How You Can Help WOA!!
|Feb||Global Population Speak OutAn international community of ecologists, scholars and concerned citizens will SPEAK OUT for a sustainable population and a sustainable world. Be part of the change.|
|Feb 4||African Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health Day|
|Mar||Women's History Month|
|Mar 2||She Decides Day|
|Mar 8||International Women's Day|
|Apr 4||World Health Worker Week|
|Apr 11||International Maternal Health and Rights Day|
|May 4||National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy (U.S.)|
|May 5||International Day of Midwives|
|May 9||National Women's Health Week (U.S.)|
|May 14||Mother's Day|
|May 15||International Day of Families|
|May 22||International Day for Biodiversity|
|May 23||International Day to End Obstetric Fistula|
|May 28||International Day of Action for Women's Health|
|Jun 5||World Environment Day|
|Jun 8||World Ocean Day|
|Jun 16||Day of the African Child|
|Jun 17||World Day to Combat Desertification|
|Jul 11||World Population Day|
Maasai Harmonial Mission: To improve the livelihoods and health of the impoverished pastoral people of Emburbul Village and to empower the girls and women of Emburbul to control their own reproduction, their own lives, and their own bodies.
Transition Earth Promotes human rights and nature's rights in a world of unsustainable population and economic growth and advocates for global systems change to enable the shift to a sustainable planet for all
Population Media Center Strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change."
EngenderHealth For 65 years, Engenderhealth has improved the lives of men, women, and families through its work in family planning, maternal health, HIV, and AIDS, gender equality, and many other programs
Central Asia Institute Mission: To promote and support community-based education, especially for girls, in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. 'Three Cups of Tea' is the inspiring book about the founder of this organization
Sierra Club Global Population and Environment Program
Seeks to protect the global environment, preserve natural resources for future generations, and foster healthy communities by advancing sustainable development solutions by:
- promoting increased access to voluntary family planning and reproductive
health information and services
- advocating for women's and girls' basic rights, including health care, education, and economic opportunity
- raising public awareness of wasteful resource consumption in the context of social and economic equity
- empowering youth leaders
Center for Biological Diversity - Population and Sustainability "Through the empowerment of women, education of all people, universal access to birth control, and a societal commitment to ensuring that all species are given a chance to live and thrive, we can reduce our own population to an ecologically sustainable level. This will decrease human poverty and crowding, increase our standard of living, and sustain the lives of plants, animals, and ecosystems everywhere." .... Follow the link to a beautiful presentation on Overpopulation.
Global Footprint Network Our mission is to promote a sustainable economy by advancing the Ecological Footprint, a measurement tool that makes the reality of planetary limits relevant to decision-makers.
WOA!s Population Impacts and Solutions (Youtube playlist) The consequnces of overpopulation could be catastrophic, and resources are already being seriously depleted, but if we spend more money on the various and already successful programs for education and voluntary family planning, we have a good chance to soften the damage.
Our Origins Are Our Destiny Bob Walker of Population Institute discusses the origins of population growth and its implications for the future, covering social change, scarcity, and environmentalism along the way.
Population Media Center: Power of Stories Population Media Center (PMC) works worldwide using entertainment-education for social change. PMCs programs encourage positive behavior change among the audience.
Warren Buffett: We Only Have One Planet Terre Blair interviewing an extraordinary group of leaders to find solutions to some of the most urgent challenges facing humanity: global climate change, financial mayhem, nuclear attacks, cyber threats, political paralysis (and population). Here is an excerpt with Warren Buffett, Ted Turner, the Dalai Lama and Thomas Friedman.
When Abortion was Illegal: Untold Stories (1992) This Academy Award-nominated film features compelling first person accounts which reveal the physical, legal, and emotional consequences during the era when abortion was a criminal act.
Saving Lives by Saving Trees to the rainforest and to the villagers who lived within it. Today, the clinic she founded provides affordable healthcare for the communities of Gunung Palung, and has not just improved the lives of residents, but also introduced alternative income sources and dramatically reduced illegal logging of the rainforest.
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Note: not all articles align with WOA!s position
What is Abortion? - Why Abortion is Not Murder Medical evidence tells us fetuses cannot live unsupported, even with a respirator before 21 weeks. Medical evidence tells us fetuses cannot live unsupported, even with a respirator before 21 weeks. Approximately 95 % of women who had abortions claimed it was the right decision for them. More than half of women who get abortions are also using contraception.
RCT Evaluation Points to Value of Targeting New Fathers for Gender Equality
Targeting men as they become fathers could be an effective way of transforming male attitudes towards women and could help reduce gender-based violence, according to a new evaluation offering rare insight into the impact of such efforts.
The approach can also lead to greater sharing of household duties, and encourage use of family planning among couples, it found.
All Nonprofits Have a Key Role in Amplifying Scientists' "warning to Humanity" We have unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century.
Why the Standard Model of Future Energy Supply Doesn't Work Wages as a percentage of GDP were fairly flat between 1940 and 1970, when oil prices were low, and oil was in abundant supply. The big drop in the ratio of wages to GDP started after 1970, when oil prices have been higher.
Defusing the Population Bomb
Is overpopulation real? Is Earth filling up with too many humans? How many people can Earth hold, anyway? As our species approaches 8 billion, human overpopulation is a major concern for many people. How can we reduce poverty and our impact on the environment? Do we need a forced one-child policy or something? Maybe not, because when we look at the science and history, populations seem to control.
Chris Darwin Would Really Love it If You'd Eat Less Meat: An Exclusive Interview with Charles Darwin's Great-Great-Grandson On land, about 74% of all habitat destruction on the planet is either caused directly for livestock or to grow feed for livestock. Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five - 3.1 million children each year.
This is the Only Region in the World Where Teen Pregnancy Rates Are Rising. Here's Why The teenage birth rate for girls aged 15 to 19 in low and middle income countries in the East Asia-Pacific has risen over the last 10 years, from 18 to 23 births in every 1000 girls. For every year an adolescent girl remains in school after age 11, her risk of unplanned pregnancy declines by 6% throughout secondary school.
Are We on Track to Create a Sustainable World by 2050? By the end of 2018, the US will be producing 10 million barrels of oil a day. Over the last decade, the average price of solar has dropped by 7 per cent every year and cost reductions will continue significantly over the next decade.
Providing Youth-friendly Health Services Key in Fighting Teenage Pregnancies Many young people do not use effective/modern contraception (such as the pill, intrauterine device or condoms) and only 9% of those who are sexually active use effective contraception. On average, 25% (or one in every four) of the girls in Uganda have a baby before the age of 19. In rural areas, the prevalence is higher at 27%, while in some areas like Teso region, the number is as high as 31%.
What India Really Needs is Better Population Policy In India, employment in informal sectors accounts for 80% of total employment. There are 356 million young people aged 10-24 entering or about to enter the labor force.
'88% of Countries Restrict Women's Economic Opportunity': World Bank Since 2016, 28 countries have made it easier for women to get jobs, and 24 lifted restrictions on women building credit. One of the most striking findings this year is that women in 104 countries are prevented from working in the same way as men. Today, 59 countries lack laws prohibiting sexual harassment, with Japan the only OECD high-income country not to offer women protection.
