Health care worker giving a young pregnant woman a birthing kit, in BangladeshSee more

A health care worker in Bangladesh gives a young pregnant woman a birthing kit for a safer delivery. It contains a sterile razor to cut the cord, a sterile plastic sheet to place under the birth area, and other simple, sanitary items - all which help save lives. The health care worker asks the young woman to come back with her baby for a post natal check after the birth. At that time, she asks the mom if she wants to have another child right away or if she wants to space her children. Usually the mom wants to wait, and gladly accepts contraception. The worker is prepared to give her pills, an injection, implants, or an IUD. The mother is instructed to come back if the baby shows signs of diarrhea or pneumonia, common infant killers.

50 years ago, here in the USA, I was given the same option to space my births after the birth of my first baby. I gladly accepted contraceptive pills (which was new to me) .. Karen Gaia

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Mother Caring for 7 Billion doc

If we don't halt population growth with justice and compassion, it will be done for us by nature, brutally and without pity - and will leave a ravaged world. Nobel Laureate Dr. Henry W. Kendall

Population & Sustainability News Digest

January 30, 2015

Abortion Articles

Now that we have a Republican legislature and abortion is threatened, there is no shortage of abortion articles

  • No Pardon - Young Woman to Serve 30 Years for Miscarriage doclink

    With some stories, I'm not sure where to begin, because the news has me stunned and almost speechless. I want to turn away, block it out and find something happy to do, or something else to think about, or write about. But I can't. And so I begin. Last week, a young woman in El Salvador who goes by the alias name of 'Guadalupe,' had very high hopes, and was all but assured she would receive a pardon from her 30-year sentence. She had already ser... January 19, 2015, Daily Kos   By: Leslie Salzillo


  • In Just the Last Four Years, States Have Enacted 231 Abortion Restrictions doclink

    In just the last 4 years, states have enacted 231 abortion restrictions The large number of recently enacted abortion restrictions has dramatically reshaped the landscape for women seeking an abortion (see A Surge of State Abortion Restrictions Puts Providers—and the Women They Serve—in the Crosshairs). In 2000, 13 states had four or five types of abortion restrictions in effect and so were considered hostile to abortion rights. In that year,... January 22, 2015   By: Guttmacher Institute


  • Tim Ryan: Why I Changed My Thinking on Abortion doclink

    I was elected to political office at a young age, and being raised in a Catholic household, always considered myself pro-life. My faith is important to me, and like many Catholics I strive to adhere to its principles, especially one of the essential and highest teachings of "judge not, lest ye be judged." I've heard firsthand from women of all ages, races and socioeconomic backgrounds about the circumstances and hardships that accompany this pers... January 27, 2015   By: Tim Ryan


  • Prevalent and Preventable: the Tragedy of Unsafe Abortion doclink

    "Unsafe abortion is actually a public health tragedy of our times, simply because the technology to make this procedure safe has been available for decades…In our region, particularly with the patriarchal culture and the society we live in, religious fundamentalism (and) political conservatism has always tended to make women's bodies a battleground for these issues." That's Dr. Suchitra Dalvie, coordinator of the Asia Safe Abortion Par... January 16, 2015, Population Action International   By: Danielle Zielinski


  • Congressman Attacks GOP Congresswomen's Stand on Abortion: ‘it Sent the Entirely Wrong Message' doclink

    Last week, a proposed 20-week abortion ban didn't get a vote in the House after a group of Republican women expressed concerns about its narrow exception for rape victims. And days later, the political conflict — which amounted to an embarrassing setback for Republicans on the same day that thousands of abortion opponents flooded the nation's capital for the annual March for Life — is still simmering. On Tuesday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX... January 27, 2015, Think Progress   By: Tara Culp-Ressler


  • 'i Just Had An Abortion' doclink

    I've been a strident advocate for a woman's right to choose since I was a pre-teen, and it's still difficult for me to say those words. So many assumptions about my life can be made on the basis of that admission, and the shame is real. For White women in American society, the shame of having an abortion is mainly centered on their individual behavior. For Black women, our behavior reflects on Black folks as a whole, specifically other Black wome... January 12, 2015   By: Tasha Fierce


  • Abortion Vote Shows How Much Democrats' World Has Changed doclink

    This week, Congress returns with House leaders vowing to revisit the anti-abortion bill they pulled off the floor last week. The ban on abortions after 20 weeks was withdrawn when it appeared there weren't enough Republican votes to pass it. Why did it need quite so many Republican votes? Because the GOP can no longer count on a contingent of Democrats to help out on abortion-related votes. That was obvious last week, on Thursday, when the lead... January 26, 2015, National Public Radio   By: Ron Elving


  • The Secret History of the GOP's New Abortion Ban doclink

    Update: The Washington Post reports that House Republicans have canceled the vote on Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which had been scheduled for January 22. The bill was reportedly dropped amid concerns that it would hurt the party's image with women, as well as its partial exemption for rape survivors. Just hours after the newly Republican Congress was sworn in on January 6, Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)... January 21, 2015, Mother Jones   By: Molly Redden


  • Rick Santorum: Saying 'Dumb Things' About Birth Control and Abortion Fueled 2012 Loss doclink

    Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) said Monday that controversial comments over abortion and contraception contributed to his defeat in the 2012 Republican presidential primary to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In an interview with NBC News, Santorum blamed himself for saying "dumb things" that allowed critics to portray him as an extreme conservative only interested in "crazy stuff that doesn't have anything to do with anything." Santor... January 20, 2015   By: Igor Bobic


  • Obama Threatens to Veto New GOP Abortion Bill doclink

    January 20, 2015 Just hours before Tuesday night's State of the Union address, the White House has issued veto threats involving two bills, including House Republicans' Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks. "The administration strongly opposes H.R. 36, which would unacceptably restrict women's health and reproductive rights and is an assault on a woman's right to choose," the White House said in a st... January 20, 2015, National Journal   By: Matt Berman

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Global Population and Environment 101

January 07, 2015, Sierra Club Global Population and Environment Program

See http://www.sierraclub.org/population doclink

A Synopsis: Limits to Growth: the 30-year Update

January 17, 2015, Donella Meadows Institute   By: Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers, and Dennis Meadows

Note: this article is more than 10 years old, but it is still pertainent

More than 30 years ago, a book called The Limits to Growth created an international sensation. Commissioned by the Club of Rome, an international group of businessmen, states- men, and scientists, The Limits to Growth was compiled by a team of experts from the U.S. and several foreign countries. Using system dynamics theory and a computer model called "World3," the book presented and analyzed 12 scenarios that showed different possible patterns -- and environmental outcomes -- of world development over two centuries from 1900 to 2100.

Already in the 1990s there was compelling evidence that humanity was moving deeper into unsustainable territory. Beyond the Limits argued that in many areas we had "overshot" our limits, or expanded our demands on the planet's resources and sinks beyond what could be sustained over time.

In a new study, Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update, the authors have produced a comprehensive update to the original Limits, in which they conclude that humanity is dangerously in a state of overshoot. The authors are far more pessimistic than they were in 1972. Humanity has squandered the opportunity to correct our current course over the last 30 years, they conclude.

Noted energy economist Matthew Simmons wrote, “The most amazing aspect of the book is how accurate many of the basic trend extrapolations … still are some 30 years later."

Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update presents the underlying economic structure that leads to these problems. World3 keeps track of stocks such as population, industrial capital, persistent pollution, and cultivated land. In the model, those stocks change through flows such as births and deaths; investment and depreciation; pollution generation and pollution assimilation; land erosion, land development, and land removed for urban and industrial uses.

The model accounts for positive and negative feedback loops that can radically affect the outcome of various scenarios. It also develops nonlinear relationships. For example, as more land is made arable, what's left is drier, or steeper, or has thinner soils. The cost of coping with these problems dramatically raises the cost of developing the land -- a nonlinear relationship.

For more than a century, the world has been experiencing exponential growth in a number of areas, including population and industrial production. Positive feedback loops can reinforce and sustain exponential growth. In 1650, the world's population had a doubling time of 240 years. By 1900, the doubling time was 100 years. When The Limits to Growth was published in 1972, there were under 4 billion people in the world. Today, there are more than 6 billion, and in 2000 we added the equivalent of nine New York cities.

Another area of exponential growth has been the world economy. From 1930 to 2000, the money value of world industrial output grew by a factor of 14—an average doubling time of 19 years. If population had been constant over that period, the material standard of living would have grown by a factor of 14 as well. Because of population growth, however, the average per capita output increased by only a factor of five.

Moreover, in the current system, economic growth generally occurs in the already rich countries and flows disproportionately to the richest people within those countries. Thus, according to the United Nations Development Program, the 20% of the world's people who lived in the wealthiest nations had 30 times the per capita income of the 20% who lived in the poorest nations. By 1995 the average income ratio between the richest and poorest 20% had increased from 30:1 to 82:1.

