other bee species, it actually creates greater species diversity and health among bumblebee communities, which in turn helps pollinate a greater variety of wild plants.
Unfortunately, Suckley’s cuckoo bumblebees have lost more than 50% of their historic range and their primary host, western bumblebees, have declined by 93%. The Center is working to gain Endangered Species Act protection for both bees.
Center for Biological Diversity
P.O. Box 710
Tucson, AZ 85702