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Poll: Most Americans See Population Growth as Threat to Wildlife, Climate

from the Center for Biological Diversity:

biologicalMIAMI— A new poll finds a majority of Americans believe the world’s growing human population is driving wildlife species toward extinction and is making climate change worse. Respondents also said addressing the human population — which topped 7 billion in 2011 — is an important environmental issue and that society has a “moral obligation” to address wildlife extinctions related to population growth.

The national poll of 657 registered voters was commissioned by the Center for Biological Diversity. It was conducted by Public Policy Polling on Feb. 22, 23 and 24. The poll has a margin of error of +-3.85 percent.

floridapanther“It’s now more clear than ever that Americans are concerned about the toll that human population growth is having on wildlife and our planet,” said Jerry Karnas, population campaign director at the Center. “Population is clearly a driving factor in so many of our environmental issues today, whether it’s sprawling development crowding out Florida panthers and sea turtles, loss of wild habitat for San Joaquin kit foxes in California or the climate crisis pushing polar bears ice seals toward extinction. It’s heartening to see that most Americans understand these connections and don’t want to see them ignored.”

“Although it’s an issue that doesn’t get talked about that much, this poll shows population is an emerging environmental issue that Americans recognize, especially when it comes to protecting wildlife from extinction,” said Jim Williams, of Public Policy Polling.

Among the poll’s results released today:

  • 64 percent said that, with the human population expected to hit 10 billion by 2050, wildlife will be adversely affected.
  • 61 percent said they are already concerned about the rate that wildlife are disappearing.
  • 60 percent said they “strongly agreed” or “somewhat agreed” that human population growth is driving animal species to extinction.
  • 60 percent said our society has a “moral responsibility” to address wildlife extinctions in the face of a growing population.
  • 59 percent said they “strongly agreed” or “somewhat agreed” that addressing the effects of human population growth is “an important environmental issue.”
  • 57 percent believe human population growth is “significantly impacting the disappearance of wildlife.”
  • 57 percent said they “strongly agreed” or “somewhat agreed” that population growth is making climate change worse.
  • 54 percent said stabilizing population growth will help protect the environment.

kitfoxThe Center for Biological Diversity launched its human population campaign in 2009 to highlight the connection between the world’s rapidly growing population and the effect it has on endangered species, wildlife habitat, the climate and overall environmental health. As part of the campaign, the Center has given away nearly 500,000 Endangered Species Condoms intended as a way to get people talking about this critical issue.

The Center advocates for a number of ways to address population, including universal access and adequate funding for family planning services, empowerment of women, sustainable development, a reduction in the consumption of natural resources and personal decisions that lessen the impacts on wildlife and the environment.

“If we’re going to address some of the biggest environmental problems we face, population has to be part of the conversation,” Karnas said. “These poll numbers show Americans are ready to start talking about population and dealing with impacts.”

To download a copy of the poll go to


Government scientists have highlighted population as key environmental issue in recent months.

coloradoIn a decision to protect 66 coral species under the Endangered Species Act, the National Marine Fisheries Service said population and consumption of natural sources was “the common root or driver” of ocean acidification and other threats corals face.

The Department of the Interior recently released a report on the future of the Colorado River, concluding that, in 50 years, the river that supplies water to 40 million people may be unable to meet the demands of a burgeoning human population.

The U.S. Forest Service issued a report with another grim prediction: that 36 million acres of the nation’s forests will be lost to houses, strip malls and roads by 2050. That’s an area 16 times larger than Yellowstone National Park.

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  1. Smoky Zeidel #

    I read polls like this one and I wonder: who are these people who *don’t* strongly agree, or at least, somewhat agree, that we, as people, have to do something about species extinction. Do they not read? Do they not understand food chains and ecological balance? Where were they when they were supposed to be learning this stuff at school? Then the cynic in me says, “Oh yeah. They’re the ones who stick their noses in the Bible and misinterpret it and take it to mean the Earth is here for them to destroy.” Yes, I’m having one of those kinds of days.

    March 5, 2013
    • Those are the same people who don’t know the name of their state’s capital and/or who get most of their news from Entertainment Tonight. They don’t know how to read. I have “those kinds of days,” too.


      March 5, 2013
  2. A typical predator/prey balance usually changes when the predators have over-harvested their food source. Humans are doing that right now to the planet as a whole. I hope at least a few will survive.

    March 6, 2013
    • We’ll probably come up with something like Soylent Green, Montucky.

      March 6, 2013
      • Smoky Zeidel #

        I’m not sure Soylent Green hasn’t made it’s way into the food chain already. Ever wonder exactly what that stuff is in a fast food taco?

        March 7, 2013
        • It’s best not to ask what’s in that taco. Soylent Green is, apparently, versatile enough to be sold in multiple forms.

          March 7, 2013

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