Limits to growth include both the material and energy that are extracted from the Earth, and the capacity of the planet to absorb the pollutants that are generated as those materials and energy are used. Streams of material and energy flow from the planetary sources through the economic system to the planetary sinks where wastes and pollutants end up. There are limits, however, to the rates at which sources can produce these materials and energy without harm to people, the economy, or the earth's processes of regeneration and regulation. doclink

Mississippi Wouldn't Allow This Teacher to Show Kids How to Use a Condom. His Simple Solution is Brilliant

January 22, 2015   By: Julia Lurie

In Mississippi, where education laws require "stressing" abstinence, teachers are prohibited from "any demonstration of how condoms or other contraceptives are applied." Nonetheless, 76% of Mississippi teenagers report having sex before the end of high school, and a third of babies in the state are born to teenage mothers. One teacher came up with a creative solution for imparting some wisdom to students about condoms -- watch it below. doclink

Statement From Republican Majority for Choice on the 42nd Anniversary of Roe V. Wade

January 22, 2015, GOP Choice   By: GOP Choice

As we mark the 42nd anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, we are reminded of the critical real life situations and necessary health protections that brought the right to choose to the forefront. We, like millions of other Republicans, believe in the GOP core values of individual freedom and safeguarding the constitutional protections of privacy and the separation of Church and State. Yet, decades after the historic Roe ruling, we struggle with how personal freedom is too often disregarded in political gamesmanship.

We applaud the level of common sense that resulted in the GOP tabling the abortion ban (H.R. 36) today. Regardless of personal views on the issue of abortion, provisions in this bill went too far, violating the private doctor-patient relationship, threatening to jail physicians and putting the health, future fertility and lives of women at risk. This proposal is particularly alarming due to the reporting requirement for victims of rape and incest to law enforcement officials. With the majority of rapes going unreported in the U.S., imposing such medically unnecessary restrictions only does more harm to women who have already survived assault. GOP members of varying ideological leanings saw that this legislation would harm women and is not the type of legislation that should be central in the GOP agenda.

This victory should not be overlooked, but this is not the end of our battle for common ground and solutions-based legislation. The politics of pressure from a vocal anti-choice lobby today led to the ultimate passage of H.R. 7. This so-called "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion" bill bars individuals to use their own money to purchase plans that offer abortion coverage and penalizes small businesses that offer their employees such coverage. Taxpayer funding of abortion has already been illegal since the enactment of the 1976 Hyde Amendment. The passage of H.R. 7 allowed fiction to win over fact.

As Republicans we are eager to work with all members of our party. Mainstream Republicans must be more vocal and counter the pressure to appease the anti-choice lobby. Instead of pandering on areas of disagreement on reproductive health- Republicans can take the lead to advance evidence-based initiatives that have already proven-effective at reducing the rates of unintended pregnancy, teen pregnancy and abortion. RMC calls on all elected leaders to stop playing politics with personal freedom and understand that an unchecked anti-choice agenda has negative and lasting effect of the social and economic health of millions of women and families. doclink

Making the Connection: Population Dynamics and Climate Compatible Development

December 19 , 2014, Worldwatch Institute   By: Robert Engelman

Policymakers and others working to slow human-caused climate change and make societies more resilient to its impacts should consider potential contributions to that effort from expanded access to family planning, a group of experts recommends.

The first step is simply to open dialogues on possible connections between climate change and family planning, and the right of individuals and the services they need to decide for themselves the timing and frequency of childbearing, said the experts.

"The group strongly recommends expanding access to family planning, with one of its many benefits being that it helps support development that is compatible with a sustainable climate."

Connections within family planning-climate change connections are presented from a woman-centered and rights-based approach. When safe and effective family planning services are available to all, experience shows that average family size falls, pregnancies occur at more optimal times in women's lives, and mothers and children are healthier and more able to contribute to their countries' development -- and are more resilient to rapid change. doclink

The Climate is Ruined. So Can Civilization Even Survive?

January 14, 2015, CNN.com   By: David Ray Griffin

Although most of us worry about other things, climate scientists have become increasingly worried about the survival of civilization. For example, Lonnie Thompson, who received the U.S. National Medal of Science in 2010, said that virtually all climatologists "are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization."

Informed journalists share this concern. The climate crisis "threatens the survival of our civilization," said Pulitzer Prize-winner Ross Gelbspan. Mark Hertsgaard agrees, saying that the continuation of global warming "would create planetary conditions all but certain to end civilization as we know it."

Because of the CO2 increase, the planet's average temperature has increased 0.85 degrees Celsius (1.5 degrees Fahrenheit). Although this increase may not seem much, it has already brought about serious changes.

The resulting threat of runaway global warming may not be merely theoretical. Scientists have long been convinced that methane was central to the fastest period of global warming in geological history, which occurred 55 million years ago. Now a group of scientists have accumulated evidence that methane was also central to the greatest extinction of life thus far: the end-Permian extinction about 252 million years ago.

According to Joe Romm, a physicist who created the Climate Progress website, methane release from thawing permafrost in the Arctic "is the most dangerous amplifying feedback in the entire carbon cycle."

It was previously thought that significant amounts of permafrost would not melt, releasing its methane, until the planet's temperature has risen several degrees Celsius; however recent studies indicate that a rise of 1.5 degrees would be enough to start the melting. doclink

The Greatest Threat of All: Human Instincts Overwhelm Reason

We live unsustainably because our drive to survive is more powerful than reason
January 19, 2015, Psychology Today   By: David Ropeik

The year 2014 was the hottest year on Earth since 1888, the first year such temperatures were recorded. December was the hottest for any year ever. Six of the months last year, in fact, hold that record. The last time a ‘coldest month ever' was recorded, was 1916.

Planetary Boundaries is a survey of nine basic systems critical to life on Earth as we know it. An updated review finds that human activity has pushed past the boundary in four of those categories; climate change, loss of biosphere integrity (things like genetic diversity because of species loss), land-system change (soil and forestation loss, etc.) and altered biogeochemical cycles (how the biosphere uses and replaces the critical elements of phosphorus and nitrogen). The study can be found at http://www.stockholmresilience.org/21/research/research-news/1-15-2015-planetary-boundaries-2.0---new-and-improved.html

Transgressing a boundary increases the risk that human activities could inadvertently drive the Earth System into a much less hospitable state, damaging efforts to reduce poverty and leading to a deterioration of human wellbeing in many parts of the world, including wealthy countries.

Most of us probably didn't notice any of those changes, which is the problem that has all but guaranteed the serious crash for Life on Earth as We Know It. Most of the seven billion humans on the planet took the resources necessary for safety and survival from the system, and put back into the system both their products and their wastes. Each us us satisfying our own needs but cumulatively taking from a system more resources than it has to offer, and putting back more waste than it can handle (air pollution in Beijing recently got so bad it was beyond the highest and most dangerous levels on the health scale designed to measure such things).

Even though we, and all current Life on Earth, face an unavoidable crash, we are compelled from the deepest level of our genes and survival instincts to taking more from the system than it can provide and put back in more waste than it can handle. Many species live unsustainably in their finite ecosystems and when their demands on the system outpace supply, move on. We are, however, the only animal where the system limits are the entire biosphere itself.

Many people pin their hopes on technological solutions to some of our challenges (cleaner power, advances in agriculture and food production, reduction in pollution and waste), less violence as more of us live closer together, and even the faith that human reason itself can, when the crises really start hitting the fan, figure out ways to stop doing the damage we're doing, undo the harm we've already done, or adapt to at least some of the harms we face.

If we get a little more realistic about just how much/little human reason can help us conquer our deepest animal instincts, and a little less naïve that we can ‘live with restraint', we might sooner get to the task of preparing for what's to come rather than pretending we can head it off. It is probably in the best interest of Life on Earth As We Know It if humans accepted that there will be a steep price to pay for our unsustainable ways, that given what we've already done this price is unavoidable, and that pretending we can head this off and preparing as soon as possible is urgently needed if we're going to at least keep that cost as low as possible. doclink

Meltwater Pulse 2B

June 01 , 2014, Yale Climate Connections

Independent videographer Peter Sinclair's 'This is Not Cool' video explores recent headline-grabbing research on Antarctic glacial melting. doclink

Warmer, Drier Climate Altering California Forests

January 21, 2015, Phys.org   By: Robert Sanders

"Older, larger trees are declining because of disease, drought, logging and other factors, but what stands out is that this decline is statewide," said study leader Patrick McIntyre, who began the research while a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley and now manages biodiversity data for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. "Forests are becoming dominated by smaller, more densely packed trees, and oaks are becoming more dominant as pines decline."

"There's no question that if you are losing large trees, you are losing the standing carbon in the forest," he said. "Loss of these big trees and the impact of drought stress become a big concern going forward in terms of its impact on the carbon cycle; they can turn a carbon sink into a source of carbon released to the atmosphere." doclink

U.S.: Congressman's New Jobs Plan: Deny Women Access to Abortion So They Can Make More Babies

January 15, 2015   By: Tara Culp-Ressler

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) suggested that Republicans support restricting access to abortion because it will ultimately benefit the economy if women have more children. Goodlatte noted that carrying pregnancies to term "very much promotes job creation."

