Also known as: WOA!! * World Population Awareness * population-awareness.net
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.
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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
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
May 19, 2013
Potsdam Institute projection suggests population growth would increase imported food, even without climate changeMay 07 , 2013, Mail and Guardian
An analysis by Marianela Fader of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, found that , although many countries choose to import food now, there are surprisingly few that could not maintain the same diet and still be food self-sufficient. Today there are 66 countries, with 16% of the world's population, "who are not able to be self-sufficient due to water and/or land constraints," she said. These countries, found in North Africa, the Middle East and Central America, will need to import food from other countries to support with over half their combined populations.
The study used current data on population, and food and water consumption in each nation and projected forward to 2050.
The countries with the most reliance on imports were found in North Africa, the Middle East and Central America, with over half the population depending on imported food in many of these locations. Outside those locations many countries could become food self-sufficient if they chose to.
However, by 2050 more countries would have to maximize food production - by improving agricultural productivity, and expanding cropland, for example - to feed their population. Over half the world's population could depend on imported food by 2050.
"Assuming that all low-income economies achieve full potential productivity by 2050 in addition to full cropland expansion - which would be a huge societal and technological challenge and thus a very optimistic assumption - the food self-sufficiency gap will still be equivalent to about 55-123 million people, with over 20 million in Niger and Somalia alone," noted Fader. Climate change was not included in the study and could make the problem even more severe.
The UK, the Netherlands, Japan, and a number of other developed countries are already unable to meet the food requirements of their populations. However, these nations will probably be able to buy their way out of the problem.
Food security is going to be a big issue over the coming decades. Improving agricultural productivity can play a key role in maintaining food security. A change in diet, such as towards more seasonal and vegetarian food, could also have a significant impact, but this was not part of the study.
Not All About Consumption; Resource exploitation can lead to increased ecological impacts even when overall consumption levels stay the sameMarch 15, 2013, Science magazine
Humans could continue to extract oil, coal, natural gas, and many minerals for decades, but the escalating ecological implications of doing so demand research and policy attention.
Oil on the market today has a larger ecological footprint than in 1950, and in 2050 will have a larger ecological footprint than that of today. This increase in footprint is due to the increasing energy inputs required for production magnified by the increasing ecological impact from production. Exploiting less-accessible resources requires more diluting agents, water, and land, and produces more waste. Furthermore, once resources near population centers are depleted, more geographically remote reserves are accessed, increasing the ecological costs of transport.
Even if consumption is held constant, ecological impact can increase -- not only for energy but also for other resources.
Ricardo's law of diminishing returns observed that marginal agricultural land requires more inputs and generates less profit. More recently, using the IPAT formula (Impact = Population x Affluence x Technology) , ecological impact is a function of consumption, but it lacks a variable that captures the condition of ecosystems.
Domestic oil fields have declined, and exports now constitute 75% of global production. Newly discovered fields are smaller and geographically dispersed, requiring greater transit distances. They are also deeper, requiring more energy to extract, and entail greater ecological risks, which became clear when BP's 10.7km deep Deepwater Horizon well exploded in 2010.
In Alberta Canada, oil has been produced for half a century; from 1955 to 2006, the area of land required to extract a barrel of oil has increased 12-fold.
Conventional oil well pads in Alberta consume 3.3 ha on average, but the ecosystem fragmentation caused by the roads and pipelines required to support the wells results in a much higher total impact. Also the average number of wells abandoned annually in the past decade was 4111; the number reclaimed averaged 1682.
Recently Alberta has seen rapidly growing oil sands exploitation, with emission levels 23 times that of conventional production. 80% of the deposit must be accessed by drilling, substantially increasing cumulative land disruption: Three times as much land is disturbed to produce the natural gas required for oil-sand drilling as is consumed by the wells themselves.
It is likely that resource quality for oil sands will decline over time as a given reserve is depleted. It can be assumed that the energy inputs required for oil-sands extraction and processing will escalate. Currently, this energy mostly comes from regional natural gas supplies, which are in steep decline. In the very near future, oil-sands exploitation will require other sources of natural gas, which have a higher ecological impact than do the conventional, regional sources.
