As World's Human Population Approaches 7 Billion, Global Species Extinction Crisis Accelerates
The number of people on Earth is expected to hit 7 billion later this year, a deeply troubling milestone in the human overpopulation crisis that’s contributing to widespread extinction of plants and animals, overconsumption of our natural resources, climate change and other environmental problems. February is Global Population Speak Out month, one of the best opportunities for citizens to take action on this crucial environmental issue.
“Every day, this planet has to deal with an additional 250,000 people that weren’t there the day before, and it simply can’t sustain the strain that puts on species, food and water, and natural ecosystems,” said Randy Serraglio, overpopulation campaign coordinator at the Center for Biological Diversity.
Wildlife have already paid a price in the United States. Once-prominent species such as the eastern woodland bison and the Southwest’s Merriam’s elk were hunted to extinction, while scores of others disappeared because of dams, lost habitat, pollution and cattle grazing. Today’s global extinction crisis threatens other charismatic species like polar and grizzly bears, beluga whales and gray wolves, as well as other smaller, lesser-known species. As the human footprint on the planet grows, scientists estimate we’re losing species at 100 to 1,000 times the natural rate. Without help, 30 percent to 50 percent of all species could be on the path to extinction by 2050.
“At its root, the loss of so many species is directly related to unsustainable human population growth,” Serraglio said. “Unfortunately, overpopulation and overconsumption rarely find their way into the conversation about solving the biggest environmental problems we face today. If that’s going to change, it’s crucial that citizens and community leaders begin holding elected leaders accountable for how their decisions contribute to overpopulation and overconsumption.”
In 2010, the Center distributed 350,000 Endangered Species Condoms to thousands of volunteers around the United States and beyond as a way to raise awareness about the connection between human overpopulation and species extinction. The Center is also joining in this year’s Global Population Speak Out and is urging its supporters to sign the GPSO pledge to make their voices heard on this important issue.
There are several ways to reduce the human population to an ecologically sustainable level, including the empowerment of women, education of all people and universal access to birth control.
Article retrieved from: Center for Biological Diversity