In reality, denying women autonomy over their reproductive lives is not a wise economic policy. Without access to affordable family planning services, women are less likely to be able to finish their education, advance their career, or achieve financial independence. The low-income women who end up carrying unwanted pregnancies to term end up slipping deeper into poverty and struggling with long-term mental health issues. That ends up impacting the social safety net, putting a greater strain on the Medicaid program. In fact, the Guttmacher Institute estimates that every $1 invested into family planning programs yields more than $5 in savings for the U.S. government.

The female members of the House Judiciary Committee wrote a letter to Goodlatte stating: "As we urge Congress in 2014 to consider legislative action that would meaningfully address the economic insecurity currently facing millions of women and families, the Judiciary Committee's first action to mark up legislation that would harm women's access to reproductive health care is truly dispiriting," they wrote. "We strongly oppose this sweeping anti-choice bill." doclink

Close to Home: When Climate, Population and Food Collide

January 11 , 2015, Santa Rosa Press Democrat   By: Jeff Baldwin and Asher Sheppard

The shift from muscle power to energy from combustion of fossil fuels releases vast amounts of carbon that living organisms took from the atmosphere hundreds of millions of years ago. Energy stored in the coal, oil and gas of Earth's crust powers large-scale industrialization, while the accompanying greenhouse gas emissions warm Earth's climate.

Technology- intensive industrial agriculture is producing the food for many of Earth's billions. As Western Europe, North America and Japan industrialized, farmers were pushed off their lands and moved to cities. Large families became problematic as women went to work outside the home. Education and the ability to control fertility have combined with these societal changes to cut fertility rates markedly in the developed world.

In many developing countries women commonly have more than five children -- most too poor to buy enough food should prices rise. Meanwhile rapidly developing populous countries have burgeoning middle classes desirous of more animal protein, which requires three to 15 times its weight in feed.

In the last century, world population increased from about 2 billion to 6 billion people. Fortunately global food production kept up thanks to the industrialization of agriculture, including increased mechanization, new plant varieties, refrigeration, long-distance transportation and agrochemicals, including petrochemical fertilizers. Each of these technologies increases emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide -- the very greenhouse gases that hasten climate change and threaten agricultural productivity with drought, flood and soil loss.

In the tropics many small-farm families have been forced onto marginal lands where they face greater threats from floods, drought, erosion, and extreme weather events. One-half the global food supply is is produced by small farmers.

Decreasing snowfalls in the world's high mountain ranges threaten the water supplies essential for production on long-established lands and those newly brought into production by the Green Revolution. In the tropics, where the majority of humanity lives, high temperatures are expected to reduce crop production by up to 50% by 2080.

We cannot afford paralysis in face of population growth and climate change. There is reason to hope for success ahead. doclink

Kick it Over Manifesto

January 05, 2015, Kick It Over

We, the economics students of the world, make this accusation:

That you, the teachers of neoclassical economics and the students that you graduate, have perpetuated a gigantic fraud upon the world.

You claim to work in a pure science of formula and law, but yours is a social science, with all the fragility and uncertainty that this entails. We accuse you of pretending to be what you are not.

You hide in your offices, protected by your jargon, while in the real world forests vanish, species perish, human lives are ruined and lost. We accuse you of gross negligence in the management of our planetary household.


. . . more doclink

Carbon Bubble

December 30 , 2014, Cascadia Weekly

The big story is that over two dozen large-scale carbon energy projects slated for the Pacific Northwest have faltered, stalled or failed to make headway. Together these projects would have been capable of delivering enough fuel to release 822 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year -- five times the carbon yield of the more famous Keystone XL Pipeline.

The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline from Alberta oil sands fields to Kitimat, in northern British Columbia, and the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion to carry similar Alberta oil sands to Burnaby, British Columbia each ground to a halt, primarily as a result of the coordinated activism of north coast tribes.

Six new natural gas pipelines capable of carrying 11.7 billion cubic feet per day are planned for coastal communities from Prince Rupert, B.C. to Coos Bay, Ore. Each has stalled.

Seven new or expanded coal export terminals have died or retreanched. Only two remain viable-- those at Longview and at Cherry Point.

In the most telling indicator of the decay of these projects, coal industry lobbyists have pressured Wyoming and Montana to apply legal and financial weight to force open the coasts for the transport of coal. The coal industry may no longer be able to broadcast a compelling narrative on the resplendent persuasion of capital and investment.

The expansion of oil-by-rail facilities at refineries or port terminals around the Pacific Northwest was the only delivery vector able to make significant headway in 2014. Yet heightened regulatory concerns about rail safety coupled with the drop in petroleum prices have brought these industries precariously close to the threshold at which shale and tar sands extraction regimes remain profitable. If producers can't make these products cheap, they can't afford to make them at all.

Coal futures have plunged to junk bond status. Peabody Energy was able to ship coal out of Cherry Point when the company was trading at $69 per share, however share prices have dropped to under $7.80. Industry analysis suggests coal prices around $80 per ton are required to earn a return on the investment in these piers, yet prices have hovered for most of the year at around $60 per ton, down from a high of $132 per ton in mid-2011, at the peak of the carbon bubble.

Meanwhile the very character of investment has shifted, from banks and prominent investment firms like Goldman Sachs to higher-risk private investors.

"You can see a mounting sense of desperation among these companies that something is going horribly wrong on the West Coast for their plans" .. "When faced with determined, coordinated opposition, the fossil fuels companies cannot succeed in this region. They need our permission to take this stuff somewhere else to burn it, and they're not getting it."

This opposition is similar to what Naomi Klein described as Blockadia, "a desire for a deeper form of democracy, one that provides communities with real control over…the health of water, air and soil. In the process, these place-based stands are stopping real climate change in progress."

In a year filled with many terrible setbacks in social and political rights, the frightening erosion of democracy in a storm of runaway wealth transfer, this is a story that deserved to be told. doclink

Karen Gaia says: When it takes more energy to take it out of the ground than the energy produced, it is time to leave it in the ground and learn to live with less. The cost to the environment and our health must be figured into the equation. Resource depletion must be dealt with by tightening our belts and having fewer children.

Everything Changed for Birth Control in the United States in 2014

January 01, 2015, Bustle   By: Lauren Barbato

The religious right can't ban birth control outright, but they can make access more difficult. Nearly 50 years after Griswold v. Connecticut struck down anti-contraception laws, birth control still triggers debate from pulpits to the Supreme Court. Last year the Supreme Court ruled a closely held company can deny birth control coverage to its employees because of the company's religious beliefs -- with no regard to the religious beliefs of its employees. The Hobby Lobby case, which centered on the IUD and the morning-after pill, set the bleak precedent that the "religious freedom" of a company's owner's trumps an employee's right to choose a form of health care. Or, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg put it in her dissent: "The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga … would deny legions of women who do not hold their employers' beliefs access to contraception coverage."

Last July the court broadened its ruling to cover all types of birth control, including the Pill. More than 50 closely held companies and religiously affiliated universities had lawsuits challenging the Obama administration's birth control mandate over the summer, leaving contraception coverage for women across the country in a precarious state. It even let Wheaton College refuse to sign off on a waiver allowing its employees and students to receive contraception coverage from a third-party insurer.

Despite the Hobby Lobby setback, family planning advocates made several gains in 2014. Numerous studies released in 2014 concluded that increased access to birth control is directly responsible for the dramatically declining abortion and teen pregnancy rates. A 2014 study from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention said that since 2010 the usage rate has doubled for Long-acting contraception (LAC) methods, such as the IUD, which the Guttmacher Institute says has a failure rate of 0.2% with typical use. Instead of taking a pill at the same time each day, with IUD provides worry-free contraception for at least five years. More gynecologists now recommend the IUD to young patients, and since health insurance plans now cover the IUD, women find it more affordable -- unless, of course, you work for Hobby Lobby or a religious nonprofit. A 2014 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that, at no cost, teen girls are 16 times more likely to choose the IUD. In a study published in the journal Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics said that long-acting contraception has become the "first-line contraceptive choices for adolescents." For women between 25 and 34, about 11.1% now use a form of LAC*. This increase resulted, not only from better insurance coverage, but also from changes made to improve the safety of the IUD.

But safety and side effects have been issues for Essure, the "permanent" birth control. Erin Brockovich -- known also for her environmental activism -- has posted a website against Essure. On it she writes about women who claim to have serious medical issues including headaches, nausea, allergic response to the nickel the device is made of, hysterectomies, and problems with the device moving, all resulting from the Essure implant. None of the women were told of the serious side effects. Other former Essure users have also spoken publicly about excruciating chronic pain. "It felt like barbed wire inside of me," one woman told news station KNXV in October.

