Advocacy groups celebrating Earth Day yesterday raised concerns about the Bush Administration’s record on the environment. In a press conference/political rally, environmental leaders criticized Bush for a number of transgressions, including backing out of the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, putting industry concerns over environmental standards, and working on relaxing environmental regulations with big business donors, according to the Washington Post.
Advocates at the press conference pointed to some victories for the environment. In Congress last month, an amendment offered by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), a champion for women’s rights and the environment, defeated a measure that would have opened the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling, one of Bush’s pet projects. However, the House of Representatives approved drilling in ANWR last week, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile, President Bush is encouraging bids from oil companies to drill in Alaskan coastal areas that are not protected, and he is offering millions of dollars of incentives to do so, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day, spoke out about the relationship between sustainability and projected population growth. He called for monthly hearings in Congress on the environment, particular focusing on US population, now projected to reach 500 million people this century, according to Gannett News Service. Slowing population growth worldwide is important to reduce water scarcity among other health and environmental problems, according to Population Action International (PAI). Already, half a billion people face water scarcity, and between 2.4 and 3.2 billion could be in the same situation by 2025, depending on population growth, according to PAI. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and PAI recommend slowing population growth by educating girls, increasing economic opportunities for women, increasing access to family planning services, and improving maternal and prenatal care.