Mothers too young: Understanding the Patterns of Child Marriage, Early Union and Teen Pregnancy in Southeast Asia The percentage of women aged 20 to 24 who were married or in union before 18 ranges from 35.4 percent in Lao PDR to 11 percent in Viet Nam. The average adolescent birth rate in Southeast Asia is 47 births per 1000 females aged 15 to 19, higher than the average of 35 in South Asia and close to the global average of 50.
Why the Standard Model of Future Energy Supply Doesn't Work Wages as a percentage of GDP were fairly flat between 1940 and 1970, when oil prices were low, and oil was in abundant supply. The big drop in the ratio of wages to GDP started after 1970, when oil prices have been higher.
Efforts by Anti-choice Advocates to Redefine and Limit Contraception 91 % of Americans believe that contraception is morally acceptable. More than 99 % of women ages 15 through 44 years who have engaged in sexual intercourse report using at least one contraceptive method in their lifetime.
Is Population Reduction the Debate We Should Be Having? More than half the world's population - 5 billion people - could lack access to clean water in just 3 decades time. 70% of clean water is consumed by the agriculture sector, 20% by industry, and 10% by people.
Mary Kenny: a Bitter Pill... it is Surely Time That the Vatican Revised Its Stance on Contraception If contraception wasn't available, Irish mothers might still be giving birth to 17 or 18 children, as they were in the 1940s.
Report Finds Long-acting Birth Control is Helping Reduce Unplanned Pregnancies in Delaware Unplanned pregnancies in Delaware may have dropped 15 %. Delaware had one of the worst rates of unplanned pregnancies just a few years ago. In 2010, more than half of all of pregnancies in the state were unintended.
US 'regressive' Stance at Csw Dominates UN's Largest Meeting on Women Unsafe abortion, which is responsible for 5 to 13 % of the maternal mortality cases worldwide. The world is becoming increasingly urbanized, with more than 70% of the global population set to live in cities by 2050. But 3 billion people still live in rural areas in developing countries.
Vaclav Smil Looks to History for the Future of Energy. What He Sees is Sobering Today, coal, oil, and natural gas still supply 90% of the world's primary energy Despite years of promotion and hope, wind and solar account for just about 1% of the world's primary energy mix.
Paul Ehrlich: 'collapse of Civilisation is a Near Certainty Within Decades' The world's optimum population is less than two billion people - 5.6 billion fewer than on the planet today, Paul Ehrlich argues. The combination of high population and high consumption by the rich that is destroying the natural world and driving a sixth mass extinction of biodiversity, upon which civilization depends for clean air, water and food.
Three-quarters of species on earth were wiped out in the fifth mass extinction, including the dinosaurs. 66 M Yrs later, scientists are now warning that we are entering the sixth mass extinction, and it's caused by people.
Farming, Deforestation and Over Population is Trashing the Earth, Global Survey Warns LAND degradation will unleash a mass migration of at least 50 million people by 2050 - as many as 700 million - unless humans stop depleting the life-giving resource, more than 100 scientists have warned. By 2050, land degradation and climate change will reduce crop yields by 10 per cent globally - up to half in some regions.
Apps Selling Prescription Birth Control Do Well in 'contraception Deserts' NURX is one of several digital ventures, including Maven and Lemonaid Health, that now provide several types of hormonal contraception without requiring a live visit to a doctor or other health care provider. NURX is now available in 18 states. It's popular in Texas, where many women live in what some health policy analysts call "contraception deserts" In 2013, Texas passed an abortion bill that led half of all Texas clinics that performed abortions to close - clinics that often also provided birth control and other medical services to low-income women.
Better Birth Control Access Could Drop Abortion Rate 67%, Save $12 Billion If the full range of contraception options available to women through Planned Parenthood were used by all U.S. women ages 15 to 39 who were not seeking pregnancy, the unintended-pregnancy rate would be reduced by 64 %, the unintended-birth rate would decrease by 63 %, and the abortion rate would drop by a staggering 67 %.
A Birth Control Pill for Men Includes a Side Effect That Has Frustrated Women for Decades Dimethandrolone undecanoate, a potential new birth control pill for men, must be taken with food to be effective, has a slight negative effect on cholesterol levels and over time might raise the risk of heart disease, and caused men to gain weight.
Abortion Worldwide 2017: Uneven Progress and Unequal Access As of 2010-2014, an estimated 36 abortions occur each year per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in developing regions, compared with 27 in developed regions. The abortion rate declined significantly in developed regions since 1990-1994; however, no significant change occurred in developing regions. Abortions occur as frequently in the two most-restrictive categories of countries (banned outright or allowed only to save the woman's life) as in the least-restrictive category (allowed without restriction as to reason)-37 and 34 per 1,000 women, respectively.
'Unprecedented' Marine Heatwave Triggered Huge Carbon-dioxide Release A severe heatwave off north-western Western Australia hammered the world's largest region of seagrass, triggering the release of as much as nine million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Two months of temperatures 2-4 degrees above average in the summer of 2010-11 resulted in the loss of about 1000 square-kilometres of seagrass in Shark Bay by 2014, or about a fifth of its extent.
The 100 Million City: is 21st Century Urbanisation Out of Control? Within 35 years more than 100 cities will have populations larger than 5.5 million people. By 2100, the world's population centers will have shifted to Asia and Africa, with only 14 of the 101 largest cities in Europe or the Americas. Latest UN projections expect the world's population to grow by 2.9 billion in the next 33 years, and possibly by a further three billion by the end of the century. By then, says the UN, humanity is expected to have developed into an almost exclusively urban species with 80-90% of people living in cities.
New Report Highlights Worldwide Variations in Abortion Incidence and Safety Although the worldwide annual abortion rate fell between 1990-1994 and 2010-2014, most of this change occurred in developed regions (from 46 to 27 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age); the abortion rate in developing regions hardly changed (from 39 to 36 per 1,000 women). During this same period, the global unintended pregnancy rate declined, from 74 unintended pregnancies per 1,000 women of reproductive age in 1990-1994 to 62 per 1,000 women in 2010-2014.
Enlist Nature's Help to Quench World's Growing Thirst - U.N. Demand for water is expected to increase by nearly one-third by 2050. If we do nothing, some five billion people will be living in areas with poor access to water by 2050.
Government Fails to Meet Contraceptive Demand of 41% Couples in Bihar Nearly 41% of the population in Bihar has an unmet demand for modern contraceptive methods. There were 12.2% teenage births in Bihar, which is the third highest among 20 states in the country after West Bengal (18.3%) and Assam (13.6%).
New Generation of Women Saying: "Not Yet" 1.4 million women in Myanmar do not have access to family planning. Among women who are married or in a union, 52% use modern contraceptives - less than the regional average of 67%. 16% of married or in-union women would like to space or limit their births but are not using contraceptives.
Human Population Growth: is the Explosion a Blessing Or a Curse? Most population projections indicate that we will reach eight billion within the next 10-15 years and perhaps reach over nine billion by the middle of this 21st century. 2.1 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking water services. Water scarcity already affects four out of every 10 people.
Size Does Matter India's population has already reached over 1.30 billion and its population will be more than that of China by 2028. By 2020, there will be more than 45 million women of reproductive age with an unmet need for contraception.