With politicians and religious leaders trying to block access to affordable birth control,over-the-counter (OTC) birth control may sound like a dream. Although doctors support OTC birth control, we should not buy into the Republican hype that OTC availability of oral contraceptives will help more women get the contraceptives they need. OTC access to contraceptives should be part of a broader dialogue about improving women's health care, preventing unintended pregnancies, and increasing use of contraception, including long-acting reversible contraception (LARC). Over-the-counter access should not be used as a political tool by candidates or by elected officials.

Mike Huckabee scorned women who "cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government." Some women still face battles when they need affordable contraception, but 2014 has shown that science is on their side. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I believe that LAC and LARC amount to the same thing. Essure is an implant inserted into the fallopian tube.

‘One Key Question' to Revolutionize Reproductive, Public Health

August 26, 2015, Public Health Newswire

In Oregon there is a movement where doctors ask every woman of reproductive age "Would you like to become pregnant in the next year?" The movement is called One Key Question.

The Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Health (OFRH) believes this question "triggers a doctor-patient discussion that will keep women healthier, help eliminate health disparities and save taxpayer dollars."

The goal is to ensure that more pregnancies are wanted, planned and as healthy as possible.

This question brings pregnancy intention screening and preventive reproductive health directly in to primary care. It opens the door to providing either preconception, prenatal or contraceptive care in a novel fashion that goes beyond simply asking if she is pregnant or using contraception. One Key Question is a conversation starter, not a checklist. It can initiate a genuine conversation that empowers a woman to plan her health care needs in support of her goals for herself and her family.

OFRH tested many variations of asking about prenatal care and pregnancy prevention before determining this question to be the most effective. Clinicians implementing One Key Question have found that the majority of women have a clear opinion about whether or not they would like to become pregnant in the next year.

However, when a woman answers "maybe" or "I don't know," One Key Question often effectively leads to identifying urgent health needs that may otherwise go undetected — such as depression, violence in the home or substance abuse — and leads to negative pregnancy outcomes.

Women are relieved to be able to talk about their reproductive health needs in a primary care setting rather than through a separate appointment with a specialist. This more streamlined approach can be invaluable for low income women, women of color and those in rural communities, in particular, who have decreased access to reproductive health care.

OFRH is very aware of the need to establish reliable systems for measuring the impact of One Key Question as it is implemented in sites nationwide.

Ultimately, because One Key Question encourages women to obtain preconception care, we expect to see a drop-off in public health care costs as earlier identification and management of conditions such as diabetes and hypertension improve pregnancy, delivery and post-natal care and lower long-term costs for all women, but particularly for those with decreased access to specialized care. doclink

Karen Gaia says: After I gave birth to my first child 50 years ago, my doctor asked me if I wanted to get pregnant right away. Of course I said 'No'. That's when I was introduced to contraception. In Bangladesh, the health care worker tells the pregnant woman to come back after the birth and when she comes back, she is offered birth control to space her pregnancies. That is how Bangladesh lowered its fertility rate so quickly.

Important Articles Need Our Attention

Once again I am slipping behind on offering WOA!s readers a summary of each of the most important of the latest population and sustainability articles. Please, if you can help, click on the red arrow in the headline, which will take you to a page where you can register. When you are registered, you can use this page to log in and summarize the article.

  • Is Inequality Killing US Mothers? doclink

    Today, more U.S. women die in childbirth and from pregnancy-related causes than at almost any point in the last 25 years. The United States is the one of only seven countries in the entire world that has experienced an increase in maternal mortality over the past decade (we join the likes of Afghanistan and South Sudan), and mothers in Iran, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Serbia and Greece (among many other countries) have a better chance of s... January 16, 2015   By: Andrea Flynn


  • Condoms and Contraceptive Pills Reach Rural Laos doclink

    Bounthone Kongphongma knows family planning arrived too late for his generation in rural Laos. The former military medic and his wife had 14 children, the youngest of whom they raised during the country's secret war, often escaping to the jungle on the outskirts of their village to avoid airstrikes. Only eight of his children survived to adulthood, and those who died were not victims of war, but of what Kongphongma thinks was malaria. "It wa... January 13, 2015, Guardian   By: Carla Kweifio-okai


  • Scientists: Human Activity Has Pushed Earth Beyond Four of Nine ‘planetary Boundaries' doclink

    At the rate things are going, the Earth in the coming decades could cease to be a "safe operating space" for human beings. That is the conclusion of a new paper published Thursday in the journal Science by 18 researchers trying to gauge the breaking points in the natural world. The paper contends that we have already crossed four "planetary boundaries." They are the extinction rate; deforestation; the level of carbon dioxide in the atmos... January 15, 2015, Washington Post   By: Joel Achenbach


  • Planetary Dashboard Shows "great Acceleration" in Human Activity Since 1950 doclink

    A decade on, IGBP in collaboration with the Stockholm Resilience Centre has reassessed and updated the Great Acceleration indicators, first published in the IGBP synthesis, Global Change and the Earth System in 2004. Paper The trajectory of the Anthropocene: The Great Acceleration (Anthropocene Review) 15 January 2015. Data download Great Acceleration dataExcel 2007 (excel 2007, 364.7 kB) Human activity, predominantly the global economic sys... January 15, 2015, IGBP - International Geosphere-Biosphere Program   By: IGBP


  • Ethiopia's Key: Young People and the Demographic Dividend doclink

    (January 2015) Over the last decade, Ethiopia has experienced strong economic growth, accompanied by positive trends in poverty reduction. Ethiopia has demonstrated its commitment to improving the lives of its citizens through policies and programs that have reduced child mortality, improved education, and increased access to family planning. While life is improving for many, nearly 30 percent of Ethiopia's population still live in extreme povert... January 16, 2015, Population Reference Bureau   By: Shelley Megquier and Kate Belohlav

@@032153 Close to Home: When Climate, Population and Food Collide
  • An Expansion of the Demographic Transition Model: the Dynamic Link Between Agricultural Productivity and Population doclink

    Corn along the Kenyan coast of Lake Victoria by Erika Gavenus Item Link: Read Article File: Download Media Type: Article - Recent Date of Publication: October 22, 2014 Year of Publication: 2014 Publisher: Taylor & Francis Group Journal: Biodiversity Volume: 15: 4 Pages: 246-254 Categories: Carrying Capacity/Population, Human Behavior Russell Hopfenberg expands on the traditional demographic transition model by considering a longer time... January 10, 2015, MAHB - Millenium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere   By: Erika Gavenus

@@032138 Kick it Over Manifesto
  • A Haven in a Land of Unsafe Abortions doclink

    "In my village abortions do happen, but women hide it, they are ashamed of it," says Palo Khoya. "They worry that people will say nasty things." Khoya is one of the four women pictured above (top right). They have come to a small abortion clinic in Khunti, in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. Abortion is legal in India. The government has built clinics to serve poor rural women like Khoya. But there are simply not enough facilities. Jharkha... December 31, 2014, National Public Radio   By: Poulomi Basu


  • Energy Slaves of Modern Culture doclink

    Ancient Sunlight Fossil fuel is a form of ancient sunlight. Formed over millions of years, it is the product of the compression and heating of massive amounts of biomass, creating a highly concentrated form of energy. Tremendous amounts of carbon were removed from the atmosphere and safely sequestered underground. It helped form the atmospheric conditions in which we have evolved and thrived. This natural process was integral in creating the curr... January 11, 2015   By: Steve Rypka

@@032134 Carbon Bubble
  • It's All About Soil doclink

    According to plant geneticist and president of The Land Institute Wes Jackson, and farmer and author Wendell Berry, "our present ways of agriculture are not sustainable, and so our food supply is not sustainable. We must restore ecological health to our agricultural landscapes, as well as economic and cultural stability to our rural communities." Jackson says we're plowing through our soil bank account and sending those riches downstream to the o... January 07, 2015   By: Danielle Nierenberg and Sarah Small


  • Birth Control is Essential to a Woman's Economic Security, Yet Barriers Persist for Non-white, Low Income Women doclink

    That said, language, cultural, institutional and payment barriers can act as a challenge, perpetuating a belief that one lacks ownership over one's own wealth and body. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently released a statement that urged elected officials to understand the fundamental part that birth control plays in a woman's economic security. The pill, in particular, has been transformative in the lives of w... January 06, 2015   By: Nicole Akoukou Thompson


  • In Kenya, Family Planning is An Economic Safeguard doclink

    With Kenya's population expected to double by the year 2050, the government and non-governmental organizations are investing heavily in family planning. Providing contraception and education to women is not just about population control, it's also about protecting the country's economic interests. There are more than 40 million people in Kenya, and the population keeps rising. The average family has five children. While that number is down from... December 30, 2014, Voice of America News   By: Gabe Joselow

doclink

Population Boom Driving Philippines' Climate Vulnerability

More people living in Philippines has worsened pollution, deforestation and waste problems, says government report
January 05 , 2015   By: Sophie Yeo

The Philippines' rapidly growing population is increasing its vulnerability to climate change, according to a government document.

