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Gunnison sage grouse (c) Noppadol Paothong

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No. 28, February 15, 2013

In This Issue:

Too Crowded on the Dance Floor
Tackling the Climate Crisis: This Way Forward, Mr. President
A Baby Bust? Er, Not So Much

Too Crowded on the Dance Floor

Valentine's Day ain't what it used to be for the Gunnison sage grouse. These romantic, comical birds conduct elaborate courtship dances that are a birdwatcher's delight -- but lately they've been running out of the personal space that lets them really strut their stuff. Fortunately, after an agreement with the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed placing the Gunnison sage grouse on the endangered species list and protecting 1.7 million acres of its critical habitat in Colorado and Utah.

Embedded in the Fish and Wildlife Service's report is a section that's becoming all too common in government studies of endangered creatures, ecosystems and natural resources: Population growth is having a negative impact on the survival of other species. Adding insult to injury, projected future growth is going to make matters worse.

  • 90 percent of this bird's historic habitat has been lost to development, mining and agriculture.
  • The human population in Gunnison sage grouse habitat has increased by 70 percent since 1980.
  • Gunnison County, Colo., which is home to 80 percent of all Gunnison sage grouse, is expected to double in population to 31,000 by 2050.

Sounds like we may have a good candidate to feature on our next round of Endangered Species Condoms. So riddle us this: What's sexy and rhymes with "grouse"?

Tackling the Climate Crisis: This Way Forward, Mr. President

President Obama made some big promises on climate change in Tuesday's State of the Union address. We hope he means it when he says he'll take action even if Congress doesn't. And if he wonders what difference he can make from up there in the Oval Office, the Center for Biological Diversity has given him a list of five things to do now, including full use of the Clean Air Act to cut greenhouse pollution, a national carbon pollution tax, a ban on fracking on public lands, rejection of Arctic drilling and the Keystone XL pipeline, and joining the world in a fair and binding climate treaty.

Add another for good measure: Start a national and global discussion on reducing the planet's population and lowering human overconsumption of resources. Tackling climate change is hard enough with 7.5 billion people on the planet; imagine how much harder it will be with 10 billion.

To get involved with the Center's climate campaigns, visit our Climate Law Institute.

A Baby Bust? Er, Not So Much

Have you heard or seen gloomy media reports on falling birth rates? Or complaints about how the U.S. fertility rates are below the replacement level of 2.1 births per American woman? Even NPR stations are getting into the act.

How should a population activist respond to hand-wringing over an alleged national "baby bust"? Start by reading my piece in today's Chicago Daily Herald and then use these simple talking points to help educate your fellow Americans:

  • The world adds 200,000 more people every day, including 5,000 in the United States.
  • The fertility rate in the United States has been below replacement levels since the 1970s, and population growth has continued.
  • The planet is on track for 10 billion people by the end of the century.
  • The United States is projected to grow from 300 million to 450 million by 2050.
  • The planet is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. Species are disappearing with heartbreaking speed, between 1,000 and 10,000 times faster than the natural background rate.

There are also abundant signs that our ecological safety net is falling apart under current population conditions. Check back in with our 7.5 billion and Counting website to arm yourselves with information on how population growth affects oceans, climate change and species extinction.

Growth boosterism abounds in today's media landscape, but the time for that boosterism has long passed. Let's start a conversation that actually makes sense.

Connect with us on Twitter and at our Pop X: Human Population and the Extinction Crisis Facebook page.

Hasta la victoria,

Jerry Karnas

Jerry Karnas
Population Campaign Director

Center for Biological Diversity | P.O. Box 710, Tucson, AZ 85702-0710

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Gunnison sage grouse photo (c) Noppadol Paothong/www.savethelastdancebook.com.