The State of Family Planning in the Philippines
As part of the Empowering Evidence-Driven Advocacy Resource Hub, PRB partnered with The Forum for Family Planning & Development, Inc. in the Philippines to create communications products that will further family planning advocacy. PRB created a suite of products to address the myths and misconceptions surrounding family planning in the Philippines. These infographics, fact sheet, and videos products will be used to help address misinformation about contraceptive methods and convince policymakers to fund family planning services. For more visit www.prbhub.org/philippines.
Measuring Contraceptive Failure
One of the most vexing problems for practitioners and policymakers concerned with family planning, not to mention for women and men trying to make the best choices for their reproductive lives, is contraceptive failure—the occurrence of pregnancy among couples who are trying not to conceive. Decades of research, employing increasingly sophisticated statistical techniques, have documented the incidence of contraceptive failure, with the aim of learning how to bring down levels of unintended pregnancy. Back in 1973, an analysis of data from the 1970 National Fertility Study was one of the first efforts to examine failure and how it differed by contraceptive method and among subgroups of ever-married women. In 1982, the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) had become the go-to data source, and researchers applied new multivariate techniques to more fully understand disparities, but only among married women. Fast-forward to 2017: The NSFG is still the go-to source, data are adjusted for abortion underreporting, women are included regardless of their marital status, and failure is measured not only by method, but also by duration of use.
The good news in the most recent report, reflecting the experiences of 2006–2010 survey respondents, is that failure rates associated with most reversible methods have been declining; some are at all-time lows for the U.S. Not only that, but the overall failure rate for reversible methods is approaching the goal set in the federal government’s Healthy People initiative. Still, differences by method and among demographic subgroups suggest the continuing importance of efforts to ensure that U.S. women and men have access to a full range of contraceptives and receive the information they need to use them effectively.
The Population Bomb Has Been Defused In most countries, total fertility falls from a high level of about six or seven children to two or below, and stays there. With a fertility rate of about five births per woman, sub-Saharan Africa is the only region of the globe that has not yet made the jump to small families. Once a country passes about $5,000 in per capita annual gross domestic product, it almost never has a high fertility rate.
'Loud and Strong' UK Support for Abortion Worldwide Approximately 25 million unsafe abortions are carried out every year, leading to approximately 7 million complications, including maternal death. The vast majority of unsafe abortions - 97 % - take place in developing countries. Between 5 and 13 % of all maternal deaths are the result of unsafe abortion.
Abstinence-only Advocate Assumes Control of Family Planning Funds Amid Latest Reproductive Health War Abstinence-only advocate Valerie Huber alone will determine which health-care providers will get awards from some $260 million in Title X funds. Already, more than 19 million U.S. women in need of publicly funded birth control live in contraceptive deserts. Planned Parenthood health clinics serve about one-third, or 1.5 million, of the Title X program's 4 million patients.
Orji: Effective Family Planning Prevents 30% Maternal Deaths In Nigeria, there are 576 deaths per 100,000 life birth, which translate to about 40,000 women dying every year, as a result of pregnancy or pregnancy related cases. Modern contraceptive prevalence rate has improved from 10 % to 14.7 %, while unmet need is 16 % of women of reproductive age. Good family planning methods save almost 30 % of maternal deaths.
Uncomfortable Companions: Fertility Decline and Ideology in Iran Women have only about two children on average, compared to 6.5 in the mid-1980s. Unless retirement ages are adjusted upward, about one in every four Iranians will qualify for retirement by 2045.
When Environmental Crises Hit Homes, Women Suffer the Most Every year, indoor air pollution kills 4.3 million people, most of them women and children, because three billion people rely on inefficient cooking technology, such as wood, charcoal or animal waste.
A Long Way Still to Achieving Gender Equality: International Women's Day More than half of economically active women in Africa earn their livelihoods in agriculture, and they account for the majority of small and medium-sized businesses. Yet, they constitute a meagre 15% of land use rights and just 1% of land ownership. They receive only 5% of agriculture extension services and less than 10% of available financial credit. There's an estimated $42 billion gap between men's and women's access to finance across business value chains. The financing gap for women in agriculture alone is $15.6 billion!
A Demographic Dividend of the FP2020 Initiative and the Sdg Reproductive Health Target: Case Studies of India and Nigeria Meeting the FP2020 target implies that on average, the number of children that need to be supported by every 100 working-age people would decrease by 8 persons in India and 11 persons in Nigeria in 2020. In India meeting the FP2020 target would yield a saving of US$18.2 billion (PPP) in consumption expenditures for children and youth in the year 2020 alone, and that increased to US$89.7 billion by 2030. In Nigeria the consumption saved would be US$2.5 billion in 2020 and $12.9 billion by 2030.
Why Educating Girls is the Best Cure for the World's Problems 131 million girls across the world are being deprived of an education. Women in sub-Saharan Africa who never attend school give birth an average of 6.7 times; for those with secondary education, the figure falls to 3.9. if all girls went to secondary school, then the prevalence of child marriage would fall by two-thirds, infant mortality would be cut in half - saving three million lives every year - and 12 million children would not have their growth stunted by malnutrition.
The Terrifying Phenomenon That is Pushing Species Towards Extinction A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2015 uncovered 727 accounts of MMEs (mass mortality event) involving 2,407 animal populations since 1940. Disease was the biggest factor in MMEs, playing a role in a quarter of them. Around 19% were directly linked to human behaviour such as pollution. Factors linked directly to climate - including extremes of hot and cold, oxygen stress and starvation - collectively contributed to about a quarter.
UNFPA to Provide $30.8m for Family Planning in Nepal The 2016 Nepal Demographic Health Survey shows the high unmet need for family planning services (24 % married women of reproductive age) and even higher unmet need among married young women aged between 15-19 years (32%).
Popcom Attributes Lower Ph Fertility Rate to Rh Law Filipino women's fertility rate went down to 2.7 live births last year from exactly three in 2013. The Commission on Population attributed the drop to the increase in married women's use of modern family planning methods by over 40 % over the past few years.
New Name, Same Harm: Rebranding of Federal Abstinence-only Programs Since 1996, more than $2 billion in federal funding have been spent on programs for young people that focus on promoting sexual abstinence outside of marriage ("abstinence-only"). In the United States, two-thirds of 18-year-olds have had sexual intercourse, and nine in 10 people have by their mid-20s. Despite this reality, only 57% of sexually active young women and 43% of sexually active young men have received formal instruction about birth control methods before having sex for the first time.
Pressure Mounts on Catholic-run Family Planning Clinics in Papua New Guinea PNG's considered to be one of the world's most religious countries - 96 % of the country identify as Christian, and about a quarter of the population are Catholic. The UN's Population Fund estimates that one in six PNG females will have her first child before she turns 18.
Global Population, Development Aspirations and Fallacies The poorest 3.5 billion adults account for only 2.7% of global wealth. Given average consumption levels, the world can only harbor 4.2 billion people sustainably. With a footprint the size of the USA's current population, the planet could only harbor 1.2 billion people sustainably.
Teenage Pregnancies Remain High at 22%' Teenage pregnancies, which are a major contributor to maternal and child mortality, remain high at 22% in the country as a result of lack of family planning information and services at their disposal.
A 2017 paper by Daniel Goodkind, an analyst at the U.S. Census Bureau, has sparked renewed debate over the effectiveness of China's one-child policy. Chinese officials have long claimed that the one-child policy, in effect from 1980-2016, averted some 400 million births. Many scholars have contested that number, however Goodkind contended that the figure may have merit.
