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Fireflies Lose Their Shine to Light Pollution

I grew up in the Midwest, where fireflies lighting up in the darkness was part of what defined summer evenings. So when I read the recent news that firefly species are declining, I couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to grow up without them.

Scientists warn that the 2,000 species of fireflies in the world are dwindling, and one of the culprits is increased light pollution from expanding cities -- yet another reason why population growth and energy overconsumption can't continue unchecked.

Read more in The New York Times about vanishing fireflies and the efforts to draw attention to lightning bugs' plight. Then read on below for the latest population and sustainability news, including how you can help save another childhood icon: the monarch butterfly.

For the wild,
Stephanie Feldstein Stephanie Feldstein
Population and Sustainability Director
P.S. Today's world population is: 7,211,140,293. We can still save room for wildlife -- spread the word and share the newsletter below.

How to Stop an Extinction Crisis: Give Back Half the Planet

EarthriseFamed biologist and champion of biodiversity E.O. Wilson recently sat down with Smithsonian Magazine to discuss what it would take to save the world's remaining wild places and biodiversity. His solution: Set aside half the planet for nature.

Wilson's "Half Earth" vision would consist of a system of wild land connected in a chain of uninterrupted wilderness corridors that open up into larger national parks, permanently protected to help biodiversity thrive. "People haven't been thinking big enough," Wilson said. "Even conservationists."

If Half Earth -- or any significant percentage of the planet set aside for wildlife -- is going to succeed, we need to address human population growth and overconsumption. If our population continues its trajectory toward 10 billion people, along with billions of livestock animals to feed our appetite for meat, we won't be able to protect areas large enough to save species. While we're creating uninterrupted wildlife corridors, we also need to ensure that there's uninterrupted access to reproductive health care, contraception and education.

Extinction-free BBQ

Hellbender Endangered Species Condoms

Extinction-free BBQ Success

In August we launched our Extinction-free BBQ campaign, urging people to take extinction off their grills by trying meat-free meals. In the weeks leading up to Labor Day, the idea was on fire -- taking off on social media with posts from Alicia Silverstone, Mutts Comics, One Green Planet and more. On Twitter alone, #ExtinctionFreeBBQ reached more than 1.75 million people. Labor Day may be behind us, but delicious Earth-friendly eating is always in season. Check out the Extinction-free BBQ Menu for recipe ideas to help you eat less meat and love more wildlife. Thanks to all who took part.

Condoms Get Wild at Alaska Zoo

A few weeks ago, the Alaska Zoo held its annual "Birds, Bees and Wine" event, highlighting the wild side of animal mating. Thanks to the Center's Endangered Species Condoms (along with fake sperm earrings), the event wasn't just about other animals' reproduction but also about the impacts of human reproduction on the birds and the bees. With a human population of 7.5 billion and growing, curbing runaway population growth needs to be part of any conservation conversation. Have an upcoming event or creative idea to help us reach a new audience? Sign up to become an Endangered Species Condoms volunteer.

Genetically Engineered Crops Threaten Iconic Butterflies
Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly

Monarch butterfly populations have declined by more than 90 percent after losing an estimated 165 million acres of habitat in under 20 years.

Ask the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to grant monarchs Endangered Species Act protection before it's too late.

Genetically engineered crops in midwestern corn and soybean fields have virtually wiped out milkweed, the monarch caterpillar's only food.

U.S. Dietary Guidelines Cause Emissions Gain

Polar bearEvery five years the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture team up to publish the "Dietary Guidelines for Americans" -- the government's nutrition bible for the public, which brought us the now-outmoded food pyramid and its more recent iteration "MyPlate."

A recent study from the University of Michigan determined that if America actually ate according to federal guidelines, it would increase diet-related greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 12 percent, largely due to the emphasis on dairy products. Thanks to a love of meat, the all-American diet already has one of the biggest carbon footprints in the world.

Those dietary guidelines are currently up for review and, for the first time ever, the advisory committee is paying special attention to sustainability. Predictably, the meat industry is protesting this move because there's no place for high meat and dairy consumption in a sustainable diet. Take action to urge the advisory committee to keep sustainability on the table and take extinction off MyPlate by including recommendations for reduced meat and dairy consumption in the 2015 dietary guidelines.

Photo credits: Stephanie Feldstein staff photo; Earthrise courtesy Wikimedia Commons/NASA; A Tale of Two Barbecues design by Russ McSpadden, Center for Biological Diversity; hellbender Endangered Species Condoms courtesy Flickr/AIDS/SIDA NB; monarch butterfly courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Kenneth Dwain Harrelson; monarch butterfly courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Teune; monarch butterfly courtesy Wikimedia Commons/Captain-tucker; polar bear courtesy Flickr/tableatny.

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