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Celebrating the Law That’s Saving Life on Earth
From Stephanie Feldstein, Population and Sustainability Program Director
In 1973, the world population was less than half of what it is now. But even then, humans’ devastating impact on the natural world was undeniable. Pollution, habitat loss, and exploitation were pushing wild plants and animals to the brink of extinction. Government leaders recognized the need for urgent action, and Congress passed the Endangered Species Act almost unanimously.
Fifty years later, there are more than 8 billion people on the planet. Our pressure on wildlife and the environment has dramatically increased. If we don’t change course, a million species could disappear. But more than 99% of the species protected under the Endangered Species Act have been saved. There’s much more work to do to stop the extinction crisis, but the Act is still the most effective wildlife protection law.
Read the Center’s report A Promise to the Wild to learn more about the Endangered Species Act’s success. Then read on for the latest news on population pressure, sustainable food, and the fight against plastics greenwashing.
Scientific American Op-Ed: Population Decline Is Good
Earlier this month, Scientific American published my op-ed on why it’s so important to embrace human population decline. Economists invested in endless growth claim population decline is a catastrophe. But infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible, and the sooner we plan for degrowth, the better it will be for people and wildlife.
Instead of sacrificing vulnerable people to short-term profits, we can increase human rights, health, equity, and opportunity. Instead of destroying the natural world, we can leave room for biodiversity and thriving ecosystems. The choice is ours.
Here's one thing you can do: Read my op-ed on how we can choose a future of abundance.
Study: U.S. Media Portrays False Food Debate
There’s strong scientific consensus that countries like the United States need to shift toward plant-based diets to meet climate goals, reduce pollution, protect land and water, and improve food security. But an analysis of more than 200 newspaper articles found that American journalists continue to present the issue as an open debate. Reporting on studies that showed the need for meat and dairy reduction typically included quotes from the lead researcher and someone from the animal agriculture industry. The insistence on including “both sides” despite the overwhelming scientific evidence is reminiscent of how the media covered the climate crisis for years. Presenting the issue as a debate can confuse people who are interested in changing their own diets and undermines urgently needed sustainable food policy.
Here's one thing you can do: Check out the dietary guidelines website for ways you can get involved as the Biden administration updates federal nutrition recommendations — including by submitting comments in support of healthy, sustainable plant-based diets.
FDA Committee Backs Over-the-Counter Birth Control
A joint Food and Drug Administration advisory committee recently recommended allowing a birth control pill to be sold without a prescription. Young people, health care providers, and reproductive health and justice advocates testified about the benefits to removing barriers to contraception. The committee responded with a landmark unanimous vote in favor of approving over-the-counter status for Opill, a daily birth control pill. The vote was backed by decades of science showing that birth control pills are safe and effective, and the committee’s recommendation is an important step for reproductive rights and justice. If approved by the FDA, this would significantly improve access to contraception for people of all ages.
Here's one thing you can do: Share your support on social media for the FDA to fully approve over-the-counter birth control pills that are affordable, covered by insurance, and available to all ages by using the #FreeThePill hashtag.
Coalition Calls for Healthy School Meals for All
Free school meals are only available to students whose families meet certain income criteria. Many children who don’t qualify go hungry at school or rack up debt when they’re unable to pay. And the stigma associated with free or reduced-price meals keeps as many as 1 in 3 eligible students from participating.
Some states have taken steps to offer school meals at no charge to all students. But whether a child goes hungry shouldn’t be determined by their zip code. That’s why the Center joined a diverse coalition pushing for federal legislation for healthy school meals for all.
It doesn’t take an A-student to recognize the benefits of providing nutritious school meals for everyone. As Senior Food Campaigner Jennifer Molidor said, “Every congressperson should be pounding down the doors to ensure students have the fuel they need to learn and grow.”
Here’s one thing you can do: Learn more about the campaign and how you can get involved.
Plastic Industry Greenwashes Recycling (Again)
As the United Nations negotiates the first-ever global plastics treaty to address plastic pollution, the industry continues to push misleading recycling claims. The state of plastics recycling is bad enough as it is, with most plastics winding up in landfills regardless of whether they’re put in recycling bins. But now the plastic industry is trying to advance chemical recycling, which uses toxic chemicals and high-heat processes to break down plastics. It’s no more viable than other forms of plastic recycling and could create new environmental and health threats.
The Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides can be a useful tool to combat greenwashing. Last month, the Center submitted comments on how the FTC should update the Guides in several areas, including by challenging the plastic industry’s recycling claims.
Here’s one thing you can do: Sign the Center’s petition calling for a strong global plastics treaty to end plastic pollution.
Wildlife Spotlight: Piping Plover
Piping plovers are small, sandy-colored birds who spend most of their time camouflaged on beaches. Unless you spot their little orange legs dashing across the dunes or hear their bell-like whistles, you might not know they’re around. They may travel hundreds of miles between wintering and breeding sites, but many of them nest within 128 feet of last year’s spot.
These beach-loving birds have been protected under the Endangered Species Act for more than 20 years. But they still face threats from off-road vehicles, habitat loss, predation, and — most recently — space exploration.
SpaceX, the space technology company founded by Elon Musk, has a facility on Boca Chica on the Gulf of Mexico in Texas. This prime piping plover habitat is inundated with intense heat, noise and light pollution from construction and launch activities — and, when failed rockets explode, falling debris that can cause brush and forest fires. The Center and allies sued the Federal Aviation Administration for failing to fully examine the environmental harms caused by the space program at Boca Chica.
Here’s one thing you can do: Urge SpaceX and the Federal Aviation Administration to do more to protect Boca Chica and its wildlife.
Center for Biological Diversity
P.O. Box 710
Tucson, AZ 85702