When China adopted the one-child policy, some scholars were impressed by the potential for rapid fertility decline. By the mid-1980s however, demographers begun to condemn forced abortions and other concerns they had regarding the policy.
China's National Population and Family Planning Commission in the 1990s estimated what fertility might have been without the policy, by simply extending the trajectory of fertility decline between 1950 and 1970 to the following decades, arriving at a crude birth rate of 28.4 per 1000 people by 1998. They compared this with China's actual birth rate that year, 15.6 per 1000 people, and projected how many more babies would have been born.
However, in 2013 three demographers (Wang Feng, Cai Young, and Gu Baochang) compared China's birth rate to the fertility decline in 16 developing countries that started with similar birth rates as China in 1970. In those countries the birth rate naturally fell to an average of 22 per 100 by 1998, far below the China commission's estimate of 28.4.
Goodkind contends that that birth planning policies implemented after 1970 avoided adding between 360 million and 520 million to China's population. Goodkind also extrapolated from countries that experienced more decline However, he also theorized that the birth rate in China would have jumped from 2.8 in 1979 to 4.0 in 1980 to account for china lowering the marriage age and parents making up for lost childbearing from previous years, among other factors. He also concluded that, in the absence of birth regulations, the average Chinese woman would have had two children since 1990.
How a rare poison could help bring the first male birth control pill to marketFebruary 5, 2018, Quartz By: Gunda Georg, Jon Hawkinson, Shameem Syeda
Ouabain - a plant extract that African warriors and hunters traditionally used as a heart-stopping poison on their arrows, shows promise as a non-hormonal contracetive for men that hinders the sperms' ability to move or swim effectively.
While the birth control pill has been available to women in the United States for nearly six decades-and approved by the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for contraceptive use since 1960 -- an oral contraceptive for men has not yet come to market. The pill has provided women with safe, effective and reversible options for birth control, while options for men have been stuck in a rut.
Men curently have only two forms birth control: condoms or a vasectomy, which account for only 30% of contraception used, while women have 70%.
Vasectomy is an invasive procedure to do that's also difficult and invasive to reverse. A male hormonal birth control pill option is in clinical human trials and likely closer to market, but it has potential side effects, such as weight gain, changes in libido, and lower levels of good cholesterol, which could negatively affect the heart health of users.
For nonhormonal contraception methods work, researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Kansas have homed in on ouabain: a toxic substance produced by two types of African plants, which affects a type of transporter subunit called α4, which is found only in sperm cells. This protein is known to be critical in fertility -- at least in male mice.
Ouabain by itself isn't an option as a contraceptive because of the risk of heart damage. So researches have designed ouabain derivatives - versions of the molecule that are more likely to bind to the α4 protein in sperm than other subunits in heart tissue. Once bound to those cells, it interferes with the sperms' ability to swim-essential to its role in fertilizing an egg.
Because the α4 transporter is found only on mature sperm cells, the contraceptive effect should be reversible -- sperm cells produced after stopping the treatment presumably won't be affected. Ouabain may also offer men a birth control pill option with fewer systemic side effects than hormonal options.
This new compound showed no toxicity in rats. The next steps are to test the effectiveness as an actual contraceptive in animals, then human clinical trials within five years.
Reversible, effective male birth control is within sight. World Health Organization numbers suggest that reducing sperm motility by 50% or less is sufficient to temporarily make a man infertile. Our ongoing research brings us one step closer to expanding the options for male birth control, providing the world's 7.6 billion people with a much-needed option for safe and reversible contraception.
After a Year of Trump Policies, Population Institute's Report Card on Reproductive Health/Rights for 2017 Lowers Overall U.S. Grade to a "D-"
18 States Get Failing Grade Amid Attacks on Family Planning and Birth ControlFebruary 15, 2018, PR Newswire
For 2017, the overall grade on U.S. reproductive health and rights assigned by the Population Institute fell from a "D" to a "D-." 18 states got a failing grade. Twenty-two states received a B- or higher in 2017. Eleven states (California, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) received an "A" in 2017. But 27 states received a "D" or lower. 18 of those states received a failing grade ("F"), including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Robert Walker, president of the Population Institute said: "The United States is in danger of becoming, in effect, the Divided States of Reproductive Health and Rights."
The Trump budget proposal unveiled this week signals worse attacks to come. It would eliminate the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, invest in ineffective abstinence-only education programs, and block patients from seeing their preferred health care provider, Planned Parenthood.
Last year a coalition of scientists, economists, policymakers, researchers, and business people published Project Drawdown, a compendium of ways to prevent carbon dioxide from escaping skywards. Drawing from a plethora of peer-reviewed research, the document ranks 80 practical, mitigating measures-along with 20 near-future concepts-that could push back the oncoming storm.
Ranked in order of carbon emissions locked down by 2050, a moderate expansion of solar farms was ranked #8, onshore wind turbines ranked # 2, and nuclear power (# 20), increasing the number of people on plant-rich diets (# 4) and using electric vehicles (# 26).
Suprisingly, the top spot went to managing refrigerants like HFCs, which are incredibly effective at trapping heat within our atmosphere.
Even more surprising, two lesser-known solutions also made this most practical of lists: the education of girls ranked #6 and family planning ranked #7).
Getting more girls into school, and giving them a quality education, has a series of profound, cascading effects: reduced incidence of disease, higher life expectancies, more economic prosperity, fewer forced marriages, and fewer children. Better educational access and attainment not only equips women with the skills to deal with the antagonizing effects of climate change, but it gives them influence over how their communities militate against it.
Poverty, along with community traditions, tends to hold back girls from education while boys education are prioritized.
Then there's family planning. The planet is overpopulated, and the demands of its citizens greatly exceed the natural resources provided by our environment.
Contraception for many of the women across the world is either not available, not affordable, or social and/or religious motives ensure that it's banned or heavily restricted. As a consequence, the world's population will rise rapidly, consume ever more resources, and power its ambitions using fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide will continue to accumulate in the atmosphere.
The education of girls and family planning can be considered as a single issue involving the empowerment of women in communities across the world. Drawdown calculated that, by taking steps toward universal education and investing in family planning in developing nations, the world could eliminate 120 billion tons of emissions by 2050. That's roughly 10 years' worth of China's annual emissions as of 2014, and it's all because the world's population won't rise quite so rapidly.
Project Drawdown isn't the only group that has recently tied population growth to climate change. A study published last summer also found that having just one fewer child is a far more effective way for individuals in the developed world to shrink their carbon footprint than, say, recycling or eating less meat. For women in wealthy countries, these decisions are often freely made, and fertility rates in those countries are already fairly low. In low-income countries, such individual agency - not to mention contraception - is frequently absent, and fertility rates remain high.
Just as policymakers, climate advocates, and science communicators should pay attention to Drawdown's findings, individuals should also do what they can to make sure such a solution comes to pass. Non-government organizations, like Hand In Hand International, Girls Not Brides, and the Malala Fund aren't just uplifting women, but they're helping to save the planet too, and they deserve support.
It's time to face an uncomfortable truth.February 10, 2018, Sciencealert By: David Nield
A new study looked at 151 nations and found not a single one was running itself in a sustainable way - ensuring a decent life for its inhabitants without taking more than it gives back in terms of natural resources. Its conclusion was that there are not enough resources for so many people to make it possible for all of us to live comfortably. We need a radical rethink of how we could start living within our means.