Since there is a global trend toward much more investment in nonconventional fossil fuel enterprises than in renewable alternatives, we will see an increased ecological impact per unit of fuel produced. Coal production, which is growing at a faster rate than any other fossil fuel, is increasingly dominated by surface and mountain-top mining, which is more ecologically disruptive than underground mining.
Looking at at nonenergy sectors, in China, production efficiency gains in land use for grain production leveled off 30 years ago, but inputs continue to increase, including a 10-fold increase in groundwater extraction to support irrigation since 1961 and a nearly 17-fold increase in fertilizer use between 1961 and 2009. Global fish catch peaked in the past 10 years at approximately 90 million tons, yet fishing effort has continued to increase by 1.1% per year, resulting in more by-catch, damage from fishing equipment, and fuel consumption.
At the Family Planning Summit held in London in July 2012, participants pledged $2.6 billion dollars in additional funding to provide 120 million new women who have 'unmet need' with family planning products and services by 2020 in 69 of the world's poorest countries. This goal has been dubbed 'FP2020.'
However, there may not be 120 million new users to be found in the 69 of the world's poorest countries,
Christopher Purdy, Executive vice president, DKT International found, using UN estimates, that there are 144 million women with unmet need, 73% of them in 20 countries, which include lower-middle and upper-middle income countries such as India, the Philippines, and Algeria. Using the same UN estimates, if we consider only the 69 priority countries of FP2020, the number of all 15-49 year old women with unmet need drops to 109 million. However, if we include only those countries with per capita GNI (PPP adjusted) below $2,500, the number with unmet need drops to around 48 million.
Most of these countries are in Africa, the area where donors are understandably focusing a majority of their resources.
However, while most of the unmet need is where the people are, they are not necessarily where average income levels are lowest. Many of these countries are are lower-middle ($1,026 - $4,035) and upper middle-income ($4,036 - 12,475) countries. This includes countries like Indonesia, South Africa, and Mexico, where there are large pockets of poor people who need family planning. Of the 30 most populous countries - 72% of the world's population - only 12 of them fall below the $2,500 threshold, according to the UN Contraceptive Wall Chart.
Unless we invest in these countries, we will be hard-pressed to reach 120 million new women. For DKT, this meant opening up new programs in Pakistan and Nigeria (both lower-middle income countries) last year.
Allocation of human and financial resources is underway but needs to be aligned with the realities of where the greatest chance for success can be achieved. It would appear that some re-orientation may be required to avoid falling short of FP2020's ambitious target 7 years from now.
Between 1900 and 2000, global energy consumption rose roughly 17-fold, while economic output rose 16-fold — "as close a link as one may find in the unruly realm of economic affairs," University of Manitoba environmental scientist Vaclav Smil has calculated. Of the 11 recessions since the end of the Second World War, all but one were associated with spikes in energy costs — specifically, abrupt jumps in the price of oil.
The rush for imported oil started in 1911 when Winston Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, pushed to replace coal with oil to power the Royal Navy because fuel oil produces about twice as much energy as coal, and ships go faster and farther on oil. Since the U.K had next to no oil, it bought 51% of what is now British Petroleum, which had rights to Iranian oil. This evoked a revolution in Iran, and so Britain worked to install new shahs in Iran and carved Iraq out of the collapsing Ottoman Empire.
Soon all of the Western powers joined the race to secure oil concessions in the Middle East. The struggle created decades of turmoil, oil shocks in 1973 and 1979, failed programs for "energy independence," and two wars in Iraq.
Then, in the 1970s, geologists discovered beneath the seafloor methane hydrate -- deposits of water molecules laced into frigid cages that trap “guest molecules" of crystalline natural gas -- perhaps twice as abundant as all other fossil fuels combined.
