Center for Biological Diversity
Pop X
No. 58, Sept. 19, 2015
The End of the Faux Population vs. Consumption Debate

It's been almost two years since the Center expanded our population program to include overconsumption and sustainability. Our reasoning was simple: Just as we can't ignore the massive environmental impact of 7 billion people on the planet, we also can't ignore what we consume, how much, and how it's produced.

Although we see the effects of our numbers and our consumption choices in the headlines daily, talking about population dynamics continues to spark a knee-jerk reaction. People want to blame either population growth or overconsumption instead of acknowledging the more complex reality: We need comprehensive solutions that advance both education and a more sustainable food system, both reproductive justice and energy equity.

Not only is the debate between population and overconsumption a false one -- pitting issues against each other when they're really two sides of the same coin -- it's also counterproductive. If we address one without the other, the end result will still be humans continuing to take more than our fair share from the planet. That's why I wrote an op-ed "A long-overdue burial for the population vs. consumption question" for Ensia magazine, to help put this debate to rest and push for a future where people and wildlife can thrive.

I hope you'll share my op-ed, along with this newsletter, to engage your family and friends in this critical conversation.

For the wild,
Stephanie Feldstein Stephanie Feldstein
Population and Sustainability Director
P.S. Today's world population is: 7,367,967,559. We can still save room for wildlife -- spread the word and share the newsletter below.

Livestock Eating Away at Biodiversity Hotspots

Cows grazingStudy after study has documented the extraordinarily high cost of meat production to the climate -- and the intensive use of land and water to produce steaks and chops is no secret. Now a new study exploring our global burger addiction's connection to the future of the planet set out to discover what meat means for biodiversity.

Its conclusion? Meat production has become the single biggest threat to wild plants and animals around the world.

By looking at where industrial meat production is expanding in countries where biodiversity hotspots are located, scientists determined how much land will be lost to grazing and growing feed for livestock as demand for meat continues to grow. They projected that livestock production in these areas will grow 30 percent to 50 percent by 2050, leading to such extensive habitat loss that it will drive a new wave of extinctions. We've seen the cause-and-effect before: 75 percent of the land cleared in the Amazon rainforest is now being used for livestock production.

Yet we have the power to change that course just by changing what we eat. The Center's Take Extinction Off Your Plate campaign has been on the leading edge of encouraging people to help save wildlife by eating less meat -- so please, for the sake of biodiversity as well as the climate, if you haven't already, take our Earth-friendly Diet Pledge today.

 
 
Seabird James Cameron
Plastic Plagues Sea Turtles, Birds

According to two new studies, 52 percent of sea turtles have eaten plastic and other human debris, while 90 percent of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs. Despite the deadly effect of plastics on marine species and birds, we continue to churn it out at an alarming pace. According to one of the bird study's co-authors, "In the next 11 years, we will make as much plastic as has been made since industrial plastic production began in the 1950s." Help stop plastic pollution by joining our campaign demanding that Target stores stop giving out 1 billion single-use plastic shopping bags a year.

Avatar Director Talks Food

It's no secret that Hollywood director James Cameron is passionate about fighting climate change. In a recent interview with Variety, he discussed the link between it and food choices. "When 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are coming from animal agriculture, that is a big thermostat that you can turn down." Cameron recently cofounded Food Choice Task Force, which, along with the Center, has been mobilizing groups to pressure the federal government to include recommendations for less meat and more plant-based foods in the updated U.S. Dietary Guidelines due later this year.

 
Stop the U.S. Ivory Trade -- Take Action
Forest elephant Confiscated ivory Savannah elephant

In just three years, more than 100,000 elephants were slaughtered for their ivory tusks -- an astonishing loss, especially when some populations have suffered declines of more than 65 percent.

Ivory is now worth more per pound than gold, and the lucrative trade and demand -- including in the United States -- is threatening the future of these magnificent animals.

Tell the Obama administration to protect elephants by clamping down on the U.S. ivory market and protecting both forest and savannah elephants as "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act.

 
 
Back-to-School Brings New Class of Campus Activists

College studentsFall has arrived with its refreshing chill, changing leaves, pumpkin-spiced everything and annual back-to-school frenzy. This year the Center welcomed college students onto campus with an opportunity to start the semester by advocating for the issues they care about, including food, sex and nature.

Our new Campus Action Kits, featuring our Endangered Species Condoms and new student-focused Team Wild materials highlighting the link between dietary choices and wildlife, were snatched up by students on more than 100 campuses from the University of Alaska Fairbanks to the University of Florida. (If you're a student or work on campus, you can still request a Campus Action Kit.)

"The typical college freshman today has seen more than a billion and a half people added to the planet since they were born," said the Center's population organizer Leigh Moyer. "These students have lived with massive population growth and climate change all their lives, so they're much more aware of the connection between human activities and the environmental problems the planet is facing." As part of the largest generation of youth the world has ever seen, today's students can have a unique, powerful role in driving the future of the planet.

Next up for this year's growing class of campus activists: Mark your calendars for Wildlife Week -- Oct. 5-11 -- a full week of take-action chances, outreach ideas and new materials to help students and campuses make more wildlife-friendly food choices. To learn more email EarthFriendlyDiet@biologicaldiversity.org.
 
Photo credits: Stephanie Feldstein staff photo; cow courtesy Flickr/Alessandro Pautasso; seabird courtesy Flickr/Econet; James Cameron courtesy Flickr/Steve Jurvetson; forest elephant courtesy Flickr/Swallowtail Garden Seeds; confiscated ivory by Gavin Shire, USFWS; savannah elephant courtesy Flickr/swiss.frog; college students courtesy Flickr/Tulane Public Relations.
 

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To sign up for Endangered Species Condoms, click here. If you'd like more information on the Center's Population and Sustainability program, visit our website.

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