The international team of researchers participating in the study has put together a website showing how each country is performing in terms of balancing the well-being of its citizens against figures such as land use, CO2 emissions, and ecological footprint.
Daniel O'Neill from the University of Leeds in the UK said, "We examined international relationships between the sustainability of resource use and the achievement of social goals, and found that basic needs, such as nutrition, sanitation, and the elimination of extreme poverty, could most likely be achieved in all countries without exceeding global environmental limits."
"Unfortunately, the same is not true for other social goals that go beyond basic subsistence such as secondary education and high life satisfaction. Meeting these goals could require a level of resource use that is two to six times the sustainable level."
The quality of life in each country was measured using 11 indicators: life satisfaction, healthy life expectancy, nutrition, sanitation, income, access to energy, education, social support, democratic quality, equality, and employment.
That was then measured against 7 biophysical indicators: land use, CO2 emissions, ecological footprint, phosphorus emissions, material footprint, nitrogen use, and blue water use. Each country's allotted share of these resources was based on its total population..
William Lamb from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Germany said, "Although wealthy nations like the US and UK satisfy the basic needs of their citizens, they do so at a level of resource use that is far beyond what is globally sustainable.
"In contrast, countries that are using resources at a sustainable level, such as Sri Lanka, fail to meet the basic needs of their people."
Among the countries doing the best job are Vietnam, with 6 social thresholds achieved and only 1 biophysical boundary transgressed, and Germany, which hits all 11 social thresholds but has exceeded 5 of the 7 biophysical boundaries.
Other reports suggest we need 1.7 Earths to actually keep up with the rate at which we're plundering what the planet has to offer.
However, the study's authors say we can work towards finding ways to support our population without taking too much out of what the planet can give us. Radical changes are needed to accomplish this, including moving beyond the pursuit of economic growth in wealthy nations, shifting rapidly from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and significantly reducing inequality.
Just as buried fossil fuels are filled with carbon from ancient plant and animal life, so too are living trees and vegetation on Earth's surface today. Razing forests or plowing grasslands puts carbon in the atmosphere just like burning fossil fuels does.
Karl-Heinz Erb, the lead study author and a researcher with the Institute of Social Ecology in Austria, and his colleagues estimated that 450 billion tons of carbon - a massive amount - is contained in Earth's current vegetation. If it were to somehow arrive in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, it would amount to over a trillion tons of the gas.
They also found that, if humans somehow entirely ceased all uses of land and allowed it to return to its natural state, the Earth's vegetation would contain 916 billion tons of carbon. This would infer that current human use of land is responsible for roughly halving the potential storage of carbon by that land.
The research was published in the journal Nature by Erb and 12 colleagues from institutions in Austria, Germany, Portugal, Sweden and the Netherlands.
Deforestation accounted for about half of the loss of potential vegetation. The other half is attributed to the combination of large-scale grazing and other uses of grasslands and forest "management." With the latter, the forests as a whole don't disappear. They were just highly thinned out.
The findings are in line with the thesis of University of Virginia professor William Ruddiman, that humans have been changing the surface of the planet and putting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere through land use for millennia.
"Our finding is in line with the statement that the impact of humans on the climate was quite considerable also before the industrial times," Erb said.
The research showed that so-called degraded land - not fully deforested but not "natural” or whole, either - must be restored. Tom Lovejoy, an ecologist at George Mason University who was not involved in the work, said "That means the restoration agenda is even more important than previously thought and highlights the enormous amount of degraded land in the world.”
Phil Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center said: "Scenarios that limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees require not only rapid cessation of greenhouse gas emissions but also removal of somewhere between about 100 and 300 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere.” ... "This paper suggests that restoring vegetation around the world could in principle achieve that,” Duffy continued, noting that if all the potential vegetation were restored it would offset some 50 years of global carbon emissions.
Erb was skeptical about the strategy called Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage, or BECCS, which it was claimed to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Poor Women Are Vulnerable as GOP Turns Up the HeatJanuary 19, 2018, Who.What.Why By: Kirsty Vitarelli
Anti-abortion activists, emboldened by conservatives controlling the White House and Congress, and courts stacked with like-minded judges, are setting their sights on a new target: The elimination of federal funding for family planning services.
For 45 years, the "pro-life" movement has gathered in Washington around the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision to protest the legalization of most abortions in the US.
Recently the Trump administration announced that it was strengthening protections for medical providers whose religious beliefs prompt them to refuse to perform abortions or to offer other contraceptive services.
Title X, a provision in the Public Health Service Act of 1970 - is federal grant legislation that secures federal funding for family planning services. It is the only grant legislation approved annually, and is constantly under threat of defunding because of this status. Of the 38 million American women who use contraception, over half - 20 million - rely on publicly funded contraceptive care.
"Without contraceptive coverage, many women would need to pay more than $1,000 out of pocket to start using a highly effective method such as a intrauterine devices (IUDs), a contraceptive implant or sterilization; that would amount to nearly one month's salary for a woman working full-time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour," reports the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization. Other forms of contraception are less costly - as low as $9 a month from Target and Walmart. But, with the exception of emergency contraception, birth control pills require a doctor's prescription, an associated visit and insurance costs.
The theory supporting threats to Title X is that life begins at the moment egg and sperm meet, which increasing numbers of anti-abortion advocates and lawmakers embrace. They equate highly effective, long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) like IUDs and contraceptive implants with abortion itself, believing these methods would dislodge a fertilized egg - a view which is not scientifically accurate.
IUDs and implants primarily prevent fertilization, not implantation - there is no zygote, so there is nothing to abort. However, buoyed by the Supreme Court's ruling upholding Hobby Lobby's religious right to deny access to LARCs, and President Trump's seeming eagerness to please his base, anti-abortion advocates are seeking to promote their ideology in a number of ways, including going after Title X funding.
Title X in the beginning was championed by both sides of the House - its main sponsor was George H.W. Bush and was signed into law by President Nixon." The idea was that women and couples - regardless of their employment or insurance status - should have the opportunity to plan whether and when they would start a family.
However during Ronald Reagan's presidency, there was more anti-abortion ideology involved in the politics and policies of family planning.
Three-quarters of all women in the US who underwent abortions in 2014 were either living in poverty or had low incomes of roughly between $11,000 and $22,000. If federal funding is removed, these low-income households would suffer the most, physically and financially.
An amendment to the recent tax bill fostered the idea that personhood begins at conception by proposing that unborn children could be beneficiaries of college savings plans. The language was cut before the tax bill passed.
House appropriators agreed to defund Title X entirely, eliminating the program - $286 million - from the 2018 budget, but Senate appropriators did not cut the program from their spending bill.
Trump has appointed prominent anti-contraception advocates to his Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in an attempt to keep a promise to his evangelical followers. Valerie Huber, an advocate of abstinence over contraception will continue the push to defund Title X.
A rider in the House Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies spending bill would block Planned Parenthood from any federal money in 2018, and effectively "end the nation's family planning program.”
President Trump signed a law last spring allowing states to withhold federal money from organizations that offer abortion services. Many of these organizations also provide important contraceptive services to the poorest in society, services which would also be threatened.
60% of Americans believe abortion should remain legal. Some physicians remember the time before Roe v. Wade and worry that overturning it would slide the country back to the days when more than 200 women a year died from septic shock due to "back alley” abortions, or became infertile after suffering permanent injury inflicted by barbaric tools.
