Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 12, 2020


Kelley Dennings, (919) 355-8102,

Survey: Most Americans Believe Human Population Is Driving Wildlife Extinctions

TUCSON, Ariz.— A newly released survey of the American public conducted by the Center for Biological Diversity has found that 73% of respondents think the world’s population is growing too fast and nearly three-fourths agree human population growth is driving other animals to extinction.

These, and other key findings, illustrate the public’s understanding of the link between human population growth, unsustainable consumption and the extinction crisis.

“Earth’s human population has doubled in the past 50 years, while wildlife populations have plummeted by more than half,” said Kelley Dennings, a population and sustainability campaigner at the Center. “Our dependence on fossil fuels and industrial agriculture, unsustainable consumption, persecution of wildlife and destruction of their habitats is driving the extinction crisis.”

In order to understand how people in the United States perceive their impact on wildlife and the environment, the Center conducted a nationally representative online survey in the winter of 2019 exploring the topics of population, climate change, consumption and rights-based solutions like voluntary family planning.

Researchers, academics and activists acknowledge population growth and consumption affect the environment, but few social scientists have studied what the general public thinks of these subjects. This survey fills that knowledge gap.

Other key survey findings include:

  • Seventy-one percent of respondents agree that human population growth is making climate change worse;
  • Three out of 4 respondents say the United States isn’t doing enough to protect natural resources;
  • Seventy-four percent of respondents say Americans consume too many natural resources, though 48% also believe they personally consume less than the average American;
  • Eighty percent of respondents agree that all types of birth control should be legal, free and easily accessible.

“The American public overwhelmingly understands humanity’s role in wildlife extinctions,” said Dennings. “We need to address both unsustainable consumption and human population growth to stop the extinction crisis. To do anything less fails to acknowledge the systems of oppression that threaten human rights and the environment.”

The Center advocates for common-sense, rights-based solutions to unsustainable consumption and population growth, including comprehensive reproductive health, education and equity and a new green economy that supports local jobs and supply chains, empowering communities to become resilient and equitable.

To view the survey in full, visit the Center’s website.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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