The Center for Biological Diversity is spreading the word about the impact of population growth on the environment by distributing condoms with cheeky slogans.
An environmental group is distributing hundreds of thousands of free condoms with hopes that it will educate the public about the impact of human overpopulation on endangered species.
The condoms are enclosed in colorful packaging bearing images of endangered species like polar bears, jaguars and the Puerto Rico rock frog. The images are accompanied by slogans like “Wrap with care, save the polar bear,” and “Cover your tweedle, save the burying beetle.”
More than 3,000 volunteers have come forward to distribute the 100,000 condoms in bars, supermarkets, schools, concerts and in other public places, according to Kierán Suckling, the executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, the nonprofit group that spearheaded the project.
“It’s a way to make people laugh, shock people a little bit and get them talking,” he said.
Highways, housing developments, depleted water resources and rising greenhouse gas emissions are a few ways that human population growth affects endangered species, Mr. Suckling said. But the primary goal of the project is to show other environmental groups that talking about overpopulation ought not be taboo, he said.
“Overpopulation is the driving force behind virtually all environmental problems — air pollution, water pollution, the extinction crisis, global warming, yet it is rarely ever addressed by conservation groups,” he said. “They are really afraid of touching the issue and appearing antihuman.”
Discussions of the impact of population growth on the environment, however, do tend to stir passions. A study by a group of statisticians from Oregon State University, for example, which Green Inc. reported on last August, examined the carbon dioxide emissions associated with having a child.
“In discussions about climate change, we tend to focus on the carbon emissions of an individual over his or her lifetime,” Paul Murtaugh, a professor of statistics at Oregon State, said in a statement accompanying the study’s release. “Those are important issues, and it’s essential that they should be considered. But an added challenge facing us is continuing population growth and increasing global consumption of resources.”
Hundreds of Green Inc. readers responded to the item — many with a roll of the eyes. “So to save the world, we need to destroy our species,”wrote one reader, calling himself Dennis from the Bronx. “Great theory.”
The condom project, which began on Valentines Day, has been drawing similarly mixed reactions. “This is sick,” wrote one commenter at the environment blog of The Orange County Register. “Not that condoms are bad. But the reasoning behind this is disturbing and seems driven by sociopaths.”
Still, in an unscientific poll at that site — which asks “Should environmental activists distribute free endangered-species condoms in Orange County?” — more than 30 of the 50 or so respondents so far have answered “yes.”
The Center for Biological Diversity said it quickly ran out of the 100,000 condoms it initially ordered, and that an order for 500,000 more had been placed. Mr. Suckling says he does not plan to sell the condoms, despite their apparent popularity.
“The value of getting these out there means more to us,” he said.
The group also started a Web site that delves into how human population growth has affected endangered species.
FEBRUARY 19, 2010, 2:56 PM
Original Article http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/19/use-condoms-help-save-the-polar-bear