45% of pregnancies in the US are unintended, and about 4 in 10 of those end in abortion, according to Guttmacher. Three-quarters of all women in the US who underwent abortions in 2014 were either living in poverty or had low incomes of roughly between $11,000 and $22,000. If federal funding is removed, these low-income households would suffer the most, physically and financially.
Title X funding is intact - for now. But "the Trump administration in its first year and Congress under its current leadership have very openly hostile views and agendas against reproductive health and rights.
The birthrate in China fell last year even though the country has changed its One Child policy to allow two children. Reasons given for the low birth rate were the trend toward later marriage, the desire for smaller families and concerns about the high cost of raising children.
With almost 1.4 billion people, China has the world's largest population but it is aging fast even before reaching its expected peak of 1.45 billion in 2029.
China's policy was changed in 2015 in an attempt to increase the size of the younger working population that will eventually have to support their elders. The number of births rose nearly 8% in 2016, with nearly half of the babies born to couples who already had a child. But that appears to have been a one-time increase.
Experts have recommended the country increase its retirement age to address an expected labor shortage and declining economic vitality.
One woman, a housewife in Beijing, pointed out that the burden of looking after aging parents is one reason not to have a second child. "They helped us look after one child, but we would have to babysit the second one ourselves."
"Until the young one is 2, mother won't be able to work which means a big loss of income that we're not prepared for," another person said.
China enacted its one-child policy in 1979, enforced with fines and in some cases state-mandated abortions.
A new study warns if the degradation rate continues, all wilderness areas will be at risk over the next 50 yearsDecember 20, 2017, Guardian By: Susan Chenery
Ten percent of the earth's wilderness has been lost due to human pressure, according to a mapping study by the University of Queensland. .. 52% of the earth's ecosystems have seen a major degradation since the beginning of human history, while the remaining 48% is being increasingly eroded. Since the 1992 Rio convention on biological diversity, three million square kilometres of wilderness have been lost.
James Watson, senior author on the study and director of science at the Wildlife Conservation Society stated: "If this rate continues, we will have lost all wilderness within the next 50 years." He said there is no scientific evidence that degraded eco-systems could ever return to their original condition.
The water cycle (the ability of the area to create rain), biodiversity (loss of wildlife habitat), the nitrogen cycle and pollination are being degraded. Logging, oil and gas exploration, mining, roads and agriculture are the culprits.
These pristine wild places exist in the deserts of Central Australia; the Amazon rainforest in South America; Africa; the Tibetan plateau in central Asia; and the boreal forests of Canada and Russia.
PhD student James Allan, who also worked on the study said: The moment you put a road in, you get people moving in to farm, hunt, and it undermines the wilderness. The risk is that a lot of these systems could collapse. The Amazon is the best example of where you need the whole forest, or a huge portion of the forest, protected for the hydrological cycle to function." One third of the Amazon wilderness region has been lost since 1992.
The UQ study found that conservation efforts are being rapidly outpaced by the acceleration of the decline, thanks to massive global population growth and the associated economic growth that demands ever-increasing natural resources.
The problem is profound. "Intact functioning ecosystems" says Watson, "are critical not only for biodiversity but for the huge amounts of carbon they store and sequester. They provide a direct defence against climate-related hazards like storms, floods, fires and cyclones. They are the most resilient and effective defence against ongoing climate change.”
Loss of wilderness also affects Indigenous communities . "You have got people living in the Amazon, Congo and New Guinea who have been there for thousands of years subsisting through hunting - just sustainable use of the resources,” says Allan.
In 2016, Watson and his team released maps of the global human footprint, using eight data layersof roads, agriculture, grazing land, human population density, urbanisation and navigable waterways.
"The environment footprint of humanity is truly massive,” Watson wrote of his findings in Time. "No other species has ever come close to us in terms of consuming so much of the world's energy, resources and land area. In this Anthropocene era, where the human footprint is now altering many of the Earth systems processes, wilderness areas serve as natural observatories where we can study the ecological and evolutionary impacts of global change.”
Postabortion Contraceptive Counseling Can Help Individuals Prevent Future Unintended PregnanciesJanuary 11, 2018, Guttmacher Institute
The Guttmacher Institute conducted a survey of U.S. abortion patients in 2014, which showed that 51% (half) of those surveyed reported that they had used a contraceptive method in the month they became pregnant. This was a slight decrease from 54% of abortion patients in 2000. The methods most commonly used by abortion patients in 2014 were condoms (24% of patients) and the pill (13%).
"Contraceptive methods are highly effective at preventing unintended pregnancies, but no method -- and no user -- is perfect," says Rachel Jones, author of the analysis. "Abortion patients should have access to the full range of contraceptive counseling and services to support them in preventing future unintended pregnancies."
The share of abortion patients relying on condoms decreased from 28% to 24% between 2000 and 2014, but there was a small but significant increase -- 7% to 9% -- in the share of patients who relied on withdrawal. Use of long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods among abortion patients increased from 0.1% in 2000 to 1% in 2014. It is also possible that some abortion patients became pregnant shortly after they stopped using LARCs or other contraceptive methods.
In 2014, about 37.8 million U.S. women aged 15-44 were using a contraceptive method. But only 471,000 abortions were provided to patients who reported they were using contraception in the month they became pregnant. Between 2000 and 2014, the overall number of abortions in the United States declined significantly, and available evidence suggests that improvements in contraceptive use contributed to the abortion decline.
Contraception has been found to be effective at pregnancy prevention and it has numerous health, social and economic benefits. Abortion patients who were not using contraception at the time they became pregnant may benefit from receiving information during postabortion counseling about their risk of pregnancy, and about the full range of contraceptive options available to them and how to use those methods consistently and correctly.
Humanity has 30 years to find out.January 22, 2018, Atlantic Monthly By: Charles C. Mann
In 1970 about one out of every four people was undernourished. Today the proportion has fallen to roughly one out of 10. In those four-plus decades, the global average life span has risen by more than 11 years. Hundreds of millions of people in Asia, Latin America, and Africa have lifted themselves from destitution into something like the middle class. But millions upon millions are not prosperous. No one knows whether the rise can continue, or whether our current affluence can be sustained.
The world is expected to rise from about 7.6 billion inhabitants today to 10 billion by about 2050. Then population is expected to begin to level off. On average, each couple will have just enough children to replace themselves. In the meantime, economists say, the world's development should continue, however unevenly. The implication is that a sizable percentage of the world's 10 billion people will be middle-class.
By 2050 we will have ten billion mouths and three billion more middle-class appetites. How can we provide for everyone without making the planet uninhabitable?
In search of the answer we look at the contrasting viewpoints of two individuals largely responsible for the creation of the basic intellectual blueprints that institutions around the world use today for understanding our environmental dilemmas.
William Vogt, born in 1902, laid out the basic ideas for the modern environmental movement. He believed that, unless humankind drastically reduces consumption and limits population, it will ravage global ecosystems. Affluence is not our greatest achievement but our biggest problem. If we continue taking more than the Earth can give, he said, the unavoidable result will be devastation on a global scale.
Borlaug, born 12 years after Vogt, believed that science and technology, properly applied, will let us produce a way out of our predicament. He was the best-known figure in the research that in the 1960s created the Green Revolution, the combination of high-yielding crop varieties and agronomic techniques that increased grain harvests around the world, helping to avert tens of millions of deaths from hunger. Only by getting richer and more knowledgeable can humankind create the science that will resolve our environmental dilemmas, he claimed.
Borlaug's solution was to find a way to increase per-acre yields. Vogt's solution was to use ecological knowledge to get smaller. He recommended that we "eat lower on the food chain," to lighten the burden on Earth's ecosystems. Vogt's predecessor, Robert Malthus, predicted that societies would inevitably run out of food because they would always have too many children. Vogt said that we may be able to grow enough food, but at the cost of wrecking the world's ecosystems.
Followers of Borlaug view Vogt's emphasis on cutting back as intellectually dishonest, indifferent to the poor, even racist. Following Vogt, they say, is a path toward regression, narrowness, poverty, and hunger -- toward a world where billions live in misery despite the scientific knowledge that could free them. Followers of Vogt sneer that the Borlaug's faith in human resourcefulness is unthinking, ignorant, even driven by greed (because refusing to push beyond ecological limits will cut into corporate profits). High-intensity, industrial farming may pay off in the short run, but in the long run will make the day of ecological reckoning hit harder. The ruination of soil and water by heedless overuse will lead to environmental collapse, which will in turn create worldwide social convulsion.
In 1948 Vogt published Road to Survival, the first modern we're-all-going-to-hell book. He introduced concepts such as carrying capacity -- also known as "ecological limits," or "planetary boundaries" -- which posits that every ecosystem has a limit to what it can produce. As human numbers increase, our demands for food will exceed the Earth's carrying capacity. The results will be catastrophic: erosion, desertification, soil exhaustion, species extinction, and water contamination that will, sooner or later, lead to massive famines. His ideas were embraced by writers like Rachel Carson (author of Silent Spring) and Paul Ehrlich (The Population Bomb).
In the mid-'50s Borlaug created a wheat that produced 10 times as much grain than before, beginning what was call 'The Green Revolution.' In Asia, before Borlaug's new, high-yielding rice varieties were introduced in the 1960s, at least half of Asia lived in hunger and want; farm yields in many places were stagnant or falling. The new high-yielding rice varieties nearly tripled rice harvests. Even though the continent's population has soared, Asian men, women, and children consume an average of 30% more calories than when the high yield rice was introduced.
However, as Vogt had predicted, the enormous jump in productivity led to enormous environmental damage: drained aquifers, fertilizer runoff, aquatic dead zones, and degraded and waterlogged soils. Worse in a human sense, the rapid increase in productivity made rural land more valuable. Suddenly it was worth stealing -- and rural elites in many places did just that, throwing poor farmers off their land.
Also the Green Revolution would merely postpone the hunger crisis; it was a one-time lucky break, rather than a permanent solution. And our rising numbers and wealth mean that our harvests will have to jump again -- a second Green Revolution would be needed.
Even though the global population in 2050 will be just 25% higher than it is now, farmers will have to boost food output by 50% to 100%, due to increased affluence (eating animal products). Growing feed for animals requires much more land, water, and energy than producing food simply by growing and eating plants.
Farmers can't plant much more land, because almost every accessible acre of arable soil is already in use. Nor can the use of fertilizer be increased; it is already being overused everywhere except some parts of Africa, and the runoff is polluting rivers, lakes, and oceans. Irrigation, too, cannot be greatly expanded-most land that can be irrigated already is.
Part of the Green Revolution's success was due to the discovery of a method to produce fertilizer from nitrogen. A little more than 1% of the world's industrial energy is devoted to it. "That 1 percent," the futurist Ramez Naam has noted, "roughly doubles the amount of food the world can grow." The environmental scientist Vaclav Smil has estimated that nitrogen fertilizer from the Haber-Bosch process accounts for "the prevailing diets of nearly 45% of the world's population."
But this innovation also damaged the environment. The 40% of the fertilizer applied in the past 60 years that was not absorbed by plants was washed away into rivers or seeped into the air in the form of nitrous oxides. In the water it boosted the growth of algae, weeds, and other aquatic organisms. When these die, they fall to the floor of the river, lake, or ocean, where microbes consume their remains. The respiration of these microbes drains oxygen from the lower depths, killing off most other life. Nitrogen draining off farms along the Mississippi end up in the Gulf of Mexico every summer, creating an oxygen desert. In 2016 the dead zone covered almost 7,000 square miles. Another dead zone of 23,000 square miles was mapped in the Bay of Bengal, off the east coast of India in 2017.
Nitrous oxide from fertilizers is a major cause of pollution. High in the stratosphere, it combines with and neutralizes the planet's ozone, which guards life on the surface by blocking cancer-causing ultraviolet rays.
A landmark 2011 study from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concluded that up to a third of the world's cropland is degraded.
Our story now goes back to the 1940s. Albert Howard and his wife, Gabrielle, bred new varieties of wheat and tobacco in India, developed novel types of plows, and testing the results of providing oxen with a superhealthy diet. By 1943, they were convinced that soil was not simply a base for chemical additives. It was an intricate living system that required a wildly complex mix of nutrients in plant and animal waste: harvest leftovers, manure. Their idea of returning to the soil of all available vegetable, animal, and human wastes became the founding document of the organic movement.
After 1943 scientists discovered that plants need nitrogen chiefly to make a protein called rubisco, an enzyme needed to make roots, stems, leaves, and seeds. Rubisco is an enzyme that takes carbon dioxide from the air, and uses it in the process of photosynthesis.
Rubisco is an inept, inefficient enzyme, so plants make a lot of it to do the job. This requires a lot of nitrogen to do so. However, nature has produced a work-around: C4 photosynthesis. C4 is a four-carbon molecule that turbocharges plant growth. This involves a special adaptation of leaf anatomy.
When carbon dioxide comes into a C4 leaf, it is initially grabbed not by rubisco but by a different enzyme that uses it to form a compound that is then pumped into special, rubisco-filled cells deep in the leaf. These cells have almost no oxygen, so rubisco can't bumblingly grab the wrong molecule. The end result is exactly the same sugars, starches, and cellulose that ordinary photosynthesis produces, except much faster. C4 plants need less water and fertilizer than ordinary plants, because they don't waste water on rubisco's mistakes.
C4 photosynthesis has been found in more than 60 plants. Corn, tumbleweed, crabgrass, sugarcane, and Bermuda grass -- all of these very different plants evolved C4 photosynthesis.
Scientists from around the world are trying to convert rice into a C4 plant-- one that would grow faster, require less water and fertilizer, and produce more grain. Rice is the world's most important foodstuff, the staple crop for more than half the global population. An estimated 40% increase rice production is needed to satisfy increasing population numbers and increasing affluence. Meanwhile, the land available to plant rice is shrinking as cities expand into the countryside, thirsty people drain rivers, farmers switch to more-profitable crops, and climate change creates deserts from farmland.
The C4 Rice Consortium is a genetic-engineering project funded largely by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This genetic engineering is NOT like Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybean, which contains a snippet of DNA from a bacterium that was found in a Louisiana waste pond. That snippet makes the plant assemble a chemical compound in its leaves and stems that blocks the effects of Roundup, Monsanto's widely used herbicide. The foreign gene lets farmers spray Roundup on their soy fields, killing weeds but leaving the crop unharmed.
The C4 Rice Consortium scientists are trying to refashion photosynthesis, one of the most fundamental processes of life. Because C4 has evolved in so many different species, scientists believe that most plants must have precursor C4 genes. The hope is that rice is one of these, and that the consortium can identify and awaken its dormant C4 genes-following a path evolution has taken many times before. No company will profit from the result; the International Rice Research Institute, where much of the research takes place, will give away seeds for the modified grain, as it did with Green Revolution rice.
In addition to C4 rice, other projects are attempting self-fertilizing maize, wheat that can grow in salt water, and enhanced soil-microbial ecosystems.
All attempts to compare organic farming with new technology has shown that organic farms yield fewer calories per acre than techonology-enhanced farms -- sometimes by a little, sometimes by quite a lot.
But evaluating farm systems wholly in terms of calories per acre is folly. It doesn't include the sort of costs identified by Vogt: fertilizer runoff, watershed degradation, soil erosion and compaction, and pesticide and antibiotic overuse. It doesn't account for the destruction of rural communities. It doesn't consider whether the food is tasty and nutritious.
Organic farmers have their own innovations: planting perennials that come back summer after summer, for as long as a decade. Perennial grasses build up root systems that reach deep into the ground, they hold on to soil better and are less dependent on surface rainwater and nutrients than annual grasses. Many of them are also more disease-resistant. Perennials emerge from the soil earlier in the spring and keep photosynthesizing longer in the fall, they have a longer growing season. They produce food year after year with much less plowing-caused erosion. They could be just as productive as Green Revolution-style grain, but without ruining land, sucking up scarce water, or requiring heavy doses of polluting, energy-intensive fertilizer.
A perennial cousin to bread wheat, wheatgrass was introduced to the Western Hemisphere from Asia in the 1930s as fodder for farm animals. This wheatgrass has been crossbred among the best performers in an attempt to make a commercially viable perennial. The Land Institute, a nonprofit agricultural-research center dedicated to replacing conventional agriculture with processes akin to those that occur in natural ecosystems has been developing wheatgrass since 2002. Its new variety of intermediate wheatgrass is named Kernza. The Land Institute hopes to have field-ready, bread-worthy wheatgrass with kernels that are twice their current size (if still half the size of wheat's) in the 2020s, though nothing is guaranteed.
Other attempts to feed people are being made: creating a hybrid of bread wheat and wheatgrass; focus on tubers and trees, both of which are generally more productive than cereals. The point is to have multiple ways to meet tomorrow's needs.
And then there is to consider the kind of society tied to each of these two ideologies: The Borlaugians (followers of Borlaug) ideal for society is that the drudgery of agriculture should be eased and reduced as much as possible to maximize individual liberty. National governments (except for China) have directed labor away from agriculture. The goal was to consolidate and mechanize farms, which would increase harvests and reduce costs, especially for labor. Farmworkers, no longer needed, would move to the cities, where they could get better-paying jobs in factories. Both the remaining farm owners and the factory workers would earn more, the former by growing more and better crops, the latter by obtaining better-paying jobs in industry. The nation as a whole would benefit: increased exports from industry and agriculture, cheaper food in the cities, a plentiful labor supply.
There were downsides: Cities in developing nations acquired entire slums full of displaced families. And in many areas, including most of the developed world, the countryside was emptied -- exactly what Borlaugians intended, as part of the goal of freeing agriculture workers to pursue their dreams.
To Vogtians, agriculture is about maintaining a set of communities, ecological and human, that have cradled life since the first agricultural revolution, 10,000-plus years ago. It can be drudgery, but it is also work that reinforces the human connection to the Earth.
Pro-life proponents claim that human life begins at conception, which could lead to the conclusion that abortion is murder. However, 'life' is a quality that plants, bacteria, dogs, termites, humans, and other living entities have. Life is described as "A distinctive characteristic of a living organism from dead organism or non-living thing, as specifically distinguished by the capacity to grow, metabolize, respond (to stimuli), adapt, and reproduce." .. Biology Online Dictionary https://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Life
The Catholic Church uses ensoulment as a criteria to determine if a fetus is worthy of protection from abortion. The determination of when this ensoulment occurs during the development stages of a human -- from conception to birth -- has changed over the last several centuries.
Catholics claim they have been anti-abortion pretty much forever. While it is true that they considered it was a sin, they did not always treat it as the crime of murder.
From the time of Aristotle and up until the 19th century, Catholics based their timing of ensoulment in the human zygote on the embryology of Aristotle.
Aristotle's On the Generation of Animals was produced in the latter part of the fourth century B.C. It was the first work to provide a comprehensive theory of how generation works and the first scientific work on embryology. https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/generation-animals-aristotle
Chapter 3 of Book II defines the degree of "aliveness" at various stages of embryological development. This is the section in which Aristotle discusses three different types of human souls: a nutritive soul, imbued from the very beginning; a sensitive soul, imbued later; and finally the intellective soul, imbued forty days after conception for a male embryo and eighty days for a female embryo. The nutritive soul, also called the vegetative soul, is the essence possessed by all living things , including plants, and can be considered the lowest level of soul. The sensitive soul is what separates plants from animals, and provides animals the ability to move and to interact with the world around them. The intellective soul is what separates humans from all other animals, and allows humans to think and reason.
Until the late 19th century, most popes and Catholic's alike did not believe that the soul was infused at conception. Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585) said that an embryo wasn't human until it was 40 days old and therefore was not homicide to kill an embryo less than 40 days from conception. His successor, Sixtus V, disagreed completely. Sixtus V's successor, Gregory XIV (1590-1591), said to pretend that Sixtus V's were never issued. For centuries Catholic leaders varied in their beliefs on if the soul was infused at conception or not, and if abortion was allowed, especially when it threatened the husband's marriage/honor and/or the women's life.
An article which claims to prove that ensoulment occurs at conception is at http://catholicism.org/ensoulment-theories-and-the-abortion-debate.html . Its claim is based on modern understanding of the development of the human from conception to birth, but it did not seem it very convincing. "Having all the necessary genetic information and immanent activity heading towards full maturation, the full development of the human body is already in dynamic process; therefore, the human soul must be there."
Doesn't this same argument apply to the egg and the sperm before they unite? After all, they are the two essential parts of a human 'person'.
But once an egg is fertilized, the pregnancy has a 31% chance of ending in a miscarriage. Often this happens even before woman knows she is pregnant. http://www.nytimes.com/1988/07/27/us/study-finds-31-rate-of-miscarriage.html . Does this sound like "heading for full maturation"?
Up to 70% of first-trimester miscarriages are caused by chromosomal anomalies. Examples inclulde blighted ovum: where no embryo forms; intrauterine fetal demise: where an embryo forms but stops developing and dies before any symptoms of pregnancy loss occur; and molar pregnancy: where both sets of chromosomes come from the father - there is usually no fetal development. These do not sound like "heading for full maturation".
Is the notion that ensoulment occurs at conception believable when there are so many miscarriages? The potential to become human does not exist for these products of conception.
Every woman should have the right to do what they want with their body. About 30% of women will have had at least one abortion in their life if current abortion rates continue.
Why should the religious beliefs of a patriarchal church outweigh the beliefs of women that they have the right to terminate a pregnancy they don't want or that would be a threat to their life, or that would interfere with the well-being of her family?