Thousands of Endangered Species Condoms will be distributed across the United States tomorrow, World Population Day, to highlight the pressure human population growth puts on local wildlife.
World Population Day, July 11, was designated by the United Nations in 1989 to raise awareness about global population issues. There are more than 7.3 billion people on the planet; the United States is the third-most populous country in the world with 325 million.
Volunteers will hand out 10,000 contraceptives in 28 states where the species featured on the condom packages are most endangered, the Center for Biological Diversity said in a news statement. A national organization dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places, the Tucson, Arizona-based Center has given away 600,000 free Endangered Species Condoms since 2009.
The Center’s population and sustainability program promotes a range of solutions, including universal access to birth control and family planning, as well as education and empowerment of women and girls. Condom distribution is a way the organization gets people to discuss how increasing human population puts a strain on natural resources, taking them away from wildlife.
“Human population growth and increased consumption are driving extinction rates 1,000 times higher than the normal background rate,” said Leigh Moyer, the Center’s population organizer, in the news statement. “These condoms are a great way to get the conversation started about a serious issue. When we have dedicated volunteers distribute condoms in their neighborhoods and explain that extinction isn’t just a problem somewhere else but a problem everywhere, including in our own backyards, individuals can make better decisions for their families and for all wildlife, including local species.”
One of the most important measures of success with the condoms is to get people talking about this issue, Moyer said in an email to National Geographic Voices. “We’ve had more than 10,000 people give away our condoms on college campuses, farmer’s markets, churches, bars and parties and more than 50,000 more individuals have volunteered to be condom distributors. Each time that happens – or if someone reads about it or hears about—there’s a conversation started, an idea planted that connected our behavior with the fate of wildlife around the globe.”
The Center has also worked with colleges and universities “and have gotten some pretty great responses from them,” Moyer added. “A few years ago, students at Purdue University included a giant hellbender in their Earth Day distribution. One of the most exciting student projects is from San Jose State University where Professor Mary Poffenroff gives extra credit to students who make a 30 second video about ‘Condoms for Conservation.'”
In addition to distributing Endangered Species Condoms, the Center is also launching an online photo gallery featuring crowd-sourced photos of wildlife trying to survive in human neighborhoods, from turtles in the road to a red-tailed hawk perched on a swimming pool fence. The photos, submitted via social media by people using the hashtag #CrowdedPlanet, show what sharing a crowded planet with wildlife looks like around the country.
To view the gallery or for more information on how to submit your own photos showing how population pressure affects wildlife in your own backyard, visit the #CrowdedPlanet webpage.
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David Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.
He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.
Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship.