7 Billion People Crowding Out Imperiled Animals and Plants
The world population hit 7 billion people Oct. 31, accelerating the global extinction crisis for animals and plants imperiled by overpopulation’s effects on habitat, water, air and other natural resources. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) launched a new national campaign, 7 Billion and Counting, highlighting this milestone and the connection between staggering human population growth and the massive extinction of plant and animal species.
“The conversation can’t be avoided any longer,” said Amy Harwood, coordinator of the 7 Billion and Counting campaign. “There’s never been a more pivotal time to talk about the devastating effects of the population crisis on plants and animals around the world.”
As part of the 7 Billion and Counting campaign, the CBD is giving away 100,000 of its popular Endangered Species Condoms. It also launched a huge video ad in New York City’s Times Square, inspired activists around the country to host events highlighting this critical issue and unveiled a new interactive map that offers information on endangered species in every county in the U.S.
The CBD also just released a report on the top 10 U.S. species facing extinction from pressures directly related to overpopulation. Species like the Florida panther and Mississippi gopher frog are rapidly losing habitat as the human population expands, while others are seeing their habitat dangerously altered and are facing demise from consumption demand.
The CBD is the only environmental group with a full-time campaign highlighting the connection between runaway human population growth and the ongoing extinction crisis. The world’s population has doubled since 1968 and the United Nation predicts it will hit 10 billion by century’s end. Meanwhile, dozens of species go extinct every day.
“As the human population grows and the rich countries consume resources at voracious rates, we are crowding out, poisoning and eating all other species into extinction,” said Harwood. “If it isn’t stopped, we’ll find ourselves on a very lonely planet devoid of any sense of the wild world this place once was.”
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At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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