SANTA BARBARA, Calif., April 14, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In 1970, environmentalists celebrated the first Earth Day while simultaneously developing plans to protect the environment. Conservationists across the country noted, "Every environmental problem is a population problem."
April 22nd marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, but the U.S. population has increased by over half to 321 million, and America is now the third most populous country in the world. Since 1970, California's population has soared, doubling to almost 40 million, an increase equivalent to adding the entire populations of Ireland, Costa Rica, Norway, and Uruguay to the state.
"The consequences of that growth are all around us—loss of open space, traffic congestion, and never-ending sprawl," said Jo Wideman, executive director of Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS). "Habitat loss due to population growth is by far the greatest threat to wildlife."
California has been identified as a biodiversity hotspot, a region with a large number of endemic species that are under threat. It has lost 99 percent of its native grasslands, 80 percent of its coastal wetlands, and 95 percent of its coastal redwoods. At least 73 plants and animals are already extinct in California. Over 150 animals and 280 plants are listed as endangered, threatened, or rare.
Unlike the situation in 1970, most of today's U.S. population growth is from immigration according to the Census Bureau. Virtually all of California's growth over the past decade stems from immigration.
"We will never stop environmental degradation until we stabilize our population, and that means reducing immigration levels," Wideman said. "The current drought is just one more reminder that we face limited resources."
Research into tree rings reveals that California experienced mega droughts of over 100 years in the past. As California historian Kevin Starr stated, "Mother Nature didn't intend for 40 million people to live here."
The late David Brower, a CAPS Advisory Board member and the Sierra Club's first executive director noted, "Overpopulation is perhaps the biggest problem facing us, and immigration is part of that problem. It has to be addressed.''
To learn more about CAPS visit www.CAPSweb.org
SOURCE Californians for Population Stabilization