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Oregon slender salamander

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No. 21, July 20, 2012

In This Issue:

All Our Exurbs Live in Texas -- State Has Half the U.S.'s Fastest Growing Cities
On World Population Day, A United Plea for Women
Is It Called "Popera?" In London, Opop Gets Much Play

All Our Exurbs Live in Texas -- State Has Half the U.S.'s Fastest Growing Cities

Texas may be big, but it's filling up and sprawling out fast. New data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that eight of the country's 15 fastest-growing cities -- during the period April 2010 to July 2011 -- were in the Lone Star State. Round Rock, just north of Austin, grew by nearly 5 percent during that time; Austin itself added about 30,000 people, pulling ahead of San Francisco in size. That kind of rapid, often unplanned growth comes at a cost: Austin's trying to build a water-treatment plant in the heart of habitat for the very rare Jollyville Plateau salamander, a project the Center for Biological Diversity's been fighting.

Of course, Texas is one of many growth-and-sprawl hotspots. Human populations are swelling in other regions rich in biodiversity too -- for example, around San Diego and Denver, both also home to species the Center's trying to save from forces driven by runaway human population. As these populations grow, more habitat is paved over, more air is polluted, more water is sucked away and more invasive species gain a foothold. Each of these is an incremental step in a larger process that's bringing massive, rapid change to the ecosystems that support life.

Among the most vulnerable to habitat loss, pesticides and invasive species are reptiles and amphibians, which are also egregiously underprotected in the United States and beyond. The Center just filed to get 53 of these "herpetofauna" species protected under the Endangered Species Act. Check out this map to see which of them are close to you.

On World Population Day, A United Plea for Women

World Population Day was July 11, and the United Nations marked it with a push for universal access to reproductive services for women around the world. "We must mainstream reproductive health and rights into all development and poverty-reduction plans. Investing in universal access to reproductive health is a crucial investment in healthy societies and a more sustainable future," said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Makes sense to us. So does this piece from Timothy E. Wirth at the United Nations Foundation about the need for global leaders to re-engage on this critical issue. We also liked this writeup about talking to your kids at the dinner table about the population problem. For our part, the Center gave away more of our free Endangered Species Condoms on World Population Day at events in Moab, Utah and Kansas City.

Is It Called "Popera?" In London, Opop Gets Much Play

So, say you're a scientist and you cogitate a lot on the subject of human population and the effect it's having on wildlife and the environment. You convene panels and publish papers and crunch numbers till the cows come home. Still, your urgent message to the world seems to be going unheard by the masses. Well, if you're a particular scientist -- for instance, Stephen Emmott at Oxford University -- that's not good enough. You decide to take to the stage.

The 52-year-old Emmott is stepping out of his computer lab and into a theatrical production called "Ten Billion." The show, which opened at the Royal Court in London this week, includes a replica of his office (messy piles of paper and all) and a whiteboard where he apparently holds forth on the tenuous future of life on Earth. Population growth, he says, is "destroying ecosystems, polluting the atmosphere and the sea, raising temperatures and melting ice caps and we have no idea what the outcome will be."

Hopefully there's a little singing to lighten the mood.

Read more about Emmott's production here.

Until next time,

7billionandcounting logo

The 7.5 billion and Counting Team

Center for Biological Diversity | P.O. Box 710, Tucson, AZ 85702-0710

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Photo of Oregon slender salamander (c) Steve Wagner.