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Gender Equity Is Key to Facing the Climate Crisis
From Stephanie Feldstein, Population and Sustainability Program Director
For this year’s World Population Day on July 11, the United Nations highlighted how gender equality is key to “a more just, resilient and sustainable world.” Yet despite women making up half of the global population, only six countries have 50% or more women in their parliaments. That lack of representation for women makes it harder for countries to adapt to the climate crisis.
A new report by Population Institute assesses population, gender and reproductive health indicators for the 80 countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. It shows how trends in these areas can create the perfect storm to impair climate adaptation and resilience. The report also highlights examples of innovative approaches that recognize gender equity, reproductive rights and the climate crisis as interconnected issues, substantiating the Center’s work to include gender in U.S. municipal climate plans.
Learn more about the report in Newsweek. Then read on for more on newly approved over-the-counter birth control, how climate change will displace communities, and getting kids involved in fighting the extinction crisis.
FDA Approves First Over-the-Counter Birth Control Pill
On Thursday the FDA approved Opill, a progestin-only birth control pill, for over-the-counter use. This marks the first time a daily oral contraceptive has been approved for use in the United States without a prescription. While the timeline for availability and price are still being determined, Opill will soon be sold at drug stores, convenience stores, and grocery stores across the country, as well as online. With this move, the United States joins over 100 nations — including Mexico and the United Kingdom — where birth control pills are available without a prescription.
Here’s one thing you can do: Spread the news with friends, family and on social media.
The Shrinking Human Climate Niche
Humans are only suited to live within a relatively narrow range of temperatures. Beyond those temperatures — like in extreme heat — there are direct effects on our health and other potential barriers to survival, like drought and poor crop yields. A new study found that billions of people will probably be left outside the “human climate niche” by the end of the century.
Each increase of just 0.1 degree Celsius above current temperatures exposes another 140 million people to dangerous heat. But the study authors also emphasize that, as with other climate impacts, there’s still time to prevent the worst-case scenarios. Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius puts about 5% of the global population at risk — a lot better than the one-third of people on our current trajectory.
Here’s one thing you can do: Tell President Biden to use the full extent of his executive powers to end the fossil fuel era now.
Rethinking Summer Traditions
While the winter holidays are best known for excessive consumption and waste, the summer holidays also take a toll on the planet. “Fireworks aren’t the only Fourth of July tradition that needs a reboot in light of our changing climate,” Center organizer Malia Becker writes in a letter to The Oregonian. Cookouts with meat-heavy menus, disposable plates and utensils, and plastic decorations also make summer celebrations dreary for wildlife.
In an op-ed to the Florida Times-Union, Kelley Dennings, a campaigner with the Center, also warns readers not to get sucked into Christmas in July sales. “The ‘bargain prices’ are just another ploy to sell us stuff we don’t need at a cost the planet can’t afford,” writes Dennings. Instead, she advises, “skip the sales and enjoy the season we’re in.”
Here’s one thing you can do: Visit our Simplify the Holidays website to learn more about creating less wasteful traditions all year long.
Teaching Youth About Food Waste
Food waste is a huge problem in the United States — we waste up to 40% of the food we produce. Americans also eat more meat and dairy than almost every other country, which makes climate change worse and gobbles up land for wildlife. The Center’s Senior Food Campaigner Jennifer Molidor appeared as an expert guest on the WQLN PBS show Kids for Positive Change to share these facts and more with young PBS viewers. You can hear her talk about the harms of industrial farming and food waste in Season 2, Episode 3 — Food Waste.
Here’s one thing you can do: Watch the episode with a young person in your life, and then visit the Center’s food waste website to learn more about the harms of food waste and how to stop it.
Take Action: Save Life on Earth
Our planet is facing a global extinction crisis never witnessed by humankind and it’s entirely of our own making. There’s still time to turn the tide — but everyone needs to get involved. That’s why I wrote a series of books to help young people learn about the extinction crisis and how they can take action to help save pollinators, ocean life, carnivores, amphibians, birds and native plants. The six titles will be released in August and are especially geared toward schools and libraries, but they’re available for anyone to purchase.
Here’s one thing you can do: Preorder the Take Action: Save Life on Earth series or encourage your local librarian to carry these books.
Breaking Corporate Control of the Future of Food
The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems just released a brief on how multinational corporations have taken over food systems, including by dominating processes that are supposed to represent diverse and marginalized people. Powerful agribusinesses have suppressed the voices of those who are most harmed by food insecurity and industrial agriculture — and who are best positioned to transform food systems. We need global action to break corporate control and create new autonomous, inclusive processes to build an equitable, sustainable future for food.
Here’s one thing you can do: The Center’s annual online Food Justice Film Festival helps amplify the voices of farmers, food workers, activists, and filmmakers to explore the stories of who grows our food, how it’s grown, and the path to food sovereignty. Save the date — this year’s festival will run Sept. 14-17.
Wildlife Spotlight: Okaloosa Darter
Okaloosa darters are a tiny fish who live in a handful of Florida streams. Only about 2 inches long, their bodies are greenish-yellow to reddish-brown with spots. A combination of threats, including pollution and sedimentation, drove their numbers to fewer than 10,000. One report estimated that until the mid-1990s, as much as 70,000 tons of sediment flowed into their habitat every year.
Okaloosa darters gained protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1973. The Eglin Air Force Base (where 90% of the darters live) teamed up with scientists and state and federal agencies to save these little fish. Last month, with a population of more than 600,000, the darters swam off the threatened species list, joining more than 50 species of plants and animals that have recovered under federal protection.
Center for Biological Diversity | Saving Life on Earth
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Photo credits: Gender equality symbol via Canva; 'i'iwi print used with permission; birth control pills by Thought Catalog/Unsplash; smokestacks by Ben Reierson/Flickr; barbeque by cottonbro studio/Pexels; screenshot of Jennifer Molidor from video by Kids for Positive Change; Okaloosa darter courtesy USFWS.
Center for Biological Diversity
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Tucson, AZ 85702