Why do we need to talk about population and sustainability?

Population and Sustainability

There are more than 7.5 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 has been working to address the connection between rampant human population growth and the extinction crisis since 2009. Our innovative outreach and public-pressure campaigns — like our award-winning Endangered Species Condoms project — focus on common-sense solutions, including the empowerment of women and girls, the education of all people, universal access to birth control, sustainable consumer choices, and a societal commitment to giving all species a chance to live and thrive.

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 half a million Endangered Species Condoms across all 50 U.S. states.
  • Launched Take Extinction Off Your Plate, the first full-time program by a major environmental group addressing the devastating impact of the meat industry on wildlife.
  • Commissioned a groundbreaking poll showing that most Americans believe human population growth is a significant factor in the disappearance of wildlife.
  • Created an innovative social media campaign that inspired people from around the world to share photos of what living in a world of 7 billion looked like and felt like to them.
  • Mobilized supporters to submit more than 1,500 letters to the editor to newspapers around the country about the impacts of population growth on wildlife.
  • Generated momentous media attention on the often ignored issue of human population in top outlets, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Mashable and dozens of radio and podcast appearances.
  • Reached more than one million people with our campaigns on Facebook and Twitter.
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