Around 92 million people live in the Philippines and the number is growing by 1.9% a year. The country has slipped recently from 12th to 3rd most vulnerable in the world to climate change.

"The large number of people and their migration patterns have led to crowded cities, waste and housing problems, pollution, and encroachment of upland forests and watersheds leading to denudation and, consequently, significant reduction of carbon sinks," write the authors of the report.

In 1970, the population of the Philippines was 30 million. Population growth has slowed since then, but the number of people living in the country is nonetheless expected to double in the next thirty years.

The growth is mainly happening in urban areas, as Filipinos migrate towards cities. Urban areas tend to be more at risk of flooding and earthquakes, which raises the pressure on the Philippines as rising temperatures are predicted to intensify the impacts of climate change.

The vulnerability of the Philippines was thrown into the spotlight in 2013 when Typhoon Haiyan made landfall, killing more than 6,000 people and forcing millions into temporary homes.

According to World Bank data, the Filipino population is increasing faster than in neighbouring countries Indonesia and Vietnam. But it is slower than many African countries, where growth rate in 2013 was more than 3%.

Forest cover in the Philippines has been reduced from around 27.5 million hectares in the 1500s to around only 7.2 million today. Many of the causes - including logging, agriculture and unplanned land conversion - have been worsened by population growth. doclink

This Ingenious Machine Turns Feces Into Drinking Water

January 05, 2015, GatesNotes   By: Bill Gates

I watched the piles of feces go up the conveyer belt and drop into a large bin. They made their way through the machine, getting boiled and treated. A few minutes later I took a long taste of the end result: a glass of delicious drinking water.

Because a shocking number of people, at least 2 billion, use latrines that aren't properly drained. Others simply defecate out in the open. The waste contaminates drinking water for millions of people, with horrific consequences: Diseases caused by poor sanitation kill some 700,000 children every year, and they prevent many more from fully developing mentally and physically. If we can develop safe, affordable ways to get rid of human waste, we can prevent many of those deaths and help more children grow up healthy.

The project is called the Omniprocessor, and it was designed and built by Janicki Bioenergy, an engineering firm based north of Seattle. I recently went to Janicki's headquarters to check out an Omniprocessor before the start of a pilot project in Senegal. The Omniprocessor is a safe repository for human waste. Today, in many places without modern sewage systems, truckers take the waste from latrines and dump it into the nearest river or the ocean—or at a treatment facility that doesn't actually treat the sewage. Either way, it often ends up in the water supply. If they took it to the Omniprocessor instead, it would be burned safely.

The next-generation processor, more advanced than the one I saw, will handle waste from 100,000 people, producing up to 86,000 liters of potable water a day and a net 250 kw of electricity. If we get it right, it will be a good example of how philanthropy can provide seed money that draws bright people to work on big problems, eventually creating a self-supporting industry. doclink

Fertility Among Orphans in Rural Malawi: Challenging Common Assumptions About Risk and Mechanisms

January 07, 2015, International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health   By: Rachel Kidman and Philip Anglewicz

26% of respondents had lost their father and 15% their mother. Orphanhood was not associated with sexual risk-taking. However, respondents whose mother had died in the past five years desired more children than did those whose mother was still alive (risk differences, 0.52 among women and 0.97 among men). Actual fertility was elevated among women whose father had died more than five years earlier (0.31) and among men whose mother had died in the past five years (1.06) or more than five years earlier (0.47).

Men had higher educational attainment (29% had attended secondary school, compared with 17% of women), while women were more likely than men to be married (and to be divorced, separated or widowed). On average, men reported having had 3.4 partners in their lifetime, while women reported having had 1.8. HIV prevalence was 6% among women and 2% among men. Finally, the mean number of living children was higher among men (1.7) than among women (0.7).

Compared with nonorphans, orphans both had greater fertility desires and had had a greater number of children. This is the first study to demonstrate elevated fertility desires among orphans living in areas characterized by high HIV prevalence. This finding suggests that orphans may exercise greater agency over reproductive outcomes than previously thought, though we caution that these decisions are still made within very constrained and difficult circumstances.

The study findings suggest that orphanhood is not associated with sexual risk-taking in a cohort of Malawian youth, but is positively associated with fertility desires and childbearing. doclink

Defining Sustainability and How Population Matters

January 15, 2015, WOA website

Note: In the following piece I borrowed heavily from a quote by Rudy Sovinee on Facebook. ... Karen Gaia

The Brundtland Definition of Sustainability states: "Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." However, Prof. Emeritus Al Bartlett amended the Brundtland definition as follows: "Sustainable development is development that does not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Without Bartlett's amendment, current generations are allowed to continue robbing the future, as the current development has priority - as it certainly has political clout. Thus is set up an inter-generational battle already on display in Congress for the USA and in national capitals around the globe. Without the amendment we would be sacrificing the long term viability of life being sustained so as to prolong the current path of economic dominance by a few over the many while riding the climate, and resources into a dystopian future. Is there a way to survive more than another century, to actually consider at least another seven generations as was the path of indigenous peoples?

We humans are recipients of a beautiful planet of great complexity in life forms. It took 3.6 Billion years for Life to evolve to our current form, and we are set to perhaps end at least the last 600 million years of it in something like the next hundred years. That is just wrong, ethically, morally wrong. Specifically, Prof Bartlett wrote in 2012 - the year before his death: "The Brundtland definition of sustainability is appealing because it has both virtue and vagueness. It is virtuous to give the impression that one is thinking of the wellbeing of future generations, but the definition itself is vague; it gives no specifics or hints about the nature of a sustainable society or about how we must conduct our society in order to become sustainable. This vagueness of definition opens the door for people to use the term 'sustainability' to mean anything they want it to mean. It's straight from Alice in Wonderland where Humpty Dumpty proclaims, 'When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.' With the freedom supplied by the vagueness, anyone can become an expert on sustainability." See this and more at: http://www.albartlett.org/articles/art_meaning_of_sustainability_2012mar20.pdf

With human population continuing to grow (even if it is slowing, it is still compounding its growth), any valid attempt to discuss Sustainability will reach a conclusion of humanity currently being in overshoot. Is there a long term path "that does not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."? I believe if such a path exists, one of its components will require a way to discuss and implement a reduction in human population.

The problem of any such discussion is our memory of the racial and ethnic violence done so often in recent history - we humans have made discussion of population restraint and reduction into a topic that is generally taboo. Can a consensus be developed collectively that offers a humane and fair way to limit procreation? doclink

Karen Gaia says, if we meet only the needs (and wants) of the current generation living life to the fullest, how can we meet the needs of all of the more people in future generations? We can't create resources out of thin air, although it seems there are many people who seem to think so.

How Likely is it That Birth Control Could Let You Down?

September 13 , 2014, New York Times   By: Gregor Aisch and Bill Marsh

Note: click on the link in the headline to see these wonderful interactive charts that show the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of most major kinds of birth control

Misuse and failure of birth control are major contributors to the millions of unplanned pregnancies in the United States each year. Failure rates of contraceptives usually refer to a given year of use. Over time the risk of failure is compounded over time. The longer any method of contraception is used, the greater the probability of unplanned pregnancy.

These charts show probabilities of pregnancy for each method by two standards: typical use, which is usually incorrect or inconsistent use, and perfect use - when used exactly as specified and consistently followed. Over long time periods, few couples, if any, achieve flawless contraceptive use.

Only the 10 year probability is shown here. Jump to the link to see the charts.

* Spermicides 96% chance of pregnancy

* Fertility awareness-based (ovulation method) 94%

* Sponge (after giving birth) 94%

* Withdrawal 92%

* Condom (female) 91%

* Condom (male) 86%

* Diaphragm 72%

* Sponge (prior to any births) 72%

* Pill, Evra patch, NuvaRing 61%

* Depo-Provera 46%

* Copper IUD 8%

* Female sterilization 5%

* Levonorgestrel IUD 2%

* Male sterilization 2%

* Hormonal implant 1%

Sources: James Trussell, Office of Population Research, Princeton University; Brookings Institution doclink

Karen Gaia says:

a) The average American woman spends 30 years trying to avoid pregnancy. 11% of women at risk of unintended pregnancy are not currently using any contraceptive method. 18% of these are teens.

http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contr_use.html

b) 16% of women using birth control use the pill, while 15.5% use female sterilization, 9.4% use male condoms, and only 7.2% use IUDs or implants, although this number is growing.

http://consumer.healthday.com/women-s-health-information-34/birth-control-news-62/pill-remains-most-common-method-of-contraception-report-shows-694485.html

Reproductive Health: the Battle Resumes

January 08, 2015, Huffington Post   By: Robert Walker

One the first day of Congress this year, Representatives Trent Franks (Ariz.) and Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) reintroduced legislation to stop women from terminating pregnancies after 20 weeks.

