Wrapped in colorful cartoon packages featuring six different endangered species, the condoms were sent to the top ten most “sex-happy” cities in America, as named by Men’s Health magazine. Durham volunteers distributed them to the general public.
The project’s organizers aimed to use the condoms to help raise awareness about the environmental dangers of unchecked population growth.
“Lots of couples will get lucky this Valentine’s Day, but wildlife and the environment will be far less fortunate in our increasingly crowded world,” said Leigh Moyer, the center’s population organizer, in a press release.“The habitat loss, resource depletion and climate change that come with rapid human population growth make it next to impossible for biodiversity to thrive.
Moyer said it is important to incorporate population growth into environmental conversations.
“Endangered Species Condoms make starting that conversation easier, and they also make great Valentines.”
In the last 50 years, wildlife populations have been halved as the human population continues to grow. The United Nations predicts the world’s human population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050 and exceed 11 billion by 2100 if human population growth continues at its current rate.
Richard Bilsborrow, a UNC biostatistics research professor, said human overpopulation contributes to climate change.
“More people means more use of energy, and we’re starting to get that under control by switching to other forms of energy,” he said. “But for the last 200 years, we’ve increasingly made a mess of the world’s climate and more people means more of a problem,” he said.
Bilsborrow said the problem is caused by an inability to access reliable contraception and a lack of education everywhere in the world — including the United States.
“Some of the problems in the (country) are related to the false idea that you can teach abstinence to high school kids and that that’s going to solve the problem — that they’re not going to have sex or get pregnant — that just doesn’t work,” he said.
He said he recognized multiple benefits of the project.
“I think it’s very ingenious because condoms, of course to the extent that people use them, can cut back on STDs and also unwanted pregnancies,” Bilsborrow said.
Don Moffitt, a Durham City Council member, said in an email that he is grateful that the Center for Biological Diversity is calling attention to overpopulation.
“Every one of us needs to consider the size of our ‘footprint’ on the globe and then work to reduce our collective impact if we want our fragile planet to continue to support life as we know it,” Moffit said.
It should never get to the point where vast effort is needed to save a species, he said.
Moffit said he approves of the project’s goals.
“I don’t know where they might have distributed their endangered species condoms in Durham, but it’s a fun way to draw attention to the very real problem of overpopulation both at home and abroad,” said Moffit.
In addition to Durham, the center is also giving condoms to Arlington, Texas; Austin, Texas; Bakersfield, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Houston; Indianapolis; and Oklahoma City.