Wishes for a Feminist New Year
From Stephanie Feldstein, Population and Sustainability Program Director
In December, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could overturn Roe v. Wade. At the state level, 2021 was the worst year for abortion rights in almost 50 years, with lawmakers enacting a record 108 abortion restrictions — alongside legislation to restrict voting access and enact discriminatory policies against LGBTQIA+ individuals. These efforts to disenfranchise and disempower people are reflected in similar efforts to exploit the environment.
In light of these ongoing attacks on reproductive freedom, Ms. asked influential feminists what they’re hoping for in the new year. Our Population and Sustainability Organizer Sarah Baillie said, “I wish that environmentalists would recognize women’s empowerment as a critical solution for combating the climate and extinction crises,” pointing out that women are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis and more likely to support progressive environmental policy. Check out Sarah’s full response, plus insights from other feminists. Then read on below for the latest on the pope’s childfree gaffe, a new beef (mis)labeling scheme, and our peer-reviewed article on population perceptions.
Beloved actor and comedian Betty White, who died last month at the age of 99, was famously childfree by choice. White’s career, compassion and charitable giving taught generations of fans to appreciate people regardless of their reproductive choices.
Last Call for Free Valentine’s Day Condoms
There’s still time to volunteer to give away Endangered Species Condoms in your community this Valentine’s Day. We want to hear from everyone, but especially volunteers in the top 10 U.S. cities that are single and ready to mingle: Rochester, Syracuse, or Buffalo, New York; Atlanta, Georgia; Detroit, Michigan; Birmingham, Alabama; Cleveland, Dayton, or Cincinnati, Ohio; or Baltimore, Maryland.
Sign up by Monday, Jan. 24, to receive a box of wildlife-themed condoms. You can also email us if there’s an event at your local museum, zoo, aquarium or science center that would be a good fit for our Pillow Talk program, or if your group is interested in hosting a virtual event like a trivia night or presentation on the connection between contraception and wildlife conservation.
The Pope’s Parenthood Faux Pas
Earlier this month, the pope stated that people who don’t have children — particularly those who have pets instead of children — are selfish. He went on to say that denying parenthood “takes away our humanity.” The outrage across the internet was swift, and people were quick to point out that the pope himself doesn’t have children.
The pope has recognized the threat of the climate emergency and biodiversity loss, but he refuses to acknowledge the connection between the church’s position on family size and contraception and the pressure humanity’s growth puts on the environment. As Alistair Currie from Population Matters wrote, “Our humanity is enhanced by making careful decisions about the size of our families and by giving others the right and opportunity to make those choices too.”
Here’s one thing you can do: The majority of Catholics believe in reproductive freedom. Learn more from the nonprofit Catholics for Choice.
Beef Labels May Get More Misleading
The grocery store’s meat department is full of labels like “grass-fed” and “natural” that are intended to imply environmental or animal-welfare benefits. Most of these labels are marketing schemes that are poorly regulated and misleading. In a move likely to add more confusion to the meat aisle, the USDA recently approved a program that will allow beef producers to add “low-carbon” claims to their products.
Beef production alone is responsible for a quarter of all food-related climate pollution. Shaving a few kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions off a burger won’t make it a low-carbon food — especially compared to other sources of protein, like plant-based meats and whole plant foods. And those who make the low-carbon claim may wind up doing so by increasing factory farm practices that emit fewer emissions but cause greater harm to the environment, workers and animals.
Here’s one thing you can do: The only way to truly achieve low-carbon beef is to eat less beef altogether.
Public Perceptions on Population
The Center’s population team published a peer-reviewed article in the latest issue of The Journal of Population and Sustainability about the results of our recent survey on population growth. Our nationally representative survey found that the American public draws a correlation between the number of people on the planet and the alarming rate of wildlife extinctions. The survey also showed that 2 out of 3 respondents understood that both population and consumption are driving biodiversity loss, and 69% thought that we have a moral responsibility to address population growth if it’s contributing to the extinction crisis.
Here’s one thing you can do: Share our survey result fact sheets and infographics to help educate others on the connections between population, consumption and the extinction crisis.
How to Take Greenwashing Off the Menu
Over the past couple of months, restaurant giants like McDonald’s have been in the spotlight for their contribution to the climate crisis. Fast-food chains try to mask their responsibility with flashy, greenwashed announcements about recyclable sauce packets and toys, and pledges built on creative accounting and business as usual. But these empty promises have only super-sized the calls for companies to address their environmental impact.
For a burger behemoth like McDonald’s, that means focusing on its menus and supply chain, where 80% of its greenhouse gas emissions come from. According to Senior Food Campaigner Jennifer Molidor, “Not changing their menus makes everything else look like window dressing.”
Here’s one thing you can do: Whether you eat at the drive-thru or the local mom and pop store, learn more about how to urge restaurants to reduce their environmental footprint with more plant-based options.
Wildlife Spotlight: Florida Manatee
Florida manatees once inspired legends of mermaids among sailors and are now beloved for their gentle, playful natures. These large, slow-moving animals are the only vegetarian marine mammals. Nicknamed “sea cows” for their hefty appetite for seagrass, manatees can graze up to 150 pounds of food a day.
Last year more than 1,000 Florida manatees died, and more than half of those deaths were caused by starvation. Pollution-fueled algae blooms killed off thousands of acres of seagrass, leaving manatees without enough food to satisfy their plant-based diet. The Center and our allies took legal action against the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to protect manatees from Florida’s deadly water-quality standards.
Center for Biological Diversity
P.O. Box 710
Tucson, AZ 85702