The proposed abortion ban is part of a much larger, ongoing struggle over reproductive health and rights in America. The Population Institute recently gave the U.S. a "C" for Reproductive Health Rights in 2014, a slight improvement over last year's grade ("C-"). 15 states received a failing grade.

Several states enacted arbitrary abortion restrictions that will likely lead to the closure of more family planning clinics, making contraceptive services more difficult to access. Other states approved further cutbacks in funding for family planning clinics, while 23 states still reject the expansion of Medicaid coverage called for by the Affordable Care Act, effectively denying millions of women improved access to contraceptive services.

It might get worse. If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns key sections of the Affordable Care Act or Congress repeals it altogether, millions of women could be forced to pay a lot more for their contraceptive coverage. And if Congress slashes or eliminates funding for Title X, the federal program that provides family planning services to low-income households, millions of women could suffer a loss of contraceptive services.

More states could cut funding for family planning clinics or impose arbitrary restrictions on birth control clinics providing abortion services. Unfortunately, contrary to the stated intention of the attackers, the practical effect will be more abortions, not fewer.

The Institute's report card ranked the states based on measures of effectiveness, including:

* The teenage pregnancy rate (15% of the score)

* The rate of unintended pregnancies (15%)

* Mandated comprehensive sex education in the schools (15%)

* Access to emergency contraception (5%)

* Whether states are expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (10%)

* Medicaid eligibility rules for family planning (10%)

* Funding for family planning clinics serving low-income families (10%)

* Abortion restrictions (10%)

* Percent of women living in a county without an abortion provider (10%).

Four states (California, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington) received an "A".

Fifteen states received an "F": Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wyoming.

Last year could have been a great victory for women's reproductive health with tumbling teen pregnancy rates and increased access to reproductive health care for women under the Affordable Care Act. Unfortunately, setbacks at the state level negated some of the gains.

The reported teen pregnancy rate continued its historic drop, a 51% decline since its 1990 peak, however America's teenage pregnancy rate is still higher than other industrialized nations. Also 50% of pregnancies are unintended. All women need to have access to affordable reproductive health services and young people need to receive comprehensive sex education in the schools.

The outlook for 2015 is not positive. Millions of women could experience reduced access to contraceptive services in the next year. We should not let that happen. doclink

Carbon Taxes

January 2015, WOA website   By: Rudy Sovinee

Carbon taxes are justifiable - even on a totally economics based perspective. The appropriate amount though depends both on the projected rate of GDP growth AND on whether there are things not yet in the economy that deserved to be given value (like species that will disappear otherwise.)

The social cost of carbon, if it is not offset by a tax or other fee on emitting the carbon, is essentially a subsidy from society for fossil-fuel use. This subsidy being OVER and ABOVE all the other subsidies being awarded the fossil fuel industry. This is solely an attempt to quantify the externalized costs of carbon that industry now hands to everyone else.

As storms, droughts, floods etc continue to appear. expect these estimates to rise.

"In the United States, credible estimates of annual fossil fuel subsidies range from $14 billion to $52 billion annually. "

Those subsidies are spread over Oil, Gas and Coal. Looking only at Crude Oil, the US annual rate of consumption is 365.25 times 18.49 Million barrels of oil per day = 6,665.8 million barrels oil/ year.

There are 317 Kg of CO2 generated by burning the fuels of a barrel of crude oil = 694.4 lbs of CO2 = 0.347 US tons CO2 /barrel. Multiply 6,665.8 million barrels by 0.347 tons/ barrel = 2,314.5 million tons of CO2 = 2.3145 Billion tons of CO2

If the entire subsidies for all Fossil Fuels used annually in the USA were applied to a carbon tax on Crude Oil Alone, (an unfair and exaggerated assumption) then the $14 to $52 billion divided by 2.3145 Billion tons would only be a Carbon Tax of $6.05 - $22.47 per ton! Or $2.10 to $7.80 a barrel!! ... which is less than the price now fluctuates from week to week.

http://priceofoil.org/fossil-fuel-subsidies/

Call for a carbon tax.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/22/opinion/sunday/lessons-for-climate-change-in-the-2008-recession.html?_r=1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYuLjGQQ-jg doclink

Young Women's Access to and Use of Contraceptives: the Role of Providers' Restrictions in Urban Senegal

January 07, 2015, International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health   By: Estelle M. Sidze, Solène Lardoux, Ilene S. Speizer, Cheikh M. Faye, Michael M. Mutua and Fanding Badji

The proportion of young urban Senegalese women who reported using a modern contraceptive method was 20% among those currently married and 27% among those who were unmarried and sexually active. The greatest proportion of the married group relied on the injectable (43%), followed by the pill (33%) and the condom (15%); this pattern was consistent across age-groups. In contrast, the greatest proportion of the sexually active unmarried group relied on the condom (56%), followed by the injectable (21%) and the pill (14%). Overall, 19% of married women had an unmet need for contraception, almost all for spacing; the highest level of unmet need for spacing was among 20-24-year-olds (20%). Among sexually active unmarried women, the level of unmet need for contraception -- all for spacing -- was 11%.

Health posts were the facility type most commonly cited by women as their public source for the pill (39%) and the injectable (64%); health centers were the most common public source for the implant (60%). 26% of young women obtained their contraceptive method from the private sector. Young women mostly turned to private- sector health facilities for condoms (61%); however, 34% of condom users obtained the method from NGOs or other facilities.

12-14% of providers in public health facilities reported requiring that a woman be married to receive the pill, the injectable or the implant, and 8-9% applied a marital status restriction for condoms and emergency contraception. In private health facilities, 21-30% of providers reported refusing to offer unmarried women the pill, the injectable, the implant or emergency contraception; 12% imposed a marital status restriction for condoms.

Male providers -- particularly in the public sector -- were more likely than female providers to impose restrictions by minimum age for the pill, the injectable and condoms.

Recommendations from this study were: First, training and education programs for medical staff in Senegal should aim to reduce unnecessary provider-implemented barriers to contraceptive access, such as restrictions by age or marital status.

Second, all family planning service delivery protocols or policies should make clear that young people are eligible for services. doclink

Fracking and Trafficking

January 05, 2015, Trafficked

In the Balkan Oil Patch and beyond -- in North Dakota, South Dakota, and affecting young girls in Minneapolis -- the high ratio of men to women has created an issue of supply and demand. In the summer of 2014, Forum News Service set out to shed light on what we saw as a growing problem in North Dakota: human trafficking. It wasn't until we began reporting that we realized truly what a serious issue our state had on its hands. Not only because of the depravity of the crimes taking place in our own communities, but also because of the difficulties in detecting trafficking victims and given the unique nature of the Oil Patch, where the high ratio of men to women has created an issue of supply and demand.

Excerpts:

*Native American populations are ‘hugely at risk' to sex trafficking.

*Tim Purdon, U.S. attorney for North Dakota, often says he realized that sex trafficking was a problem in western North Dakota after a November 2013 sting in Dickinson was shut down early because of such high demand for commercial sex with minors.

*The closest dedicated shelter for trafficking victims is more than 500 miles away from the Oil Patch.


. . . more doclink

Unplanned Births Associated with Less Prenatal Care and Worse Infant Health,compared with Planned Births

Greater Attention Needed on Consequences of Unplanned Childbearing
January 05, 2015, Guttmacher Institute

Greatly mistimed and unwanted births face considerable disadvantage, compared with wanted and well-timed births.

"Almost 40% of the four million annual births in the United States result from an unintended pregnancy," says study author Kathryn Kost . "During and immediately following pregnancy, women with unplanned births are less likely to receive early prenatal care or to breast-feed the infant and are more likely to have infants with poorer health at birth.

The analysis was limited to live births, and those resulting from unintended pregnancies were divided into three categories: mistimed (by less than two years), greatly mistimed (by more than two years) and unwanted.

Additionally, they suggest that public policy should focus on providing women and men with the services and support they need to avoid unintended pregnancies and empower them to choose the time and circumstances in which they bear a child. doclink

Male Birth Control, Without Condoms, Will Be Here by 2017

September 09, 2015, Daily Beast   By: Samantha Allen

Vasalgel, a reversible, non-hormonal polymer that blocks the vas deferens, is about to enter human trials. How will rhetoric change when male bodies become responsible for birth control?

Vasalgel is proving effective in a baboon study. Three lucky male baboons were injected with Vasalgel and given unrestricted sexual access to 10 to 15 female baboons each. Despite the fact that they have been monkeying around for six months now, no female baboons have been impregnated.

It is essentially a reimagining of a medical technology called RISUG (reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance) that was developed by a doctor named Sujoy Guha over 15 years ago in India, where it has been in clinical trials ever since. Unlike most forms of female birth control, Vasalgel is non-hormonal and only requires a single treatment in order to be effective for an extended period of time.

