This planet is inhabited by lots of humans: almost 7 billion lots. Go ahead, pat yourself on the back for a job well done genetic brethren. But afterward, think about what 7 billion people on planet earth means in terms of resources. All these people require food, shelter, and water. In modern-day terms this means more energy consumption, increased water and food shortages, and expanding infrastructure. So far, that’s translated into decimated rain forests, more urban sprawling and paved roads, mountain top removal coal mining, polluted waterways, overexploited oceans and oil drilling in the Arctic.

That’s a tremendous effort, and impact, to keep up with our growing population and standard of living. Political leaders are often forced to think about the negative consequences these actions have on the environment because our laws dictate such a cognitive process when a developer is paving over a wetland to build that condo or the City of San Diego is dredging rivers to save the neighbor’s house from flooding.

That prime real estate may well be essential habitat for the horny toad. Even our “clean” energy sources are being planned and built in ways highly destructive to our fellow creatures.

We don’t, however, stop and think about our friend the toad (who’s actually a lizard) when we’re looking for prince (or princess) charming. It may not be the stuff of fairy tales, but prince charming’s offspring are competing with these toads. Translation? Overpopulation is contributing to species extinction.

America is the third most populated country in the world, trailing only China and India. No, your cute and highly gifted offspring isn’t personally responsible for the death of the polar bear, but as humans use more of the earth’s resources, less remains for the rest of planet. And no, the 40 percent of American children from unplanned pregnancies are not unwanted. It’s perfectly possible to handle population increases responsibly, and its disingenuous to equate a call for planning or education with a lack of respect for human life.

Nonetheless, some may say it’s unnatural for the most (over)populous mammal in the history of the world to think twice before procreating. But as access to birth control increases and supply of natural resources decreases, it’s foolish to simply ignore our interconnection with the rest of the world by refusing to use the very mental faculties that helped propel our population in the first place. So use a stopper, and save the hopper.

Livia Borak is an attorney at Coast Law Group, LLP in Encinitas where she focuses on a variety of environmental issues representing various non-profit organizations. She’s a former San Diego Coastkeeper staff attorney and member of the third-place CityBeat Trivia night team By Rolland’s Beard. She serves on the board of League of Conservation Voters and is legal advisor to the environmental nonprofit Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation. She makes killer chocolate chip vegan cookies.

by Livia Borak

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