A new relationship with animals, nature and each other.

How Seven Billion Humans Leads to Mass Extinction

There are just too many of us. But you can help.

This week, the world population reached 7 billion people eking out a living. By the end of the century, it will top 10 billion. Much of the reporting of this staggering number has noted that by mid-century the rate of increase will start slowing and that the population may even decrease a little. But that will be too little, too late.

Overpopulation and overconsumption are the root causes of the environmental destruction of our planet. We are driving species extinct, destroying wildlife habitat, and undermining the basic needs of all life at an unprecedented rate.

And while much of the population explosion is taking place in Africa and Asia, here in the United States, we humans are still migrating into sensitive parts of the country and causing a big problem to local wildlife.

We’ve already witnessed the devastating effects of overpopulation 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 and Puerto Rico’s Culebra parrot — have been wiped out by growing human numbers.

Overall, our planet is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. Hundreds of plant and animal species are disappearing from our planet every day, never to return. In fact, scientists say species today are going extinct 100 to 1,000 times faster than normal. They’re going extinct because of us — people.

The world’s human population has doubled since 1970 and shows no signs of letting up. After hitting a harrowing new high of 7 billion on Oct. 31, 2011, it has continued to skyrocket — and will do so for the rest of the century.

What you can do

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is one organization focused on saving nonhuman species by reducing our own footprint on the planet.

“The conversation can’t be avoided any longer,” said Amy Harwood, coordinator of the Center’s 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 campaign, the Center is giving away 100,000 of its Endangered Species Condoms. (Last year, 5,000 volunteers gave away 350,000 Endangered Species Condoms – an interesting way to get conversations started about how overpopulation is crowding out other forms of life and reducing the quality of our own.)

The Center also has a large video ad in New York City’s Times Square, and is inviting people around the country to host events highlighting this critical issue.

A new interactive map offers information on endangered species in every county in the United States offers a way to understand this global crisis at a local level, showing which endangered species live where you do and which are threatened by the effects of overpopulation.

“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.”

You can also read 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.

“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. “Talking about overpopulation means talking about saving species around the planet, whether it’s polar bears, wolves, bluefin tuna, penguins or the Miami blue butterfly.

“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.”

What do you say? Are you concerned about human overpopulation. Let us know in a comment or on Facebook.

What you can do:Learn more from the CBD’s FAQ page, on its resources page, get talking points in this fact sheet, join the discussion on Facebook and take action in our campaign to mobilize people on this critical issue.