Elaine Lissner of the Parsemus Foundation is worried about the effectiveness of the pill, given how many women forget to take pills during any given cycle. The Parsemus Foundation has to rely on donations and crowdfunding in order to bring male birth control to the market. Potential funders in the pharmaceutical industry would much rather "sell pills to men's partners every month." doclink

Republicans Introduce Five Anti-Abortion Bills in First Days of New Congress

December 08 , 2014, Huffington Post   By: Laura Bassett

Emboldened by a new Senate majority, Republicans in Congress introduced five abortion restrictions in the first three days of the new legislative session that would severely limit women's access to the procedure.

Recently Republican Congressmen reintroduced a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards condemned the onslaught of anti-abortion bills on Thursday and the attack on her own organization.

"The public wants Congress to protect women's health, not interfere in women's personal medical decisions," she stated, "which means making sure all forms of birth control are affordable, women can get preventive care at Planned Parenthood and other trusted providers, and abortion remains safe and legal."
. . . more doclink

Listen Up, Legislators: People Want Better Sex Education Than What Many States Require

January 09 , 2015, Huffington Post   By: Rebecca Klein

A majority of U.S. states don't mandate sex education, even though two-thirds of Americans think students should get comprehensive birth control information at school.

Twenty-two% of poll participants who identify as Republican said they think teenagers should only be taught about abstinence, compared with 9% of participants who identify as Democrats. At the same time, 59% of Republicans said they think teenagers should be taught about various methods of birth control. Whites were somewhat more likely than minorities to support comprehensive sex ed. Those who currently have children under the age of 18 were almost twice as likely to say that teenagers should only be taught abstinence.

The poll found that 66% of respondents said they think sex education with information about various forms of contraception is more effective at reducing teen pregnancies than courses providing information on abstinence. This was especially true for respondents who identified as atheists or agnostics. Zero percent of this group reported thinking that courses stressing abstinence would reduce teen pregnancies, compared with 24%of Protestants and 19% of Catholics.
. . . more doclink

This Map Shows You All the Places Where the Pill is Free

These nations have government subsidies that make buying the pill free.
January 03 , 2015, Global Post   By: Simran Khosla

Can you imagine what would happen if birth control were subsidized in the United States?

While access to birth control and abortion are hot topics in the US, there are some places where the pill is more readily available.

Follow the link in the headline to see a map of the countries where the pill is free due to government subsidies. This map is compiled of data from a 2011 Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, curated by Slate, which examined reproductive laws around the world. doclink

Scientist Predicts Mass Exodus of Climate Change Refugees to Pacific Northwest

January 01, 2015, Global News (Canada)   By: Negar Mojtahedi

Cliff Mass, an atmospheric science professor from the University of Washington, predicts the Pacific Northwest will be one of the best places to live as the earth warms from Global Warming.

But as far as "winners" and "losers" go for climate change, B.C. and the rest of the Pacific Northwest could become a new safe haven for those fleeing rising mercury.

Click on the link in the headline to view map of climate change areas. doclink

Population Growth and Control in Africa

October 01 , 2013   By: Femi Aribisala

You may know that demographers predict at least a doubling of Africa's population by 2050 and that quality of life and environmental issues will result from that rapid pace of growth. But some statistics on Africa may surprise you. For example, while the continent covers about 25% of the world's land area, Africa has only about 15% of the world's population (about 1 billion people - less than that of India or China). It has less than half the population density of Europe and only about 40% the population density of Asia. Still, according to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Africa's growth rate was in the range of 4.8% per year in 2013, up from 3.4% in 2011. Today, Africa has the world's youngest population with 200 million people between 15 and 24 years old. If current demographic trends persist, Africa's population will reach 1.4 billion in just ten years. UNICEF projects that by 2050 one out of every three births in the world will occur in Africa.

In the short-term a mushrooming African population means that the economies must run faster to merely stand still. With over 400 million Africans currently under the age of 15, this means a large proportion of the national income in African countries is devoted to feeding, clothing and housing "non-producers," with a consequence of having less available funds for investment.

At the same time, a decline in mortality and fertility rates could lead to dramatic changes in the country's age structure with possible future dividends. 800 million Africans will soon range between the ages of 25 and 59. The size of Africa's labor force will soon surpass that of China, which now is the world's largest. By 2050 one out of every four workers in the world could be African. This labor force would not only be young but also cheap, so multinational companies might want to move production to Africa, instead of East Asia. Africa's population boom could fuel a much-needed economic transformation, provided that Africa's human capital receives training appropriate to deal with changes in the world economic system. This has been the experience of such Asian "tigers" as Indonesia, South Korea and Thailand. However, Africa's population boom poses grave threats to the region's political stability and social cohesion if economic and employment opportunities are not sufficient.

Nigeria will have the world's highest increase in new births between now and 2050. The UN projects Nigeria's population will grow to 389 million by 2050, rivaling the United States at 403 million. By the end of the century, the U.N. projects that Nigeria's population will range between 900 million and 1 billion, nearing that of China. Nigeria's population will grow geometrically, while China's population is expected to begin to shrink by 2030. East Africa probably has the continent's most acute rapid population growth problem. For example, Kenya's population will increase from the current 43 million to over 100 million by 2050 with 43% of the population under 15 years old. The working class must support this is dependent group, which leaves the workers with little opportunity for savings.

The Kenyan government sponsors a family-planning program that emphasizes the health and economic benefits of spacing children. Schools, training centers and community development programs explain the link between living standards and family size. But the program must contend with a lack of facilities for distributing birth-control information and ethno-cultural traditions which encourage large families. In general, birth control measures imposed "from above" by government authorities and family planning associations have had limited impact on population growth in Africa. Judging from the experience of western societies, the most effective motivation for birth control rests on individual desire. In Africa, this would require a fundamental transformation of the society and its modes of thought, which is best facilitated by economic development.

By comparative standards, Africa does not qualify as over-populated. Nor is it under-populated, since there is very little evidence that any lack of manpower is holding up development. Most of the ills attributed to population growth in Africa would dissolve with reasonable rates of economic growth, since economic development generally leads to lower birth rates. Also, by itself, population density does not retard development. More important factors include reproducible capital, research and educational facilities, an entrepreneurial class, infrastructure development, and an environment supportive of development. doclink

Art says: This implies that investments made for profit do more good than aid. China and the Asian Tigers make good examples. By offering cheap labor, they attracted business and eventually grew more prosperous and sophisticated.

Karen Gaia says: We must not look at density as a measure of overpopulation. We must also take into account per capita water (Egypt is a good example) and soil suitability (jungle areas have poor soil). Furthermore, much of Africa's food supply suffers from lack of mechanized farm machinery, plus the roads and trucks needed for food transportation.

World Population Projections - UN 2014

September 01 , 2014

Note that Africa's projections have increased due to the faulty assumption made in earlier projections that Africa's fertility rates would decline similarly to the rest of the world.

This chart is adapted from a chart shown in Scientific American at http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/world-population-will-soar-higher-than-predicted/ doclink

World Should Condemn ‘Assembly Line' Sterilizations

December 27, 2014, Durango Herald   By: Richard Grossman MD

News media focused in November on deaths in India after women had surgery at a sterilization "camp". Authorities suspect that the surgeon caused more than a dozen deaths, so he is in prison.

More people are added to the population of India each year than to any other country. India has family planning programs, but abuses occur. This epidemic of deaths may have occurred because of disregard for established standards.

Indian gynecologist Pravin Mehta holds the world's record for the number of tubal ligations that one doctor has done—over a quarter million. He told me how he could do 300 surgeries in one day; Henry Ford would have been amazed!

I didn't realize how crude Mehta's process was until I saw a movie of him working in a surgery camp. Operations were performed in a tent, and conditions were very primitive.

Nevertheless, Dr. Mehta's safety record was remarkable. He offered a reward for anyone who reported a problem, including pregnancy, after his surgery, but gave out very few rewards. Indeed, I believe that his complication rate was lower than surgeons doing tubal ligations under modern conditions.

Were all these surgeries truly voluntary? During the era when Dr. Mehta worked—1970s and 1980s—India had aggressive sterilization programs for both men and women. Acceptors were given a small stipend if they agreed to the surgery. Recently the stipend for a person getting sterilized was equivalent to less than $10—a small sum by our standards but more than a villager might see in a month.

Reports of the recent sterilization tragedy frequently mention that women wanted to limit their family size, but that they were not given information about temporary methods of family planning. Even if women knew about temporary methods, they were not available.

Many problems were found after these Indian surgeries that killed many young mothers. The operating room was not clean, the staff were untrained, the medicine was contaminated. The same syringe and needle were used to inject local anesthesia for many women. Even worse were systemic problems: almost all of the funding was used for administration and too little paid for actual health care, there was little counseling or informed consent, no access to temporary contraceptive methods, and providers were pressured by numerical targets.

