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Living in Ecological Debt
From Kim Dinan, Senior Media Specialist
Aug. 2 was Earth Overshoot Day, the date when humanity uses up all the resources the planet can renew in a single year. That means we’ll be living in debt for the next five months as we take 70% more than Earth’s ecosystems can regenerate. Here in the United States, our ecological footprint is so big that our own overshoot occurred back on March 13.
Each year — with a brief reprieve during the COVID-19 lockdown — Earth Overshoot Day has arrived earlier on the calendar. But that trend is not our destiny. A just transition in the way we grow food, get our energy, and empower people through education and reproductive freedom can help us balance our ecological books.
A new report outlines the staggering risk of disease from U.S. animal industries. Researchers at Harvard Law School and New York University found that those animal industries — including industrial agriculture, fur farming, and the exotic pet trade — pose significant dangers to human health. All of the animal industries the researchers examined were far less regulated than they should be (and far less regulated than the public believes they are), creating a perfect storm of interactions that could spark future pandemics.
Here's one thing you can do: Tell your representative to support the Mink VIRUS Act to end mink farming.
The Benefits of Shrinking the Global Population
Our Population and Sustainability Director Stephanie Feldstein was recently a guest on the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Deep Dish podcast to talk about how human population decline could help society and the environment. She talked about how population growth and overconsumption have landed us in the environmental and extinction crises we face today. Global population decline, Stephanie says, would not only have benefits for the environment but also for society — more reproductive freedom, better healthcare and education, and greater gender equity.
Here’s one thing you can do: Listen in as Stephanie discusses the advantages of a shrinking global population.
Food Justice Film Festival — Register Now
Our fourth annual virtual Food Justice Film Festival is being held from Sept. 14-17. Register now for free access to four days of feature-length documentaries exploring the links between food justice, farmworker rights, worker protections, food access, and environmental sustainability. During the festival we’ll also share virtual interviews with food justice organizers and activists.
Our films this year feature…
- Farmworkers in Florida fighting for justice, fair pay, and better working conditions.
- Migrant farmers in Canada struggling against an exploitative system designed to deceive them.
- Community members and public health advocates’ efforts to stop Big Soda’s infiltration into Mexican society.
Social entrepreneurs who joined a movement to change the world through their pursuit of an alternative economic model.
Here’s one thing you can do: Learn more about the movies on our website.
Webinar: Population Dynamics and Climate Resilience
Join the Center’s Population and Sustainability Campaigner Kelley Dennings and other population advocates on Sept. 14 at 11 a.m. ET/ 8 a.m. PT for a webinar hosted by Population Connection. We’ll discuss the Population Institute’s recent report on how climate change affects the most vulnerable communities worldwide. The report found that in the 80 most climate-vulnerable countries, population is growing on average at twice the global rate — and rapid population growth is often linked to gender inequality, including minimal access to family planning and reproductive-health services. Register today to join the webinar.
Here's one thing you can do: Read the Center’s report to learn why it’s important to include gender-based solutions in U.S. climate action plans.
Study: Plastic in Lakes Linked to Human Population
Microplastics pollute waterways all over the world. But a new study published in the journal Nature found that lakes and reservoirs in densely populated and urbanized areas are especially vulnerable to plastic pollution. Many plastics in these waters probably come from everyday items like T-shirts.
“The simple act of people getting in, swimming, and having clothing that has microplastic fibers in it leads to microplastic getting everywhere,” said Ted Harris, one of the study’s researchers. “This paper essentially shows the more humans, the more plastics.”
Here’s one thing you can do: Urge U.S. leaders to finalize a strong global plastics treaty.
Plant-Based Eaters Account for 75% Less Emissions
It’s well known that animal agriculture is one of the greatest threats to biodiversity and a leading cause of climate change, habitat loss, water pollution and pesticide use. But a new study looking at the actual diets of 55,500 people in the United Kingdom has found that people who eat plant-based diets account for 75% less greenhouse gas emissions than those who eat more than 3.5 ounces of meat a day. The study found that vegan diets also use 75% less land, waste 54% less water, and cause 66% less biodiversity loss.
Here's one thing you can do: Check out the Center’s resources on cheap and easy ways to eat an Earth-friendly diet.
Wildlife Spotlight: Cactus Ferruginous Pygmy Owls
Small but mighty cactus ferruginous pygmy owls are usually under 7 inches long and weigh less than 2.6 ounces. They prey on insects, lizards and small mammals and are secondary-cavity nesters — meaning they live in holes made by woodpeckers and other species in saguaro cactuses and trees. Threatened by habitat destruction and fragmentation, climate change, and invasive species — especially fire-promoting grasses — cactus ferruginous pygmy owls are declining.
After these fierce little birds were first federally protected in Arizona, developers sued, and the owls lost safeguards in 2006. But we didn’t stop fighting. Thanks to the Center’s lawsuits and petitions, last month the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service again protected cactus ferruginous pygmy owls under the Endangered Species Act.
Center for Biological Diversity | Saving Life on Earth
Donate now to support the Center's work.
Photo credits: Earth via Canva; dairy farm by Bob Nichols/USDA; population graph by DESA, United Nations, Population Division/Wikimedia Commons; Food Justice Film Festival website courtesy Center for Biological Diversity; woman with floating house in Brazil by DESA, United Nations, Population Division; small plastic pieces by Midnight Breakfast Cafe/Flickr; vegetable globe by Stephanie Kilgast/Flickr; cactus ferruginous pygmy owl by Robin Silver/Center for Biological Diversity.
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Center for Biological Diversity
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Tucson, AZ 85702