Author: Jeffrey Hollender
The world population is increasing by over 220,000 people per day. That's 9,000 new people every hour.
As we approach Earth Day, two things are on my mind: safe sex and climate change. These are two extremely important interconnected issues that most people don’t put together.
In a recent report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change noted that population was one of the two most important drivers behind global climate change. If you think about all of the new people on this planet everyday and the resources required to sustain them, it makes sense.
But why have we had such a hard time connecting the dots?
Robert Walker, President of the Population Institute, has part of the answer:
“I suspect that many scientists do not want to "intrude" into decisions regarding how many children women should have. Most scientists - simply put - do not want to trample on reproductive rights."
However, most of the pregnancies in the world are unintended, unplanned or even unwanted. There are 222 million women globally who do not want to have children but lack access to contraception. In the U.S. - where we consume a disproportionate share of the world's resources - 51% of all pregnancies (or 3.4 million pregnancies annually) are unplanned, and 20% are unwanted, according to research by the Guttmacher Institute. By age 45, more than half of all American women will have experienced an unintended pregnancy. The U.S. unintended pregnancy rate is significantly higher than the rate in many other developed countries.
Not only is this taking a toll on our planet, there is also a huge financial cost associated with unplanned pregnancies. In 2008, two-thirds of the 1.7 million births resulting from unintended pregnancies cost the U.S. $12.5 billion in Medicaid dollars.
Here’s an idea: Let’s educate and empower women to take control of their sexual and reproductive health so they can have better-planned families.
The Population Reference Bureau and Worldwatch Institute recently released a joint statement saying:
“Achieving universal access to family planning throughout the world would result in fewer unintended pregnancies, improve the health and well-being of women and their families, and slow population growth — all benefits to climate-compatible development." The organizations recommend including improved access to family planning as part of the solution in addressing climate change.
I recently started Sustain Condoms, the first brand of Fair Trade, sustainable condoms marketed first and foremost to women. This Earth Day, we’re educating people about the connection between safe sex, overpopulation and climate change. Our goal at Sustain is to empower, educate and provide women with to the tools they need to practice safe sex and plan their families. Through our fund 10%4Women, we give 10% of our profits to women’s reproductive health organizations in the U.S. because we believe that access is a critical component to addressing the most pressing issues our world is facing.
So this Earth Day, practice safe sex, and you might even help save the world.
-Jeffrey Hollender, Founder and CEO, Sustain Condoms