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


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

March 25, 2015

Amazon's Carbon Uptake Declines as Trees Die Faster

March 19, 2015, Exeter, University of

The results of a 30-year survey of the South American rainforest involving an international team of almost 100 researchers, has concluded that trees are dying faster than before and this is affecting the rainforest's ability to store carbon.

Initially, an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere - a key ingredient for photosynthesis - led to a growth spurt for the Amazon's trees, the researchers say. But the extra carbon appears to have had unexpected consequences.

Although the study finds that tree mortality increases began well before an intense drought in 2005, it also shows that drought has killed millions of additional trees. The Nature paper shows how the Amazon's carbon sink has declined as tree death accelerated. From a peak of two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year in the 1990s, the net uptake by the forest has weakened by a half, and is now, for the first time, being overtaken by fossil fuel emissions in Latin America.

"Regardless of the causes behind the increase in tree mortality, this study shows that predictions of a continuing increase of carbon storage in tropical forests may be too optimistic," one of the study authors and researchers said.

The study involved eight countries in South America and was coordinated by RAINFOR, a unique research network dedicated to monitoring the Amazonian forests.

"All across the world even intact forests are changing", says Oliver Phillips of the University of Leeds. He adds, "Forests are doing us a huge favour, but we can't rely on them to solve the carbon problem. Instead, deeper cuts in emissions will be required to stabilise our climate." doclink

Richard says: The "lungs of the Earth" may not be as healthy as previously imagined

A Review of the Past and Current State of EROI Data

October 10, 2011, MDPI AG (Switzerland)   By: Ajay K. Gupta and Charles A.S. Hall

This seems to be the latest review of the literature available on data for the EROI of oil and natural gas, coal, tar sands, shale oil, nuclear, wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, wave/tidal and corn ethanol. Few studies have been undertaken since the 1980s, and such as have been done are often marked more by advocacy than objectivity.

In the 1970's ecologist Charles Hall coined the term "Energy Return on Investment" (EROI), with originally a focus on migrating fish. In the 1980s, Hall, working with Cutler Cleveland, Robert Kaufmann and others, extended the concept to seeking oil and other fuels. The concept had been around for some time, although it was expressed as "net energy." The difference is that EROI is the unit-less ratio of energy returned from an energy-gathering activity to the energy it takes to provide that energy, and net energy is the difference left over after the costs have been subtracted from the gains.

EROI allows the ranking of fuels and an estimate of the changing in their ease of extraction over time. One important idea is that as this ratio approaches 1:1 the fuel is no longer useful to society (except for the presumably rare case where a low quality fuel is used to produce a higher quality fuel). The original papers on EROI were mostly received with interest, but that interest waned in the late 1980s and 1990s as fuel prices declined. More recently as energy prices have again been increasing the interest in EROI has again increased. Additionally many papers on energy and emerging economic fields discuss this ratio and what it means to current and future economies.

EROI for Oil and Gas

Oil and conventional natural gas are usually studied together because they often occur in the same fields, have overlapping production operations and data archiving. The EROI for producing oil and gas was roughly 30:1 in the 1950s which declined irregularly to 20:1 in the 1970s and 11-18:1 in the mid 2000's. An additional finding of oil in these studies was that the EROI tended to decline when drilling rates were higher, and increase when drilling was relaxed. These two trends, a secular decline and a secondary response to drilling intensity together explained most of the variability in oil production. There have now been updates to these analyses for the U.S. until the present issue.

Since few countries make data on inputs public, Gagnon et al. had to estimate energy costs by calculating the energy equivalent per dollar spent in the petroleum industry using various methods to estimate the energy intensity from fairly good data for the U.S. and the U.K. They concluded that global oil and gas EROI was approximately 26:1 in 1992, increased to 35:1 in 1999, and declined to 18:1 by 2006. Thus the EROI for global oil and gas appeared to have a similar declining trend as the U.S. but was from 50 to 100% higher at any given time, as the U.S. is more thoroughly exploited than the rest of the world. These authors also estimated through that the EROI for global oil and conventional natural gas could reach 1:1 as soon as about 2022. However, the authors also state that the uncertainty for the exact date is large and a linear decline assumes an exponential rise in cost per unit output. The authors note that although the EROI for gas is likely much higher than that for oil in most cases, due to the difference in energy costs for raising the fuel in a well, EROI is often represented as an average of both fuels for a given field.

The authors of an unpublished 2007 SUNY ESF study estimated that in 2005 the EROI for a gas field in the U.S. is 10:1 although new analysis (in this special issue) by Sell et al. gives a considerably higher estimate. Heinberg predicts that these sources will have lower EROIs than conventional gas and as they take over market share in the global energy matrix, the EROI for natural gas could decline dramatically, but we are desperately in need of real analyses on this subject using solid data.

EROI for Coal

Studies prior to the 2007 SUNY ESF study found that the EROI of coal was approximately 30:1 until the 1960's when it increased to approximately 35:1, and then fell during the 1970's to less than 20:1. The rise in EROI during the 1960's is attributed to increased extraction efficiency as production shifted to Western surface coal, whereas the drop in EROI during the 1970's is attributed mostly to a decline in the quality of coal being mined in the U.S.

A subsequent study by Cleveland found that the EROI of U.S. coal fell from about 100:1 during the 1960's to approximately 50:1 and then began to increase to higher than approximately 70:1 by 1987. There is no information on the EROI of coal beyond 1987 that we know of. However some assumptions can be made. For the U.S. there are forces driving down the EROI into the future. Bituminous coal hit its production peak in about 1992 and has been gradually declining in quality (BTUs per ton) since the 1950's. Also, increased environmental regulations on the industry would have negative impacts on EROI. Forces driving the EROI of coal up include the growing trend of moving from underground mining to surface mining, and other gains in extraction efficiencies. It is not clear whether over time the decline in resource quality would be greater or less than the increased impact of technology. A problem here, too, is a great decline in the quality of data maintenance by the federal government.

EROI for Tar Sands

Tar sands, or oil sands, consist of bitumen embedded in sand or clay. It can be liquefied underground through the injection of steam, or mined at the surface, and then processed into liquid fuel called syncrude. The largest producers of syncrude are Canada and Venezuela. The reserves are enormous, but the extraction rate is limited by environmental and other constraints.

The 2007 SUNY ESF study calculate an EROI of tar sands of about 6:1 that is based mostly upon the direct energy costs of producing syncrude. Including indirect inputs reduced the EROI to about 5:1, and including the energy equivalent of environmental impacts and labor had only a marginal effect. Previous studies reported by Herweyer and Gupta calculated EROIs lower than their results, in the vicinity of 3:1. Also, syncrude production is not only very energy intensive, but also a large consumer of water, which could also have a negative impact on EROI.

In 2009 a preliminary study posted on The Oil Drum calculated the EROI of producing syncrude from the new Toe to Heel Air Injection (THAI) method as about 9:1, with a range of 3.3-56:1 given different assumptions on the relevance of inputs. Smaller quantities of natural gas and water are necessary in the THAI process.

EROI for Shale Oil

Shale oil is similar to tar sands in some ways -- both are very low quality resources of petroleum. Whereas tar sands are bitumen surrounding a substrate such as clay or sand with a layer of water in between, shale oil consists of kerogen fused directly to the substrate itself. As it is more difficult to separate the kerogen from a substrate than to separate bitumen from water, it is expected that the EROI for shale oil should be lower than that of tars sands.

The SUNY ESF study reviewed a number of studies from 1975 up to 2007 which had made some kind of EROI or net energy assessment. Most of these studies gave EROIs for shale oil from 1.5-4:1. A few earlier studies suggested an EROI of 7:1 to 13:1. In general, these numbers are in the same range and with the same degree of uncertainty as tar sands. Also, both are unique in that the resource can be used to fuel its own extraction.

EROI for Nuclear

Nuclear power is the use of controlled fission reactions for the purpose of producing electricity. There are currently 439 commercial nuclear power plants worldwide generally using variations of the same technology. The SUNY ESF study summarized the EROI of nuclear power from previous studies, concluding that the most reliable information is still from Hall et al.'s summary of an EROI of about 5-8:1. Clearly with reactors operating for longer periods of time, with the possibility of serious uranium shortages with larger use, and with the new considerations of the Japanese reactor accidents due to the earthquake and subsequent tsunami new calculations are needed.

EROI for Wind

Wind energy is one of the fastest growing renewable energies in the world today, although it still represents far less than one percent of global or U.S. energy use. Since it is renewable energy, EROI is not calculated the same as for finite resources. The energy cost for such renewable systems is mostly the very large capital cost per unit output and the backup systems needed, for two thirds of the time the wind is not blowing. As a result, the input for the EROI equation is mostly upfront, and the return over the lifetime of the system -- which largely is not known well. For renewable resources a slightly different type of EROI is often used, the "energy pay back time" (EPBT). EPBT is the time it takes for the system to generate the same amount of energy that went into creating, maintaining, and disposing of it, and so the boundaries used to define the EPBT are those incorporated into the EROI.

The SUNY ESF study used a “meta-analysis" study by Cleveland and Kubiszewski, in which the authors examined 112 turbines from 41 analyses of both conceptual and operational nature. The system boundaries included the manufacture of components, transportation of components to the construction site, the construction of the facility itself, operation and maintenance over the lifetime of the facility, overhead, possible grid connection costs, and decommissioning where possible, however not all studies include the same scope of analysis. The authors concluded that the average EROI for all systems studied is 24.6:1 and that for all operational studies is 18.1:1.

EROI tends to increase with the size of the turbine. This is because smaller turbines are of older design and can be less efficient; larger models have larger rotor diameters so they can operate at lower wind speeds and capture more wind energy at higher efficiencies year round; and larger models are taller and can take advantage of the higher wind speeds farther above ground.

Aspects of wind energy which can lower the EROI include the location of manufacture and installation but have greater construction and maintenance costs as they can add to the initial capital investment of a wind turbine or limit the use of recycled materials. Also, energy storage and grid connection dynamics could potentially reduce EROI where applicable. Finally off shore systems would experience more reliable winds but have greater maintenance costs associated with them.

EROI for Photovoltaics

The use of Solar photovoltaics (PV) are increasing almost as rapidly as wind systems, although they too represent far less than 1% of the energy used by the U.S. or the world. Similarly, they are a renewable source of energy and thus the EROIs are also calculated using the same idea. We can calculate the EROI by dividing the lifetime of a module by its energy payback time (EPBT). Like wind turbines, PV EPBT can vary depending on the location of production and installation. It can also be affected by the materials used to make the modules, and the efficiency with which it operates - especially under extreme temperatures.

The SUNY ESF study looked at a number of life cycle analyses from 2000 to 2008 on a range of PV systems to determine system lifetimes and EPBT, and subsequently calculated EROI. Most operational systems to have an EROI of approximately 3-10:1. The thin-film modules considered had an EROI of approximately 6:1 whereas some theoretical modules, including a 100MW very large scale PV installation reached or exceeded 20:1. A subsequent study by Kubiszewski et al. reviewed 51 systems from 13 analyses and calculated similarly an average EROI of 6.56:1. Much promotional literature gives higher estimates but we are unable to validate their claims.

Factors contributing to the increase of EROI include increasing efficiency in production, increasing efficiency of the module, and using materials that are less energy intensive than those available today. Factors contributing to lower EROI include lower ore grades of rare metals used in production (from either depletion in the ground or competition from other industries) and lower than projected lifetimes and efficiencies, problems with energy storage, and intermittence.

EROI for Hydropower

The SUNY ESF study found EROI figures ranging from 11.2-267:1 due to the extreme variability of geography and technology. The author noted that environmental and social costs, which can be substantial, are not incorporated in the numbers. Since all these costs and gains are site sensitive, it is clear that determining an overall EROI for hydropower would be meaningless and that each project would need to be examined separately. Yet, given the range of EROIs in the study, it seems that hydropower, where available, is often a good energy return on investment.

EROI for Geothermal

Geothermal energy uses the heat within the Earth to do work by transferring the heat to a gas such as steam, or a liquid. This can be used to produce electricity or heat for buildings etc. The best suited sites are near plate boundaries and are not available to everyone. Enhanced geothermal systems also known as Hot Dry Rock (HDR) are thought to be able to exploit heat at greater underground depths where there is no groundwater although there are none in commercial use. Another theoretical system called geopressured geothermal could provide thermal energy from hot brine, mechanical energy from highly pressured fluid, and chemical energy from confined methane, but the specifics for such systems are unknown.

The SUNY ESF study reported the EROI for electricity generation from HDR hydrothermal resources to be from 2 to 13:1. Corrected for quality as an electricity source, this is recalculated as approximately 6-39:1. No EROI values of geothermal direct use were found. Energy can be extracted from normal soils and ground water with an EROI of about 5:1, although the input is electricity and the output heat so the quality corrected output may not be very high.

EROI for Wave/Tidal

There is very little information available on wave or tidal energy due to its fledgling state in commercial application. The SUNY ESF study estimated that one wave energy project could have an EROI of approximately 15:1. This number was estimated based on a life cycle assessment of the Pelamis off-shore device currently deployed outside of Portugal. A problem is that it is difficult to maintain many devices when large storms occur.

EROI for Corn Ethanol

The debate over the EROI for corn ethanol is probably the most documented of all the energy sources presented here. The EROI of the numerous studies available on the subject range from approximately 0.8:1 to 1.3-2:1 . The difference in values is mostly attributed to boundaries used and energy quality issues.

Since the 1980's the energy information required to make such calculations have become even scarcer. This is a terrible state of affairs given the massive changes in our energy situation unfolding daily. We need to make enormously important decisions but do not have the studies, the data or the trained personnel to do so. Thus we are left principally with poorly informed politicians, industry advocacy and a blind but misguided faith in market solutions to make critical decisions about how to invest our quite limited remaining high quality energy resources. Our major scientific funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation and even the Department of Energy have been criminally negligent by avoiding any serious programs to undertake proper EROI, environmental effects, or other studies, while our federal energy data collections degrade year by year under misguided cost cutting and free market policies.

Given what we do know, it seems that the EROI of the fuels we depend on most are in decline; whereas the EROI for those fuels we hope to replace them with are lower than we have enjoyed in the past. This leads one to believe that the current rates of energy consumption per capita we are experiencing are in no way sustainable in the long run. At best, the renewable energies we look toward may only cushion this decline. doclink

Study: Over-the-Counter Birth Control Without Cost-Sharing Would Reduce Unintended Pregnancies

February 27, 2015

About 11% to 12% more women would use the birth control pill available if it could be obtained at a pharmacy without a prescription or out-of-pocket cost, and this would reduce the number of unintended pregnancies among low-income women by 7% to 25%, according to Researchers from the University of California-San Francisco and Ibis Reproductive Health.

The increase in pill use would reduce the number of women who do not use contraception or who only rely on condoms by about 20% to 36%, resulting in a reduction in unintended pregnancies.

The co-author of the study Dan Grossman said, "Women who are currently using methods that are less effective than the pill -- mainly condoms or nothing -- would use it," ... "Particularly low-income women"

Although the Affordable Care Act has expanded access to contraceptive coverage without cost-sharing, "there is still a need for over-the-counter birth control to fill the gap when women run out of pills while traveling, for example, or for those who find it inconvenient to get to a clinic." Grossman also said that to reach the largest number of women most in need, it's critical that a future over-the-counter pill be covered by insurance. doclink

3 Counterintuitive Connections Between Climate Change and Extreme Weather

February 27, 2015, World Resources Institute - WRI   By: Kelly Levin and C. Forbes Tompkins

A growing body of evidence shows strong connections between climate change and extreme events, and impacts once thought of as a distant future threat are already occurring and widespread.

Over 98 inches of snow has fallen in Boston this season, while a the same time, California, in the grip of an epic drought, had its fourth-driest January ever recorded with just 15% of average precipitation.

However, warming is still occurring. Even though cities in regions like the Midwest and Northeast endured record cold during 2014, the national average temperature was warmer than normal, and at the global scale 2014 was the warmest year ever recorded.

Research suggests that a contributing factor of this drastic east-west temperature contrast could be a weaker polar jet stream which can increase the frequency of phases where Arctic air seeps south into regions like the eastern United States while warmer air protrudes north in the western half of the country.

A warming planet can make some regions much snowier. The warmer the air is, the more water vapor it can hold. This additional moisture can bring more intense rain or even snowfall. Also, when sea surface temperatures are warmer than average as they currently are in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean the atmosphere becomes fueled with more moisture and energy.

In the U.S., all regions except Hawaii have experienced an increase in very heavy precipitation events since the late 1950s. However, snowfall has decreased in most parts of the country mostly because more winter precipitation has come from rain instead of snow.

Gradual warming is reducing the number of very cold days in many regions, but in the event when temperatures are cold enough, the increased moisture can cause heavier snowfall events.

Climate change can also lead to both drought and extreme precipitation in the same location. Since 2010, regions like the Midwest have been impacted by numerous extreme drought and flooding events that have each exceeded $1 billion in losses. California is in the midst of a drought that is the worst in at least 1,200 years. Yet in December the city of San Francisco received more rain in a matter of days than it did all of 2013, causing flooding and mudslides, washing out roads and damaging homes.

It's time decision makers pause to acknowledge the role that human-induced climate change is playing in our changing weather - and commit to ambitious policy changes that reverse these trends. doclink

Karen Gaia says: the weaker polar jet stream is the result of the lowered contrast between a warmer Arctic and the surrounding area, according to an article I read.

A Strange Map of the World's Child-Marriage Laws

When it comes to statutes prohibiting minors from getting married, the U.S. is more like Latin America than Europe.
March 09, 2015   By: Olga Khazan

The Clinton Foundation recently released an article on child marriage. Russia, China, and Ethiopia prohibit marriage before the age of 18, but many countries in the Americas allow it with "parental consent and/or under customary law."

Child marriage "limits the full potential of girls" and "undermines health, education, economic opportunity, and security." Early wedlock is most common among the world's poorest children

One 2004 study found that teen marriage in the U.S. increased by nearly 50% in the 1990s thanks to "the spread of abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education at American schools, a shift toward cultural conservatism among some teens, and a growing fear among youngsters of contracting AIDS through promiscuity," according to the Chicago Tribune.

Still, child marriage is much less of an issue in the U.S. than it is in other countries with similar laws. By 2002, only about 0.1% of American girls were married by 18. Meanwhile, in Niger,39% of girls are married by 18, and 22% in Bolivia.

Some American child marriages are the result of attempts to prevent the imprisonment of the older partner for statutory rape.

Even though American teens who get married might have more say in the matter than their counterparts in other countries, many advocates believe permissive child-marriage laws can still be harmful.

Visit the article by clicking on the link in the headline to see the child marriage maps. doclink

Lester Brown: 'Vast Dust Bowls Threaten Tens of Millions with Hunger'

Over his 50-year career, Lester Brown has become known for his accurate global environmental predictions. As he enters retirement, he warns the world may face the worst hunger crisis of our lifetimes
February 24, 2015, Mail and Guardian   By: Suzanne Goldenberg

At 80, Lester Brown is best known for his writings on population and for founding first the Worldwatch Institute (the first U.S. environmental think tank ) and later the Earth Policy Institute. Brown plans to retire as President of the Earth Policy Institute in June and wind down a prolific career. His 53 books in 630 editions helped shape the thinking of two generations of academics and activists. Both President Lyndon Johnson and the government of China based policy decisions on Brown's advice.

As Brown nears retirement, he fears the world may soon face a huge hunger disaster. Much of the world is exhausting its ground water due to overuse and overpumping. He noted two large regions in particular where people are running out of land to grow food, and millions of acres are becoming wasteland due to over-farming and over-grazing. In the Sahel region of Africa, an area wracked by war, a huge dust bowl that extends from Senegal to Somalia is losing a lot of top soil. "Eventually they will be in serious trouble," he said. And in northern and western China, where much of the land is too depleted to raise flocks or grow food, villagers are leaving. "At some point they will have abandoned so much farming and grazing land that China no longer will be able to expand food production." This will be worse than what America saw in the 1930s. "Our dust bowl was a confined area. Within a matter of years we had it under control, but these two areas don't have that capacity. We are pushing against the limits of land that can be ploughed and the land available for grazing."

Although Brown believes that most people now accept that family planning and improving childhood nutrition are essential to development, he says that was not the case when he started. "In so much of the developing world people live in cities, not so many in the countryside, and so they buy their food," he said. “What is happening in countries like Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Peru is that low-income families have reached the point where they can no longer afford to eat every day."

“I have been working on these issues for half a century plus, and it is only in the last year or two that this actually become an issue in a number of countries. It used to be the low end of things where you only had one meal a day." But for the first time, he said, “there are now places in the world where tens of millions of people are saying things like: ‘we can only eat five days this week'. That is how they are managing." doclink

Art says: At a time when a New York Times article describes the problems caused by having to dispose of tons of wasted food, Lester Brown reminds us millions of poor people are not so fortunate. As we keep losing croplands, our food supplies cannot expand indefinitely.

Visions of a Fallen World: What Our Crowded, Imperiled Planet Really Looks Like

A new book skips over the statistics and gets right to the emotional core of overpopulation
March 03, 2015, AlterNet   By: Lindsay Abrams

The more than 7 billion humans alive right now are, with 5 billion more expected by the end of the century. Already the planet lost half of its wildlife population in just four decades, and climate change, spurred on by our appetite for fossil fuels, is threatening Earth's future.

The logical arguments for getting population under control are compelling, says Tom Butler of the Foundation for Deep Ecology. Yet somehow they just are not working.

Butler came up with a coffee-table book featuring images of a world overrun by human activity. "Take a look: 7.3 billion people on the planet, trying to get by, living as they's what it looks like," he says.

Not every image included in the book is shocking. But taken together they demand attention and provide a convincing argument for bringing overpopulation and consumption back to the center of the environmental movement.

"The vast majority of people get up every day and are embedded in a system, an economic, social, political system, that seems normal to them but the effects of which are harming the biosphere and making it less and less likely that humanity will have a flourishing future," Butler said.

The response to this problem includes affordable solutions, such as providing girls and women with education and access to family planning, solutions that have benefits beyond just helping to limit population growth. The main problem is that society does "not have the political will" to implement them, commensurate with their level of severity.

Go here to see a slide show of some of the pictures: doclink

Israel Admits Forcing Birth Control on Ethiopian Jews

February 19, 2015,   By: Jacqui Deevoy

The Israeli government has recently acknowledged injecting Ethiopian women immigrating to Israel with a long-acting contraceptive, Depo-Provera, telling them they couldn't come into the country if they didn't take the shot, which the women thought was a vaccination.

Suspicions were raised when the birth rate in Israel's Ethiopian community dropped dramatically.

The Israeli Health Ministry's director-general has now ordered doctors to stop administering the drugs to Ethiopian women if for any reason there is concern that they might not understand the ramifications of the treatment.

The possible side effects of Depo-Provera include a decrease in bone density that puts women at increased risk for osteoporosis and fracture. In addition, returning to fertility can be a lengthy process and withdrawal symptoms can be acute.

"Depo-Provera has a shameful history," Efrat Yardai wrote in an op-ed, explaining that the drug was used between 1967 and 1978 as part of an experiment that took place in the U.S. state of Georgia on 13,000 impoverished women, half of whom were black. Many of them were unaware that the injections were part of an experiment.

Ethiopian Jews have faced widespread discrimination and isolation since being moved to Israel in the 1980s. Some were forced to live in transit camps or absorption centers to "adjust to society." They face widespread discrimination in the job market and the educational system. doclink

Karen Gaia: I publish the bad with the good. The good of contraception far outweighs the bad, but only when it is not being forced or foisted upon someone. Women must have informed consent about contraception, and only for purposes of empowering women to choose their family size (or to make their own medical decisions).

3 Maps Explain India's Growing Water Risks

February 26 , 2015, World Resources Institute - WRI   By: Tien Shiao, Andrew Maddocks, Chris Carson and Emma Loizeaux

India is one of the most water-challenged countries in the world. Wells and aquifers are being drained by farmers, city residents and industries. What water is available is often severely polluted.

Worse yet, the national supply is predicted to fall 50% below demand by 2030. And 54% of India's total area facing high to extremely high stress, which would leave almost 600 million people at higher risk of surface-water supply disruptions.

The India Water Tool 2. 0. is a comprehensive, publicly available online tool evaluating India's water risks. Created by a group of companies, research organizations, and industry associations—including WRI and coordinated by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)—the tool can help companies, government agencies, and other water users identify their most pressing challenges and carefully target water-risk management efforts.

Click through to the link in the headline to see the maps and more information.
. . . more doclink

The Human Costs of Chris Christie's Attack on Planned Parenthood

February 26 , 2015, Think Progress   By: Tara Culp-Ressler

At this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, right-wing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R), a potential presidential contender said, "I ran as a pro-life candidate in 2009 unapologetically," ... " I was the first governor to ever speak at a pro-life rally on the steps of the statehouse in the state of New Jersey," ... "And I vetoed Planned Parenthood funding five times out of the New Jersey budget."

In 2010, Christie cut off $7.5 million that had supported 58 family planning clinics, eliminating state funding altogether. The New Jersey Spotlight reported at the time, "For a state that began financially backing family-planning clinics in 1967, increased grants nearly every year since then, and endeavored to build a network accessible to all women in every county, it's a 180-degree turn."

As a result, there has been more than a 25% decrease in the state network's capacity to meet the need for family planning services among New Jersey's impoverished residents. Nine health centers have been forced to close.

Although the state legislature repeatedly tried to restore the funding cuts, but Christie resisted every year. Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D) accused him of pandering to the social conservatives who might support a 2016 presidential run.

"Women and families in communities across New Jersey have lost access to cancer screenings, prenatal care, STD testing and treatment and birth control," she said.

Concurrently, the federal Title X funds used for family planning clinics have suffered from a lower budget and increased load.

Supporting family planning isn't antithetical to Republicans' priorities. Some GOP leaders recognize the financial benefits of Title X. Earlier this year, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI)'s audit of federal anti-poverty programs acknowledged that the program is “moderately effective" at providing low-income women with health services. doclink

Did Climate Change Spark 2011 Syrian Uprising?

March 03, 2015, Business Standard

Researchers say a record drought that ravaged Syria in 2006-2010 destroyed agriculture in the breadbasket region of northern Syria, which, in turn, drove dispossessed farmers to cities, where poverty, government mismanagement and other factors created unrest that exploded in the spring 2011 Syrian uprising. The conflict has since evolved into a complex multinational war that has killed at least 200,000 people and displaced millions.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Coauthor Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said the drought " added to all the other stressors, it helped kick things over the threshold into open conflict."

A growing body of research suggests that extreme weather, including high temperatures and droughts, increases the chances of violence, from individual attacks to full-scale wars.

The recent drought affected the so-called Fertile Crescent, spanning parts of Turkey and much of Syria and Iraq. The study authors showed that since 1900, the area has undergone warming of 1 to 1.2 degrees Centigrade (about 2 degrees Fahrenheit), and about a 10% reduction in wet-season precipitation. They showed that the trend matches neatly with models of human-influenced global warming, and thus cannot be attributed to natural variability.

Global warming appears to have indirectly weakened wind patterns that bring rain-laden air from the Mediterranean, and higher temperatures have increased evaporation of moisture from soils during the usually hot summers, giving any dry year a one-two punch. While there were substantial droughts in the 1950s, 1980s and 1990s, 2006-10 was easily the worst and longest since reliable recordkeeping began.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that the already violent Mideast will dry more in coming decades as human-induced warming proceeds.

Population growth -- from 4 million in the 1950s to 22 million in recent years -- has also made Syria vulnerable. Other factors include growing water-intensive export crops like cotton and illegal drilling of irrigation wells which dramatically depleted groundwater, said coauthor Shahrzad Mohtadi, a graduate student at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs who did the economic and social components of the research.

The drought caused agricultural production to drop by a third. Livestock herds were practically obliterated; cereal prices doubled; and nutrition-related diseases among children saw dramatic increases. 1.5 million people fled from the countryside to the peripheries of cities that were already strained by influxes of refugees from the ongoing war in next-door Iraq. In these chaotic instant suburbs, the Assad regime did little to help people with employment or services, said Mohtadi. It was largely in these areas that the uprising began.

High global food prices may also have been a factor.

Research by other scientists has suggested that the Akkadian Empire, spanning much of the Fertile Crescent about 4,200 years ago, likely collapsed during a multi-year drought. doclink

Unmasking Fake Clinics

March 12, 2015, NARAL Pro Choice California

Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) pose as legitimate reproductive health centers. They have a track record of outright lying to women and work to dissuade people from exercising the right to choose. They often advertise as if they provide abortion services, drawing people in by promising free reproductive health services, including free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and options counseling.

CPCs hide that they're almost entirely funded by national anti-choice umbrella organizations and that the mission of these organizations is to manipulate women into not choosing abortion by giving them false medical information.

CPC workers are well-trained to lie to women about physical and mental health issues they claim are associated with abortion.

While posing as legitimate reproductive-health clinics — locating in medical buildings or near a real abortion clinic, wearing white lab coats, calling themselves counselors — CPCs purposefully do not provide the medical services that pregnant women need, whether to continue a pregnancy or to terminate a pregnancy.

At a vulnerable time, CPCs delve into personal details during counseling to try to make women feel guilty about choosing abortion. doclink

U.S.: Unintended Pregnancies Cost Federal and State Governments $21 Billion in 2010

February 27, 2015, Guttmacher Institute   By: Adam Sonfield and Kathryn Kost.

A study "Public Costs from Unintended Pregnancies and the Role of Public Insurance Programs in Paying for Pregnancy-Related Care: National and State Estimates for 2010," showed that U.S. government expenditures on births, abortions and miscarriages resulting from unintended pregnancies nationwide totaled $21 billion in 2010. In 19 states, public expenditures related to unintended pregnancies exceeded $400 million in 2010. Texas spent the most ($2.9 billion), followed by California ($1.8 billion), New York ($1.5 billion) and Florida ($1.3 billion); those four states are also the nation's most populous.

51% of the four million births in the United States in 2010 were publicly funded, including 68% of unplanned births and 38% of planned births.

Prior research has shown that investing in publicly funded family planning services enables women to avoid unwanted pregnancies and space wanted ones, which is good not only for women and families, but also for society as a whole. In the absence of the current U.S. publicly funded family planning effort, the public costs of unintended pregnancies in 2010 would have been 75% higher.

Adam Sonfield, one of the authors, said. "Reducing public expenditures related to unintended pregnancies requires substantial new public investments in family planning services." ... "That would mean strengthening existing programs, such as the Title X family planning program, as well as working to ensure that the Affordable Care Act achieves its full potential to bolster Medicaid and other safety-net programs. We know we can prevent unintended pregnancies and the related costs. There are public programs in place that do it already, but as these data show, there is significantly more progress to be made." doclink

Brazil's Ravaged Forests Are Taking Their Revenge

Thanks to massive deforestation along Brazil's Atlantic coast and the Amazon, São Paulo's reservoirs are at just 6% of their capacity and water rationing is in place. But this is just the beginning of a long term drying process that could be recreated around the world as forests are laid waste and hydrology disrupted.
March 02 , 2015, Ecologist   By: Robert Hunziker

Brazil has about 12% of the world's fresh water, but São Paulo is running dry. The city's reservoir, which is a water resource for 6.2 million of the city's 20 million, is down to 6% of capacity! The city's other reservoirs are also dangerously low. The water is turned off every day at 1:00pm.

Deforestation is the problem. The Atlantic Forest, which surrounds São Paulo, stretches along the eastern coastline of the country. A few hundred years ago it was twice the size of Texas. Today it is maybe 15% of its former self and what remains is highly fragmented. The forest harbors 5% of the world's vertebrates and 8% of Earth's plants.

Brazil holds one-third of the world's remaining rainforests. In the past, deforestation was the result of poor subsistence farmers, but today large landowners and corporate interests have cleared the rainforest at a rate that will further reduce the Amazon rainforest by 40% by 2030.

The rainforests act as the world's thermostat by regulating temperatures and weather patterns, and they are absolutely necessary in maintaining Earth's supply of drinking and fresh water.

Rainforests are home to 50% of its plants and animals, and they act as the world's thermostat by regulating temperatures and weather patterns, and they are absolutely necessary in maintaining Earth's supply of drinking and fresh water.

"The original untouched resource of six million square miles of rainforests" (in the world) has already been chopped down by 60%. Only 2.4 million square miles remains today.

In this month's National Geographic magazine, Scott Wallace said "During the past 40 years, close to 20 percent of the Amazon rainforest has been cut down-more than in all the previous 450 years since European colonization began." ... "In the time it takes to read this article, an area of Brazil's rainforest larger than 200 football fields will have been destroyed." doclink

The Worst Droughts in 1,000 Years May Be on the Horizon for the American West

If you think the current drought in California is bad, take a look at what some scientists predict for the second half of this century
February 28, 2015, PRI - Public Radio International   By: Adam Wernick

This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

A new study in the online journal "Science Advances" predicts global warming will cause a 35 year mega-drought in the Southwest and Plains states worse than any drought of the past 1,000 years.

Such droughts took place in the American Southwest about 1,000 years ago, physical evidence shows.

The research team under Jason Smerdon, an associate research professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, compared models of future climates with historical data, and their simulations predicted an 80% chance that a 35-year mega-drought would occur in the latter half of this century as compared to only a 10% chance of such a drought when they ran the data for the period between 1950 and 2000.

And worse: the predicted dryness periods in the Southwest and the Great Plains look worse than previous mega-drought periods.

These results surprised most scientists, but one thing they're certain of is that global warming is the main cause of the increased dryness. Prolonged dryness, Smerdon says is due to less rain and snow on one hand, and increased evaporation from the soil due to higher air temperatures on the other.

The droughts in the West have already had "huge impacts on our economy, our food supply, our recreation. All of these things are related to water supplies. Now just imagine those continuing for multiple decades and what that means for the water resources that are already in short supply," Smerdon says.

"These kinds of droughts will become more frequent and more persistent as a consequence of an increase in greenhouse gases as we move into the 21st century," he said. doclink

Richard says "35 year mega-drought? Reading this can only make me think of a Cormac McCarthy novel about an apocalyptic future."

U.S.: Poor Women Get Fewer Abortions Than Rich Women

February 27, 2015, VOX Media   By: Sarah Kliff

Researchers at Brookings Institute have found that poor women in America are five times more likely to have an unplanned childbirth than those who are affluent, a recent study finds.

Researchers Richard Reeves and Joanna Venator examined the National Survey of Family Growth and found that poor women aren't any more or less sexually active than affluent women, but they are using contraception less.

About 16% of women below the poverty line ($11,770 for an individual) say they had unprotected sex in the past year. Among women earning more than 400 percent over the poverty line (about $47,000 annually), that number falls in half, to 7.9%.

Nine percent of women below the poverty line report becoming pregnant in the past year, three times as many as women who earn more than 400% of the poverty line.

Reeves and Venator also found that higher-income women have a much higher abortion rate than lower-income women.

Because of the difference in contraceptive use and abortion rate, higher-income women have fewer unintended births.

Could the difference in levels of contraceptive and abortion use reflect a lack of access, or does it show different preferences for having children?

Sociologist Kathryn Edin claims "Maybe poor women are less concerned about having a baby, even by accident." ... "Work by the sociologist Kathryn Edin and others does suggest that a child -- even when unplanned -- is a great source of fulfillment for women in low-income communities."

However, Reeves and Venator found that 1/3 of women across the economic spectrum who say they are actively not trying to conceive said they would be upset if they became pregnant.

The real barrier, it seems, is access to good contraception and safe abortion services. doclink

Burma: Upper House Approves Population Control Bill

February 19, 2015, DVB   By: Shwe Aung

A bill which limits child births to one baby per mother every three years was passed by the upper house (amyotha hluttaw) of Burma's parliament on Wednesday.

The Population Control Healthcare Bill constitutes one part of a controversial four-proposal package that has been tabled in parliament, commonly referred to as the "Race Protection Bill". Hla Swe, an MP in the amyotha hluttaw, states that a population which is too high can be no good in terms of health and that it is dangerous when there is no balance between resources and birth rate. Therefore, he proposes that childbirth be limited to one child per mother "every three years."

A petition by the conservative Buddhist monkhood group Ma-Ba-Tha last year received 100,000 signatures in favour of the Race Protection package.

President Thein Sein subsequently ordered the drafting of four bills: the Religious Conversion Bill, Monogamy Bill, Population Control Healthcare Bill, and Buddhist Women's Marriage Bill. Many observers see the Race Protection bills as attempts to subjugate and control the Muslim community in Burma. Recent bloody confrontations between Muslims and Buddhists have led to a rise in nationalism among Burmese Buddhists across the country. Human Rights Watch say more than 100,000 people have been displaced by communal violence in Arakan State in recent years.

Aung Kyi Nyunt, a National League for Democracy MP, and Zone Hle Thang of the Chin Progressive Party argued against the bill in the upper house on Wednesday, but it was passed with more than 100 supporting votes, 10 objections and four abstentions. The bill is now set to be debated in the lower house. Last month, 180 women's groups, networks and civil society organisations voiced opposition to the proposed race protection package in a signed statement which they delivered to parliament.

Khin San Htwe of the Burmese Women's Union (BWU) said that the BWU "are concerned with the bills as they serve to directly or indirectly control and limit the rights of women." She added that a close examination of the bills leads the BWU to conclude that the bills were drafted to ".....legally control the female population rather than to protect them."

The women's group's statement say the proposals would be unconstitutional and that the new laws would oppose international legislation, including the Convention Eliminating All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR). doclink

Karen Gaia says: This is why we don't like the term 'Population Control'. We don't condone any sort of 'control' over a woman's right to determine the size and timing of her family.

Why Ocean Health is Better and Worse Than You Think

The good news is the world’s oceans have not experienced the extinctions that have occurred on land. But as ecologist Douglas McCauley explains in a Yale Environment 360 interview, marine life now face numerous threats even more serious than overfishing.
February 18 , 2015, Yale Environment 360   By: Fen Montaigne

A group of marine experts published a study in the journal Science which drew conclusions that were both heartening and disturbing: While ocean ecosystems are still largely intact, the marine world is facing unprecedented disturbance, including acidification from the absorption of greenhouse gases and widespread habitat destruction from deep-sea mining, oil and gas drilling, development, and aquaculture.

Lead author Douglas McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, noted that, while there was a sixth mass extinction that's been happening, the sixth mass extinction is not underway in the oceans. However the bad news is that there were a lot of data suggesting that we're in a really important transition zone and we seem to be on the verge of transitioning from an era in which harvesting and fishing of marine resources has been the main driver of impoverishing biological diversity to one in which massive habitat change and, `global chemical warfare' (acidification) may be waged on the oceans.

"If you hunt individuals intensely that's going to have negative impacts, but if you go through and actually ravage the homes of these animals, it's going to be a lot harder to recover and the impacts are going to be more profound," he said.

"Look at the way we are impacting coral reef cover, the way that fish farming is eating up mangrove forest, the amount of factory building that we are doing in the oceans for energy production. Seabed mining can only be described as a gold rush that's underway under the ocean now."

"Let's keep our eyes on this emerging rising tide of industrialization in the oceans."

"There are just so many more of us on the planet that have so much higher energy and resource needs, and that we have to start reaching into the oceans for things that we require in our everyday lives."

We just need to be smarter about how to industrialize the ocean and put industry in the right places. "If we need to develop a section of the oceans that turns out to have really bad impacts for wildlife, we need to do remediation somewhere else."

"There are millions and millions of dollars that are being invested to build technological capacity to mine minerals, and they are talking about doing this in the deepest parts of the oceans. And the numbers involved are a bit scary -- a million square kilometers that have been staked out in this marine gold rush"

"There are two major changes that are happening in the oceans as a result of climate change — changing temperature and acidification.""We need to keep climate change and climate change effects on the oceans -- and what this means for wildlife -- at the top of our agenda."

Some of the "corals are beginning to show the capacity for resiliency to cope with some of these temperature increases.". "So what we need to do is basically slow down the rate of the advance of climate change."

"We need more parks and protected areas in the ocean. It's something that we need to very actively tell our policy makers to do."

"The processes of engaging and slowing marine defaunation is made triply hard because large parts of the oceans have no owners. But there is a growing awareness that we need to build international alliances to think about marine wildlife issues." doclink

A Thirsty, Violent World

February 24 , 2015, New Yorker   By: Michael Specter

The angry protests by crowds in the streets of Karachi last week had nothing to do with freedom of expression, drone wars, or Americans. They were about access to water.

Khawaja Muhammad Asif, the Minister of Defense, Power, and Water had warned that the country's chronic water shortages could soon become uncontrollable. The meagre allotment of water available to each Pakistani is a third of what it was in 1950. As the country's population rises, that amount is falling fast.

Dozens of other countries face similar situations. Rapid climate change, population growth, and a growing demand for meat (and, thus, for the water required to grow feed for livestock) have propelled them into a state of emergency.

Growing hunger and the struggle to find clean water for billions of people are clearly connected.

California is now in its fourth year of drought, staggering through its worst dry spell in twelve hundred years. In Nigeria, water shortages are responsible for more deaths in Nigeria than Boko Haram, according to the NGO Wateraid. In India there are places in India where hospitals have trouble finding the water required to sterilize surgical tools. In São Paulo Brazil, the shortage of water is so acute that the country is bracing for riots.

The amount of freshwater on earth has not changed significantly for millions of years. But in the past century population has tripled and water use has grown sixfold. Also we have polluted much of what remains readily available -- and climate change has made it significantly more difficult to plan for floods and droughts.

As populations grow more prosperous, vegetarian life styles often yield to a Western diet. The new middle classes, particularly in India and China, eat more protein than they once did, and that, again, requires more water use. Hundreds of gallons of water are required to produce a single hamburger.

The world will require at least 50% more water in 2050 than we use today -- to feed nine billion residents. Where will the water come from?. Half of the planet already lives in urban areas, and that number will increase along with the pressure to supply clean water.

Floods and droughts will become more common. At the same time, demands for economic growth in India and other developing nations will necessarily increase pollution of rivers and lakes. That will force people to dig deeper than ever before into the earth for water.

There are renewables that may replace oil, gas, and coal, but there isn't anything to replace water. Conservation would help immensely, as would a more rational use of agricultural land -- irrigation today consumes 70% of all freshwater.

Experts seem to agree on the dire state of a future water shortage and predict water wars are on the horizon. doclink

Richard says: China has seen meat consumption increase 15 fold over the last five centuries.

In Singapore the people have acted before it is too late. They are now making drinking water from sewage. Personally, I would rather drink out of a clear, mountain stream.

Bad Climate Outcomes -- Atmospheric Warming to Ramp Up as PDO Swings Strongly Positive?

February 26 , 2015

This article details the effects of anthropogenic influences on the oscillation of sea water in the Pacific Ocean. and how current sea-surface temperature models show that the current spate of cold winters are a climactic "speed bump" on our way to a warmer world. It is accompanied by a series of charts and images showing increases in the warming of surface waters of the Pacific Ocean, as well as bar charts and satellite pictures depicting pools of ultrawarm surface waters in the Pacific Ocean.

Last year the Pacific Ocean quietly changed from one in which cooler surface waters absorbed atmospheric heat, to one in which warmer surface waters caused the atmosphere to absorb that excessive heat.

This shift was heralded by a powerful oceanic Kelvin Wave. One that brought warm water up from the depths and spread them across the Pacific Ocean surface. Ever since that time, warm Kelvin Waves have continued to refresh this surface water heat pool.

And so the Pacific Ocean surface warming continued throughout 2014.

It's a major swing in Pacific Ocean surface temperatures to a phase where more heat is dumped into the atmosphere. One that is causing some scientists to warn that a new period of rapid atmospheric warming may just be getting started.

PDO and The Multi-Decadal Heat Pump Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is a periodic change in sea surface temperature states in the Pacific, thought by many researchers to have a strong influence on global weather and temperature variability.

When PDO is in the negative state, La Nina events prevail, which also coincide with a downswing in global temperatures as the vast Pacific waters take in more heat. In the positive state, PDO tends to encourage El Nino events which result in the great ocean belching heat into the air -- pushing atmospheric temperatures higher.

Normally, this natural variability would pan out -- marking upswings and downswings in a global average. However, human fossil fuel burning and related greenhouse gas emissions have bent this curve upward by trapping more and more heat in the lower atmosphere. So warming has tended to ramp atmospheric warming drastically during positive PDO phases, while atmospheric warming has tended to merely slow down even as oceanic warming sped up during negative PDO phases.

Two positive and two negative phases of PDO have been recorded since human greenhouse gas made a difference. In the first positive PDO phase during 1925 through 1945, global average temperatures jumped upward by about 0.5 degrees F (+0.25 F per decade).

Given the present rate of warming in the range of +0.15 F per decade during periods in which the Pacific Ocean is taking on atmospheric heat, one could expect the next positive PDO phase to see decadal warming in the range of +0.55 F or higher (or by about 1 C in 20-30 years).

Such a rapid pace of warming could challenge the fabled 2 C ‘point of no return' before 2050. Already the world has warmed by about 0.85 C above 1880s levels. And it is for this reason that some scientists are now starting to sound alarm bells.

Any rate of warming above 0.3 F (0.2 C) per decade is enough to achieve post ice age warming of 4 C in only 2 centuries where it took 10,000 years to achieve such warming before. Warming at 0.4 F to 1 F per decade would be both drastic and devastating to current climates, geophysical stability, weather stability, glacial stability, water security, food security, and ocean health. doclink

Man Swarm

Taking an Ecological Stand on Solving Overpopulation:
Newly Released Man Swarm: How Overpopulation is Killing the Wild World
January 2015

Go here to see the book on Amazon doclink

Feminist Writers Are So Besieged by Online Abuse That Some Have Begun to Retire

February 26, 2015, RSN - Reader Supported News   By: Michelle Goldberg

While digital media has amplified feminist voices, it has also extracted a steep psychic price. Women are being ferociously punished when they tell their stories. Some have been driven from their homes or forced to cancel public appearances. "Being insulted and threatened online is part of my job," Lindy West, formerly of Jezebel, recently said on "This American Life."

Jessica Valenti, columnist for the Guardian, thinks about quitting "all the time." She recalls being referred to as a c--- day in, day out for 10 years. She questions what effect that has on one's psyche.

In 2013, the pro-choice activist Jaclyn Munson wrote about going undercover at an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center. Soon a stalker was sending her death threats. She gave up writing online and now plans to go to law school, which she hopes will let her work on the issues she cares about in a safer, less exposed way.

She says what's different now is the existence of organized misogyny, with groups of men who are gathering under banners such as the Men's Rights Movement and Gamergate. Nation columnist Katha Pollitt points out that there is a cadre of incredibly enraged men who have all found each other, thanks to the internet.

Once a woman is singled out by a men's rights group such as A Voice for Men, the misogynist Reddit forum The Red Pill or even just a right-wing Twitter account like Twitchy, she is deluged with hatred.

Filipovic, the former editor of the blog Feministe, says that, although her skin has thickened over the years, the daily need to brace against the online onslaught has changed her. "You read enough times that you're a terrible person and an idiot, and it's very hard not to start believing that maybe they see something that you don't." She also finds it harder to let her guard down.

Many feminist writers have decided to end their online presence. Writer Lauren Bruce, Emily McCombs, executive editor of women's site xoJane, are among them. doclink

Richard says: The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which received numerous death threats since the depiction of cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, is proof positive that internet bullying works.

Population Decline and the Great Economic Reversal

February 17, 2015, Stratfor Global Intelligence   By: George Friedman

In George Friedman's book The Next 100 Years, he says that there is no question but that the populations of most European countries will decline in the next generation, and in the cases of Germany and Russia, the decline will be dramatic.

The population explosion is ending. In virtually all societies the birthrate among women has been declining. The world is urbanizing and, as it does, the economic value of children declines and people have fewer children For most people, a family of eight children would be a financial catastrophe. Therefore, women have two children or fewer, on average.

The contraction of the population, particularly during the transitional period before the older generations die off, will leave a relatively small number of workers supporting a very large group of retirees, particularly as life expectancy in advanced industrial countries increases. In addition, the debts incurred by the older generation would be left to the smaller, younger generation to pay off.

Given this, the expectation is major economic dislocation.

The most obvious solution to this problem is immigration. The problem is that there are cultural problems with integrating immigrants. In addition some of the historical sources of immigration to the United States, particularly Mexico, are exporting fewer immigrants. As Mexico moves up the economic scale, emigration to the United States will decline.

But does a declining population really matter?

If the downward curve in gross domestic product matched the downward curve in population, per capita GDP would be unchanged. But there is no reason to think that GDP would fall along with population. The capital base of society, its productive plant as broadly understood, will not dissolve as population declines.

One of the key variables mitigating the problem of decreasing population would be continuing advances in technology to increase productivity. Growths in individual working productivity have been occurring in all productive environments from the beginning of industrialization, and the rate of growth has been intensifying.

Throughout the history of modern industrialism and capitalism, there has always been a surplus of labor. Now, for the first time in 500 years, this situation is reversing itself. Since fewer humans are being born, the labor force will contract and the price of all sorts of labor will increase. In the past, the scarce essential element has been capital. But now capital, understood in its precise meaning as the means of production, will be in surplus, while labor will be at a premium.

This would raise per capita GDP and the actual distribution of wealth would shift.

In the recent period of time the accumulation of wealth has shifted dramatically into fewer hands, and the gap between the upper-middle class and the middle class has also widened. If the cost of money declined and the price of labor increased, the wide disparities would shift, and the historical logic of industrial capitalism would be, if not turned on its head, certainly reformulated.

The decline in the value of housing will put the net worth of the middle and upper classes at risk, while adjusting to a world where interest rates are perpetually lower than they were in the first era of capitalism would run counter to expectations and therefore lead financial markets down dark alleys. Since the decline in population is transparent and highly predictable, there is time for homeowners, investors and everyone else to adjust their expectations.

Population decline will significantly transform the functioning of economies, but will not represent a catastrophe. In the past 500 years bankers and financiers have held the upper hand; now in a labor-scarce society, having pools of labor to broker will be the key. doclink

California Must Choose Oil Or Water

February 26, 2015, Desert Sun   By: Jono Hildner, Sierra Club

While presenting short-term economic gain, fracking it has no place in a state that is struggling to provide sufficient water to support people and wildlife.

Fracking uses massive amounts of water. On average, every Coachella Valley resident uses almost 135,000 gallons of water each year -- about the same amount of water it takes to frack one well.

If folks in Bakersfield or Los Angeles find themselves unable to use groundwater polluted by fracking byproducts, they are going to clamor for more of our state's shared water supply -- leaving even less to go around for all of us.

More than 5 million Californians live within one mile of a gas or oil well.

The state of California should, at a minimum, place a moratorium on well-stimulation activity until and unless we can fully understand and control the detrimental impacts of fracking on our precious water supply. We can't live without water, but we can live without this additional oil and gas.

Jono Hildner is the Political Chair of the San Gorgonio Chapter of the Sierra Club and a member of the Executive Committee of Sierra Club California doclink

Richard says: This reminds me of an online comment: "If you were dying of thirst in the desert, and a person came up to you with a glass of oil, and a glass of water, which would you choose?"

Teenagers Push Their School to Really Support Safe Sex

February 17, 2015, Think Progress   By: Tara Culp-Ressler

Members of Hanover High School's student government are preparing to present recent research they conducted on teens' access to condoms -- including a survey that found more than 80% of the parents support providing free condoms in school -- at an upcoming meeting of district officials.

States are slowly moving away from the abstinence-only health classes that defined the 1990s. Large public school districts in cities like Boston and New York have made free condoms available to students. Some schools in Philadelphia have even tried out condom vending machines in case students are too embarrassed to ask their nurse for the contraceptives.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) endorsed the policy in 2013. The U.S. still has the highest rate of sexually transmitted infections -- mostly among young people between the ages of 15 and 24 -- of any other country in the developed world. doclink

Malawi Bans Child Marriage, Lifts Minimum Age to 18

February 17, 2015,   By: Reuters

Malawi is a southern African country where half of girls end up as child brides and nearly one in eight is married by 15.

Women rights campaigners hailed the ban as "a great day for Malawian girls" and said the law would help boost development in one of the world's poorest countries.

Child marriage is deeply entrenched in Malawi's society partly because of a belief that a girl should marry as early as possible to maximize her fertility.

Women rights advocates warned Malawi would not end child marriage without concerted efforts to tackle poverty and end harmful traditional practices like early sexual initiations. doclink

A Brief History of Contraception

February 18 , 2015, Atlantic Monthly   By: Jackie Lay

The use of contraceptives dates all the way back to 1850 B.C., when women in ancient Egypt used honey, acacia leaves, and lint to block sperm. This two-minute animation traces the history of contraception through the centuries, from sea sponges (500 B.C.), linen sheath condoms (1564), lemon cervical caps (1700), and the "rhythm method" (1920) to modern advancements such as vaginal rings, hormone injections, IUDs, and patches. doclink

Social Justice Requires Family Planning

February 13, 2015, Population Connection Action Fund   By: Elspeth Dehnert

Evidence from around the world shows that investments in reproductive health are critical to reducing poverty and increasing educational levels.

While most women in the United States have access to contraception, some 225 million women in the developing do not, even though they wish that they did.

Having the ability to prevent pregnancy, survive childbirth, and enjoy equal opportunities is a basic human right. And it is up to all of us to call on our prospective governments to make a real investment in international family planning - otherwise, the world may never achieve true social justice.

Only $25 per year buys a woman living in the developing world lifesaving family planning services, and a new outlook on life.

Making voluntary family planning available to everyone in the developing world would reduce costs for newborn and maternal health care by more than 11 billion dollars.

Poverty elimination, gender equality, and educational and health equity cannot be fully realized until everyone around the world has the ability to plan their pregnancies. doclink

It's Only February and There Are Already 100 New Anti-Abortion Bills

February 13, 2015, Jezebel   By: Natasha Vargas-Cooper

The number of new anti-abortion measures for 2015 has already reached 100. Many of these measures are based on pre-written drafts put together by well funded, national anti-abortion groups, like Americans United for Life and the Nation Right to Life Committee. "Having hundreds of pre-written bills on hand," Tara Culp-Ressler points out, "allows conservative lawmakers to submit a rash of legislation at the beginning of the session and see what manages to advance."

States include: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Arizona, Virginia, South Dakota, Washington, Missouri.


1. Banning women from buying optional abortion coverage through federally backed insurance plans.

2. Requiring mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking an abortion.

3. Forbidding women from receiving an abortion because her fetus has Down Syndrome.

4. Notify parents if a minor receives an abortion.

5. Make women watch an 'educational' video before receiving an abortion.

Even if these laws do not pass, and many certainly will, women and pro-choice lawmakers will have to work twice as hard just to keep their status quo. doclink

We're Closer Than Ever to a Birth Control Pill for Men

February 13 , 2015, WIRED   By: Becky Ferreira

The fact that men produce 1,500 sperm every second seems impressive. But that comes at a cost: babies.

A couple of seminal approaches to getting the little swimmers to simmer down may soon start to trickle out of the laboratory. Here are two of the headiest prospects for choking off male fertility.

1. Normally, premature sperm cells grow a tail and head in the testis, but H2-gamendazole keeps them from reaching this stage of development. The unfinished sperm fragments are then reabsorbed into the testis, never ending up in the semen.

2. Jay Bradner and his team at Harvard's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute were working on JQ1 which blocked bromodomain proteins (which are like Post-it notes that remind them cells of their identity) in cancer cells, causing them to forget how to be cancer. But JQ1 was also found to obstruct a testicle-specific bromodomain called BRDT, making the sex cells that would otherwise produce sperm draw a blank about their own behavior. Now mice treated with JQ1 can hump with abandon yet generate zero mouselings. doclink

Heartfile Population Growth Documentary Inspires Action

February 18, 2015, The News   By: Our Correspondent

A 45 minute documentary titled 'The Population Emergency,' details the threats implicit in Pakstan's burgeoning population, which carried the country from 34 million in 1950 to 190 million people today. Demographers estimate the Pakistani population to reach 300 million by 2050.

3 million people or a whole new city is added to the population every year. From 34 million in 1950 to 190 million today, Pakistan's population is expected to rise to 300 million by 2050. The documentary labels this trend as unsustainable.

The documentary focuses on the components of the service delivery chain which includes: human resource, information systems, supply chain, governance, and financing.

Dr. Sania Nishtar, founder of Heartfile, stated, "Today, Pakistan's exploding population is the real crisis that threatens the prosperity of our generations. In the face of resource scarcity, constrained economic opportunities and joblessness, population growth is simply pushing youth further into the hands of terrorists, gangs and mafias. It is fuelling a fire that is raving our country. The country is literally bursting at the seams. We must stabilize our population. This is not just an imperative for women's health, wellbeing and poverty reduction; it is also necessary for national progress and development, and for the security of our nation."

Dr. Nishtar also states that curbing population growth is "imperative for women's health."

Rapid population growth not only leads to resource scarcity and constrained economic opportunities, but serves as a huge recruiting pool for radical groups from which to choose, seeking schools of disenfranchised youth. doclink

Tell Congress It's Time to Get Serious About Population

February 13, 2015, Population Connection Action Fund

Real investment in family planning will improve maternal and child survival, ease pressure on the environment, and increase social stability in the developing world.

Every year, more than half a million women die of pregnancy related causes worldwide and millions more suffer serious injuries. Nearly all of these deaths and injuries are preventable. In fact, nearly half of all maternal deaths and a significant proportion of infant deaths could be averted by universal access to contraceptives

Continuing population growth in the developing world is a major contributor to environmental degradation. These environmental stresses mean that many areas of the world lack the food and water resources necessary to sustain their growing populations. The end results are resource depletion, environmental degradation and malnutrition.

Resource scarcity and other population pressures stress fragile governments and social structures. Countries without the means to feed, house, educate and employ their citizens are at risk of civil insecurity.

These and other global problems cannot be solved unless we as a nation commit to doing our part to meet the unmet need for family planning around the globe. Real investment in family planning is not merely a moral imperative, but also a sound investment in the future of our world. doclink

No Jobs on a Dead Planet: Trade Unions Join the Transition to a Greener Economy/ by Gaelle Gourmelon

February 10, 2015, Worldwatch Institute

Labor markets will shift to fit the demands of a greener economy as resources shrink and the climate changes. But with 38% of workers worldwide employed in carbon-intensive sectors like fossil fuel extraction and industrial manufacturing, this transition will be challenging.

Some jobs will be shifted or redefined to fit the new economy, such as moving from fossil fuels to renewables. Other jobs, however—such as those in the coal sector—will be lost or displaced to countries with laxer constraints on greenhouse gas emissions.

To address the transition challenge, some trade unions have proposed a "just transition," a concept coined in the 1990s that strengthens the view that environmental and social policies can reinforce each other. Using this approach, unions promote the employment potential of a green economy through innovation and technology as well as through resource efficiency.

Lars Henriksson, a Swedish autoworker and political activist, suggests that unions aim not to preserve unsustainable industries in the name of employment, but to engage workers in developing sustainable conversion strategies.

In 2009, for example, union representatives united with environmentalists, researchers, and citizen's groups to develop a sustainable transport plan in Europe after facing railroad privatization. Unions can also help to secure equitable redistribution of work by requiring continuing education and training, adapting existing social protection systems, and regulating staffing and wage agreements. doclink

Volatile Cotton Sector Struggles to Balance Cost and Benefits

New Worldwatch Institute analysis explores trends and impacts of global cotton production
February 17 , 2015, Worldwatch Institute   By: Gaelle Gourmelon

Growing cotton provides livelihoods for an estimated 100 million households in as many as 85 countries. But adverse global market conditions and reliance on large doses of water, fertilizer, and pesticides impose considerable social and environmental costs, writes Michael Renner, senior researcher at the Worldwatch Institute, in the Institute's latest Vital Signs Online article (

Although synthetic materials are making inroads, cotton remains by far the most important natural fiber for textiles. In 2013/14, an estimated 26.3 million tons of cotton were produced worldwide.

Cultivating cotton accounts for about 3% of all agricultural water use worldwide. Countries that import cotton or finished cotton products also bring in large amounts of embedded "virtual water" with these imports and have considerable water footprints. Producing a pair of jeans takes an estimated 10,850 liters of water, and a t-shirt takes 2,720 liters.

The legions of small cotton farmers around the world face a set of challenges largely beyond their control. In addition to unfair subsidies (totaling $47 billion between 2001 and 2010 for the United States, China, and Europe), they must deal with health risks from pesticide use and, in some cases, insurmountable levels of debt.

Cotton is a very pesticide-intensive crop (accounting for 16% of global insecticide use and 6.8% of herbicide use), with potential repercussions, such as pest resistance and adverse health impacts on farmers that range from acute poisoning to long-term effects. Pesticides and fertilizer (nitrogen, phosphorus, potash) can also leach out of the plant's root zone and contaminate groundwater and surface water.

Sadly, severe indebtedness has caused an estimated 100,000 cotton farmers in India to commit suicide over a 10-year period. Indebtedness results from numerous factors, including the rising cost of pesticides and genetically modified seeds, low yields due to droughts, and the declining price that cotton fetches on world markets. doclink

Karen Gaia says: how sad! I was counting on cotton to soothe me in the time that I may have to give up so many other niceties in life.

The Party of Rape Culture: 40 Republican Rape Quotes We All Should Remember in November

July 06, 2013, Addicting Info   By: Stephen D. Foster Jr

Texas Gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams, in March, 1990, said, "Rape is kinda like the weather. It's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it."

Pennsylvanian Stephen Frieind said, "When the traumatic experience is undergone, a woman secretes a certain secretion, which has the tendency to kill sperm."

Phyllis Schafly argues that once having gotten married, the female has essentially "consented to sex."

Talk show host Bill O'Reilly argues that women who dress scantily have it coming to them.

In all, forty very shocking revelations from a congress that the American people elected.

. . . more doclink

California's Population Growth Expected to Outstrip Water Conservation in Coming Years

February 14 , 2015, Sacramento Bee   By: Matt Weiser and Phillip Reese

Water districts forecast the total number of water customers in the state to increase about 20% from 2015 to 2030, according to the surveys. Many of the largest increases are expected in the state's hottest climates, areas where water demand is generally greater.

Large Southern California water districts in Coachella, Highland, Rialto, Indio, Palmdale and inland San Diego all predict water demand increases of greater than 50% between 2015 and 2030.

Several Central Valley water districts also predict significant growth. The cities of Tulare, Madera and Merced, along with the Sacramento County Water Agency and the El Dorado County Irrigation District, each anticipate water consumption to grow by at least 40% between 2015 and 2030. doclink

Guess How Much of Uncle Sam's Money Goes to Foreign Aid. Guess Again!

February 10 , 2015, National Public Radio   By: Poncie Rutsch

Less than 1 percent of the $4 trillion federal budget goes to foreign aid. In a survey, the average respondent estimated that 26% went toward assisting other countries.

Once they were told that the U.S. spends less than 1% of the federal budget on foreign aid, only 28% still thought the nation was overspending.

The U.S. is pretty generous ... until you consider how much money it has. "On the one hand, you can say that the U.S. is the most generous because it is one of the biggest donators to foreign aid," says Phyllis Pomerantz, a professor of public policy at Duke University. "But on the other hand, we have one of the lowest percentages of gross national income donated to foreign aid," she says. doclink

Previous World Worry was Overpopulation, Now a Global Concern is Underpopulation

February 14 , 2015, Deseret News

English demographer Thomas Robert Malthus, who died more than 150 years go, proposed that ever increasing numbers of humans would produce unsustainable overpopulation and massive scarcity of food and other natural resources.

In fact, evidence now suggests that underpopulation, not overpopulation, is a critical problem facing the nations of today's world.

The Wall Street Journal writes: "Declining population growth (in the developed world).......... will reduce by 40% the rate of growth for the world's 20 largest economies."

Other media outlets have taken notice, too. CNN cites Japan's acute baby shortage as a current example of underpopulation. Russia has gone so far as to offer women cash incentives to have more children.

As the world population ages, retirees rely on younger workers to support a system that is increasingly top-heavy, with more people taking out than putting in. Here in the United States, our entitlement programs for the elderly are mathematically unsustainable, largely due to these demographic realities.

At the same time, all doomsday predictions risk looking as ridiculous as Malthus' does in hindsight. Human ingenuity prevented Malthus' famines that never materialized. Rather than panic, it's time to recognize the problem and find practical ways to solve it. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Another author who fails to look carefully at resource depletion. Oil and gas are two of the important ones: the easy-to-reach high-quality sweet crude is gone, leaving the difficult-to-extract tar sands, oil in deep or stormy waters, or oil and gas that must be extracted by fracking. This expensive oil is dragging our economy down and raising the price of food.

While oil was still cheap, our baby boomers prospered, using fuel like there was no tomorrow. Many of them still enjoy comfortable houses and have yet the need for young people to support them.

Yes, Malthus' prediction failed in the long run, but he predicted famines in his lifetime, and there were famines long after he died, including the Irish potato famine and China's great famine in the 1970s. Then came the Green Revolution which its inventor said would last 30 years. So it has been 30 years and not much technology is in sight, and every year, the increase in the world's crop yields gets smaller while the world's population outpaces it.

Deforestation Causing São Paulo Drought

February 05, 2015, Geographical   By: Chris Fitch

The past twelve months has seen Brazil being hit harder and harder by the effects of drought, as first São Paulo, then other regions of the country, struggle to cope with not only dwindling supplies of water but an immense demand as well. Water rationing, power cuts, and crop slumps have ensued.

Authorities have come under fire for their failure to upgrade and maintain the necessary infrastructure to stop water being stolen or wasted in transit. There is also the exacerbation of Brazil's general water problems caused by population concentration around the coasts.

‘The Amazon rainforest takes water from the trees, rivers and soil and turns it into clouds known as ‘flying rivers', says Richard George, of Greenpeace UK. ‘These transport water vapour from the centre of Brazil to fall as rain on coastal areas. But as the forest has been destroyed, the flying rivers are disappearing.'

The scale of transformation which would accompany the disappearance of the Amazon's flying rivers is outlined in a recent report by Professor Antonio Nobre, researcher at Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and at the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA).

The greatest impact from current trends in deforestation to Brazil and surrounding South America, Mr. Nobre says, is the drought: as moisture - no longer trapped by rainforest vegetation - rapidly evaporates, leading to what is described as the ‘savannisation' of the Amazon basin. Even though only 19% of the rainforest has been cut down, some of the consequences of total deforestation have already been reached; current computer models appear to underestimate the negative consequences of the situation.

Richard George of Greenpeace UK adds that Brazil's powerful agribusiness lobby will demand the right to clear even more forest to make up for the declining yields caused by prolonged drought, making an already dire situation worse.

Nobre's report concludes with a five-point plan to prevent further destruction to the Amazon; spreading rainforest education, ending deforestation, ending fire-clearing techniques, encouraging rainforest regeneration, and forcing world leaders to act to prevent potential crisis. doclink

A Physicist Solves the City

December 07 , 2010, New York Times   By: Jonah Lehrer

Geoffrey West is a theoretical physicist in search of fundamental laws who likes to compare his work to that of Kepler, Galileo and Newton. He now studies cities since urban population growth is the great theme of modern life, one that's unfolding all across the world.

West and Luis Bettencourt, another theoretical physicist looked at a huge array of variables, from the total amount of electrical wire in Frankfurt to the number of college graduates in Bois and discovered that all of these urban variables could be described by a few exquisitely simple equations.

For example, if they know the population of a metropolitan area in a given country, they can estimate, with approximately 85% accuracy, its average income and the dimensions of its sewer system.

"What we found are the constants that describe every city," says West. "I can take these laws and make precise predictions about the number of violent crimes and the surface area of roads in a city in Japan with 200,000 people. I don't know anything about this city or even where it is or its history, but I can tell you all about it."

Instead of looking at geography and history, West tries to understand a city's deep structure, its defining patterns, which will show us whether a metropolis will flourish or fall apart. We can't make our cities work better until we know how they work. And, West says, he knows how they work.

West saw the metropolis as a sprawling organism, similarly defined by its infrastructure. He and Bettencourt concluded that cities looked a lot like elephants and when a city doubles in size, it requires an increase in resources of only 85%. This means that modern cities are the real centers of sustainability. As a result, West argues, creating a more sustainable society will require our big cities to get even bigger. We need more megalopolises.

At first West and Bettencourt failed to pay attention to how urban areas and organisms are "totally different." People don't migrate to urban centers to save money on their utilities; they go there because cities facilitate human interactions, as people crammed into a few square miles exchange ideas and start collaborations.

Jane Jacobs, author and fierce advocate for the preservation of small-scale neighborhoods, like Greenwich Village and the North End in Boston says the value of such urban areas, she said, is that they facilitate the free flow of information between city dwellers. She saw the city not as a mass of buildings but rather as a vessel of empty spaces, in which people interacted with other people. The city wasn't a skyline -- it was a dance.

Bettencourt and West found that whenever a city doubles in size, every measure of economic activity, from construction spending to the amount of bank deposits, increases by approximately 15% per capita. While Jacobs could only speculate on the value of our urban interactions, West insists that he has found a way to "scientifically confirm" her conjectures.

West illustrates the same concept by describing the Santa Fe Institute, an interdisciplinary research organization, where he and Bettencourt work. The institute itself is a sprawl of common areas, old couches and tiny offices; the coffee room is always the most crowded place. “S.F.I. is all about the chance encounters," West says. “There are few planned meetings, just lots of unplanned conversations. It's like a little city that way."

However in recent decades, many of the fastest-growing cities in America, like Phoenix and Riverside, Calif., have traded away public spaces for affordable single-family homes. Some of these fast-growing cities appear like tumors on the landscape, West reminds us. “They have these extreme levels of growth, but it's not sustainable growth."

When Bettencourt and West analyzed the negative variables of urban life, like crime and disease, they discovered that the exact same mathematical equation applied. After a city doubles in size, it also experiences a 15% per capita increase in violent crimes, traffic and AIDS cases.

West and Bettencourt refer to this phenomenon as “superlinear scaling," which is a fancy way of describing the increased output of people living in big cities. West illustrates the problem by translating human life into watts. A hunter-gatherer in the Amazon needs about 250 watts to carry on. But a city dweller needs about 11,000 watts to live. He goes on to say that the urban lifestyle is unsustainable.

The historian Lewis Mumford described the rise of the megalopolis as “the last stage in the classical cycle of civilization." In his more pessimistic moods, West knows that nothing can trend upward forever. In fact, West sees human history as defined by this constant tension between expansion and scarcity.

After a resource is exhausted, we are forced to exploit a new resource, if only to sustain our superlinear growth. West cites a long list of breakthroughs to illustrate this historical pattern, from the discovery of the steam engine to the invention of the Internet.

But the escape is only temporary, as every innovation eventually leads to new shortages. We clear-cut forests, and so we turn to oil; once we exhaust our fossil-fuel reserves, we'll start driving electric cars, at least until we run out of lithium. This helps explain why West describes cities as the only solution to the problem of cities. Although urbanization has generated a seemingly impossible amount of economic growth, it has also inspired the innovations that allow the growth to continue.

There is a serious complication to this triumphant narrative of cliff edges and creativity, however. While there used to get a big revolution every few thousand years, now it takes about 15 years between big innovations. What this means is that, for the first time ever, people are living through multiple revolutions.

. . . more doclink

Get Angry and Get Loud: Improving Access to Health Care for the Latino Community

February 17 , 2015, Huffington Post   By: Vanessa Gonzalez-Plumhoff

Ms. Gonzalez-Plumhoff is the recipient of the 2015 Latino Trendsetter Award for work done at Planned Parenthood, on behalf of the Latino community.

"I saw many of my classmates getting pregnant. I knew that I wasn't ready for a child, so in an effort to take control of my sexual health, I decided to go to our town's local clinic, which was not a Planned Parenthood health center, to get my first Pap test and to go on birth control. At the health center, they made me feel immediately judged and humiliated and, given how small my town was, word got around quickly, and I felt a growing sense of violation that something so personal was now a topic of high school gossip," she said

She experienced similar humiliation as a social worker, this time directed at an immigrant community in Arizona. She imagines the struggles they must have gone through, and vows to do her best to eliminate this insult to humanity.

Her humiliation has turned to anger and then to action, which revolves around ensuring that men and women from all walks of life are entitled to "nonjudgemental" sexual and reproductive health care.

She speaks for millions of other Latinas who wish to control their bodies and lauds the reduction of teen pregnancies as realized by the hard efforts of "so many Latinos in the Affordable Care Act."

"The fact that we would allow policies to be in place that restrict access to health care for certain communities over others is downright insulting. And it's about time that we all -- whether we are Latino or not -- got angry and got loud about it.," she said.

Ms Gonzalez-Plumhoff cites Planned Parenthood's Raíz program, a grassroots training program in the five states with the highest Latino populations, working to improve access to universal health care, and warns us that this is a lifelong fight. doclink

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