Two Americans are making a documentary about sterilization. Quartz.com published quotes from some of the Indian women they interviewed. One of them, Archana, said:

"I was 19 when I got married and I have 3 kids. I don't have much income, that's why I got sterilized. When our income is limited what's the use of having so many kids? ASHAs [Accredited Social Health Activists] came to visit me and told me about sterilization. When I got sterilized I went with my sister-in-law to the hospital and was given Rs600 in compensation. My husband and my mother-in-law were supportive. It took me about a month to recover fully. After a week I had to cook for my kids and take care of the house. I would have liked an entire month to recover, but we didn't have anyone else to do the work. I chose this method because I had so many kids, and I didn't know of other methods of contraception at that time. Now I've learned about more temporary methods. Copper T is not available here, you have to go to the cities, but you can get pills and condoms here."

Please remember that conditions and standards in developing countries are different from what we know. Nevertheless, people must be respected and well informed about their health care.

Can family planning programs provide services to millions of people and yet assure that care is truly voluntary? Delegates at the International Conference on Population and Development 20 years ago felt that it is best if family planning were a part of comprehensive reproductive health programs. Since then our population has grown by 1,600 million people, with consequent increasing problems. Much of this growth is in developing countries, but remember that it is we in the rich countries who cause the worst impact because of our consumption!

Some of the family planning workers have real concern for the people they serve. After this tragedy one ASHA (health activist), Mitanin, is quoted as saying: "with what face we will tell people to go for sterilization? Now, even if they come to us for it, we will hesitate."

A new program, FP2020, is working to provide quality family planning services while respecting reproductive justice. More about FP2020 soon.

Richard Grossman practiced obstetrics and gynecology in Durango. Reach him at richard@population-matters.org. © Richard Grossman MD, 2014 doclink

Human Population Growth and Wildlife Extinction

January 24, 2014, Center for Biological Diversity

There are more than 7 billion people on the planet, and we're adding 227,000 more every day. The toll on wildlife is impossible to miss: Species are disappearing 1,000 to 10,000 times faster than the natural rate -- the fastest rate since dinosaurs roamed the planet. doclink

Will World War 3 Be Fought Over Food?

December 28 , 2014

Pope Francis said a few months ago that World War 3 has already begun. Russian president Vladimir Putin is threatening the West almost every other day, which could trigger World War 3 anytime. But with the threat that the next war may be a nuclear one, these disputes may not escalate into the full-fledged World War 3.

The world is currently facing a food crisis. According to FAO, about 842 million people in the world are undernourished. One in the four children under the age of 5 are malnourished. The World Bank says food production needs to increase by at least 50% by 2050 to avoid food shortages when the population increases from the current seven billion to nine billion.

Some studies suggest that the food crisis could occur as early as 2030. Severe weather events such as floods and droughts, economic turmoil, and political unrest in developing countries will largely be responsible for the food crisis, says Mark Koba of Fortune magazine.

Giants like ConAgra, Cargill, Kraft Foods Group Inc, PepsiCo and others are heavily involved in food production around the world, putting too much control into too few hands, putting the food supplies at the mercy of a few nations that want to feed their populations at the expense of others. China is acquiring massive resources because it's citizens consume more than China produces.

Also, crops like soy, corn, sugar are used to create fuels for gas tanks, taking away food crops from people.

It could still come to a full-fledged war waged by countries to secure food for their populations. doclink

Karen Gaia says: more likely the war, if it happens, will be over oil. The people with the biggest guns have investments in oil. Also oil is needed to produce and transport food.

The Dangerous Economics of Shale Oil

December 27 , 2014, PeakOil

For years, we've warned that the economics of the US ‘shale revolution' were suspect, having only been made possible by the new era of ‘expensive' oil (between $80-$100 per barrel). We've argued that many in the shale industry simply wouldn't be able to operate profitably at lower prices.

Now that oil prices have dipped to under $60 per barrel, we're about to find out.

It is difficult to determine if shale drilling companies make money. There are a lot of moving parts, some deliberate obfuscation at some companies, and the massive decline rates make analysis difficult -- there are assumptions made regarding depreciation and depletion.

In a shale well, after drilling down into the earth, the shaft bends 90 degrees, and extends horizontally 5000-10000 feet. Then the surrounding rock is fractured to release the oil locked inside the rock.

The drilling of the vertical and horizontal shafts costs around $4 million. Each frack stage costs around $70k, and there are often 20-30 frac stages per well. The entire completion process costs around $4M.

To estimate the total amount of oil likely to be produced over the lifetime of the well (EUR - Estimated Ultimate Recovery), the initial production and the expected decline rate are used. The EUR assumes a recovery time of 10-30 years, but from a practical standpoint, companies need to recoup the costs of drilling the well within 3 years.

Shale drilling has dramatically improved over the past five years. Today's wells (vs wells drilled in 2008-2011) have horizontal sections twice as long, with three times more frac stages, with closer frac groupings, and the wells are drilled in about half the time. However many of the best spots have already been drilled, so the significant improvements in drilling efficiency have only been able to increase per-well production by about 7%.

92% of shale-region oil production in the US takes place in three primary geographical regions: Bakken, Eagle Ford, and the Permian Basin. The Eagle Ford region has a 62% decline rate, the Bakken region overall has a 54% rate, and the Permian region declines at a 33% rate.

Individual wells decline more rapidly: Bakken wells decline at a 72% rate for the first year, and then more slowly in the following years. Many Permian wells are vertical wells, and so their decline rates are much more gradual, accounting for the slower Permian region decline rate.

A well with an initial production of 1000 bbl/day and a 72% well decline rate will only be producing 280 bbl/day in the 2nd year.

In the Bakken shale, land costs to be around $2M-$6M per well.

Before you can drill, you have to get the rights. Typically, you go into debt in order to buy the rights, then you start drilling to recoup your investment and pay the interest costs on all that debt. Rights only last from 5-10 years. Failure to drill = wasted money.

An accountant, in calculating profits would take the following into account: * Revenues: barrels of oil sold x the price of oil. * Costs involved in drilling and completing wells, purchasing equipment, land drilling rights, and other long-lived assets required to run the business. * Operating expenses: well operations: insurance, repairs, maintenance, pumping costs, etc * General & administrative costs - including paying the CEO * Interest expense: for bonds, bank loans, preferred stock dividends * Transport: getting the oil to market * Royalties: paying the landowner a chunk of your revenues * Production taxes * Depreciation/depletion: i.e. the decline rate of each well multiplied by the cost of the land plus the cost to drill & complete.

If you want your company to look profitable, you will tell your accountant to use a 10% decline rate rather than the actual 72% well decline rate. That way if you sell your shale properties or get a bank loan, or sell junk bonds, you probably want to look profitable.

Banks however use ratios such as earnings before accounting/depletion fraud. Using this method, The average well in the Bakken -- at current prices -- loses money, no matter how you slice it.

Bottom line: the average US shale oil well is uneconomical even with hedging in place, since most hedging is around $90/bbl and the break-even is $99/bbl.
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Florida Passes New York to Become the Nation's Third Most Populous State, Census Bureau Reports

December 23 , 2014

The United States saw its population increase over the last year by 2.4 million to 318.9 million, or 0.75%. Florida has passed New York to become the nation's third most populous state, according to U.S. Census Bureau. Florida's population is now at 19.9 million while New York's is 19.7 million.

California remained the nation's most populous state in 2014, with 38.8 million residents, followed by Texas, at 27.0 million. Georgia (ranked 8th), which saw its population surpass 10 million for the first time.

North Dakota was the fastest-growing state, increasing 2.2%.

Illinois, West Virginia, Connecticut, New Mexico, Alaska and Vermont lost population.
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Experts Be Damned: World Population Will Continue to Rise

September 18 , 2014, Science   By: Sarah C. P. Williams

A new analysis, formulated by researchers from the U.N. and University of Washington (UW), projects that world population will continue to rise during the 21st century, leaving the planet to deal with 9 billion to 13 billion human inhabitants -- 4 billion of those in Africa -- by 2100. No leveling off is forecast.

Earlier projections said the world population would reach 9 billion by midcentury and then stop growing. However the projection was based on the assumption that high birth rates in Africa would steadily drop as access to contraceptives and women's education improved. Instead, birth rates in most African countries have remained stagnant or declined only slighty.

The new analysis involved statistical equations based on historical and real-time data that describe how the fertility rate is changing over time in different places around the world.

The new numbers will be used in models created by economists, environmentalists, and governments who use population estimates to predict pollution and global warming levels; prepare for epidemics; determine road, school, and other infrastructure requirements; and forecast worldwide economic trends. All of these plans need to be altered if the population is going to grow an extra few billion.

David Lam of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor said: "The world population doubled between 1960 and 1999 and we're never going to do that again. The population is leveling off and it's going to eventually level off under any of these scenarios, whether that's before 2100 or after." doclink

Khadija's True Story of Girl Power in Malawi

October 05 , 2014, Global Fund For Women

Khadija writes her own not-so-comic book with a real girl hero. Flip through the pages of her graphic novella to find out how grantee partner, Nkhotakota AIDS Support Organization (NASO), uses the power of education to empower girls to protect themselves from early pregnancy and stay in school in Malawi.
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