How We Build Back Better

Pop X: The newsletter of the Center for Biological Diversity's Population and Sustainability program.
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Statue of Liberty

Working Toward a Brighter Day

From Stephanie Feldstein, Population and Sustainability Program Director

Earth

Now that COVID-19 vaccines are being administered, we can begin envisioning a post-pandemic world. President-elect Biden has promised to "build back better" with his economic recovery plan. And he has wide support not just for reverting to the way things were, but creating a new normal that's better for people and the environment. According to a recent survey, 85% of Americans say they've been thinking about sustainability at least as much as they did before the pandemic. More than half say they want the government and companies to prioritize sustainability as they address other urgent issues.

As we all look forward to a brighter day, the Center for Biological Diversity will be working to ensure the new administration is more than simply "not Trump." Biden needs to take bold action beyond that of any of his predecessors to fix our broken food system, protect reproductive rights, and turn the tide on the climate and extinction emergencies.

Fruit

One of the most common New Year's resolutions is to stick to a healthy diet. Whether you're eating for your health or the planet, check out these recipes on our website and our "Earth-friendly Diet" Instagram account for delicious ways to take — and keep — extinction off your plate this year.

Population fact

U.S. Capitol building

Statement on the Jan. 6 Attack on the Capitol

The Center condemns the seditious, violent storming of the U.S. Capitol and the political leaders who fomented it and fed the fire with months of lies about Trump's election loss.

It's sickening but utterly predictable to see Trump's mob raise a Confederate flag in the Senate. Trump has aggressively weaponized racism from the beginning to end of his presidency.

Make no mistake: Trump will continue to try to overturn American democracy during the few days left in his presidency — and beyond. The Center calls on all cabinet members and White House staffers to resign immediately and for Congress to take emergency action to neutralize his powers. Democracy demands nothing less.

Dairy cows

Biden's USDA Problem

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a long history of cozying up to industry. Big Ag has undue influence on food policy and programs at the expense of public health. Meat and dairy agribusinesses enjoy financial favors from the agency while smaller farms owned by Black, Indigenous and other people of color struggle to stay afloat.

Biden's nominee for Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, has been at the helm of the agency before. As senior food campaigner Jennifer Molidor points out, Vilsack returning to the agency directly from the dairy lobby would be disastrous for the climate. "The U.S. needs a secure, just and climate-friendly food system, not an agency chief who will continue business-as-usual while the climate crisis grows," she says.

Here's one thing you can do: Prepare for the presidential transition by reading the Center's report on actions the administration can take without Congress. From eliminating industry influence in nutrition guidance to ensuring environmental justice, there are several ways President Biden can immediately begin to reform the USDA.

Crowded beach

Population Research Continues to Illuminate

Public policy researchers released a paper last year on how to use positive psychology to promote sustainable population solutions. Emphasizing the individual and collective benefits of smaller families can be a more effective approach than focusing on avoiding the negative outcomes associated with population growth.

A group of environmental scientists, biologists and economists released another paper on how family-planning decisions are influenced by social pressures. Medical experts penned an essay about why family planning is an important part of reducing inequality and addressing environmental impact — both in countries with high fertility rates and in those with lower fertility but high consumption rates.

These recent papers are part of a growing body of research that cuts across disciplines to address the environmental, health, political, economic and social dimensions of the population issue. The Center's Crowded Planet database now has a collection of nearly 100 studies on the topic.

Here's one thing you can do: Watch our four-part Population 101 webinar series to learn how you can effectively engage in population advocacy by better understanding the issues, writing op-eds and tackling challenging conversations.

Smokestack

Video: 6 Steps to Stop the Climate Crisis

More than 13,000 scientists have signed on to the World Scientists' Warning of a Climate Emergency released last year. This paper not only emphasizes the urgency of the climate crisis and the "profoundly troubling signs from human activities" driving global emissions, but also offers a clear pathway to mitigating the impacts of climate change. In a new video, the lead author of the warning shares six steps to stop the climate crisis: shifting from fossil fuels to green energy, rapidly reducing short-lived climate pollutants, protecting nature, eating mostly plant-based foods, transitioning to a carbon-free economy, and addressing population growth.

Otter holding plastic bottle

The Need for Conscious Consumption

In a survey released by the Center last year, 74% of respondents said that Americans consume too many natural resources, but nearly half said that their own consumption was lower than average. This discrepancy between what people believe others are doing and what they believe they're personally doing could be leading to an increase in guilt-free overconsumption.

Population and Sustainability Campaigner Kelley Dennings was featured on the Sustainable Practices podcast discussing conscious consumption and how we can start to reduce reckless overconsumption.

Here's one thing you can do: The Center's survey also found that 3 out of 4 Americans don't think the United States is doing enough to protect natural resources. Join the movement calling on President-elect Biden to tackle the plastic pollution crisis.

Florida panther

Wildlife Spotlight: Florida Panther

The Florida panther is the only large cat remaining in the southeast United States. Once found throughout the region, these felines occupy only about 5% of their former range, squeezed into South Florida among rapid population growth and urban development.

One of the greatest threats to the survival of the species is these majestic animals becoming roadkill. In 2020 at least 20 Florida panthers died, most from being hit by cars. The Center is fighting for these panthers by working to rein in Florida sprawl and secure protections for panther habitat.

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Photo credits: Statue of Liberty via Canva; Stephanie Feldstein staff photo; fruit plate via Canva; U.S. Capitol by Cameron Smith/Unsplash; dairy cows courtesy USDA; crowded beach by Alex Proimos/Flickr; smokestack by Tom Burke/Flickr; otter and plastic trash by Paul Williams/Flickr; Florida panther courtesy NPS.

Center for Biological Diversity
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Tucson, AZ 85702
United States