Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Over-population: a lighter approach to a very serious problem

It was a year ago that I ran a post about the 800-lb. gorilla-in-the-room problem: world overpopulation. Take a look at what I wrote on March 6 of last year.

Not much has changed, other than the human population has continued to grow unabated. But as last year's posting notes, it's a touchy subject. The Zero Population Growth movement of the late 60's and 70's has faded in our memories, replaced by a more draconian system in China and ignored as a serious issue in most other industrialized nations.

However, it is at the core of many, if not most, of our environmental problems. We are pushing nature beyond its limits to sustain us, and all of our efforts to address the symptoms - through increased crop yields, sustainable seafoods, cleaner industrial factories, and even alternative energy - are ultimately stop gap measures at best.

But to raise public awareness through fear and dire predictions seems to fall on deaf ears nowadays. Perhaps we are beset with too many problems, too many issues of Armageddon-like proportions, that we just can't handle one more, particularly one in which there does not seem to be a simple, mutually agreed upon solution.

A year ago, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) was painting a bleak picture about overpopulation. This year, they are using a somewhat lighter touch with Endangered Species Condoms.

Each individually boxed condom has information about the impact of human overpopulation on all species - although I'm not sure how many people are going to pause to read the box ("Can you hang on a second, dear. I want to read something here."). Maybe afterwards, as a replacement for that traditional post-coital cigarette or snuggle time.

CBD's executive director, Kieran Suckling, says, "The packages are designed to get people talking about overpopulation. And boy, do they work. We tested them on Valentine's Day, expecting 100 volunteer distributors to come forward. An astounding 5,000 people volunteered taking all 100,000 condoms in just a couple of days!

As planned, the media ate it up. We generated funny but deadly serious conversations about overpopulation and the extinction crisis in hundreds of newspapers including The New York Times, L.A. Times, Miami Herald, and Boston Globe. More than 300,000 blogs and Web sites covered the issue."

CBD hopes to distribute 250,000 condoms by Earth Day, on April 22nd. You can learn more at a special Center for Biological Diversity web site devoted to the subject.

Says Suckling, "It is imperative that we break the wall of silence around overpopulation. If we don't, all the environmental progress we make will be overwhelmed by the sheer mass of people pushing into the last wildlife habitats, eating the last fish, and damming the last wild rivers."

No comments: