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

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

July 30, 2015

pg 1 ... Go to page 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

We Blew It: a Time Line of Human Impact on the Planet

May 6, 2015, Vice   By: Haisam Hussein


U.S.: Calif. Assembly Passes Bill Making Pregnancy a Qualifying Event for Insurance Enrollment

June 8, 2015, National Partnership for Women and Families

The California Assembly approved a bill (AB 1102) that would make pregnancy a qualifying event to purchase health coverage through California's insurance marketplace (under the Affordable Care Act) outside of the exchange's open enrollment period. The bill would require insurers to allow individuals who do not have minimum essential coverage to enroll or change their health plan when they become pregnant.

The proposal now proceeds to the state Senate for consideration (AP/Sacramento Bee, 6/4).

The measure would take effect in 2017 doclink

Karen Gaia says: Health care for pregnant women is a good way to ensure the health of mother and infant, and a time to introduce effective and affordable methods for birth spacing needed for the health of future babies as well as the health and well-being of the mother and family. When these birth methods are started, it is likely they will be used throughout a woman's child-bearing years so that she can have children when she is ready, emotionally, financially, and for the good of her family.

U.S.: Birth Control for Beginners: What's Preventing Women From Getting Access to the Full Range of Contraceptive Options?

Long-acting contraceptives get left out of the conversation, in favor of methods with a higher human-error factor
June 28, 2015, Salon   By: Valerie Tarico

Birth control is a big deal for couples who would rather avoid an abortion or another baby.

From 2011 to 2013, Planned Parenthood and the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) conducted a study with a goal to ensure that women get full information about all available birth control methods and that they can get the method of their choice in the same visit.

In 20 Planned Parenthood affiliate clinics participating in the study, the entire staff, including receptionists, counselors and doctors, received a half-day training on how to provide excellent access to IUDs and implants. Twenty other clinics continued business as usual.

In the 20 clinics that received the training, 71% of providers discussed IUDs and implants with their patients, and 28% of the women receiving the additional information chose IUDs or implants. In the control group only 39% of providers discussed IUDs and implants with their patient and only 17% of the women chose IUDs or implants. In both settings 99% of women felt that the decision was theirs, meaning that providers maintained respect for patient autonomy and choices. In the year following, the rate of pregnancy among patients seeking contraception in the intervention clinics was half what it was in the control clinics.

On the pill, nearly 1 in 10 women gets pregnant each year, and for couples relying on condoms that number is 1 in 6! With the rhythm method or abstinence or no protection at all the annual pregnancy rate was over 8 in 10.

By contrast, for state-of-the-art IUDs and contraceptive implants the annual pregnancy rate is below 1 in 500. With every-day and every-time methods things like forgetting, fights, finances and fumbling - make it virtually impossible for couples to use pills, condoms or intermittent abstinence with perfect consistency; and the more chaotic a person's life, the more likely he or she will end up facing a surprise pregnancy.

Hormone-free copper IUDs, hormonal IUDs and implants are long-acting reversible birth control methods that can be reversed. They can last from three to 10+ years; but a quick, easy removal restores normal fertility at any point.

Currently only 7.2% of women used a long-acting contraceptive in the U.S. from 2011-2013. IUDs and implants are rapidly gaining popularity, thanks in part to Obamacare, which eliminates high upfront cost as a barrier.

In the 1970s, a defective IUD traumatized women and providers alike. Today modern IUDs are the healthiest method available for most women. In the U.S. and Canada there is a dismaying level of misinformation about IUDs and implants among doctors. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, most young people between the ages of 18 and 29 said they had never heard of the implant.

Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis provided comprehensive information and then offered 9,000 women and youth the birth control of their choice for free. Three-quarters chose a state-of-the-art IUD or implant, and the rate of teen pregnancy and abortion plummeted.

Upstream USA was launched by Peter Belden and Mark Edwards in 2014 to provide expanded on-site training and technical assistance so that many health centers across the country can offer their patients the full range of contraceptive methods including implants and IUDs. A woman can receive any family planning method she wants on the day she walks into the clinic.

Helping young women achieve their own goals and become pregnant only when they want to is central to improving high school graduation rates (82% of pregnancies to teens are unintended). A Gates Foundation survey found that 47% of girls who dropped out of high school listed pregnancy as a reason. Unintended pregnancy is a significant issue affecting community college completion. The intervention in the UCSF study cut the pregnancy rate in half.

The training model draws on evidence-based "best practices" from across the country:

The "One Key Question" integrates family planning into routine medical care and medical records by prompting doctors during routine medical care to annually ask all female patients, "Would you like to get pregnant in the next year?" and providing counseling about either pre-conception care or pregnancy prevention.

Streamlined same day service as recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists ensures that busy women don't face the scheduling, travel and childcare obstacles that have prevented many in the past from getting IUD's.

Including removal costs in the insertion fee ensures that no woman will get a LARC and then face a financial barrier to getting it removed when she is ready.

Unless all methods are available to all women, improvements in contraception may worsen America's growing economic divide. Mark Edwards says: "Women should be able to achieve their own goals and become pregnant only when they want to. It is unconscionable that women are not offered the very best care, no matter how they enter the healthcare system." doclink

Why American Teenagers Are Having Much Less Sex

July 22, 2015, Washington Post   By: Danielle Paquette and Weiyi (dawn) Cai

Today's kids are less sexually active than those of the 1980s. A recent study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) surveyed two groups: about 2,000 boys and girls between 15 to 19, and about 1,770 more between 20 to 24. The older group was asked about high school encounters. From 1988 to 2013, the share of teens who reported having sex at least once dropped from 51% to 44% for girls, and from 60% to 47% for boys. Much of the decline occurred between 1988 and the period of 2006-2010. Since then the numbers have held steady.

Are they too preoccupied with their iPhones? Dr. Brooke Bokor, an Adolescent Medicine Specialist at the Children's National Health System, does not dismiss that possibility. "Many are more comfortable searching in private for credible information about sexual health," she said. They could be better educated about the risks -- and more mentally prepared. "They're looking on the web," Bokor said, but they are also "looking for guidance from parents, guardians and physicians. They can and will make positive decisions for their own health, both sexual and otherwise. " As an example, she noted a featured article on this week's called Not awkward: 5 tips for talking to anyone about sex and your birth control.

Births to girls 15 to 19 plunged from 84 per 1,000 in 1991 to 26 in 2013. Most of those who had sex used some form of protection, including even the withdrawal method. Girls who reported using protection during their first sexual encounter were half as likely to become teen moms as those who did not. Use of emergency contraception -- like the Plan B pill -- grew from 8% in 2002 to 22% in 2013.

Contrary to some parents' worries, the advent of Gardisil, the HPV vaccine now widely offered to boys and girls as young as 11, did not lead to sexual recklessness. One possible cause of the sexual slowdown is that the educational conversation that comes with the shots alerts kids to the prevalence of STIs and how they spread. "They learn from doctors that you can catch HPV even if you use a condom," Bokor said, emphasizing some common conditions spread through skin-to-skin contact. That may explain why 97% of teen girls opt for condoms over more effective forms of contraception such as birth control pills and IUDs. "They might think: How else can I stay healthy?" doclink

Paving the Way: Ethiopia's Youth on the Road to Sustainability

July 2015, NewSecurityBeat

Tesema Merga was part of a vanguard of young Ethiopians who brought the first roads to the Gurage in the 1960s. He and others went on to form the Gurage People's Self-help Development Organization (GPSDO).

Today, Tesema and GPSDO are working with the next generation of local leaders to establish PHE clubs at local schools and encourage girls education and empowerment. doclink

Unspinning the Planned Parenthood Video

July 21, 2015,   By: Dave Levitan and Lori Robertson

A secretly recorded video showing a Planned Parenthood executive discussing the procurement of fetal tissues when conducting abortions has led several Republican presidential candidates to claim that Planned Parenthood is "profiting" from abortions.

But the full, unedited version of the video they cite as evidence shows the executive, Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services, repeatedly saying its clinics want to cover their costs, not make money, when donating fetal tissue from abortions for scientific research.

Four experts in the field of human tissue procurement were interviewed by Fact Check and said that the price range discussed in the video -- $30 to $100 per patient -- represents a reasonable fee. Sherilyn J. Sawyer, the director of Harvard University and Brigham and Women's Hospital's biorepository said "There's no way there's a profit at that price."

The edited video, released July 14 by the Center for Medical Progress, showed a discussion between Nucatola and two people posing as employees of a company looking to procure fetal tissue for research purposes.

At one point in the unedited video (which was also released by the group), Nucatola says: "Affiliates are not looking to make money by doing this. They're looking to serve their patients and just make it not impact their bottom line." .. "The messaging is this should not be seen as a new revenue stream, because that's not what it is." In the video, Nucatola, in a tone which House Speaker John Boehner condemned as "cavalier", discusses which tissues are valued by researchers and how to preserve those tissues while conducting abortions.

Republicans presidential candidate Rick Perry said that the video is a disturbing reminder of the organization's penchant for profiting off the tragedy of a destroyed human life. Rand Paul talked of a video showing [Planned Parenthood]'s top doctor describing how she performs late-term abortions to sell body parts for profit! Carly Fiorina: This latest news is tragic and outrageous. This isn't about "choice." It's about profiting on the death of the unborn while telling women it's about empowerment.

In the full video Nucatola said that the $30 to $100 charge for a tissue specimen would be reimbursement for expenses related to handling and transportation of the tissues.

Sherilyn J. Sawyer said "The costs associated with collection, processing, storage, and inventory and records management for specimens are very high. Most hospitals will provide tissue blocks from surgical procedures for research, and cost recover for their time and effort in the range of $100-500 per case/block."

Jim Vaught, president of the International Society for Biological and Environmental Repositories and formerly the deputy director of the National Cancer Institute's Office of Biorepositories and Biospecimen Research, Carolyn Compton, the chief medical and science officer of Arizona State University's National Biomarkers Development Alliance and a former director of biorepositories and biospecimen research at the National Cancer Institute, both said that the $30-$100 is reasonable and not enough to make a profit.

Nucatola also said: "Really their bottom line is, they want to break even. Every penny they save is just pennies they give to another patient. To provide a service the patient wouldn't get." She also said that the patients are the ones who elect to donate the tissue for medical research.

Planned Parenthood stated on it's website: "At several of our health centers, we help patients who want to donate tissue for scientific research, and we do this just like every other high-quality health care provider does -- with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards. There is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood. In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, which is standard across the medical field."

Cecile Richards, the Planned Parenthood president, said in a video response to the controversy: "The allegation that Planned Parenthood profits in any way from tissue donation is not true."

A second, similar video was released by the Center for Medical Progress on July 21, again featuring a discussion about tissue prices with a Planned Parenthood official in a restaurant. The numbers mentioned in the second edited video are similar to what Nucatola said.

Another presidential candidate, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson called the practice discussed in the video a "clear violation of federal law." However, while the "sale" of organs, both adult and fetal, for transplantation is illegal, but donation of tissue -- both from aborted fetuses and from adults -- is not. And payment for "reasonable" costs is also allowed under the law.

Tissue from fetuses has been used since the 1930s for a variety of purposes, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The 1954 Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded to researchers who managed to grow polio vaccine in fetal kidney cell cultures. A cell line from an aborted fetus in the early 1960s was used by Leonard Hayflick to create vaccines against measles, rubella, shingles and other diseases, saving millions of lives.

Lately, stem cells have replaced fetal tissue for therapeutic and research purposes. doclink

I Stand with Planned Parenthood! Petition

July 28, 2015, Population Connection Action Fund

Planned Parenthood has been the victim of a vicious smear campaign. An anti-choice group went "undercover" and has released a pair of heavily edited, dishonest videos in an attempt to discredit an organization that has helped literally millions of women gain access to breast exams, birth control and other vital reproductive health services.

Now anti-choice politicians are seizing on these videos as their newest excuse to attack funding for Planned Parenthood. They're already preparing to vote on legislation that would cut off access to care for millions.

We know these attacks are based on lies and deceptions, and that it's really about preventing women from making choices about their lives and futures.

Click on the link to sign the petition. doclink

Alaska's Terrifying Wildfire Season and What it Says About Climate Change

July 26, 2015, Washington Post   By: Chris Mooney

Alaska is seeing hundreds of wildfires this summer, leaving in their wake millions of acres of charred trees and blackened earth.

The staggering 2015 Alaska wildfire season may soon be the state's worst ever, with almost 5 million acres already burned - an area larger than Connecticut. And the Alaska's burning dwarfs all burning across all the other U.S. states.

Scientists say the fires are just the latest indicator of a climatic transformation that is remaking this state - its forests, its coasts, its glaciers, and perhaps most of all, the frozen ground beneath - more than any other in America.

Alaska has warmed much more than the continental United States: by more than 3 degrees Fahrenheit in the past half-century. 75 billion metric tons of ice have been lost from its glaciers. The warming has also destabilized the permafrost, the frozen ground that underlies 80% of the state and whose thaw can undermine buildings, roads and infrastructure, and caused seas to rise, causing intense erosion as seas rise and declining sea ice exposes shores and barrier islands to punishing waves. Some native communities may be forced to be relocated.

Seventeen percent of U.S. forests are in Alaska. While there have always been forest fires, recently the blazes have been so intense and extensive that they could hasten the thawing of permafrost - which itself contains vast quantities of ancient carbon, ready to be emitted to the air. The more intense the fire, the deeper it burns through the organic layer, and the higher the chance it will go through this complete conversion," says Ted Schuur, an ecologist at Northern Arizona University who is a specialist in permafrost. "What happens in the summer of 2015 has the potential to change the whole trajectory of [the burned area] for the next 100 years or more."

This year most fires have been caused by lightning, rather than people. The whole system was simply ready to burn. A warm spring (7.1 degrees Fahrenheit above average) melted snow well ahead of schedule, allowing the ground to dry out sooner.

More troubling to climate scientists, the fires could contribute to the worsening of climate change. Intense wildfires burn deep into the duff layer, sending up still more carbon.When fires burn all the way down to the mineral soil, the frozen ground loses its insulation, and permafrost can thaw.

Across the global north, it is estimated that permafrost contains twice as much carbon as the planet's atmosphere. If thawing is hastened by fires, that could make global warming worse. doclink

Humanity From Space

July 18, 2015, Public Broadcasting System (PBS)

A trip through 12,000 years of development, this two-hour special shows how seemingly small flashes of innovation have changed the course of civilization. As our global population soars, humanity will face numerous challenges in order to survive. doclink

CO2 Emissions Threaten Ocean Crisis

Scientists have warned that marine life will be irreversibly changed unless CO2 emissions are drastically cut
July 3, 2015, BBC News   By: Roger Harrabin

Twenty-two world-leading marine scientists say the oceans are heating, losing oxygen and becoming more acidic because of CO2. They warn that the 2C maximum temperature rise for climate change agreed by governments will not prevent dramatic impacts on ocean systems and that the range of options is dwindling as the cost of those options is skyrocketing.

Their report is in Science journal.

They warn that the ocean has absorbed nearly 30% of the carbon dioxide we have produced since 1750; and that CO2 from burning fossil fuels is changing the chemistry of the seas faster than at any time since a cataclysmic natural event known as the Great Dying 250 million years ago.

The ocean has absorbed over 90% of the additional heat created by industrial society since 1970. The extra heat makes it harder for the ocean to hold oxygen. Experiments have shown that, while some organisms can withstand the future warming that CO2 is expected to bring, or the decrease in pH, or lower oxygen most organisms can withstand all of these, or even two of them, at once.

Carol Turley, of Plymouth Marine Laboratory, a co-author, said: "The ocean is at the frontline of climate change with its physics and chemistry being altered at an unprecedented rate so much so that ecosystems and organisms are already changing and will continue to do so as we emit more CO2. The ocean provides us with food, energy, minerals, drugs and half the oxygen in the atmosphere, and it regulates our climate and weather."

Ocean acidification is likely to impact reproduction, larval survival and feeding, and growth rates of marine organisms - especially those with calcium carbonate shells or skeletons.

Coastal protection, fisheries, aquaculture and human health and tourism will all be affected by the changes. Experts warn: "Immediate and substantial reduction of CO2 emissions is required in order to prevent the massive and effectively irreversible impacts on ocean ecosystems and their services".

Professor Manuel Barange, director of science at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, said: "Negative impacts are particularly expected in tropical and developing regions, thus potentially increasing existing challenges in terms of food and livelihood security.

"We are allowing ourselves to travel a uniquely dangerous path, and we are doing so without an appreciation for the consequences that lie ahead." doclink

World Population

July 2015, Population History

Clink on the link to see Population Education's interactive map and video (an expansion of Population Connection's 'Dot' video). The 'dot' video is still impressive after all these years. doclink

Number of Women in Need of Publicly Funded Family Planning Services Increased by Nearly One Million Between 2010 and 2013

Publicly Funded Family Planning Services Helped Women Avoid Two Million Unintended Pregnancies in 2013
July 2015, Guttmacher Institute

Twenty million U.S. women were in need of publicly funded family planning services in 2013 -- 5% more than in 2010, according to a report "Contraceptive Needs and Services." This growth reflects the increase in the number of adults with a family income below 250% of the federal poverty level, or teens regardless of family income, who were sexually active, able to conceive and did not want to become pregnant.

The services of publicly funded family planning providers helped women prevent two million unintended pregnancies, one million of which would have resulted in unplanned births and 693,000 in abortions. Without these services, rates of unintended pregnancies, unplanned births and abortions in the United States would have all been 60% higher.

At the same time the need grew by 5%, Congress slashed funding for the Title X national family planning program by 12% and plans to cut funding even further, or eliminate it altogether. Kinsey Hasstedt, Guttmacher Institute public policy associate said: "This program isn't just good public health policy, it results in considerable savings. By helping women avoid pregnancies they do not want, the services Title X supports save $7 for every public dollar invested."

Title X clinics served 4.1 million women in 2013, allowing women to avoid one million unintended pregnancies, 501,000 unplanned births and 345,000 abortions. Without these contraceptive services, levels of unintended pregnancy and teen pregnancy would be 30% higher.

Title X clinics also provides preconception health care and counseling, STI testing and treatment, vaccines to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) and Pap tests.

"Policymakers at all levels should be doing everything they can to support this critical safety net, which is vital to the health and well-being of millions of women and their families," said Hasstedt.

Click on the link in the headline to see a great infographic on the subject. doclink

U.S. Retail Sales Fall, Again; the Next Crash is Near

July 2015, Sprott Money   By: Jeff Nielson

In June the U.S. government reported that U.S. retail sales have fallen (month-over-month) by 0.3%, a seemingly insignificant number. But this is before we adjust that number for inflation.

But what is the real rate of inflation? The government number is unreliable. We can see inflation in our own lives, particularly in food and shelter, rising at 20% per year. As more and more of our populations descend to the economic status of working poor, or lower, food and shelter become the only categories of consumption, so they experience an inflation rate of 20+% per year. estimates inflation to be near 10%. But he uses the "basket of goods" of a Middle Class society (of the United States) to calculate inflation. If we aggregate the two halves of society we get around 15%, but for purposes of simplification, let's assume a conservative overall inflation-rate of 12% per year (or 1% per month).

Subtract the inflation rate from the decline of 0.3 (a negative number since it is a decline), and we get a monthly decline of 1.3%, or 15% annually.

Since the collapse of the U.S. housing bubble in 2007, and subsequent economic collapse, retail sales have plummeted by roughly 50%. In other words, U.S. retailers are selling roughly half as many goods (and services) as they were selling less than eight years ago. In a consumer economy, this can only be the symptom of a Greater Depression.

When an economy no longer produces enough goods to pay, it consumes all of the accumulated wealth of that society. And when all of the wealth has been cannibalized, the economy turns to debt .

The U.S. economy is now so ridiculously over-burdened with debt (public, private, and corporate) that it has become impossible to even sustain its level of consumption, once it has paid the massive, and ever-increasing, interest on these debts - even with the Federal Reserve's money-printing.

To hide this death spiral, the U.S. government tells economic lies, claiming the official "inflation rate" is near-zero, even as we see food and real estate prices skyrocketing.

But you can't hide the truth forever, so, roughly every eight years, the powers that be trigger a short-term economic shock to make it look like they are in control after the shock. These crashes are deliberately timed to coincide with the U.S. presidential cycle - and the next U.S. election is now little more than one year away.

The crashes are timed to coincide with the eight-year "changing of the guard" in the U.S. two-party system. That way the incumbent can be blamed for the crash, and the new President rides to the rescue of the U.S. population.

But the next bubble-and-crash will be different from every bubble-and-crash ever seen. In the Crash of '08 the corrupt regimes of the West were already bankrupted by the Big Bank "bail-outs".

Then it will be time for another Great War, which the Old World Order hopes will hide the complete-and-utter economic devastation which it has wrought, and somehow retain its corrupt choke-hold on political power, financial power, and the Corporate media propaganda machine. doclink

Karen Gaia says: these type of economic forecasts abound these days, and predictions don't often come true. Still, with resource depletion and the decline of EROI, one can't help but feel that we are on the cusp of peak civilization.

States Take a Stand Against Parental Involvement Laws

July 17, 2015, National Partnership for Women and Families

A majority of states have limited young women's access to abortion by passing parental involvement laws, and many of those states are further restricting the process by which minors can seek a court's permission to obtain an abortion without having to involve a parent or guardian. However, lawmakers in some states -- including Maine and New Mexico -- have managed to block such restrictions.

Illinois, Maine, Texas, Nevada, Arkansas, and New Mexico are among the states currently having issues with parental involvement.

* doclink

I Love My IUD

July 15, 2015, Women At the Center


The Faces Behind the Numbers

July 11, 2015, Sierra Club   By: Michael Brune, Executive Director, Sierra Club

On World Population Day it's easy to focus on the numbers -- over 7 billion humans now sharing our planet, and 10 billion later. But it is about much more than the numbers -- it's about the needs of the people behind those statistics.

Even though it has been 20 years since the United Nations defined voluntary family planning as a basic human right, 225 million women around the world today want to plan, space, or delay childbirth but have no access to modern contraceptive methods. That means these women have little power to control their own lives or escape the cycle of poverty.

If women and families are going to gain ground economically, politically, or environmentally, we need to address not only access to voluntary family planning but clean energy access, clean water access, and the right to an education.

Helping those in need will help all of us. For instance, if we simply filled the unmet demand for family planning, the resulting reduction in CO2 emissions would be equivalent to eliminating deforestation worldwide, doubling the fuel economy of every car on the planet, or replacing every coal-fired power plant with solar energy.

We can't have a healthy planet without healthy families.

To mark World Population Day, the Sierra Club's Global Population and Environment Program has released its second POP Quiz -- . Test your own knowledge of the connection between the health of women and families and our environment. doclink

Feds Set Final Rules for Birth Control Mandate

July 3, 2015, Hill   By: Sarah Ferris

The Obama administration on July 3 took the final step toward ensuring that women can keep their birth control coverage even if their employer refuses to provide it on religious grounds.

The administration released regulations that allow women to receive contraceptive services without co-payments even if their employer objects. The new rules also expand the definition of businesses that can seek exemptions from the ObamaCare contraception mandate, which is one of the most controversial pieces of ObamaCare, and has been at the set of multiple lawsuits, most notably Hobby Lobby.

To appease religious-affiliated groups that continue to wage legal battles against the mandate, for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby will be allowed to more easily opt out of the contraception mandate, a ruling that is drawing criticism from Democrats.

"Today's announcement allows a wide range of businesses power over the health care decisions of the women they employ, and shows once again why the Supreme Court's deeply harmful ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby is completely unacceptable," Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) wrote in a statement.

"What this means for women is that you will be able to get birth control without a copay, no matter where you work," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, who has lobbied for the regulation.

For-profit companies can now take a stand against the contraception rule for religious reasons if they are not publicly traded and are owned "by a relatively small number of individuals." This definition goes beyond the Supreme Court's decision last year, which said that "closely held companies" should not be forced to comply with the rule against religious objections. doclink

Birth Control Isn't a 'Women's Issue' - It's An Economic Issue

July 8, 2015, Yahoo! News   By: Julia Sonenshein

Birth control is not only the biggest asset to female autonomy in modern history, it is also an economic issue that is in all of our best interests. Almost half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. Significantly reducing unintended pregnancies would save taxpayers an estimated average of $5.6 billion per year.

Giving women early access to birth control pills accounted for 10% of the narrowing in the gender gap during the 1980s and 31% during the 1990s, allowing for women to have higher lifetime incomes and education. 51% of women surveyed reported that contraception allowed them to complete their education, and 50% said contraception enabled them to work.

Women have saved a staggering $1.4 billion on birth control pills since the Affordable Care Act required insurance companies to cover birth control at no cost to the consumer, while spending on IUDs has fallen 68%.

Until recently, if your workplace chooses not to cover your birth control because of ethical or religious reasons, you were stuck paying for your contraception out of pocket, which for many could be prohibitive, even if an unintended pregnancy could be especially financially devastating.

Access to birth control is an economic necessity, and it's an issue our country can't afford to sleep on. doclink

Karen Gaia says: 1) There is hope that new rules coming from the Obama administration will provide an alternative coverage for birth control methods. 2) No sources were quoted for the statistics in this article. They could very likely be from the Guttmacher Institute

A Warrior's Cry Against Child Marriage

May 1, 2015, TED Talks   By: Memory Banda

Memory Banda's life took a divergent path from her sister's. When her sister reached puberty, she was sent to a traditional "initiation camp" that teaches girls "how to sexually please a man." She got pregnant there - at age 11. Banda, however, refused to go. Instead, she organized others and asked her community's leader to issue a bylaw that no girl should be forced to marry before turning 18. She pushed on to the national level ... with incredible results for girls across Malawi. doclink

Petition to the Pope

July 2015, Global Population Speakout (GPSO)

Pope Francis' environmental papal encyclical ("Praise Be to You", June 18, 2015) called much needed attention to climate change and strongly asserted that we all have an ethical responsibility to care for the Earth.

While we welcome the Pope's concern about consumerism and its impact on the environment and applaud his call to action on climate change, the refusal of His Holiness to address the impacts that population size and growth are having on the planet is a tragic oversight. If we are, indeed, stewards of what the Pope calls, "our Sister, Mother Earth," we have a responsibility to help prevent unintended pregnancies, and the best means of doing that is to ensure that every woman has information about, and unrestricted access to, modern methods of contraception.

In response to this Papal oversight, we are sending Pope Francis a copy of Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot (OVER). Along with the book we are sending a public appeal for the Church to end its religious prohibition on the use of contraceptives. Please join us in sending this important message to the Vatican.


"Your Holiness, we applaud you for your concern about consumerism and your commitment to fighting climate change and caring for the poor, but we implore the Catholic Church to reconsider its opposition to the use of modern contraceptives.

"With 7.3 billion people on the planet and another 2.4 billion anticipated by 2050, our Sister, Mother Earth is, as you so eloquently put it, 'burdened and laid waste' and 'groans with travail.' Inspired by World Population Day 2015, we hereby present you with Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot - a photographic testimony to the tragic impact that the growth in human numbers and consumption is having on the Earth and all the creatures that call it home.

"Curbs on consumption alone will not save and restore Mother Earth; if we are, as you put it, to 'reverse the harm we have inflicted' on her, the Holy Catholic Church must reverse its stance on the use of contraceptives. We must give every woman in the world the ability to determine the number and spacing of her pregnancies. Join with us in preserving and protecting Mother Earth."

Click here to sign the petition. doclink

World Population Day: Papal Opposition to Contraception Worsens Prospects

July 5, 2015, Population Matters

Only through investing in family planning and women's education and empowerment and conducting public information campaigns about the immense strains that population and consumption growth place on the planet can we significantly slow the growth.

Among the strains are resource depletion, climate change, water shortages, pollution, deforestation, soil degradation, wildlife extinctions, and ocean acidification.

"It is ironic that the recent Papal encyclical considered environmental and sustainability issues but brushed aside population growth as a driver of them," said Roger Martin, Chair of Population Matters.

"Population growth exacerbates poverty and conflict over dwindling resources. Poor people consume less and do less damage than rich ones. However, when and if poor people become rich, the number of people will make a vast difference to the planet. The Pope was thus completely wrong to say that 'demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development.' With its opposition to artificial contraception, the Catholic Church promotes population growth through the resultant unintended pregnancies. World Population Day is a good time to urge the Catholic Church once again to change its doctrine on family planning." doclink

California Drought Resurrects Old Population Growth Concerns

June 1, 2015, Sacramento Bee

With California in its fourth year of drought, population growth has again appeared in California's consciousness.

"When you increase a population significantly," said Pattison, general manager of the Mountain House Community Services District in East Bay area, California, "you reach a point of what's called 'demand hardening,' and you cannot conserve your way out of a situation where there's just too many people and overcommitment of demand across the spectrum."

California will grow from about 39 million people now to more than 51 million by 2060, according to projections from the state Department of Finance . The Public Policy Institute of California said that, as the population expands, California will see "increased demand in all areas of infrastructure and public services - including education, transportation, corrections, housing, water, health and welfare."

In a headline-grabbing television ad last month, a group called Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) blamed immigration for the state's lack of water. "Virtually all of California's population growth is from immigration. Let's slow immigration and save some California for tomorrow." For population growth "from immigration," CAPS counted not only immigrants, but the U.S.-born children of immigrants, who are citizens.

Dowell Myers, a University of Southern California demography professor saw it differently: "Without immigrants, California would be dead as a doornail. We don't have enough children right now as it is to replace the workforce and the tax base ... when Californians retire."

Myers attributes fear of population growth to the 1980s, when population grew rapidly. These people are "behind the times."

Governor Jerry Brown, who governed California before from 1975 to 1983, said about population that "we run up against certain limits." He also said "We can accommodate more people. I believe we can certainly take another 10 million, but we have to do it in a different way."

He said Californians must "find a more elegant way of relating to material things, and you have to use them with great sensitivity and sophistication."

Heather Cooley, water program director at the Pacific Institute, said that local agencies, which have long considered transportation and environmental impacts of development, could "do a much better job of understanding how many people should live in a particular area" given water availability, she said.

Still, water use per person in California has declined in recent years. In Southern California, where most of the state's population lives, total water consumption has remained flat over the past 15 years, despite population growth.

The experience of water conservation efforts in other countries suggests California could survive on far less water.

Jay Lund, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Davis said: "You could basically double California's population if we use the same per capita urban water use as Spain." ... "To me, there's really no serious basis for population discussions on the basis of water."

In 1991 Gov. Pete Wilson created a council of Cabinet-level agencies to study population growth statewide. "We must shape our future, not suffer it," he said.

Richard Sybert, who was director of Wilson's office of planning and research said "The notion that there's too many people here is frankly absurd," he said. "It's frankly not borne out by the numbers ... You could halve the population here - say we have 20 million instead of 40 million - and there would still be a drought."

Ellen Hanak, a water expert at the Public Policy Institute of California, noted that "hot spots" in the drought have not been in the population centers of Los Angeles or San Francisco, but in relatively isolated rural communities "where the issues really are infrastructure, and not just that there's no water available in a generic sense."

The heaviest users of water in California are not city dwellers, but agriculture. The industry accounts for roughly 80% of all water used by people in the state.

Gregory Weber, executive director of the California Urban Water Conservation Council, said "I think there's plenty of room for California to grow," Weber said. "How it should grow, how big it should grow, these are I think some of the major pressing questions that are facing the state today." doclink

Steve Kritzer (commenter in the Bee) says: "Yeah, Spain is a great example. Government debt to GDP ratio for Spain is 97.7%. Let's make California so crappy that people can't wait to leave. Spain had out migration of 256,849 persons in 2013."

Karen Gaia says: Things look much more encouraging if you put births to immigrants on the 'births' side rather than the immigrant side. Give every woman the opportunity for free effective IUDs and impants and we will see the birth rate go down. This can be done through Medicare and Obamacare. Sacramento has recently passed a bill that allows undocumented immigrants to get care (and contraception). Let's prevent those 50% of pregnancies that are unintended. At the same time, let's conserve both water and energy - let's learn to live better on less.

How Will We Feed a World of Nine Billion People?

July 1, 2015, National Geographic magazine

By 2040 the world will have two billion more mouths to feed. Already more than 800 million people are malnourished and another two billion are short of essential micronutrients, which affect health.

Joel K. Bourne Jr., a former senior editor for National Geographic, has traveled from India to China and Africa to find what can be done, which he reports in his book, The End of Plenty: The Race To Feed A Crowded World.

He explains how biofuels distort food prices; how Iran offers an unlikely model for reducing population; and why the world needs a Pink Revolution.

The British Foreign Office, in a report based on a university study in coordination with Lloyd's of London -- one of the most conservative and oldest insurers on the planet -- suggests that failure to change course on climate change will uproot the global food supply system and trigger an unprecedented epidemic of food riots by 2040.

Today there are mainstream groups extremely concerned about the future of the world's food supply. At stake are the environment, the stability of financial markets and the political stability of hundreds of millions of people, primarily in the developing countries, who will be affected by food shocks across the world.

"The Green Revolution was one of the most transformative experiences the globe has ever seen. We dramatically increased the availability of basic food grain. This made food cheaper, increased people's incomes, and made their diet more diverse because they didn't have to spend so much on rice and wheat," Bourne said.

When FAO was attempting to halve world hunger from 1990 to 2015, they patted themselves on the back for only having 800 million people who are chronically malnourished in the world. Yet we also have "two billion people, nearly one third of the world's population, who suffer from micronutrient deficiencies." If kids don't get the right nutrient mix before they're two years old, they suffer stunting, mental disabilities; they're less healthy and productive.

Thomas Malthus, the 19th century British economist, said humanity's biggest problem was "the passion between the sexes." His basic premise was that humans have the ability to double in population whereas our agricultural expertise cannot do that. It can only increase numerically. We are still wrestling with this challenge. We have much more ability to produce people than we do to produce the food to feed them.

Since the pope -- when he recently came out strongly on climate change -- didn't mention birth control, the Catholic Church may be a major stumbling block in alleviating world hunger.

On the other hand, in some of the traditionally Catholic countries, like France, they're already practicing family planning. Even Latin America, where the pope comes from, has had tremendous success reducing fertility rates. If this pope would become interested in making a change to the teaching on birth control, that would have a tremendous effect.

Iran decided to make basic health insurance and primary care available to all. Iranian women in rural areas in the 1980s were having 7-9 children. Young men and women from each village were trained as medics. The men would deal with sanitation issues and also deal with the men. The women would deal with family planning and health. Iran's fertility rate went from more than six at end of the 80s to less than two by the early 2000s.

Forty percent of the United States corn crop is used to fuel cars. That represents enough corn to feed everyone in Africa for a year. Several studies, including by the OECD and World Bank have shown a direct link between the rise in biofuels and the rise in basic commodity prices in the first decade of the 2000s.

Even though the economic and environmental benefits of corn ethanol are very small the U.S. is subsidizing the corn farmers.

Then there is commodities trading which distorts food prices. The same deregulation of the big banks that occurred in 2000, which led to the great housing bubble and, of course, the greatest recession since the Great Depression, also deregulated the commodities market.

As the real estate bubble burst, investment banks, like Barclays and Goldman Sachs, were desperately trying desperately to find places to stick their money. So, they created these new investments called "commodity baskets." Commodities speculation has had an enormous impact by inflating commodity prices around the globe.

So the poor and hungry of the world are going to have to compete with big biofuel and the wolves of Wall Street.

From the promise of GMO technology we got two blockbuster traits: resistance to RoundUp herbicide, which the manufacturer, Monsanto, also makes; and the Bt transgene, a soil bacterium that will kill lepidopteran insects like corn rootworm or European corn borer, which are major agronomic pests. The great fear that GMOs would cause catastrophic environmental or human health damages has not appeared. But neither have the great benefits.

There are several other things we can do.

From the former Soviet Union to Sub-Saharan Africa, yields are a third to a quarter of those of the rest of the world. We can close these yield gaps. We can use our water supply better. We can produce more protein through aquaculture.

The easiest thing to do is to reduce demand. We should cut out food-based biofuels, which would open up 10% of U.S. farmland and 15% of European arable land overnight. We don't need to eat nearly as much meat as we do; we would save an enormous amount of grain doing that.

Above all, we need to help countries still having six or seven children per woman make the demographic transition. If you educate women, through at least the sixth grade, and provide the same opportunities as men, you would start a Pink Revolution. This would solve the world's food problem, by bringing down population rates and making half the world's population more productive. doclink

Uganda on Track to Have World's Highest Population Growth

July 3, 2015, Worldwatch Institute   By: Alana Herro

A new report from the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) projects that the current population of the east African nation of Uganda is projected to explode from 27.7 million to 130 million by 2050, a nearly fivefold increase. Carl Haub, a demographer at PRB, says such expansion will entrap the country in poverty and instability. "No one would consider such a rate of growth to be sustainable," he says.

Uganda is currently growing at 3.1%, compared to the world average of 1.2%. Uganda's growth rate is exceeded only by the African island nation of Mayotte, growing at a rate of 3.6%.

To blame is the Ugandan government's lack of commitment to family planning. President Yoweri Museveni has called the nation's population explosion a "great resource." Only 20% of married Ugandan women between the ages of 15 and 49 have access to contraception. Women in Uganda have an average of 6.9 children, compared with a global average of 2.7 and an African average of 5.1. doclink

Karen Gaia says: This article is at least 2 years old, judging by the copyright on the page, but it's information is even older, claiming that the world population is at 6.6 billion. In July 2014, President Yoweri Museveni had a change of heart, saying "Family planning, if combined with economic growth and transformation, will improve the lives of women and children. It will also save families and country's expenditure on too many dependents."


Don't Eat Beef

July 15, 2008   By: Rick Ruffin

I have a solution to the candlelight rallies against U.S. beef imports. Why not simply stop eating meat?

Eating too much beef is bad. It's bad for your health, it's bad for the environment, it's bad for the world, so it's bad for everyone. (1)

The raising of cattle for beef production is one of the most energy intensive and energy inefficient enterprises known to man. According to one British charity, a 10-acre farm can support 60 people by growing soy, 24 people by growing wheat or 10 people by growing corn - but only two by raising cattle.

Let's remember that the amount of grain fed to U.S. cattle in one year alone will feed 1.4 billion people. In a world of limited resources, can we really afford to live in such a way?

In an era with looming water shortages, let's remember that in North America approximately 2,000 gallons of water goes into the production of one pound (454 grams) of beef.

In a world of dwindling biodiversity, let's consider that millions of acres of rainforest have been cut down in Brazil, Costa Rica and other nations in the name of supplying beef for the meat eaters of the world.

Things are so dire in Brazil, that President Luis Ignacio "Lula" Silva recently announced emergency measures to halt the destruction of the Amazon, the proverbial "lungs of the Earth."

In the last five months of 2007, more than 1,250 square miles of virgin forest were lost to livestock operations in Brazil alone.

As for health reasons, many people claim that Korean beef is healthier than American, but that is not necessarily true. Korean beef, while perhaps not known for mad cow disease, is saturated with antibiotics.

In fact, the Korean livestock industry pumps more antibiotics into their swine and cattle than any other country on Earth.

Beef, while high in Vitamin B and essential amino acids, is also high in cholesterol. If you eat a lot of beef, you end up susceptible to heart-bypass surgery.

Americans, who have traditionally consumed approximately eight ounces (about 240 grams) of beef every day, eat roughly twice the world average. We need beef, but we don't need that much. This is the point of this essay.

Not only does livestock production destroy virgin forests around the world - forest such as Malaysia's Teman Negara National Forest which has taken more than one million years to develop, but it also produces large quantities of greenhouse gases, notably methane, which is caused by cows passing gas and belching.

Methane production due to bovine flatulence is such a problem that New Zealand proposed a "fart tax" on its cattle to mitigate the effects of global warming.

According to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock production worldwide produces a fifth of all greenhouse gases. The process goes like this.

When a forest is burned down, CO2 gases are released. Then, cattle are brought in, and as I already mentioned, the cattle emit methane, which has 10 times the heat retention capabilities as CO2.

Finally, the vanished forest, which once served as an important "carbon sink," is forever gone. Carbon sinks, such as the Amazon and the boreal forests of North American and Russia, are invaluable in that they trap CO2 and other greenhouse gases, and prevent them from escaping into the atmosphere.

Finally, livestock production takes up valuable space. An estimated 30 percent of the world's ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in the raising of cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, and what not. Would this area not be put to better use, such as harvesting grain?

It's hard to convince people in Korea to stop eating meat. They love their bulgogi and galbi, and for a country that traditionally wanted for red meat, it's understandable that Koreans should expect to eat beef, just like Americans do.

But this is the point. We don't have to stop eating beef entirely. We should simply ask ourselves. Do we need to eat beef everyday?

The writer, a graduate of University of Texas, Austin, now writes from Gangneung, Gangwon Province. The writer very rarely eats beef. He can be reached at doclink

LTE for World Population Day

July 3, 2015   By: Bonnie Tillery, Population Issues Coordinator, New Jersey Chapter Sierra Club

At her trial in 1917, a judge told Margaret Sanger "..if a woman isn't willing to die in childbirth, she shouldn't have sex." Most of us are shocked by these words, yet in 2015 too many women still die in childbirth, often from sexual relations they are powerless to prevent.

According to the United Nations' most recent estimate, 289,000 women around the world die every year from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth. Many of these deaths are in the United States where we have one of the highest rates of maternal mortality among developed countries. We know what to do to save women. Worldwide, 225,000 women want, but do not have access to, contraception.

On July 11th, World Population Day, think of these women and their families. Providing contraceptive education and services allows them to voluntarily choose the size family they want and to space those children for healthier outcomes. These same women generally choose smaller families which puts less stress on the dwindling resources of this planet. By insisting that our legislators fund voluntary family planning, we save women's lives and the environment. doclink

Population Connection Twitter Chat - July 8th 1:00-2:00pm EST

To view the chat, you must have an account on Twitter. You can create an account by clicking here

Once you are logged into your account, use the search bar to search for the hashtag WorldPop between 1-2pm EST on July 8, 2015. Then, you can join the conversation by including "#WorldPop" in a tweet. You can also retweet and favorite tweets from @popconnect and other participants as much as you would like!

Get started today by logging into Twitter and following the account @popconnect. doclink

Karen Gaia says: WOA! also has a twitter account; follow WOA @WoaPop

Senate Takes Aim at Family Planning, Teen Pregnancy Prevention

June 25, 2015   By: Laura Bassett

A week after the House of Representatives proposed eliminating the entire Title X federal family planning program and Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, the Senate decided instead to just cut funding for the programs. Although Federal law prohibits direct funding for any abortion services, conservatives oppose Title X because some of its funds go to clinics that also perform abortions. Lila Rose, president of the anti-abortion group Live Action, said. "The proposed budget that cuts Title X funding is a welcome reform to those who do not want their tax dollars going toward killing pre-born children and underwriting the abortion industry." (

The Title X program subsidized 4,100 health clinics nationwide and provided no- or low-cost family planning services to individuals who earn less than about $25,000 a year, including HIV testing and sexually transmitted disease screenings and treatment to about 4.6 million low-income patients nation-wide. Since 2011, when House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) threatened to shut down the federal government to force more cuts, House Republicans have worked to kill funding for these programs. Now that Republicans control the Senate, supporters feared that both chambers would try to kill Title X. But a Senate appropriations subcommittee bill instead cut $28.7 million from the family planning program (to about $258 million) a year and $81 million (80%) from the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative. While House Republicans have not killed Title X outright, they have cut services to about 700,000 patients, according to the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association.

When the House and Senate pass their respective budget bills, they will have to decide in conference how to reconcile their differences on Title X. Obama, a strong supporter of the family planning program, would likely veto any bill that completely axed the program. doclink

Climate News is Getting Hot!

Click on a red arrow to summarize an article (You may have to register with WOA! first). I give "Global Demographic Trends and Future Carbon Emissions" the highest priority.

  • UC Davis Study Finds Dry Weather Threatening California Wildflowers doclink

    Dry, hot weather has reduced the diversity of California's beloved native wildflowers, perhaps irrevocably, according to a new study from University of California, Davis researchers. California is home to thousands of native wildflower species, which have been threatened for decades as non-native species, development and agriculture have encroached on their habitat. The drought and climate change pose new challenges. The period between December... June 22, 2015, Sacramento Bee   By: Phillip Reese

  • Top Doctors' Prescription for Feverish Planet: Cut Out Coal doclink

    Some top international doctors and public health experts have issued an urgent prescription for a feverish planet Earth: Get off coal as soon as possible. Substituting cleaner energy worldwide for coal will reduce air pollution and give Earth a better chance at avoiding dangerous climate change, recommended a global health commission organized by the prestigious British medical journal Lancet. The panel said hundreds of thousands of lives each ye... June 22, 2015, HTC News   By: Seth Borenstein

  • The West Coast's Massive Algal Bloom Could Be the Toxic Wave of the Future doclink

    Toxic algae are growing along the West Coast in greater quantities than ever, wreaking havoc on marine life and forcing the closure of Washington's $20 million Dungeness crab fishery, along with mussel, clam, sardine, and anchovy fisheries in Oregon and California. The massive algae bloom has been detected as far south as Santa Barbara, California, and as far north as Alaska, and it could continue to limit the seafood supply. ADVERTISEMENT Oce... June 19, 2015, Take Part   By: Taylor Hill

  • How Climate Change Deniers Got it Right - but Very Wrong doclink

    It turns out the climate change deniers were right: There isn't 97% agreement among climate scientists. The real figure? It's not lower, but actually higher. The scientific "consensus" on climate change has gotten stronger, surging past the famous - and controversial - figure of 97% to more than 99.9%, according to a new study reviewed by msnbc. James L. Powell, director of the National Physical Sciences Consortium, reviewed more than 24,000 p... June 16, 2015,   By: Tony Dokoupil

  • Global Demographic Trends and Future Carbon Emissions doclink

    Substantial changes in population size, age structure, and urbanization are expected in many parts of the world this century. Although such changes can affect energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, emissions scenario analyses have either left them out or treated them in a fragmentary or overly simplified manner. We carry out a comprehensive assessment of the implications of demographic change for global emissions of carbon dioxide. Using an ene... June 17, 2015   By: Brian C. O'neilla,1,2, Michael Daltonb, Regina Fuchsc, Leiwen Jianga, Shonali Pachauric, and Katarina Zigova

  • High Carbon Levels Can Make it Harder for Plants to Grow doclink

    In contrast to a popular conservative argument, a new study has found that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide isn't necessarily a boon to plant growth - instead, it causes plants to have a more difficult time absorbing nitrogen, a nutrient critical to plant growth and health. Published in the journal Global Change Biology, the study found that as carbon dioxide levels in the air increase, the concentration of nitrogen in plants decreases, thus ... June 13, 2015, Think Progress   By: Natasha Geiling

  • 6 Climate Triggers That Could Completely Change Our World doclink

    One of the biggest fears about climate change is that it may be triggering events that would dramatically alter Earth as we know it. Known to scientists as "tipping events," they could contribute to the mass extinction of species, dramatic sea level rise, extensive droughts and the transformation of forests into vast grasslands - among other upheavals our stressed world can ill afford. Here are the top six climate events scientists worry about ... June 9, 2015, MSN News   By: Ilissa Ocko

  • Texas & Alaska Floods: El Nino & Hot Oceans Start a Year of Hellish Weather. it Will Get Worse. doclink

    Global CO2 levels have rapidly risen above 400ppm causing a large imbalance between incoming and outgoing radiation levels. Almost all of the difference between incoming and outgoing amounts of energy has gone into heating the oceans. The warm subtropical waters of the global oceans expanded, the Indian ocean warmed and a large, deep pool of hot water grew around the Philippines. But then three supertyphoons rocked the Pacific in late fall 2013. ... May 27, 2015, Daily Kos   By: Fish Out of Water


Karen Gaia says: Meeting the unmet need for family planning can achieve 29% of our carbon reduction goal

Top 10 Greenhouse Gas Emitters: Find Out Which Countries Are Most Responsible for Climate Change

June 24, 2015, EcoWatch   By: Johannes Friedrich, Mengpin Ge and Thomas Damassa / World Resources Institute |

In the past couple of weeks, leaders of the G7 agreed to a decarbonization of the global economy over the course of this century, Pope Francis released his long-awaited encyclical on climate change, and Morocco and Ethiopia joined the U.S., European Union and other countries in putting forward its plans for post-2020 climate action. More countries are expected to release their own post-2020 climate commitments in the coming months, and all of these actions set the stage for a new international climate agreement to be finalized at the COP 21 climate summit in Paris in December 2015.

The top 10 emitters contribute 72% of global greenhouse gas emissions (excluding land use change and forestry). On the other hand, the lowest 100 emitters contribute less than 3%. While universal climate action is necessary, significant mitigation actions are needed by the largest emitters, taking into account that they have different capacities to do so. doclink

Amazon Deforestation Takes a Turn for the Worse

A new report reveals an uptick in the destruction of Brazil’s rainforests
May 19, 2015, Scientific American   By: Richard Schiffman

In Brazil, the problem of deforestation had plummeted because of environmental regulations and a ban on the sale of soyeans gown on rainforest cleared land. Between 1990 and 2010 clearing of tropical forests had increased 62% worldwide, but in Brazil, such destruction plummeted from 2004 to 2011

But after 2011, deforestation has come back, according to a satellite analysis of the Amazon.

Most of the increase is due to cattle grazing land spurred on by higher prices for beef. The new president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, has called for new hydroelectric dams and a new highway which would cut through the heart of the Amazon.

Brazil's National Institute for Space Research has shown that atmospheric moisture has migrated to the south. Scientists say that the change is a possible factor in a severe drought that has necessitated rationing of water in Brazil's largest metropolis, São Paulo.

Phillip Fearnside, a biologist at Brazil's Amazon research institute INPA says that, if clearing of the Amazon continues, says , "you will end up with a permanent drought, not just a one-year thing." doclink

A Seattle High School is Taking Birth Control Access to the Next Level

May 27, 2015, Grist   By: Eve Andrews

Chief Sealth International is a Seattle public school is in a diverse neighborhood on the southwest end of the Seattle. In the school-based health center students can get treatment for sore throats bandages for sprained ankles, and IUDs, as well as other forms of birth control .

The American College of Obstretricians and Gynecologists formally recommended LARC's -- Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives -- as the best ways for teen girls to avoid unwanted pregnancies. And Seattle's public health department decided these should be available in school based medical clinics.

LARC's are the most costly of birth control. These are made possible by a state medicaid program to be available to minors.

In-school LARC placement was made possible in part by Take Charge, a Washington State Medicaid program that's specifically targeted toward minors seeking contraceptive services. Because of Take Charge, girls under 19 who don't want to use their parents' private insurance to get birth control have a way to get contraception in school at no cost.

The clinic as a very supportive, confidential environment where students can come in on their own terms and get counseling for birth control methods based on efficacy and what makes sense for their own bodies.

One of the greatest benefits of the clinic is the degree to which it's opened up the conversation around birth control in the school. Girls will openly trade stories about what kind of contraception they're using. doclink

Ocean Acidification, Global Warming's 'Evil Twin'

May 29, 2015, Earthzine   By: Osha Gray Davidson

When people hear "climate change," they think of the gases surrounding our planet. But the surface of the ocean and the atmosphere interact to form a single system. We now produce about 10 billion tons of CO2 per year, about 40% of which stays in the air, with the rest split about equally between land and the ocean.

Dr. Richard Feely -- senior scientist at NOAA's (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle -- has made more than 50 voyages in three years to chart how humans are altering the ocean's chemistry. He calls ocean acidification (OA) global warming's Evil Twin. The term first turned up in scientific literature in 2001. It became more widespread in 2003 when a paper in the journal Nature ran with this stark prediction: "The coming centuries may see more acidification than the past 300 million years."

But our understanding of OA and its effects on sea life is still rudimentary. In a 2004 cover article for Science, Feely and his co-authors for the first time presented an overview of OA's impact. Feely says we are lowering the ocean's pH (increasing it acidity) about 100 times faster than at any time in the last 800,000 years. Since humans first began burning fossil fuels on a large scale, the ocean has increased its acidity by 30% and the rate of increase is accelerating. "If we continue on the same trajectory," he cautions, by 2100 we will see a 100-to-150% increase in ocean acidity.

Some species, like sea grasses, could benefit from the change. But the situation is very different for corals, snails, clams and oysters. These organisms produce a calcium carbonate shell. Acidity makes it harder for marine creatures like oysters to build and maintain their shells, a change that threatened to wipe out the oyster industry in the Pacific Northwest. This was first noticed in 2006, when oyster larvae in hatcheries had difficulty producing shells and often died within their first two days of life.

By 2009, the problem became a crisis for the Washington's shellfish industry, with sales of $100 million per year. After U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, obtained $500,000 to find out what was killing the larvae, researchers traced the cause to high acidity and fixed the problem by adding sodium carbonate to the water. Feely called this a "stopgap measure" because enclosed hatcheries can control water chemistry. This solution does nothing to help the shellfish farmers who work in the wild.

Coral reefs won't stand a chance. The combined effects of warming and acidity are worse than either one on its own. Researchers have found that acidity makes corals more prone to rapid bleaching, a potentially fatal condition in which the coral polyps expel their food-producing symbiont. Acidity also appears to affect the neurotransmitters of some fish, causing changes in behavior responses that make them more vulnerable to predators.

OA also impairs reproductive success in other marine creatures, and it interferes with respiration in squids. In their first year of life, fish such as salmon rely on a diet that includes pteropods, tiny marine snails, to survive. Pteropods build calcium carbonate shells so delicate that they're transparent and are tremendously sensitive to acids. Their shells are already dissolving. "That," says Feely, "doesn't bode well for the entire food chain in the ocean."

Ocean chemistry, including pH level, varies depending on several factors including water temperature and salinity. For example, cold water more readily absorbs CO2, so pteropods and other creatures at high latitudes are affected sooner than similar organisms in warmer waters. The Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON) is a recent internationally coordinated effort to monitor levels of carbon in the ocean around the world.

Scientists have been coordinating ocean observations since the U.N. Intergovernmental Conference on Oceanographic Research, held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1960. Roger Revelle, then-director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, stressed the need for such an international effort. More than two decades before anthropogenic climate change entered public discourse, Revelle called for international cooperation and coordination in taking the observations and recording the results.

Revelle wanted to learn whether the absorbed CO2 remain in the surface layers or spread throughout the debths. By 2010, researchers like Feely were recording 1 million measurements a year. Today, participants use sensors on ocean buoys, dedicated research vessels, and ships to collect daily readings from several countries.

Feely directs the U.S. West Coast monitoring system for NOAA, working with states and eight federal agencies while also working to expand monitoring efforts internationally. But many regions still lack the necessary infrastructure to monitor acidity. "That's the next big push," says Feely. And the stakes, Feely emphasizes, couldn't be higher. "One in seven people on the planet depend on seafood for protein." doclink

Speaker at Vatican Climate Change Rollout Said Earth Was Overpopulated at 6 Billion

June 14, 2015, Newsmax

Hans Schellnhuber, a climate scientist who spoke when Pope Francis unveiled his climate change encyclical on June 18, once said the world is overpopulated by 6 billion people.

Schellnhuber is the Founding Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Chairman of the German Advisory Council on Global Change. He once called for an Earth Constitution that would transcend the U.N. Charter and a "Global Council ... elected by all the people on Earth" and a "Planetary Court ... with respect to violations of the Earth Constitution."

At the 2009 Copenhagen climate conference, Schellnhuber said: "In a very cynical way, it's a triumph for science because at last we have stabilized something - namely the estimates for the carrying capacity of the planet, namely below 1 billion people." He also said that if greenhouse gas buildup caused a rise of 9° F of global temperatures, six billion people would die and much life on earth would be threatened.

Skeptics of man-made climate change have critical concern about the encyclical, in part due to Schellnhuber's role. But many on the left hoped Pope Francis' encyclical would link the global warming fight to religious obligation, notes. With Schellnhuber, one of the world's most aggressive climate change scientists, the left may be getting what it hopes for. doclink

Art says: Other population writers (e.g., Ehrlich and Weisman) have estimated the Earth's sustainable carrying capacity in the range of 2-3 billion people.

Affordability is Key to Access to Contraception

June 14, 2015, Los Angeles Times

Employers who provide prescription drug coverage were not compelled to cover prescription birth control before 2000. Since then the Affordable Care Act (ACA) enacted a mandate requiring insurers to cover birth control with no co-pay.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said in 2012 that oral contraceptives are safe enough to be available over the counter because they carry less medical risks than pregnancy and have fewer side effects than many medicines already available over the counter at grocery stores. New laws already enacted in a few states allow women to buy some oral contraceptives without a prescription. That would seem to improve access except where women must buy them without insurance.

Senate Bill 1438, introduced by U.S. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) would incentivize drug companies to apply for FDA permission to make their prescription contraceptives available over the counter by giving the drugs priority review and waiving the fee to apply. But the bill would also repeal the ACA's ban on using a flexible spending account for non-prescription medications. The problem is that ACA only requires insurers to cover prescription drugs, not over-the-counter medications. After having to pay nothing for contraceptives under ACA, many -- if not all -- women would have to pay out of pocket. If the FDA approves making oral contraceptives available over the counter, Congress should continue to require insurers to cover its cost.

Opponents of the bill, including the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have pointed out that affordability is necessary to make birth control truly accessible. Oral contraceptives can cost the uninsured as much as $600 a year. Furthermore, the bill would bar anyone younger than 18 from purchasing the pills over the counter (although they could still get them with a doctor's prescription).

To resolve such problems, Senate Bill 1532, introduced by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) calls for complete insurance coverage of any oral contraceptive after it goes from prescription to over the counter, and it sets no age requirement for purchase. The Senate should enact this bill. If the FDA approves making oral contraceptives available over the counter, Congress should continue to require insurers to cover the cost. doclink

A Third of Global Groundwater Basins Are Overstressed

June 16, 2015, New York Times

Two studies published by Water Resources Research and the Journal of the American Geophysical Union indicate that population growth and climate change have caused over-pumping of vital aquifers. People are overdrawing water from some of the world's largest groundwater basins that serve more than 60 million people.

Measurements taken by NASA's twin Grace satellites indicate that the most stressed groundwater basins are found in the driest regions. The Arabian Aquifer System in the Middle East is considered the world's most stressed aquifer followed by the Indus Basin aquifer of northwestern India and Pakistan. The farm-rich Central Valley in California is also highly stressed. Researchers from the University of California, Irvine say it's unclear how much water remains in these aquifers. doclink

It's Not Just Hobby Lobby: These 71 Companies Don't Want to Cover Your Birth Control Either

April 2, 2014, Mother Jones

When the Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby chain (with 22,000 employees) went to the Supreme Court over the ACA's (Affordable Care Act) mandate requiring insurance policies to cover birth control without a copay, it was not the only company to sue.

According to the National Women's Law Center (NWLC), since 2012 seventy-one other for-profit companies have challenged the mandate. Most of these cases are still pending. NWLC's Gretchen Borchelt says that the outcomes of many of these cases may hinge on the pro-Hobby Lobby verdict. The ruling could have a far-reaching impact, potentially dismantling corporate laws that have long shielded CEOs and board members from lawsuits or paving the way for companies to claim religious exemptions from other federal regulations.

Some of the suing companies had already covered birth control under their insurance plans, but they oppose the ACA's drug Plan B, which they say supports abortions. The Thomas More Law Center, a law firm "dedicated to the defense and promotion of the religious freedom of Christians," has filed 11 cases on behalf of 33 plaintiffs. The center asserts in an amicus brief supporting Hobby Lobby that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects employers fighting the mandate "from being 'forced,' under threat of ruinous government fines, to fund products and services that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs." (The term "forced" overlooks the fact that employers can provide no employee health insurance if they pay a tax that helps to subsidize employee coverage obtained through the exchanges or Medicaid.)

On a list of other cases, NWLC's Borchelt was surprised to see the Michigan-based Eden (organic) Foods listed because of its outstanding record of social and environmental responsibility. The company eventually lost its case at the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey wrote in her opinion that the owner's "deeply held religious beliefs more resembled a laissez-faire, anti-government screed." Reporter Irin Carmon interviewed CEO Michael Potter last April. Calling the mandate government over-reach, he said, "This lawsuit does not block, or intend to block, anyone's access to health care or reproductive management. This lawsuit is about protecting religious freedom and stopping the government from forcing citizens to violate their conscience. Borchelt sees it differently. "These companies are not hiring based on the religious beliefs of the workers. Imagine ... applying for a warehouse position at an organic food company. Why would you ever think, 'Oh, I need to research this owner's religious beliefs to know whether or not I'm going to get access to birth control insurance'?"

The Michigan company Trijicon makes optics equipment for weapons and holds at least $8.9 million in active military contracts. In its August 2013 lawsuit, Trijicon claimed that the company "and its shareholders have a deeply held religious belief that life begins at conception/fertilization." The company's website states: "We believe that America is great when its people are good. This goodness has been based on biblical standards throughout our history and we will strive to follow those morals." The outcome of Hobby Lobby could mean no more birth control coverage for the company's 212 insured employees.

Two Catholic Gilardi brothers, Philip and Frank Jr., who hold controlling interests in the Ohio-based produce processor Freshway Foods and produce distributor Freshway Logistics, say "they conduct their businesses in a manner that does not violate their sincerely-held religious beliefs or moral values, and they wish to continue to do so." In 2011 a former Freshway employee first complained, then later sued the company for sexual harassment. She was suspended then fired after injuring herself at work. Freshway denied the sexual-assault allegations but settled the case with an undisclosed payout. doclink

Abortions Declining in Nearly All States

June 7, 2015, Washington Post   By: David Crary

Whether in states where abortions are difficult to get, or in states where abortion rights are protected, the number of abortions are down since 2010.

Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life suggested that the broad decrease in abortions reflected a change in attitudes among pregnant women. "There's an entire generation of women who saw a sonogram as their first baby picture," she said. "There's an increased awareness of the humanity of the baby before it is born."

The teen pregnancy rate in 2010 reached its lowest level in decades. The teen birth rate has also continued to drop.

A total of 267 abortion restrictions have been enacted in 31 states since 2011. Among them are measures that ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, impose hospital-like physical standards on abortion clinics, and require doctors who perform abortions at clinics to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, according to Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute.

Abortions increased in only two states: Louisiana by 12% and Michigan by 18.5%. These two states have passed laws intended to restrict abortion. In both states, the increases were due in part to women coming from other states where new restrictions and clinic closures have sharply limited abortion access. Many Ohio women were going to Michigan and many Texas women to Louisiana.

A Michigan Planned Parenthood representative argued that one factor in Michigan's increase was inadequate public funding for family planning.

Hawaii saw the biggest percentage decrease - 30% - in abortion. A representative from Planned Parenthood in Hawaii, said more women there were getting access to health insurance and affordable contraception. She also credited the state's policies on sex education in public schools, which includes information to help teens avoid unplanned pregnancies.

Judy Tabar, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, said the declines in Connecticut and Rhode Island were due in part to expanded access to long-lasting contraception methods that are now fully covered by health insurers under the federal Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion and other initiatives.

Planned Parenthood says its nationwide health centers report a 91% increase since 2009 in the use of IUDs and contraceptive implants.

"Better access to birth control and sex education are the biggest factors in reducing unintended pregnancies," said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "More restrictive abortion laws do not reduce the need for abortions."

Advocates for abortion rights said the figures demonstrate that restrictive laws are not needed to reduce the number of abortions significantly. That can be achieved, they said, by helping more women obtain affordable, effective contraception, including long-lasting options such as IUDs and hormonal implants. doclink

Using Physics and Estimation to Assess Energy, Growth, Options

July 4, 2011, Do The Math blog   By: Tom Murphy

The US has increased its use of energy at a rate of 2.9% per year since 1650. Continuation of this energy growth rate in any form of technology will lead to an unbearable heating of our planet in just a few hundred years.

GWP (gross world product) grew at a rate consistent with that of energy growth -- 2.9% -- until 1950, after which the economy has outpaced the energy growth rate at 5%. The increase is attributed to non-manufacturing activity: finance, real estate, innovation, and other aspects of the "service" economy.

This brings up the question: Will this type of economic growth last? From 1950 to the present is too short a period to be an indicator of the future.

Does the impossibility of indefinite physical growth (i.e., in energy, food, manufacturing) mean that economic growth in general is also fated to end or reverse?

Exponential economic growth means that a 5% growth in any given year will have an economy 5% larger than the year before. Such growth would eventually use so much energy that we will have a thermal reckoning in just a few hundred years. If we tried to make our growth linear instead, so that we increase by a fixed absolute amount every year, the percentage of growth would go down every year, until, after a century, our economic growth would be only 1%, which would "starve the economic beast, and would force us to abandon our current debt-based financial system of interest and loans".

We could make our energy production and usage more efficient, with the goal to allow continued economic growth even given a no-growth raw energy future. The idea is to come up with efficiency improvements which would allow us to drive further, light more homes, manufacture more goods than the year before -- all on a fixed energy income. Because market forces favor greater efficiency, we are already enjoying the constant drum-beat toward higher efficiency. If we could continue this trick forever, we could maintain economic growth indefinitely, and all the institutions that are built around it: investment, loans, banks, etc.

However, except for heat pumps and perhaps, if ever a perpetual motion machine is invented, we must always settle for an efficiency of less than 100%. If a device starts out at 50% efficiency, there is no way to squeeze more than a factor of two out of its performance. For example, refrigerators use half the energy that they did about 35 years ago. The family car that today gets 40 miles per gallon achieved half this value in the 1970′s. This figures to be a 2% per year improvement. On the other hand, the Boeing 747 established a standard for air travel efficiency in 1970 that has hardly budged since.

Electric motors, pumps, battery charging, hydroelectric power, electricity transmission are already at near perfect efficiency (often around 90%). Power plants that run on coal, natural gas, or nuclear reactions have seen only marginal gains in efficiency in the last 35 years: well less than 1% per year. This all adds up to about only 1% a year or the equivalent of doubling every 70 years.

Many of our large-scale applications of energy use heat engines to extract useful energy out of combustion or other source of heat. These include fossil-fuel and nuclear power plants operating at 30-40% efficiency, and automobiles operating at 15-25% efficiency. Heat engines therefore account for about two-thirds of the total energy use in the U.S. Doing the math shows that a heat engine operating between 1500 K (hot for a power plant) and room temperature could at most achieve 80% efficiency, so doubling efficiency for heat engines is not possible.

On the other hand, heat pumps - such as air conditioners, refrigerators, and some home heating systems -- which uses a little bit of energy to move a lot, can theoretically achieve 1100% efficiency. Lighting has dramatically improved in recent decades, going from incandescent performances of 14 lumens per Watt to compact fluorescent efficacies that are four times better, at 50-60 lumens per Watt. LED lighting currently achieves 60-80 lumens per Watt.

Effective efficiency for gasoline-powered vehicles can be improved significantly by transitioning to electric drive trains. While a car getting 40 mpg may have a 20% efficient gasoline engine, a battery-powered drive train might achieve something like 70% efficiency. But only if the input electricity does not comes from a fossil-fuel power plant.

Given that two-thirds of our energy resource is burned in heat engines, and that these cannot improve much more than a factor of two, more significant gains elsewhere are diminished in value. For instance, replacing the 10% of our energy budget spent on direct heat (e.g., in furnaces and hot water heaters) with heat pumps operating at their maximum theoretical efficiency effectively replaces a 10% expenditure with a 1% expenditure. A factor of ten sounds like a fantastic improvement, but the overall efficiency improvement in society is only 9%. Likewise with light bulb replacement: large gains in a small sector. The most we might expect to achieve is a factor of two net efficiency increase before theoretical limits and engineering realities clamp down. At the present 1% overall rate, this means we might expect to run out of gain this century.

There may be new technology to come along that will substitute for less efficient energy, but there are still the show-stopper thermodynamic limits: The continued growth of any energy technology -- if consumed on the planet -- will bring us to a boil.

Why can't we consider solar, wind and other renewables to be more efficient than fossil fuel power, since the energy has free delivery? We have to look at the energy returned on energy invested when the panels were made with fossil fuels. Fossil fuels still have a higher EROEI (20) than solar (10) or wind (18), and solar panels are only 15% efficient.
. . . more doclink

Empower Women for the Health of the Planet

June 8, 2015, New York Times   By: Carmen Barroso

We cannot deny that environmental and reproductive justice are intertwined, or that reproductive justice has influence on the quality of life of women and families and on the sustainable health of the entire planet.

Providing family planning for those who want it could result in up to 29% of needed reductions in carbon emissions, scientists say. Voluntary family planning would also help our planet be more sustainable. However 225 million women lack access to modern methods of contraception.

Empowering women and promoting their right to choose what is best for them and their families is also one of the most effective pathways to reduce unintended pregnancies and improve maternal and child health. Providing access to [and information about] contraception would reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies by 70%, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

A woman who is able to decide if and when to have children and how many, tends to go further in school, is empowered as a decision-maker in her household and is more adaptable and resilient during times of hardship. She is more likely to invest money back into her family, her family is more likely to prosper and her community and our planet thrive because of it.

Investments in these sexual and reproductive health services have been slow in coming from the international community, even though the cost would be low. For example, in Latin America and the Caribbean only $31 per year would provide a woman with these needed services.

Upholding the human rights of women is essential in balancing both fears of so-called overpopulation and underpopulation. doclink

US Oil Rig Count Falls for 26th Straight Week

June 5, 2015   By: Akin Oyedele

The number of U.S. oil rigs in operation fell to 868, the lowest level since January 24, 2003, according to data from driller Baker Hughes.

Combined oil and gas rigs fell to 875.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil traded at around $57.92 per barrel. The US benchmark slid this week from above $61.

Goldman Sachs had identified $60 per barrel as a price level around which producers would ramp up production, as they are "increasingly comfortable at the current costs/revenue/funding mix."

On Friday, Saudi Arabia's oil minister Ali Al-Naimi confirmed that the 12-member oil cartel OPEC is maintaining its production target at 30 million barrels per day. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Today's oil and gas rigs are operated for a much shorter period before they produce so little that it is not profitable. Ramping up production usually means that they start drilling in another well. Obviously this hasn't happened.

Climate Change: Calling Planet Birth

Family size has become the great unmentionable of the campaign for more environmentally friendly lifestyles
February 12, 2010   By: Oliver Burkeman

When, over a decade ago, American author Bill ­McKibben published a short book entitled Maybe One: A Personal And Environmental Argument For Much Smaller Families, he was trying overly hard to be tentative, emphasising that he isn't seeking to dictate other people's choices, and doesn't think he has all the answers. The "maybe" is right there in the title, after all. With the reaction that he got, he might as well have called for the enforced sterilisation of all men and women of procreating age, along with the outlawing of Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy. The New York Times called him "sanctimonious" and the Wall Street Journal labelled him an "extremist."

Much has changed since then, in terms of the consensus on the threat posed by climate change, and our willingness to make sacrifices in the face of it. But you still won't hear any major environmental group arguing that, in addition to flying less and recycling more, middle-class westerners should be having fewer children to save the planet. Family size has become the great unmentionable of the campaign for more environmentally friendly lifestyles.

The basic facts are clear. If you live in developed countries like the U.S. or Britain, there is nothing you can do to reduce your impact on the environment that even comes close to the effects of having one fewer child.

In 2009 Paul Murtaugh and Michael Schlax, researchers at Oregon State University, set out to quantify the idea of "carbon legacy." If a woman and a man have a baby, they're each responsible for 50% of that child's lifetime carbon dioxide emissions; and if that child has its own child, the original two parents each bear 25% of the responsibility for their grandchild's emissions, and so on down the generations.

For how many tons, on average, would each original parent end up being responsible? For fertility rates, they used UN population predictions. For per capita emissions, they used three different scenarios: an optimistic one, in which per capita emissions fell, a pessimistic one in which they rose, and a compromise one, in which they stayed constant.

Under the constant scenario, an American who forgoes having a child would save 9,441 tons of CO2 - almost six times, on average, the amount of CO2 they would emit in their own lifetime, or the equivalent of 2,550 roundtrips flying between London and New York. If the same American drove a more fuel-efficient car, drastically reduced his or her driving, installed energy-efficient windows, used energy-efficient lightbulbs, replaced a household refrigerator, and recycled all household paper, glass and metal, he or she would save fewer than 500 tons.

Under the ­"optimistic scenario" - an American could still save 562 tonnes of CO2 by having one fewer child, while a Japanese person could save 233 tons.

John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, concedes that it's a "no-brainer" that a smaller population would place a smaller burden on the planet. But Greenpeace did not run a smaller family campaign because among environmentally conscious people in his demographic, "nearly all of us have had two children or fewer". Also "10:10 is a populist campaign. It's about doing the easy things first."

If you try to talk about population levels with people who don't believe in climate change, then your actions would appear to be busybodyish meddling. If you talk to people who are strongly committed to reducing their own environmental impact, it's awkward, because raising the issue seems to shift responsibility from the developed countries, which bear most historical responsibility for climate damage, to the develop­ing world, where population growth is most rapid

Family size seems such an intensely personal matter, beyond the legitimate scope of politics or public campaigns. Just mentioning it feels somehow inappropriate.

There's another awkward truth: predictions of catastrophic population explosions have gone wrong in the past, from Malthus in the 1700s, to Paul Ehrlich in the 1960s, to the UN Population Fund, which predicted in 1987 that a world population of 5bn would mean the world "could degenerate into disaster."

Coercion is another troubling matter: China's "one-child policy", has resulted in numerous reports of forced sterilization and abortion. And on the other side, trying to achieve a sustainable population by voluntary means, by making family planning more widespread, draws attacks from pro-life campaigners, who fear a surge in abortions.

A study by the Optimum Population Trust (now Population Matters) estimated that saving a ton of CO2 costs only $7 if the money is spent on family planning; to achieve the same with solar power would cost $51.

Prejudice remains against the idea of having only one child, even though McKibben's book is at its strongest in his tour of the research that shows no evidence that a singleton childhood is detrimental.

It is possible that, in Britain at least, the issue will resolve itself naturally, since both no-child and one-child families are becoming much more common: a record one-fifth of all women turning 50 in Britain in 2010 have no children, while the percentage of children without siblings was 26% in 2007, having steadily increased from 18% in 1972.

In Alan Weisman's 2007 bestseller, The World Without Us, he argues that the world would easily heal, if each person brought a maximum of one child into it. By 2075, the human presence on earth would have been reduced by half. doclink

Karen Gaia says: This article was written in 2010. At that time, we still didn't know that 50% of pregnancies in the U.S. were unintended, and 40% were unintended in developing countries.

We wrote off entire regions where patriarchial tradition kept women - and even girls - from having a say in their own reproduction. We thought the Pill was the best thing since slice bread.

Now we have found ways to empower women to take control of their bodies and their family size. We have re-discovered effective methods of contraception. We have started to uncover some of the barriers to accessing effective contraception, including mis-informed or prejudiced doctors.

Now if we can just win back our sexual freedom that we had for such a relatively short time. Access to contraception and abortion is being threatened by a small minority of people who believe it is wicked to have sex outside of marriage, or even to have sex without procreating, and that having a baby only to give it up because you can't take care of it, is 'getting what you deserve' for having illicit sex.

Methane Hydrates and Contemporary Climate Change

June 3, 2015, Nature magazine   By: Carolyn D. Ruppel

Some scientists raised an alarm that large quantities of methane (CH4) might be liberated by widespread destabilization of climate-sensitive gas hydrate deposits trapped in marine and permafrost-associated sediments

Even if only a fraction of the liberated methane were to reach the atmosphere, its potency as a greenhouse gas and the persistence of its oxidative product (CO2) heightened concerns that the disassociation of gas hydrate (an ice-like substance formed when methane and water combine at low temperature and moderate pressure) could represent a slow tipping point for Earth's contemporary period of climate change.

An estimated 99% of gas hydrates in the world occurs in the sediments of marine continental margins at saturations as high as 20% to 80% in some formations; the remaining 1% is mostly associated with sediments beneath areas of high-latitude, continuous permafrost. Warming a small volume of gas hydrate can liberate large volumes of gas.

Methane is twenty time more potent that carbon dioxide. But after ten years in the atmosphere, it will oxidize into carbon dioxide.

CH4 concentrations have risen by ~150% since pre-industrial times. Present-day methane emissions are dominated by wetlands, ruminants, fossil fuel production, and rice cultivation.

Methane emitted at the seafloor only rarely survives the trip through the water column to reach the atmosphere. Only 5% of subsea methane is expected to reach the surface. doclink

With House Passage of Extreme 20-week Abortion Ban, GOP Continues Assault on Reproductive Rights

May 19, 2015   By: Amy Goodman

Republicans continue to seek the erosion of reproductive rights with a series of measures at the federal and state level. Last week the Republican-controlled House approved a bill that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks. The vote came months after Republicans were forced to withdraw their initial version following dissent from women in their own party.

The new revised measure drops a requirement that rape and incest survivors who seek an exemption must first report to police. But it instead imposes a mandatory waiting period for such women of at least 48 hours before they can have an abortion. The so-called Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act is based on the medically debunked contention that fetuses can feel pain after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

According to The New York Times, 11 states have passed at least 37 new anti-abortion laws in the first five months of this year. doclink

Global Land Cover Change From 8000 BP to -50 BP

June 2011, Arvegroup

This animation shows the global pattern of human land use over the last eight thousand years, a time when human populations began expanding following the origins of agriculture. The earliest areas of human land use are in Mesopotamia and the Fertile Crescent areas of southwest Asia, followed by increasing areas of land use in China, India, and Europe.

Watch for the areas of intensive land use developing in India, especially along the Ganges River plane, and in Northern China along the lower Yellow and Yangtze rivers.

As time goes on, you will see areas of land use developing in South America, along the Andes, and in Africa, especially in the Sahel region.

By classical times, land use in Europe is very intense with up to 60% of the land under human uses, but we start to see fluctuations around this time too, with some areas abandoned corresponding with wars, famine, and other historical events that affected human populations. As time continues through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, land use in Europe and Chine increase greatly following the development of cities and towns.

Now pay careful attention to South America. Following the first contact with Europeans around 1500, nearly 90% of the indigenous people of the Americas were killed, mainly by disease. This collapse in populations led to massive regrowth of natural vegetation, especially forests in the Amazon, Andes, and Mesoamerica.

As we race towards modern times we see the settlement of the Americas and Australia by Europeans spreading across the continents, and the development of the human-dominated world we have today. doclink

Science Publishes New NOAA Analysis: Data Show No Recent Slowdown in Global Warming

June 4, 2015, NOAA

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, released in stages between September 2013 and November 2014, concluded that the upward global surface temperature trend from 1998­­-2012 was markedly lower than the trend from 1951-2012. This apparent observed slowing or decrease in the upward rate of global surface temperature warming was nicknamed the "hiatus."

However, NOAA scientists have since made significant improvements in the calculation of trends and now use a global surface temperature record that includes the most recent two years of data, 2013 and 2014--the hottest year on record. Their finding shows an increase in global warming in the last 15 years.

There has been an improvement in measurements and a correction from data from buoys and on site data. incomplete spatial coverage, particularly in the Artic, also led to underestimates of the true global temperature change previously reported in the 2013 IPCC report. The number of weather stations available for analysis has more than doubled. doclink

House Bill Slashes Family Planning

June 11, 2015, Population Connection Action Fund

Today the House Appropriations Committee completed work on the Fiscal Year 2016 State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill.

In it, funding for family planning programs in the developing world were cut by almost $150 million, leaving funding for international family planning programs to "not more than $461 million.

The bill also bans any U.S. contribution to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) despite its work to expand access to birth control, to prevent and treat obstetric fistula, to eliminate female genital mutilation, to ensure access to basic reproductive health care to women in emergency situations, to end the practice of child marriage, and to eliminate coercive practices in China.

In addition the bill calls for a reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, which bans family planning aid to foreign health care agencies that use other, private funding to provide legal abortion, to offer counselling or referrals on legal abortion, or that publicly support a policy of legal abortion within their own countries.

This, in effect, disqualifies the most effective, experienced, and respected family planning providers in the developing world from receiving U.S. aid. The results are disastrous. When it was in effect from 2001 to 2009, clinics were forced to close, services had to be cut back, and contraceptive supplies ran dry. AS a result, abortions in several African countries affected by the policy doubled, according to researchers from Stanford University.

The bill is now on track to go to the House floor for a vote by the full chamber. doclink

With New Study, New Mothers Seeking IUDs Are No Longer Urged to Wait

June 8, 2015, New York Times   By: Catherine Saint Louis

Some women ask their doctors to provide reversible contraception, like an intrauterine device right after childbirth. But normally they are told to return for contraception six weeks after giving birth - after fully half of them have already resumed sexual relations.

Recently a study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women who received IUDs during cesarean sections were far more likely to be using them six months later than women who were told to return to the doctor's office to receive one.

Receiving the IUDs after birth could reduce unintended pregnancies and the number of babies conceived within 18 months after a previous birth, thus mitigating a number of infantile risks, including prematurity.

Even though participants in the study received free IUDs and were paid nominally for visits, a quarter of women assigned to get an IUD at six weeks never showed up, probably because the months after childbirth are "an intense, busy, hard time for most women," according to Dr. Erika E. Levi, the study's lead author.

A study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility recently found in-hospital insertion of an IUD prevented an estimated 88 unintended pregnancies per 1,000 women over a two-year period, compared with routine placement between six and eight weeks.

A 2010 review of nine randomized trials in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that immediate insertion of an IUD after both vaginal and cesarean deliveries appears to be safe and effective. But a higher percentage of those IUDs are expelled, compared with those placed later.

In the new trial, 8% of women who got IUDs in the hospital during their cesareans lost the devices, compared with only 2% of women who got an IUD later.

Nevertheless, nearly 20% more of the in-hospital group still had IUDs at six months.

The biggest barrier to getting an IUD just after delivery remains a lack of reimbursement. Delivery costs are bundled in a package, so hospitals are not paid for implanting an IUD, which can range from $625 to $900.

In the past few years, at least 12 states, including California, have changed their Medicaid policies to allow hospitals and physicians to be reimbursed separately for in-hospital IUDs. Most private insurers have yet to follow suit.

While use of IUDs has increased nationwide, only 8.5% of women ages 15 to 44 used them in 2009, says the Guttmacher Institute.

Of mothers who have one or two children: 15% of them used IUDs in 2009, compared with just 6% in 2007. doclink

Improving Nutrition and Food Security Through Family Planning

June 2015

The goal of "Improving Nutrition and Food Security Through Family Planning" is to raise awareness and understanding among decision makers about how family planning can help improve key measures of nutrition for mothers, infants, and children, as well as improve food security on a broader scale. Ultimately, the aim is to start a critical policy dialogue to encourage integration of family planning into nutrition and food security policies, strategies, action plans, and programs throughout the world, particularly in Asia and Africa. As such, this presentation can be used as a tool to not only raise awareness, but also to mobilize political commitment and resources.

Developed under the USAID-funded Informing DEcisionmakers to Act (IDEA) project, this presentation is part of a series of ENGAGE presentations that examine the relationship between family planning and the Millennium Development Goals in developing country contexts. doclink

Fossil Fuels Subsidised by $10m a Minute, Says IMF

‘Shocking’ revelation finds $5.3 trillion subsidy estimate for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments
May 18, 2015, Guardian   By: Damian Carrington

Fossil fuel companies are benefiting from global subsidies of $5.3 tn a year - 6.5% of global GDP. - according to the International Monetary Fund. The figure is an "extremely robust" estimate of the true cost of fossil fuels, IMF says. The subsidies are largely due to polluters not paying the costs imposed on governments by the burning of coal, oil and gas. These include the harm caused to local populations by air pollution as well as to people across the globe affected by the floods, droughts and storms being driven by climate change.

Ending subsidies for fossil fuels would cut global carbon emissions by 20%, slash the number of premature deaths from outdoor air pollution by 50%, eliminate the need for subsidies for renewable energy, and, by freeing resources, drive economic growth and poverty reduction through greater investment in infrastructure, health and education.

Coal, the dirtiest fuel due to local air pollution and climate-warming carbon emissions, is the greatest beneficiary of the subsidies, with just over half the total. Oil, heavily used in transport, gets about a third of the subsidy and gas the rest.

China, with its large population and heavy reliance on coal power, provides $2.3tn of the annual subsidies. The US is the next at $700bn. Russia, the EU, India,and Japan follow.

The costs due to climate change driven account for about a quarter of the IMF's total. The direct subsidizing of fuel for consumers, by government discounts on diesel and other fuels, account for just 6% of the IMF's total. Other local factors, such as reduced sales taxes on fossil fuels and the cost of traffic congestion and accidents, make up the rest. The IMF says traffic costs are included because increased fuel prices would be the most direct way to reduce them.

Reform of the subsidies would increase energy costs but existing fossil fuel subsidies overwhelmingly go to the rich, with the wealthiest 20% of people getting six times as much as the poorest 20% in low and middle-income countries. With oil and coal prices currently low, there is a "golden opportunity" to phase out subsidies and use the increased tax revenues to reduce poverty through investment and to provide better targeted support.

Subsidy reforms are beginning in dozens of countries including Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco and Thailand. In India, subsidies for diesel ended in October 2014. Coal use has also begun to fall in China for the first time this century.

David Coady, the IMF official in charge of the report, said: "If we get the pricing of fossil fuels right, the argument for subsidies for renewable energy will disappear. Renewable energy would all of a sudden become a much more attractive option."

Shelagh Whitley, a subsidies expert at the Overseas Development Institute, said: "Compounding the issue, our research shows that many of the energy subsidies highlighted by the IMF go toward finding new reserves of oil, gas and coal, which we know must be left in the ground if we are to avoid catastrophic, irreversible climate change."

Vitor Gaspar, the IMF's head of fiscal affairs and former finance minister of Portugal, said that each nation will directly benefit from tackling its own fossil fuel subsidies. "The icing on the cake is that the benefits from subsidy reform - for example, from reduced pollution - would overwhelmingly accrue to local populations," he said.

"By acting local, and in their own best interest, can contribute significantly to the solution of a global challenge," said Gaspar. "The path forward is clear: act local, solve global." doclink

Karen Gaia says:

US oil rig count falls for 26th straight week

World Energy Production at 18 Terawatts and Still Rising

June 7, 2015, Facebook   By: Bodhi Paul Chefurka

In ultra-high-power groups like human civilization, with our related activities of politics and economics., everything we do bears the imprint of the Maximum Power Principle, and supports its operation either directly (e.g. through energy companies) or indirectly through such activities as our political and legal systems. any society that does not (or cannot) follow this law will in the long run be swept away by its neighbours that do. this is, in fact, the mechanism by which higher-powered empires succeed lower powered ones - as the sails of the Spanish gave way to British coal, which yielded in turn to American oil and nuclear power.

In the end all that matters is power mobilization; all else is window dressing. At 18 Terawatts of total power production and climbing, I'd say Homo colossus is doing just fine in the world MPP sweepstakes. With that kind of power production it's scant wonder that the world's wild species don't stand a chance against us. doclink

Karen Gaia says: How can we expect to keep up the pace with 80% of our energy still supplied by fossil fuels and fossil fuels taking more and more energy to get them out of the ground?

See Growth Cannot Go On Forever

U.S.: Birth Control That Works Too Well

May 20, 2015, Nation (US)   By: Katha Pollitt

In 2009, the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation donated over $23 million to the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, a five-year program that offered 30,000 participants low-income teenage girls and young women long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) -- IUDs or hormonal implants -- at no cost.

These devices have a 1% failure rate because they no further action once inserted and remain effective for years. The Pill failure rate under real use is 10 times higher. Unfortunately, the upfront cost of a LARC can be as high as $1,200. Two other barriers: 1) many teens fear the insurance claim forms sent to their parents would reveal they are sexually active, 2) many women don't know about LARCs and assume the cheaper pills available at clinics are their only option.

The participants in the Initiative, where they were given the opportunity to make an informed decision at no cost, chose LARCs. This resulted in a 40% decline in teen births, and a 34% decline in teen abortions. And for every dollar spent on the program, the state saved $5.85 in short-term Medicaid costs, in addition to other cost reductions and the enormous social benefit of freeing low-income teens from unwanted pregnancies and what too often follows: dropping out of school, unready motherhood, and poverty.

Because Colorado's state government was in Democratic hands when the program began, and the initiative enjoyed some bipartisan support, the foundation picked Colorado for its pilot program. The idea was that the state would take it over if the initiative showed positive results. But Republicans won control of the State Senate last November and GOP lawmakers killed it. So much for the party of fiscal responsibility.

Republican State Senator Kevin Lundberg said using an IUD could mean "stopping a small child from implanting."

Dr. David Turok, a leading expert on the IUD, said that a massive amount of scientific evidence shows that the devices work by preventing fertilization. It is "theoretically possible" that IUDs can prevent implantation, Turok said, "but the chances are infinitesimally small."

"We're providing this long-term birth control and telling girls, 'You don't have to worry. You're covered,'" said Representative Kathleen Conti. "That does allow a lot of young ladies to go out there and look for love in all the wrong places."

Has the fear of pregnancy worked well enough to keep girls virginal?

Others claimed: IUDs cause breast cancer (unproved). STD rates are up (actually, they've stayed the same, which strongly suggests LARCs don't increase sexual activity). Republican Senator Ellen Roberts wanted to know why -- since no-cost birth control is already provided by the Affordable Care Act -- should the state pay for the program? Because the ACA doesn't cover everyone; it doesn't guarantee teens' privacy; and the fine print has allowed insurance companies to refuse to cover the more expensive, more effective methods.

"The place where efforts to provide LARCs get distorted is that you have to acknowledge that human beings have sex, and some are young and some are not married," said Turok.

The problem with LARCs may be that they work only too well. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Also doctors often stand in the way of teens getting LARCs, saying they shouldn't have one if they have never had a child, or that the LARC would lead to slutty behavior.

Why 'The Population Bomb' Bombed

June 1, 2015, Bloomberg View   By: Justin First

Note: earlier WOA carried a story from the New York Times titled 'The Unrealized Horrors of Population Explosion' ( ) which disparages Paul R. Ehrlich and his 1968 book, "The Population Bomb," for having predictions that did not come true. The following is the latest of a series of replies to the NYT article.

Since it is difficult to make predictions, we should cut some slack for Paul Ehrlich, who forecast the imminent breakdown of the world's ability to feed itself.

"Not that Ehrlich himself makes this easy to do." ... "The now-83-year-old Stanford biologist says insufferable things like, "One of the things that people don't understand is that timing to an ecologist is very, very different from timing to an average person." Uh, then why did you write a book clearly aimed at average people that confidently predicted that in the 1970s hundreds of millions would die of famine?," Justin First writes. First decided to finally read Ehrlich's book and was surprised to find that half of Ehrlich's prediction came true. He forecast that population would double by 2005, and, indeed, it went from about 3.5 billion in 1968 to 7 billion in 2011 -- he was only 6 years off.

But Ehrlich turned out to be wrong when he said that the planet's carrying capacity would not be enough to feed the world's people. Just as Ehrlich was finishing his book per-acre grain yields went up much faster due to the Green Revolution came along. Ehrlich was aware of the new technology, and he was "hopeful" about the prospects for an "agricultural revolution," but there were all kinds of things that could go wrong, so he didn't think anybody should bank on it. Productivity bursts, in agriculture as in other economic endeavors, have always been hard to predict.

While Ehrlich dismissed the possibility that populations might start shrinking in the absence of government coercion, but those population declines have been swamped by increases elsewhere, so overall Ehrlich still got it right.

When it came to people and their reproductive rates Ehrlich went over the edge "Population control, of course, is the only solution to population growth," he wrote. Slowing population growth in a few developed countries was nothing more than "short-term fluctuations". He endorsed forced sterilization of fathers of three or more children in India, adding, "Coercion? Perhaps, but coercion in a good cause."

United Nations' latest population projections show that, if high fertility rates continue, global population will pass 10 billion in 27 years and 15 billion in 73 years. It is only if the trend toward having fewer children continues and spreads to many more countries that population will stabilize or even drop.

This means that, instead of coercion, we can rely on college tuition and expensive urban real estate to keep fertility rates in check. Will it turn to out to be any more accurate? Not sure. Predicting is hard. Especially about the future. doclink

Karen Gaia says: we cannot rely on college tuition and expensive real estate to keep fertility rates in check. We can rely on most people to make the right decision to keep their family size in check depending on their economic situation, their health, their ability to take care of children, and their genuine desire to have children, but only if they can get unimpeded access to effective contraception at a price they can afford, a choice from a full range of contraceptive methods and sufficient scientific information about each method.

Can we rely on policy makers to make sure people get the contraception they need to control their own fertility? That is where the problem lies.

If we did have to rely on people getting rich and having big estates, wouldn't we have a big problem with over consumption? The author does not seem to understand finite resources and does not seem to realize that consumption is every bit as important as population.

Collapse of the World's Largest Herbivores

May 1, 2015, Science magazine   By: William J. Ripple, Thomas M. Newsome, Christopher Wolf, Rodolfo Dirzo, Kristoffer T. Everatt, Mauro Galetti, Matt W. Hayward, Graham I. H. Kerley, Taal Levi, Peter A. Lindsey, David W. Macdonald, Yadvinder Malhi, Luke E. Painter, Christopher J. Sandom, John Terborgh, Blaire Van Valkenburgh

Sixty percent of large wild herbivores (body mass ≥100 kg) are threatened with extinction. Nearly all threatened species are in developing countries, where major threats include hunting, land-use change, and resource depression by livestock. Loss of large herbivores can have cascading effects on other species including large carnivores, scavengers, mesoherbivores, small mammals, and ecological processes involving vegetation, hydrology, nutrient cycling, and fire regimes. The rate of large herbivore decline suggests that ever-larger swaths of the world will soon lack many of the vital ecological services these animals provide, resulting in enormous ecological and social costs.

The combined impacts of hunting, encroachment by humans and their livestock, and habitat loss could lead to the extinction of a suite of large herbivores relatively soon.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 44 of the 74 largest terrestrial herbivores are listed as threatened with extinction (including 12 critically endangered or extinct in the wild), and 43 ( 58%) have decreasing populations.

The most-threatened large herbivore species are found in southern Asia, throughout much of extreme Southeast Asia, as well as Ethiopia and Somalia of eastern Africa. The ecoregions with seven threatened large herbivore species are the Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests, the Sunda Shelf mangroves, and the peninsular Malaysian rain forests. Hunting for meat is the predominant threat in all ecoregions containing at least five threatened large herbivore species. These ecoregions fall mostly within the tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests biome (20 of 30 ecoregions), but biomes containing combinations of grasslands, shrublands, savannas, mangroves, or other forest types represent the other 10 ecoregions with at least five threatened large herbivore species.

The white rhinoceros follows one of the greatest success stories in the history of modern conservation: the recovery of the southern white rhino from a single population of fewer than 100 individuals in the early 1900s to about 20,000 today. Even with the current crisis of rhinoceros poaching, this illustrates that, with sufficient protection, recovery is possible for relatively slow-breeding species that are highly prized by poachers.

Many of the largest herbivore species have ranges that are collapsing. On average, these species currently occupy only 19% of their historical ranges. This is exemplified by the elephant, hippopotamus, and black rhinoceros, all of which now occupy just tiny fractions of their historical ranges in Africa. Many of these declining species are poorly known scientifically, and badly in need of basic ecological research. Scientific research effort has been much greater for nonthreatened than threatened species, and greater overall for species in developed countries. Indeed, those that have been most studied are primarily game species in wealthy countries.

The main threats to large herbivores are hunting, competition with livestock, and land-use change such as habitat loss, human encroachment, cultivation, and deforestation. Extensive overhunting for meat across much of the developing world is likely the most important factor in the decline of the largest terrestrial herbivore. Slow reproduction makes large herbivores particularly vulnerable to overhunting. The largest- and slowest-to-reproduce species typically vanish first, and as they disappear, hunters turn to smaller and more fecund species. In synergy with changes in land use, hunting for meat has increased in recent years due to human population growth, greater access to wildlands due to road building, use of modern firearms and wire snares, access to markets, and the rising demand for wild meat. Demand for wild meat is intensifying, supply is declining, and protected area management budgets for protecting wildlife from overhunting are often inadequate, particularly in developing nations.

Hunting large herbivores for body parts is also driving down populations of some species, especially the iconic ones.

Livestock continues to encroach on land needed for wild grazers and browsers, particularly in developing countries where livestock production tripled between 1980 and 2002. There are an estimated 3.6 billion ruminant livestock on Earth today, and about 25 million have been added to the planet every year for the last 50 years. This upsurge in livestock has resulted in more competition for grazing, a reduction in forage and water available to wild herbivores, a greater risk of disease transmission from domestic to wild species, and increased methane emissions. In central Asia, the expansion of goat grazing for cashmere wool production for international export has reduced habitats available to large herbivores with consequent impacts on their predators including snow leopards.

In many pastoral settings in Africa, domestic livestock are abundant but not regularly consumed for subsistence, and are instead kept as a means of storing wealth, as a status symbol, or for consumption on special occasions. Livestock is a private good, and so, people invest significant energy to protect it, whereas wild herbivores are typically a public good, often resulting in weak incentives for their conservation and in many cases open access to the resource, both of which commonly result in overuse.

Habitat loss is a significant threat to large herbivores in parts of Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. The causes of this threat have important drivers originating in developed countries due to demand for agricultural and other products. Southeast Asia has the highest rate of deforestation among tropical regions, and if trends continue, Southeast Asia could lose 75% of its original forests and nearly half of its biodiversity by the end of this century. Habitat loss is typically asymmetrical with respect to quality, with remaining habitat generally being less productive. Additionally, the greater area requirements of larger species make them unable to persist in smaller fragments of habitat, which may still support smaller herbivores. Their larger area requirement also makes larger species that persist in fragments increasingly susceptible to conservation challenges that affect small populations. This suggests a greater likelihood of extinction among the larger rather than smaller herbivores.

Other threats to large herbivores include human encroachment (including road building), cultivation of crops, and civil unrest, all of which contribute to population decline.

There are much more items of interest in this article.
. . . more doclink

Pro-Lifers Change Their Minds When Abortion Gets Personal

May 19, 2015, Cut   By: Alex Ronan

Tennessee representative Scott DesJarlais opposes abortion, has run repeatedly as a pro-life candidate, and routinely votes in favor of restricting reproductive rights. In early May DesJarlais voted in favor of the 20-week abortion ban. Yet in 2012 a tape surfaced of a conversation DesJarlais had recorded between himself and his mistress back in 2000 where he pressured her to get an abortion. This raised a scandal which coincided with his reelection campaign. DesJarlais denied that there was a pregnancy.

A divorce trial transcript from 2001 demonstrated that DesJarlais had also supported his ex-wife's decision to get two abortions before their marriage. The first was a "therapeutic" abortion because she was on medication that could cause birth defects and retardation. The second was because "things were not going well between us" and the abortion was a "mutual decision."

Polls have shown repeatedly the same sort of dynamic, where people who identify as pro-life support abortion when it's discussed as an individual decision rather than an abstract judgment between right and wrong. When Jon Pennington interviewed people while working on his Ph.D. on the pro-life movement: a woman he interviewed said, "Most pro-life women oppose abortion with four exceptions: rape, incest, the life of the mother, and me." doclink

In the Space of Only One Year, 276,000 Under-Age Girls Were Married and 109,000 Teenagers Gave Birth in Iran

January 14, 2015, Justice For Iran

The number of Iranian girls who got married between the ages of 10 and 14 reached its highest level in 2013-2014 after the country saw a continuous growth in under-age marriages during the previous five years.

More than 8% of women who gave birth during the last five years ( 2009-2014) were between 15 and 19 years of age.

The number of girls who became mothers while younger than 15 also rose. The last official statistics published in Iran reveal that 10% of the babies born to mothers between 10 and 12 years of age die. Also the last official census in Iran shows that the mortality rate of babies born to mothers younger than 15 is higher than for all other age groups in Iran.

1,289 mothers gave birth at age 14 during 2012-2013. There were another 275 births to 13-year-old mothers.

During 2013-2014, the number of girls who got married between the age of 10 and 15 accounted for 5.44% of all marriages in Iran.

Two bills currently in the parliament whose generalities have been approved are: "The Bill to Increase Fertility Rates and Prevent Population Decline" and "The Comprehensive Population and Exaltation of Family Bill" contain laws which would potentially directly violate the right of women to gain access to information on temporary and permanent methods of contraception, family planning services, legal and safe abortion and follow-up care.

The side effects of these strict rules place women from the poorest households at greatest risk, including many young brides, who will be denied access to free contraception pills and general education.

Any activity including education and consultancy in the sphere of family planning and promotion of contraceptive devices can be regarded as a crime.

Stopping or limiting family planning programs will affect hardest those young girls who, when entering early marriages, have little knowledge about contraception and insufficient control over the arrangement of sexual relations related to the spacing of pregnancies. More than other women, they are at risk of unwanted pregnancies and repeated childbearing. In addition to bearing the social and psychological consequences of early and repeated births, their physical health will be at risk during the time of giving birth and in the long term as well.

The funding for the Family and Population Planning Programme has already been eliminated from the March 2012-2013 budget. Free family planning services, which included free distribution of condoms and contraception pills, were stopped and the majority of health centres and pharmacies refrain from presenting condoms as the easiest and safest method of contraception.

On the eve of the second session of the Universal Periodic Review on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, which took place on 31 October 2014 at the headquarters of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Justice for Iran asked other countries to present recommendations aimed at stopping early marriages in Iran.

Despite eight countries -- Germany, Italy, Israel, Sierra Leone, Poland, South Korea and Montenegro -- providing recommendations for the Islamic Republic of Iran during this session to reform the law on forced and early marriage, the Islamic Republic failed to accept any of these recommendations.

The Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights in Iran is an important mechanism of the United Nations within which each country is obliged to present a report to the international community on its situation of human rights. All other countries then participate in a session held at the headquarters of the UN Human Rights Council and provide their recommendations to the country under review.

Iran is a member of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Charter on Civil and Political Rights. Both of these forbid early marriage as well as marriages without real consent. The UN rapporteur on slavery described forced marriage as a form of modern slavery. However, Article 1041 of the Iranian Civil Code determines the age of marriage for girls as 13 years or even lower on condition that the father or the paternal grandfather win the approval of a judge. doclink

'No Más Bebés' Exposes Sterilization Abuse Against Latinas in L.A.

June 1, 2015, ColorLines   By: Miriam Zoila Pérez

"No Más Bebés," a new documentary about Los Angeles County General Hospital's sterilization abuse against Latinas in the early '70s, is set to premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival this month. The film tells the story of 10 Mexican-American women who had been sterilized after having emergency Cesarean sections. This year is the 40th anniversary of the lawsuit - which was filed in 1975.

Some of the women didn't know that they'd undergone tubal ligations until Antonia Hernandéz, a Latina lawyer just one year out of law school, began contacting them. She'd gotten their names from a young white L.A. County resident who witnessed and condemned the abuse.

The most important point of the film is the idea of the framework of reproductive justice, that a woman has a right to not have children if she chooses, or to have a child and raise that child in dignity. We need to make sure that people listen to the needs and the voices of poor women, women of color and immigrant women who've been marginalized.

The documentary will also air on PBS' Independent Lens sometime this year. doclink

Karen Gaia says: This type of 'Population Control' seems to be quite common. It is our job to make sure women are not abused or shamed when they make reproductive choices. Women almost always make the right choice, and no government, religion, or doctor is in a better position -than the woman - to make it for her.

California Senate Committee Would Boost Medi-Cal, Including for Undocumented

May 22, 2015, New America Media   By: Viji Sundaram

State Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) introduced the Health for All bill (Senate Bill, or SB 4) that will allow low-income immigrant families in California to get medical care through the state's health insurance program for low-income people called Medi-Cal (California's name for Medicaid). Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California. "It will make a big impact on our health care system and on our economy."

The bill would also allow undocumented immigrants whose incomes are above the Medi-Cal eligibility limit to purchase insurance through Covered California, the state's online marketplace.

About one-third of California's estimated 500,000 undocumented residents can afford to purchase insurance through the marketplace on their own, according to Lara.

If SB 4 is signed into law, the state would seek a federal waiver to allow undocumented immigrants to purchase insurance on the marketplace, but without providing them the federal subsidies now available to documented consumers.

The $40 million approved by the Senate Budget Subcommittee Thursday represents only a fraction of what it would need, but it would help get SB 4 off the ground.

SB 4 is currently in the Senate Appropriations Committee and is likely to come up for a vote on May 28. If it passes, it would go before the full Senate in early June and from there on to the Assembly.

Follow this bill: doclink

Karen Gaia says: Integrated health care is the best way to deliver reproductive health care and family planning methods. Without it people fall through the cracks.

Burma's Birth Control Law Exposes Buddhist Fear of Muslim Minority

Nationalist monks are behind new powers enabling authorities to ‘organise’ family planning among groups with high birth rates such as Rohingyas
May 24, 2015, Mail and Guardian   By: Sara Perria

Burma has introduced a birth control law to "organise" women to have a gap of 36 months between births. The laws was driven by nationalist Buddhist monks who fear that the Muslim population is growing too quickly.

Muslim and non-Buddhist communities have been subject to birth-control policies in the past.

The Health Care for Population Control act does not identify any specific group within Burma's web of ethnic communities and religions. But as the plight of thousands of Rohingya Muslim fleeing persecution unfolds, the US and human rights organisations have stepped up their criticism.

US deputy secretary of state Antony Blinken said the population law could be enforced in such a way as to undermine the reproductive rights of minorities.

Members of Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy opposed the bill.

Extremist Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu said "If the bill is enacted, it could stop the Bengalis that call themselves Rohingya, who are trying to seize control." "[The bill] was drafted for healthcare. The World Health Organization also advised a three-year interval between each child."

The three other laws would impose restrictions on religious conversion and inter-religious marriage and prohibit extra-marital affairs.

"ctivists with a racist, anti-Muslim agenda pressed this population law so there is every reason to expect it to be implemented in a discriminatory way," Human Rights Watch Asia director Brad Adams said.

Rights groups complain that they have not seen the final text of the law but earlier drafts instruct authorities in designated "health zones" to "organise" married couples to practise birth spacing. The bill does not contain explicit guarantees that contraceptive use should be voluntary with consent of the user. It does not specify punishments either, nor does it mention abortion.

The hardline minority of Buddhist monks say that the ancient religion of Burma must be defended against an advancing tide of radical Islam, with the Muslim population growing more swiftly within the country and entering as illegal immigrants from without.

A 2013 report commissioned by the government concluded that "the extremely rapid growth rate of the Bengali population also contributed to fear and insecurity ... The growth was not only due to high birth rates, but also to a steady increase of illegal immigration from neighbouring Bangladesh".

Khon Ja, a member of the Kachin Women's Peace Network said "The target is the Rohingya," referring to the Muslim minority. "But the law could affect anyone," she added.

Activists still hope that even after becoming law the government will fail to follow up with the specific directives that would activate the population controls. If Aung San Suu Kyi's party wins the elections in November and is allowed to form a government they could then influence that process and clarify the law. doclink

The Unrealized Horrors of Population Explosion

May 31, 2015, New York Times   By: Clyde Haberman

Note: WOA does not agree with this article from New York Times, however, if you look at the video that accompany the article, it does show lowering fertility by voluntary family planning.

In 1966 a science fiction novel titled "Make Room! Make Room!" sketched a dystopian world in which too many people scrambled for too few resources. Later the book became the basis for a 1973 film about a hellish future, "Soylent Green." However, no one was more influential than Paul R. Ehrlich, in his 1968 book, "The Population Bomb," which said that humankind stood on the brink of apocalypse because of human overpopulation. He later went on to forecast that hundreds of millions would starve to death in the 1970s, that 65 million of them would be Americans, that crowded India was essentially doomed, that odds were fair "England will not exist in the year 2000." He warned in 1970 that "sometime in the next 15 years, the end will come," with "an utter breakdown of the capacity of the planet to support humanity."

Population is twice what it was when the book was written yet humanity has managed to hang on.

Dr. Ehrlich still asserts that the end is still nigh, and still insists that 'population control' is required, preferably through voluntary methods. But if necessary he would endorse eliminating "tax benefits for having additional children." Allowing women to have as many babies as they wanted, he said, is akin to letting everyone "throw as much of their garbage into their neighbor's backyard as they want."

Stewart Brand, founding editor of the Whole Earth Catalog said, "How many years do you have to not have the world end" to reach a conclusion that "maybe it didn't end because that reason was wrong?"

The world figured out how to feed itself despite its rising numbers, thanks to Norman E. Borlaug, whose breeding of high-yielding, disease-resistant crops led to the Green Revolution [which saved millions of lives].

Julian L. Simon, an economist who established himself as the anti-Ehrlich, argued that "whatever the rate of population growth is, historically it has been that the food supply increases at least as fast, if not faster."

Fred Pearce, a British writer who specializes in global population, is worried about population decline.

Because of improved health standards, birthing many children is not the survival imperative for families that it once was. In cramped cities, large families are not the blessing they were in the agricultural past. And women in many societies are ever more independent, socially and economically; they no longer accept that their fate is to be endlessly pregnant. If anything, the worry in many countries is that their populations are aging and that national vitality is ebbing.

Pearce blames overconsumpton. "Let's look at carbon dioxide emissions, the biggest current concern because of climate change," he continued. "The world's richest half billion people - that's about 7 percent of the global population - are responsible for half of the world's carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile, the poorest 50 percent of the population are responsible for just 7 percent of emissions." doclink

Karen Gaia says: While I disagree with Ehrlich's solution, especially "'Allowing women to have as many babies as they wanted' is akin to letting everyone 'throw as much of their garbage into their neighbor's backyard as they want,'" author Clyde Haberman has not been informed that the Green Revoultion is petering out, just as Norman Borlaug, predicted, saying that it would only 30 years and warning that population growth will cause demand will exceed the supply of food. Today, while the rate of crop production is still rising, its rate of increase is slowing. In the meantime, the technology of the Green Revolution is wrecking havoc on farmland, making it unsuitable for generations. The Green Revolution relies on irrigation, while water per capita is declining and wells are being drawn down faster than they are replenished. Also irrigation and fertilizers cause salinization, which is poison to most crops. In addition, climate change has made for unpredictable planting times, flooding and drought. The waters that supply India are from glaciers that melt in the Himalayas. Then the glaciers are all melted, where will the water come from?

Studies have shown that meeting the unmet need for family planning will lessen carbon emissions by about 20%. But family planning also makes families more resilient in the face of climate change.

In the meantime, India still has not solved the problem of 40% of its children being undernourished, while Thailand, Iran, and Vietnam can feed its people - most likely due to their voluntary family planning programs. When India's water runs out, what technology is going to save the people of India?

The video that accompanies the article ends with an alarm that, with population decline, we might not have enough people. Unfortunately, that is a problem with having large families to begin with. In the process of bringing the population down to a sustainable level, you end up with a very large number of old people who were part of that baby boom generation. It is like a Ponzi scheme to grow more people to take care of these old people. When that older generation is gone and the younger generation grows up, who will take care of them?

Schuyler Null of New Security Beat says: ( )

The reason that [ Ehrlich's ] remark is so reflexively offensive to most people - besides the fact it compares human beings to garbage - is the same reason forced sterilization is: it treats people like numbers and assumes they're not capable of making "good" decisions on their own. Of all the ideas about population espoused during this time, this might be the most important fallacy.

People - and not just women - have proven that given a choice and the means to exercise that choice, most will choose to have fewer children than the very high rates of fertility being experienced during the 1960s. Fertility rates in North America, Europe, Latin America, North Africa, and Asia have declined to near or under two children per woman. And even in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, where fertility rates remain highest and population-scarcity concerns are still very real, they are also trending down.

Contemporary conversations about global population and the environment therefore tend to focus on ensuring that people in fast-growing areas are able to exercise their reproductive rights and sustainably manage local natural resources.

Child Marriages, Trafficking Will Soar After Nepal Quake - Charity

May 19, 2015, Thomson Reuters Foundation   By: Emma Batha

With more than 8,500 fatalities, the two earthquakes that struck Nepal on April 25 and May 12 have yielded catastrophic repercussions that many overlook. Due to criminals seeking to take advantage of orphans and increased rape, there will be a significant surge in child marriage and trafficking rates, which are already high in Nepal.

According to Anand Tamang, the director of CREHPA, a Nepalese organization against child marriage, children will become more vulnerable in the aftermath of the earthquakes. "Rape is taking place. Almost every week we have a case of a young girl being raped... Parents who have young girls... will think the best way to ensure her safety will be to marry her," he said. In addition to concerns about safety, families will also marry off young girls with the expenses or destruction of schools.

Child marriage increases the probabilities of childbirth complications and sexual and domestic abuse. Tamang describes child marriage as "a social evil [that deprives] the chance to enjoy the life of an adolescent... of her education and her aspirations." This is not only an issue in Nepal; throughout the world, more than 700 million women today were married before they were 18, with one in three girls in developing nations married before the age of 18.

To combat this problem, almost 300 delegates are attending the three-day meeting in Casablanca hosted by Girls Not Brides (GNB) doclink

Heejin says: Although many do not think of the issue of child marriages and trafficking as one of the more major ramifications of the Nepal earthquake, it is essential for people to recognize this problem, as this directly affects future generations.

Karen Gaia says: Trafficking is a big problem in Nepal. Not only trafficking of sex, but also of body parts. Most of it is to India. Children are also given into slavery to a neighboring, more well-off, family.

'So What If I'm on the Dole'?' Mother of Ten Children by Five Fathers Now Wants 50 Grandchildren to Keep Benefits Rolling in

May 19, 2015, Daily Mail   By: Martin Robinson

A single mother with ten children by five fathers has said she wants 50 grandchildren so they can become Britain's biggest benefits family. Mandy Cowie, 49, has lived on benefits for 30 yr., and her own children have been following the same jobless path. She receives about £22,000-a-year in government handouts and encourages her children to have 5 babies each so the checks will keep pouring in.

Ms Cowie has spent £2,000 on tattoos, including one that says: "Only God can judge me." In a recent TV show, her children describe how to milk the system to gain as much cash from the state as possible. doclink

Art says: Fear that welfare was becoming a way of life lead the Clinton administration to introduce TANF (a.k.a. Welfare to Work). An additional safeguard (not in use) would provide benefits more directly to children (through the schools and health insurance) without handing any checks to parents. Section 8 housing would allow parents to house their children and themselves, but since all other benefits would go directly to the children, parents would need to fend for themselves.

Karen Gaia says: there is plenty to be gained by focusing on meeting the unmet need for contraception in the U.S. (and probably in the U.K.) 50% of pregnancies are unintended, and many of these can be prevented by making long-acting reversible methods free and available.

Let's focus our efforts in developed countries on the unmet need, rather than on shaming people for how many children they have.

The Amazing, Surprising, Africa-Driven Demographic Future of the Earth, in 9 Charts

July 16, 2015, Washington Post   By: Max Fisher

The United Nations Population Division has dramatically revised its projections for the next 90 years. The new statistics, based on in-depth survey data from sub-Saharan Africa, tell the story of a world poised to change drastically over the next several decades. Most rich countries will shrink and age, poorer countries will expand rapidly and Africa will see a population explosion nearly unprecedented in human history.

Here is the story of the next 90 years as predicted by UN demographic data and explained in nine charts. The charts are interactive. Click on the link in the headline to see the charts.

In 2100 today's dominant, developed economies will be increasingly focused on supporting the elderly and Africa, for better or worse, will be more important than ever.

In Africa there will four times the workforce, four times the resource burden, four times as many voters. The rapid growth itself will likely transform political and social dynamics within African countries and thus their relationship with the rest of the world.

Nigeria will have almost a billion people by 2100 and will be within range of surpassing China in population. Nigeria is only about the area of Texas and the country is already troubled by corruption, poverty and religious conflict. The government that can barely serve its population right now. How will it respond when the demand on resources, social services, schools and roads increases by a factor of eight. The country's vast oil reserves could certainly help - the rapidly growing workforce could theoretically deliver an African miracle akin to, say, China's.

Right now, many African countries aren't particularly adept at either governance or resource management. If they don't improve, exploding population growth could only worsen resource competition -- and we're talking here about basics like food, water and electricity -- which in turn makes political instability and conflict more likely. The fact that there will be a "youth bulge" of young people makes that instability and conflict more likely.

Tanzania, one of the poorest countries in the world, went from 34 million people in 2000 to 45 million today. By 2100 it is projected to reach 276 million. Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo have similar projections.

If Tanzania remains as poor and troubled as it is today, water and food resources will only get scarcer as it's divided among more and more people, as will whatever money the government makes exporting natural resources. That typically leads to instability and a higher risk of conflict. But if Tanzania puts its growing population to work building the economy, its future in 2100 could be promising.

The "dependency ratio" is the ratio of people under age 15 or over age 64 to the number of people age 15 to 64. The idea is that people who are very young or very old are dependent on others to provide for them. In Africa only 56% Africans are working-age, and the dependency ratio is 80%. That's a huge burden on society and a big contributor to poverty. But as the birth rate slows and those young dependents enter the work force, the dependency ratio is going to fall, dropping to 60% by 2055. There will be a lot of young men who could be employed, (creating a 'demographic dividend') but if resources are scarce, this can create political instability.

Europe, as it continues to shrink, will get the worst of the economic problems, with the average dependency ratio hitting an Africa-style 76% in 2055.

South America is expected to reach a deeply worrying 82% dependency ratio by 2100. Its population will rise until about 2050, at which point it will begin its own gradual population decline.

Asia's population growth, already slowing, is expected to peak about 50 years from now then start declining. Its dependency ratio, currently low, will stay low until it starts to rise around 2050.

In China, when the current generation retires, there will be a rapidly growing pool of retirees just as the workforce starts to shrink. Those aging retirees will be an enormous burden on the Chinese economy, which is just beginning to slow down.

North America continue to grow at a slow, sustainable rate, surpassing South America's overall population around 2070.

Because the United States can expect healthy, sustained growth, mostly due to immigration, it will continue to be a leader economically. Immigration helps the U.S. to do what very few other countries, including China, has yet figured out: how to be a rich country with a growing population. doclink

Art says: The article text concludes that population growth is the best assurance of economic growth. It never suggests that nearly doubling our existing population might have any bad consequences - only that some African nations might have adjustment problems due to population increases. It strongly advocates the dependency ratio theory which says that low fertility rates lead to economic decline.

However, the Washington Post author may not be representing the UN data correctly. His twist that dependency ratio is the major problem of concern when the population nearly doubles may not represent the views of UN demographers who gathered the data.

Karen says: The author seems to think that improved governance or resource management are going to be enough to overcome resource depletion, which, if you do the math, means that by 2100 the resources per person are going to be 1/8 of what they are today, unless something is done. This something has got to be very miraculous, such as pulling rabbits out of a hat, as Paul Ehrlich said. There aren't any more rabbits.

The author says "Even if too-high fertility might be bad for the region, individual families have every economic incentive to have lots of children." This statement is utterly false. In rural areas, large families outgrow their farmland. The grown or teen children, and sometimes the entire family, have no choice but to move to the city where they can possibly get work. If the economy is poor, there is no work. In the city, the child is even more of a financial burden. Often the children end up in the streets or given into slavery, or child labor, or - in the case of girls - married off early. Often the father has to seek a job overseas. If he is lucky, he can make enough to send money back to his family. In many cases, such as in Qatar, he becomes an indentured servant, and receives no payment.

The author asks: "How do you sustain your economy if the average worker spends a third of his or her life on retirement?"

First of all, people that can afford good medical care are the ones that live the longest. They are better off financially, and have been able to save for their retirement because they had fewer children to support.

Second, the fallacy of that logic is that, the reason that the U.S. has a high dependency ratio is because the current generation of retirees were baby boomers, resulting from a time when the U.S. fertility rate was 3.7. If a country increases its birth rate, or has high immigration to 'support' those retirees, then there will be another baby boom which will result in the same situation 20-30 years later, and even more people will be needed to support retirees and the economy. This perpetuates a vicious cycle of ever-increasing population, which will always and increasingly outstrip resources.

Third, often ignored is the fact that one of the contributors to population growth is people living longer, so that more generations are alive at one time. We older Americans often expect to be kept alive at great costs to society. Is it fair to younger generations to expect them to support us as we prolong our lives beyond natural limits, and in the meantime consume more of our world's stores of depleting resources? Wouldn't be better if us retirees help insure that our grandchildren have a future?

Art adds: Spain and Italy have nearly the world's highest dependency ratios, yet unemployment was 30% in 2013 and youth unemployment was 50%. Perhaps birthrates plummeted in part because they couldn't find enough jobs for those "scarce" workers. At any rate, immigrants are risking their lives to get to Italy to compete for work with this unemployed group. According to the dependency ratio theory, Italy should have a surplus of jobs, but it doesn't seem to work that way.

Calif. Law Could Improve Birth Control Access; Oregon Considers Similar Measure

May 21, 2015, National Partnership for Women and Families

Effective in June, a 2013 California law (SB 493) lets any pharmacist write prescriptions for contraception and sell the prescription without involving a physician. When women request contraception, the pharmacist must follow a protocol filed with state regulators by the California Board of Pharmacy. Before receiving the contraception a woman must complete a health questionnaire, undergo a blood pressure test, and consult with the pharmacist on dosage and other information.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other medical groups support over-the-counter contraception. A study published last year in Contraception found that the practice could cut unintended pregnancies by 25%. For uninsured women, dealing only with a pharmacist's is likely to cost less and take less time than physician visits. For those insured under the Affordable Care Act (PL 111-148), insurers must cover all forms of FDA-approved contraceptives, including those prescribed by pharmacists.

California Pharmacists Association CEO Jon Roth noted that while major retail chains can advertise the service, consumers may take a while to notice how the pharmacists' role has changed.

Similarly, the Oregon House Rules Committee has revived a proposal that would allow women to obtain contraception without a physician's prescription. doclink

Art says: It was not stated whether the Oregon measure requires a pharmacist prescription.

The Afghan Institute of Learning's Mobile Literacy Program Uses Texting to Teach and Expands Communities

May 15, 2015, Global Fund For Women

At the Afghan Institute of Learning, women and girls are taught to read and write using mobile phones and text messaging (SMS). SMS not only increases literacy levels, it allows program participants to develop self-confidence and to connect with their communities.

The Afghan Institute of Learning program is a four-month curriculum that involves classroom instruction, interactive teaching methods, and hands-on practice. The classes, which typically consist of two teachers and 30-35 students, combine AIL's proven literacy curriculum with text messaging to accelerate the pace of learning.

At the beginning of the program, about 80% of the women and girls participating cannot read or can only recognize the basic alphabet. By the end of the four-month program, 80% are able to read at the fourth grade reading level or higher. In a traditional classroom setting this kind of progress typically takes 18 months. The difference is attributed to the use of technology! So far, almost 1,000 women and girls have completed the program.

Most of the girls who participate in the program have limited social circles and live very far away from each other. Text messaging allows them to be in touch with one another. AIL believes this helps support an accelerated learning process. doclink

Karen Gaia says: As long as the girls continue to be allowed to use text messaging, this is the path to education, which is one of the main ways that fertility rates are lowered. Still, Afghani women need more empowerment than this.

Study Links Dolphin Deaths to Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

May 20, 2015, New York Times   By: Nicholas St. Fleur

Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that lung and adrenal lesions found in dead bottlenose dolphins stranded along the Gulf of Mexico between June 2010 and December 2012 are consistent with the types of damage that marine mammals sustain from exposure to petroleum products after an oil spill.

The findings are the latest results from the Deepwater Horizon National Resource Damage Assessment, an ongoing investigation by NOAA into the spill, the largest offshore oil spill in United States history. Combined with previous studies by the agency, this paper provides additional support to a link between the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and mass dolphin deaths in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

"These dolphins had some of the most severe lung lesions I have ever seen in wild dolphins throughout the United States," said Dr. Colegrove, author of the study.

BP, which owned the well that blew out denied the conclusions of the study, saying "the data we have seen thus far, including the new study from NOAA, do not show that oil from the Deepwater Horizon accident caused an increase in dolphin mortality."
. . . more doclink

Karen Gaia says, With increasing population combined with increases in per capita consumption, fossil fuel companies will have to go to extremes to continue satisfying the appetites of so many people. Germany has shown success in attempts to convert to renewables, but the U.S. population is growing at 0.9% compared to Germany's almost 0%. And U.S. per capita energy consumption is 4 times that of Germany's.

Come on, Americans, we can do it! Your first step should be making more efficient birth control free without barriers, and your second: be much more conservative with your fuel usage.
. . . more

The Family Planning Cuts That the Texas Legislature Forced Through Are Having Dire Consequences

May 12, 2015, Think Progress   By: Tara Culp-ressler

In the summer of 2013, a high-profile battle over a proposed package of abortion restrictions in Texas sparked huge protests, dominated national headlines, and spurred Wendy Davis to run for governor. But that was only the beginning.

New abortion restrictions have forced at least half of the state's clinics to close their doors. These came on top of a growing health crisis impacting Texas' nearly 27 million residents that occurred after the GOP-controlled state legislature in 2011 slashed funding for family planning services by two-thirds and dismantled the state's network of family planning providers in an effort to exclude Planned Parenthood.

A survey by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project -- based at the University of Texas at Austin -- reports that more than half of Texas women have faced at least one barrier to getting the reproductive health services they need. 76 women's health clinics have been forced to close, leaving low-income and rural women struggling to access basic preventative services like Pap smears, STD tests, and birth control consultations. Impoverished immigrant communities living in rural parts of the state have recently starting organizing in an effort to hold Texas officials accountable for what they say are human rights violations.

Women in one of the largest states in the country are struggling to get to a clinic for their gender-based health needs. Respondents reported that they lacked childcare, lacked transportation, or had difficulty taking time off of work or school to make the trip.

Texas is one of the GOP-controlled states that continues to refuse to accept Obamacare's optional Medicaid expansion, leaving more than one million people locked out of affordable health care coverage altogether. Since Texas has such a high population of uninsured residents and such stringent eligibility requirements for its Medicaid program in the absence of expansion, the Lone Star State is home to 25% of the people across the country who fall into this coverage gap.

Many immigrant women in Texas report that they're not receiving culturally competent care and therefore struggle to build trust with their doctors. Other issues are that they can't pay for the services they need or have issues getting their clinic visits covered, as well as having to look for new doctors.

After the state's health department projected a sharp rise in unintended births as a direct result of the budget cuts, Texas lawmakers have attempted to take some steps to restore the funding for family planning services. But it will take years for Texas to truly recover from the damage wrought by the deep cuts to its family planning network.

Meanwhile, legislators show no signs of slowing down the ongoing assault against reproductive health access, for example, slashing cancer screenings for low-income women and banning insurance plans from offering any type of coverage for abortion services. doclink

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