When you commit your life to protecting wildlife you know you'll be giving at least some part of yourself to the cause. But going into this I didn't expect that part of me to be a few millimeters of vas deferens, the tubes that move sperm from the testicles to...well, let's just leave it at that. The important part of this story is that I got a vasectomy - for myself, for my partner and for the planet.
The fact is, there's never been another large vertebrate animal whose population has grown so fast - and has had such devastating consequences - as humans. And as our population grows - 227,000 more people every day - our overconsumption and sheer numbers are having a dramatic impact on the planet.
Population, consumption and devastating production methods are at the root of so many of our environmental troubles, including climate change, air and water pollution, the wildlife extinction crisis and the loss of habitat around the globe
The Center for Biological Diversity started working on population issues in 2009 - quickly gaining notice for our Endangered Species Condoms project. We've given away more than half a million condoms since then as way to start conversations about this critical issue.
The reality is that wildlife is going extinct at 1,000 times the natural rate because of us. From the passenger pigeon flocks that once blacked out skies in the Midwest until the 1800s to Stellers sea cows that disappeared from the Bearing Sea almost immediately after European explorers arrived, extinctions are on the rise. And the onslaught continues today, from Toughie, the last Rabb's fringe-limbed treefrog who died this year to species like the vaquita or the red wolf whose dwindling populations leave them on the razor edge of extinction.
Unfortunately, the Center is one of the only environmental groups addressing the fact that rampant human population growth is a crisis for the environment. We've been working to make the connection, not only for fellow environmentalists, but for policy makers and the general public.
The solution to unsustainable human population growth isn't in the Draconian methods and coercive policies of the past that have chased so many activists away from the issue, but in expanding human rights and ensuring everyone has access to universal reproductive rights. It is providing the tools and contraception that women need and want to control their fertility and educating and empowering girls so they can make decisions that are good for them, and good for the environment. Worldwide 222 million women want access to modern contraception and are unable to get it.
Closer to home, it's important to challenge the culture that demands to know when young couples are having their first, second and third child and celebrates new additions to the human family as economic drivers in our overconsuming, capitalistic culture.
We're not against families and not against children. We just want to make sure that people are empowered to make choices about the size of their families - if they have kids at all -- and enact them.
Men have an important role to play in all of this. That includes being active in standing up for reproductive health services for women, challenging power structures that don't empower girls and advocating for science-based sex education in every school.
And considering getting snipped. Vasectomies are the most effective form of birth control for men who don't want any or are done having children. The hassle, pain and cost are pretty minimal too.