Japan is a military and industrial power almost wholly dependent on foreign energy. It is the world's third-biggest net importer of crude oil, the second-biggest importer of coal, and the biggest importer of liquefied natural gas. Japan Oil, Gas, and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) has been exploring the extraction of this methane-hydrate.
In January this year, the Chikyu, a Japanese deep-sea drilling vessel, set out to begin a production test. By mid-March, it had already retrieved about 4 million cubic feet of natural gas from methane hydrate, at double the expected rate. Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry set 2018 as a target date for commercializing methane hydrate. India and South Korea are following along, each spending as much as $30 million a year on hydrate experiments.
If the Chikyu efforts are successful, methane hydrate could have similar effects in Japan, China, India, Korea, Taiwan, and Norway.
The petroleum industry has recently been recharged by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — a technique for splitting rock by shooting water mixed with sand and chemicals into it and releasing previously inaccessible oil, referred to as “tight oil." Natural gas is also released, which, when yielded from shale, is known as shale gas. Fracking has been attacked as menace to underground water supplies, and may eventually be greatly restricted. But it has also produced so much petroleum in North America that the International Energy Agency predicted that by 2035, the United States will become “all but self-sufficient."
Scientists claim that avoiding the worst effects of climate change will require a complete phase-out of carbon emissions over 50 years. However, natural gas burns so much cleaner than coal that the switch from coal to gas - brought about by fracking -- has already reduced U.S. greenhouse-gas emissions to their lowest levels since the 1970s. But burning natural gas still produces carbon dioxide. Some scientists consider natural gas a bridge fuel, but if societies do not take advantage of that bridge to enact anti-carbon policies, natural gas could be “a bridge from the coal-fired past to the coal-fired future," says Michael Levi, the director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change at the Council on Foreign Relations. It could undermine the economic rationale for investing in renewable, carbon-free energy around the world".
There are also the surprising oil fields like the Kern River in Bakersfiled California, that was first drilled in 1899 and is still producing oil after analysts said in 1949 that it was nearly played out. In 1998, an oil rig near the Kern River field drilled thousands of feet deeper than any previous attempt in the area and released an enormous gusher.
In 1956 by M. King Hubbert, a prominent geophysicist at Shell Oil spoke about how easy, cheap oil was taken first and that extracting the rest gets progressively more difficult and expensive. Eventually, Hubbert observed, conditions get so tough that production levels off — it peaks. After the peak, decline is unstoppable. Hubbert predicted that the crude-oil yield in the continental United States would flatten between 1965 and 1970.
On the other hand, under Hubbert's boss, Vincent E. McKelvey, the USGS issued a stream of optimistic assessments about the country's oil future. However, Hubbert's prediction proved to be correct. In 1977, newly elected President Jimmy Carter, a Hubbertian, forced McKelvey to resign. President Carter proclaimed that the planet's proven oil reserves could be consumed “by the end of the next decade," and instituted energy-efficiency measures: gas-mileage regulation, home-appliance energy standards, conservation tax credits, and subsidies for insulation and weatherization.
However, in the 1980s so much crude oil was found that, by the 1990s, prices had fallen to one-fifth of what they had been during the Carter administration. Estimates of reserves rose and rose again. Energy conservation faltered; oil and gas were too cheap to be worth conserving.
On one side, pessimists claim that the planet is slowly running out of petroleum. The other side, the McKelveyans insist that there are vast, untapped petroleum deposits in Alaska and Alberta and off the coast of Virginia, that geysers of natural gas exist in the shale beds of Pennsylvania and North Dakota, and that huge oil patches await extraction in the deep ocean.
Looking again at the Kern River field, its pumps are siphoning up oil so goopy that it almost doesn't float on water, very difficult to extract from the ground. After 1949 engineers developed a precursor to fracking: shooting hot steam down Kern River wells to thin the oil and force it out of the stone. At first heating the water to produce the steam required as much as 40% of the oil that came out of the wells and burning unrefined crude oil released torrents of pollution: nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide. But it squeezed out petroleum that had seemed impossible to reach.
