The Ongoing Cost of COVID-19

From Stephanie Feldstein, Population & Sustainability Program Director


As the coronavirus pandemic continues to surge across the U.S., it's become clear that we can expect long-term costs to public health, the healthcare system, education and the economy. But the pandemic has also raised environmental concerns. The plastic industry has used the health crisis to push for rolling back single-use plastic bans, even though experts say reusable containers are safe. And when meatpacking workers fell ill and slaughterhouses shut down, producers killed tens of millions of animals with little oversight, posing serious risks to human health and the environment.

While stopping the spread of disease and protecting workers and vulnerable communities must be the priority, we can't let polluting industries take advantage of this crisis. Wear a mask and join us as we keep fighting for wildlife and wild places. Read on to learn more.

Red wolf

Red wolves are one of the most endangered carnivores in the world, with only about 14 known wolves left in the wild. As Washington's NFL team finally begins the process of choosing a new mascot, some fans are howling for red wolves to get the honor, which would bring much-needed attention to this critically endangered species.

Population clock graphic


Contraception in Times of Crisis

This year the United Nations' World Population Day (July 11) focused on how to safeguard the health and rights of women and girls during the COVID-19 crisis. In addition to facing disproportionate exposure as frontline health workers, worldwide disruptions in access to contraception have resulted in at least 7 million unintended pregnancies in recent months, hitting marginalized communities and low-income countries particularly hard.

In the U.S. one in three women report trouble getting birth control or reproductive healthcare during the pandemic, and many are worried about being able to continue to afford or access contraception.

Here's one thing you can do: Watch Center campaigner Kelley Dennings in a World Population Day Q&A hosted by Population Matters on population and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. And if you missed our Saving Life on Earth webinar on contraception, consumption and conservation, you can now watch it on YouTube.

Tyson truck

Tyson Targeted for Failing to Protect Workers

More than 8,500 workers at Tyson meat packing facilities have contracted COVID-19, more than double the amount of any other meat packing company. Yet in April, Tyson published an open letter about the food chain breaking down, which helped prompt the Trump administration to issue an executive order for meat packing plants to stay open.

Earlier this month, the Center joined more than 120 organizations in calling on Tyson shareholders to respond to the ongoing risks and growing number of COVID cases in the company's facilities. During a week of action, thousands of people called and emailed Tyson demanding action to protect workers.

Here's one thing you can do: The Safe Line Speeds in COVID-19 bill was just introduced in Congress to impose slower, safer slaughter line speeds to improve worker safety and social distancing. Call your representative and ask them to support this important legislation.

Supreme Court building

Reproductive Rights: Mixed Rulings from Supreme Court

The Supreme Court handed down several rulings over the past month, two of which affect people's ability to get reproductive healthcare. In a victory for reproductive rights, the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that required any doctor providing abortion care to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. While that requirement may seem reasonable on the surface, it's medically unnecessary and used as a means of shutting down access to safe, legal abortion. If the law had stayed in effect, only one abortion clinic would've remained open in the entire state.

Unfortunately, a separate decision by the court rolled back contraceptive coverage by allowing employers to opt out of free birth control coverage by claiming religious or moral objections. This will likely make it even harder for marginalized students and employees to obtain the contraception of their choice.

Here's one thing you can do: Learn more about how "religious refusal" is used to discriminate in reproductive health care.

Ruffed lemur

Extinction Threatens 1 in 4 Mammals

The International Union for Conservation of Nature just released an update to its "red list" of species facing extinction. The new assessment found that 27% of evaluated species are threatened with extinction, including 1 in 4 mammals and more than 40% of amphibians.

Last year the United Nations estimated that 1 million species will go extinct in the coming decades if bold action isn't taken to save them. That's why we're calling for the protection of 30% of lands and waters for the wild by 2030 and 50% by 2050.

Here's one thing you can do: Tell Congress to support a plan to conserve at least 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030 to help stop the extinction crisis.


Analysis: G20 Diets Are Devouring the Planet

A new report found that the food-related emissions in G20 countries, which make up two-thirds of the world's population, account for 75% of the world's carbon budget for food. If the entire world adopted these diets, it would exceed the planetary boundaries of food-related emissions by 263% by 2050. The report by EAT highlights national dietary guidance as an opportunity to align food consumption with climate goals.

In related news, this week the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released its scientific report, which will be used to inform the latest update to U.S. dietary guidance. Although the report briefly mentions sustainability as an issue for future consideration, it fails to emphasize climate-friendly, plant-based diets.

Here's one thing you can do: Submit a public comment urging the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services to align the 2020 dietary guidelines with the planetary health diet.


Wildlife Spotlight: Wolverine

Wolverines are tough, scrappy member of the weasel family with a reputation for hunting prey several times their size and causing mountain lions, bears and wolves to abandon their kills. They tend to live alone, hunting and scavenging in Arctic and sub-Arctic forests.

Although wolverines usually inhabit more remote regions, trapping and habitat loss have been threatening these fierce animals for more than a century. And as human population has expanded, so have our threats to wolverines such as snowmobiles tearing through habitat and climate change shrinking the snowpack they need for dens and raising kits. There are only around 300 left in the wild in the lower 48. The Center and allies just won a key victory that hopefully moves these incredible animals closer to protection.

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Photo credits: Personal protective equipment via Canva; Stephanie Feldstein staff photo; red wolf by OnceAndFutureLaura/Flickr; doctor by SJ Objio/Unsplash; Tyson truck by Fkbowen/Wikimedia; U.S. Supreme Court building by Matt H. Wade/Wikimedia; ruffed lemur by Mathias Appel/Flickr; cattle by David W. Oliver/Flickr; wolverine by Mathias Appel/Flickr.

Center for Biological Diversity
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