Winter 2016-17 - ActionLine
How You Can Help Save Animals and the Environment
Critical factors to slowing population growth are improving access to family planning, better education and health care, and improving the status of and options available to women. In Iran, the fertility rate dropped from 7 in 1980 to 1.7 in 2010. The country attributed their success to education for girls, along with free access to birth control, and media and government mobilization around advertising the importance of contraception. Please consider these other ideas: Together, we can make the biggest difference by reducing the number of children we have— voluntarily.
If everyone strives to have no more than two children, the overall fertility rate would drop to 1.5. Also, consider alternatives to childbirth, such as adoption, foster parenting or sharing the responsibility of friends’ and relatives’ children.
Get involved in national and worldwide efforts to halt population growth through ensuring that women everywhere gain access to affordable birth control, reproductive health care and literacy. Groups such as Population Connection (formerly Zero Population Growth, www. populationgrowth.org), Planned Parenthood Federation and Engenderhealth (www.engenderheatlth.org) work on these specific issues. In Travis County, Texas, where the teen pregnancy rate exceeds that of the state’s, Engenderhealth works directly with young people between the ages of 14 and 16 who are at a high risk of becoming teen parents. And in both Austin and Dallas, it is partnering with Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas to educate young people about how traditional gender norms and intimate partner violence can influence their risk of pregnancy.
Adopt a vegan lifestyle. While adopting a vegan diet and lifestyle is not a cure for all of our planet’s woes, it remains an effective way to combat climate change and most atrocities that are waged against animal populations all over the world. Nearly half of earth’s entire land mass is used for farming—with a staggering 30 percent of Earth’s land surface used for doomed livestock. And of all the agricultural land in the U.S., 80 percent is used to raise animals for food and grow grain to feed them—that’s almost half the total land mass of the lower 48 states. And all lands used for “free-range” cattle and sheep farming decimate habitat that belongs to wild horses, bison, wolves, coyotes, foxes and other animals who are often killed to benefit ranchers.
Elect leaders who are not afraid to address the urban sprawl issue. Case in point: Paul Danish, a journalist who ran for City Council in Boulder in 1975 and won, mounted a citywide referendum fight for a 2 percent growth limit. Boulder voters approved a 2% growth limitation referendum, known as the Danish Plan. It expired in 1982 but has been succeeded by a series of similar measures, bolstered by a 55-foot height limit on all buildings, an aggressive, voter-approved sales tax-financed open space purchase program, and a master plan agreement with Boulder County that essentially gives the city veto power over most new development in the area.
Support leaders who protect women’s access to birth control and reproductive health care and don’t attack vital Title X funding for family planning providers here in the U.S. Low-income American women face the real threat of having crucial family planning programs de-funded. We also need leaders who support U.S. aid to the United Nations Population Fund. UNFPA is a critical partner in the effort to expand access to contraceptives and to provide women with basic reproductive health care.
If you are an educator, introduce curriculum that increases students’ awareness of population and consumption habits and inspires them to consider their personal lifestyle choices that influence the environment. In Oregon, for example, a high school education program called Living Within Limits has been designed by Alternatives to Growth Oregon. Population Connection offers curricula and teacher training workshops as well.
Become a member of Friends of Animals. Friends of Animals places critical habitat, wildlife protection and veganism at the core of animal advocacy. Our Wildlife Law Program remains steadfast in filling a niche between animal and environmental activism and we will continue to use state, federal and international environmental laws as a means to protect the rights of animals to live free from human interference, which remains crucial until humans resolve their overpopulation problem. Order copies of our new overpopulation brochure to distribute to family and friends or at events at www. friendsofanimals.org.
Dustin Rhodes contributed to this report.