Environmental group warns of mass wildlife extinctions as human population hits 7 billion

THE DAILY COURIER

As the United Nations marked the milestone of the world’s 7 billionth human on Halloween, the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity launched a new national campaign called “7 Billion and Counting” that highlights the connection between human population growth and mass extinction of wild animals and plants.

The center unveiled a new interactive map on its website at biologicaldiversity.org that offers information about endangered species in every county in the United States. And it released a report listing the top 10 species facing extinction from pressures directly related to overpopulation.

The center is giving away 100,000 of its “Endangered Species Condoms,” and it launched a huge video ad in New York City’s Times Square.

The center is the only environmental group with a full-time campaign highlighting the connection between human population growth and the extinction of other species.

Demographers say it took until 1804 for the world to reach its first billion people, and a century more until it hit 2 billion in

1927. Soon the numbers began to cascade: 3 billion in 1959, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1987, and 6 billion in 1998.

The U.N. estimates the world population will reach 8 billion by 2025 and 10 billion by 2083. But the numbers could vary widely, depending on life expectancy, access to birth control,

infant mortality rates and other factors.

“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 Amy Harwood, coordinator of the 7 Billion and Counting campaign. “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.”

Some scientists say Earth is on the brink of its sixth mass

extinction.

A study published in the journal Nature this year estimated that at least 80 mammal species have gone extinct in the past 500 years. They estimated the average historical extinction rate for mammals has been fewer than two extinctions every million years.

If all mammals now listed as endangered or threatened go extinct, it will be a true mass extinction, the study said.

Other studies have warned of similar consequences, with some scientists warning that increasing temperatures associated with climate change could trigger a new mass extinction.

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