Why do we need to talk about population and sustainability?
There are more than 8 billion people on the planet, and we’re adding 227,000 more every day. We’ve already witnessed the devastating effects of runaway human population growth on biodiversity: Species abundant in North America just two centuries ago — from the woodland bison of West Virginia and Arizona’s Merriam’s elk to the Rocky Mountain grasshopper, passenger pigeon and Puerto Rico’s Culebra parrot — have been wiped out by growing human numbers.
Most biologists agree that we’re in the midst of the Earth’s sixth mass extinction event; species are disappearing at the fastest rate since dinosaurs roamed the planet. This time, though, it isn’t because of geologic or cosmic forces — it’s because of our unsustainable human population growth and overconsumption. It’s clear that these issues need to be addressed before it’s too late.
The Center’s Population and Sustainability program addresses the impacts on wildlife and the environment that are caused by human population pressure and destructive consumption and production. We fight for solutions that advance justice, equity, health, and a compassionate world where both people and wildlife can thrive.
To protect the wild, we use creative media, advocacy and public outreach to raise awareness about human population growth and unsustainable consumption — and their direct connection to the climate and extinction crises.
Our innovative campaigns — like our award-winning Endangered Species Condoms and Take Extinction Off Your Plate projects — build toward a just and sustainable future, including the empowerment of women and girls, universal access to reproductive healthcare and education, a healthy and secure food system, a less extractive economic system, and a commitment to protecting wildlife and wild places.
In 2013 we expanded our population program to encompass overconsumption and sustainability, too — since these issues are intricately tied to the impact of human population on endangered species and the health of our planet. The expanded program will continue using a combination of creative media, advocacy, outreach, and the expansion of our nationwide network of population and sustainability activists to keep these critical issues in the spotlight.
Our Population and Sustainability Program has:
- Distributed more than 1 million Endangered Species Condoms across all 50 U.S. states.
- Created the first full-time program from a major environmental group, Take Extinction Off Your Plate, addressing the devastating impact of the meat industry on wildlife.
- Curated an online resource library with more than 100 published papers on the connection between population pressure and threats to wildlife and the effectiveness of solutions grounded in human rights and equity.
- Published a policy guide to advance sustainable diets and reduce diet-related greenhouse gas emissions.
- Released a report on the lack of gender empowerment and reproductive health in municipal climate plans, along with recommendations for how policymakers can include gender equity in their climate planning.
- Published a report exploring the harms caused to reproductive and environmental health by fossil fuel extraction, plastic production, pollution from industrial agriculture, and climate catastrophe under market capitalism.
- Created an in-depth, research-based website on myths and facts about the harmful effects of cattle grazing on wildlife and wild places.
- Launched innovative campaigns to challenge consumer culture, including the Wildlife-friendly Wedding Guide, Simplify the Holidays, and the SoKind Alternative Gift Registry.
- Published a first-of-its-kind analysis of America's biggest grocery companies, which found that the industry is failing to take meaningful action to address its contribution to the food-waste crisis.
- Generated momentous media attention on the often-ignored but far-reaching problems of human population pressure and consumption in top outlets, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Mashable and dozens of radio and podcast appearances.