To McKelveyan followers, innovation will keep pushing down the cost of getting the rest. Natural resources cannot be used up, they claim. If one deposit gets too expensive to drill, producers will either find cheaper deposits or shift to a different energy source altogether. Because the hardest-to-get stuff is left in the ground, there will always be petroleum to mine later. The race between declining oil and advancing technology determines the size of a reserve - not the number of hydrocarbon molecules in the ground.
Companies that scrambled to follow the Kern River gusher found millions of barrels of deep oil, but it was mixed with so much water that they couldn't stop the wells from flooding. Within a few years, almost all the new rigs ceased operation. The reserve vanished, but the oil remained.
In the 1980s, OPEC discussed allocating sales based on the size of member states' reserves and six of the 11 OPEC members abruptly hiked their reserve estimates during these discussions. Petroleum geologists Jean Laherrère and Colin Campbell who co-founded the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO) denied these sweeping claims of huge reserves. Their prediction in 1998 that “within the next decade, the supply of conventional oil will be unable to keep up with demand," came true.
Laherrère says. “Once we have used up the easy oil, new types of cheap energy will not appear by magic. We will keep drilling for oil, and it will not be easy to get. Look at the enormously expensive equipment they use now only to keep up production."
“The supply of oil is limited," said President George W. Bush in 2008, echoing Carter. Since then bookshelves shudder beneath the avalanche of warnings, but McKelveyans remain undeterred. Michael Lynch, of the energy-consulting firm SEER, said "It's because the technology is getting better and increasing our reach."
Fracking is unleashing torrents of oil in North Dakota and Texas - it may create a second boom in the San Joaquin Valley - and floods of natural gas in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. As companies switch to cheap natural gas, the U.S. petroleum boom could add as much as 3.3% to America's GDP in the next seven years, according to a Citigroup report. Leonardo Maugeri, of the Italian energy firm Eni, said that, by 2020, all of this country's oil needs “theoretically could come entirely from the Western Hemisphere." Because of fracking, U.S. natural-gas reserves have jumped by almost three-quarters since 2000.
Japan, China, India, much of Europe and Southeast Asia do not have either shale deposits to frack, or the requisite technological base, or the entrepreneurial infrastructure to finance such sweeping changes. Methane hydrate offers some promise to these countries.
Petroleum unconventionals take many forms: tar sands, tight oil, heavy oil, shale gas, coal-bed methane, shale oil, oil shale. (shale oil is different from oil shale.) Methane hydrate is, by some estimates, twice as abundant as all other fossil fuels combined. Unconventionals can be of two kinds: forms of petroleum that are heavier and less refined than the crudest of crude oil, and forms that are lighter and more refined than crude oil. The second category, which includes the natural gas from methane hydrate, seems likely to play a much larger role in humankind's future.
Tar sands have an EROEI of 4 to 7. Plus extracting the bitumen also requires a lot of water. Where is it all going to come from? And to convey the tar sand oil requires building a huge pipeline from Alberta to Texas. This pipeline has been stalled by opposition from U.S. environmentalists, just as pipelines within Canada have been stalled by opposition from both environmentalists and indigenous peoples.
Energy costs for fracking are surprisingly small; a Swiss-American research team calculated in 2011 that the average EROEI for fracked gas in a representative Pennsylvania county was about 87 - about six times better than for Persian Gulf oil and 16 times better than for tar sands. (Fracking uses a lot of water, though, and activists charge that the chemicals contaminate underground water supplies.)
Jean Laherrère claims that shale gas is a “Ponzi scheme" in which oil companies acquire largely fictional methane deposits to polish their balance sheets for Wall Street. A recent Post Carbon Institute study dismissed shale gas as “a temporary reprieve from having to deal with the real problems." But the head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said that the additions to America's energy reserves were the "highest ever recorded since EIA began publishing proved reserve estimates in 1977."
The most promising U.S. deposits of methane-hydrate are in the Gulf of Mexico. Hydrates are thought to blanket about 174,000 square miles of the Gulf, an area about the size of California. Timothy Collett, the energy-research director for the USGS program, says that some of the gulf's more than 3,500 oil and gas wells are in gas-hydrate areas. Extracting these hydrates, in his view, is the logical next step “..as you go into decline on deepwater production."
If one nation succeeds in producing commercial quantities of undersea methane, others will follow. The consequences would be turbulent in petro-autocratic countries where “The possibilities for corruption are endless." Governments dip into the oil kitty to reward friends and buy off enemies. A methane-hydrate boom could lead to a southwest-to-northeast arc of instability through Venezuela, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Siberia.
Also the methane hydrate is inconveniently located in areas of disputed sovereignty. An energy-independent planet may turn out to be be a world of fractious, autonomous actors, none beholden to the others, with even less cooperation than exists today.
Burning coal often releases black carbon, tiny particles that can get into the lungs, estimated to kill 100,000 people in India in a year. Black carbon absorbs heat, darkens clouds, and sometimes alters rain patterns. Falling on snow, it accelerates melting. A four-year assessment from nine nations recently claimed that planetary black-carbon output is the second-biggest driver of anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change.
Natural gas produces next to no soot and half the carbon dioxide that coal does. Replacing coal with with natural gas would be a huge step. Methane itself has a much greater capacity to trap solar heat than carbon dioxide does -- about 20 or 30 times more potent. However, while there are some concerns about escaping methane, we can be assured that any escaping underwater methane will be re-trapped by the cold temperature and high pressures that trapped it in the first place. The real concern, Carolyn Ruppel of the Geological Survey reports, is a slow discharge at ground level, from the machinery that will pull methane hydrate out of the seafloor. The problem already exists with fracking. If a well leaks more than about 3% of its methane production into the air, “natural gas actually becomes dirtier than coal, from a climate-change perspective," says Ramez Naam, the author of The Infinite Resource. Worse still, the aging natural-gas infrastructure is riddled with holes and seeps. Early this year, a survey of gas mains along Boston's 785 miles of road, the first-ever such examination, found 3,356 leaks.
Fixing leaks is something that developed nations can accomplish. What we can't do, or at least not readily, is overcome the laws of economics.
Typical solar cells today have an EROEI of about 10 - better than tar sands but worse than most oil and gas. One recent estimate put the EROEI of Spain's extensive solar-power network at less than three. Many advocates for solar power believe that its EROEI will match that of fossil fuels within a decade. However, as more and more energy comes from sun, wind, tides, and other variable sources, the problem of balancing fluctuating supply and fluctuating demand will worsen. When renewables supply 20 to 30% of all electricity, the system will no longer be able to balance supply and demand. Brownouts will ripple across the landscape; control centers will call up big companies and beg them to turn off the lights. Germany, a leader in renewable-energy use, is already facing this situation. Natural gas seems like the perfect stopgap.
The biggest problem occurs when renewables are ready for prime time after shale fracking is replaced globally by undersea mining of methane hydrate. Revamping the electrical grid from conventionals like coal and oil to accommodate unconventionals like natural gas and solar power is daunting in scale and scope, but it must be done to avert climate change, because electricity generation is responsible for about a third of America's greenhouse-gas emissions.
Scientists have experimented with injecting carbon dioxide into methane hydrate, which takes it in and expels natural gas. If undersea methane hydrate could be mined in this fashion, the sequestered carbon dioxide, forever imprisoned in ice beneath the waves, would offset some emissions. This new kind of carbon sequestration could ameliorate some of the long-term environmental damage that widespread global use of cheap natural gas from methane hydrate will do.
Plentiful natural gas will give us less incentive to accommodate solar power. Vaclav Smil, the University of Manitoba environmental scientist, claims: “Energy transitions are always slow." Modern energy infrastructures, assembled over decades, cannot be revamped overnight. And, there is little public appetite for beginning the process, or even appreciating the magnitude of what lies ahead.
Natural gas, both from fracking and in methane hydrate, gives us a way to cut back on carbon emissions while we work toward a more complete solution. It could be a useful crutch. But only if we have the wit to know that we will soon have to lay it down.
Hopefully we can all agree that the current energy economy is fundamentally toxic to nature and people; that we need to build a new energy economy, one that supports flourishing human and natural communities; that the future energy economy should be powered by renewable sources, not fossil fuels. But consensus breaks down getting into the specifics of just how to advance toward this energy future.
Some "green power" activists are upset by the new book ENERGY: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth, centerpiece of Post Carbon Institute's Energy Reality Campaign because -- among the photos of coal plants, tar-sands development, and the shattered hulk of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station -- a handful of the book's roughly 200 photos were of a concentrated solar plant and a wind power development which were accompanied by a headline which used the phrase "energy blight."
Some environmentalists don't want to look at the significant ecological costs of renewables, but hope to create support for "green" energy by only talking about the upsides. They believe that discussing the downsides only strengthens the fossil-fuel lobbies that are hell-bent on cooking the planet.
But all large-scale energy infrastructure destroys habitat, whether it is hardwood forests cleared for ridgeline wind power development on Lowell Mountain in Vermont, or Mojave Desert vegetation displaced by concentrated solar generating facilities. And big, river-killing dams can produce lots of power with low greenhouse gas emissions.
I am not sympathetic to techno-utopians who seem to think embracing every "green" energy technology, from biofuels to wave power to concentrated solar plants, is going to allow humanity to keep growing our numbers and economic output without destroying the ecosphere.
Conservation and efficiency first, not "drill baby drill" or “build baby build." We envision a future energy economy that supports wild nature, not corporate profit; that fosters beauty and biodiversity, rather than spreading ugliness and ecological damage; that promotes health for nature and people, not perpetual economic growth. And of course is anchored by renewables, not fossil fuels.
Issues of scale, ownership, indigenous rights, and corporate influence over political decision-making are heating up everywhere that large-scale renewables are proposed, from the mega-dams of Brazil and Chilean Patagonia to wind power development in southern Mexico.
Each year in the United States an estimated 11,300 babies die on the day they are born, according to Save the Children. This is the highest first-day death rate in the industrialized world. Investing in and expanding the reach of programs like Medicaid and Title X would make affordable pregnancy-related care and family planning services available to millions of women otherwise unable to obtain such care and would result in fewer first day deaths.
Contributing factors include preterm, unplanned and teen births. One in eight U.S. babies are born prematurely and U.S. preterm births rank second only to Cyprus in the industrialized world. Half of all U.S. pregnancies are unintended and the U.S. adolescent birth rate is the highest among industrialized countries -- with teenage mothers tending to be poorer, less educated and receiving less prenatal care than older mothers.
Comprehensive efforts are needed to reduce pervasive economic, social and health disparities, including improving access to high-quality, affordable maternity care for all women and making effective family planning available to every woman who needs it. These interventions are proven to offer direct and positive effects on newborns' and mothers' health.
Studies show there is a causal link between proper birth spacing and low birth weight, preterm birth and small size for gestational age. There is also an association between pregnancy intention and delayed initiation of prenatal care; women are less likely to recognize a pregnancy early if it is unplanned and therefore have fewer prenatal care visits. Children born from unintended pregnancies are less likely to be breast-fed at all or for a long duration.
Contraception has played a major roll in the drop of the U.S. teen birth rate, which has declined for nearly two decades and the 2010 rate represents a 44% drop from the 1991 rate.
Medicaid, Title X and other public programs help women avoid 1.94 million unintended pregnancies each year, which would otherwise result in 860,000 unplanned births and 810,000 abortions. Without these programs, levels of unintended pregnancy would be nearly two-thirds higher among U.S. women overall and among teens -- and close to twice as high among poor women. Ideological and fiscal attacks against these programs are not only counterproductive, but threaten to worsen what is already a severe crisis for U.S. women and newborns.
Egypt imports about half of its food; however, its foreign currency reserves have been shrinking dramatically and without more external aid, it's difficult to see how Egypt will manage to feed itself.
Recently Qatar, Turkey, and Libya pledged $6.2 billion so that Egypt could continue to purchase wheat, cooking oil, and other staples, but without a continuous flow of aid, it is hard to see how Egypt survives. Egypt has been trying to negotiate a $4.8 billion loan from the IMF, but the IMF is not an international relief agency; it expects its loans to be repaid and will not extend credit when repayment is not made.
Egypt has more people than Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, and the United Arab Emirates combined. Egypt is also heavily dependent on diesel imports to transport its food and run its agriculture machinery. One-third of its population is under the age of 15, and it is estimated that 40% of Egyptians are living on less than $2 a day. In 13 years or less, Egypt's population, currently 82 million, is projected to reach 102 million, and by 2050, 135 million.
With political instability in recent years, Egypt can no longer rely upon tourism to pay the bills. And without a healthier economy, there's no end in sight to the political unrest.
Egypt's poor and middle class are heavily dependent on government food and fuel subsidies for their economic survival. The IMF is insisting that the government agree to trim them on the claim that they are wasteful. However, trimming them would almost certainly fuel widespread protests and further undermine the government.
President Morsi is banking on the large number of Egyptian young people as a source of potential economic strength, hoping that Egypt will soon join the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. Not likely. It would take a whole lot of education and foreign investment to productively employ Egypt's youth; Egypt is just too big.
If Egypt had curbed corruption, educated more girls, empowered women, and instituted economic reforms two or three decades ago, it might have had a fighting chance of turning its demographic corner and joining the BRICS, but its food and foreign currency reserves are steadily shrinking and its population and number of unemployed youth are rising.
In the end, Egypt may be too big and too late to save.
Other countries may see similar dim prospects. Syria is a political nightmare. Yemen's capitol city, Sanaa, could run out of water by the end of this decade. Saudi Arabia is estimated by Citigroup Inc. to be a net oil importer by 2030.
Marco Musiani, a University of Calgary ecologist, concluded from a 5 year study, "Our results led us to believe that ecologists have underestimated the impact of humans on natural food chains. The data we collected shows that humans are deliberately or inadvertently engineering ecosystems regardless of whether they would be naturally pre-disposed to top-down or bottom-up effects. Even in protected areas, the influence of humans might be greater than we previously thought."
The study attempted to determine whether natural ecosystems and associated food chains are primarily regulated by predators or by the productivity of plant species, called top-down and bottom-up effects, respectively.
The research area stretched from Calgary in the northeast, through to the provincial borders with British Columbia in the west and the US-Canada border in the south. "We painstakingly monitored wolves, elk, cattle and plant species, as well as humans for five years. We evaluated how these species interacted across the landscape and ultimately found that humans dominated the ecosystem," lead author Tyler Muhly, PhD, said.
NASA's Landsat program, using a series of satellites, monitors how the human species is altering the surface of the planet. Since 1984, NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has accumulated a stunning catalog of images that, when riffled through and stitched together, create a high-definition slide show of our rapidly changing Earth. TIME magazine, using GOOGLE Earth, is proud to host the public unveiling of these images from orbit.
You can see Dubai, growing from sparse desert metropolis to modern, sprawling megalopolis, or central-pivot irrigation systems turning the sands of Saudi Arabia into an agricultural breadbasket. Watch the high-speed retreat of Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska; the West Virginia Mountains decapitated by the mining industry, and the denuded forests of the Amazon, cut to stubble by loggers.
Google's technology has scrubbed away cloud cover, filled in missing pixels, digitally stitched puzzle-piece pictures together, until the growing, thriving, sometimes dying planet is revealed in all its dynamic churn. The Landsat images take 1.8 trillion pixels per frame, the equivalent of 900,000 high-def TVs assembled into a single mosaic.
How can each of us - individually and as organizations - best use our knowledge, strengths, resources, and values to bring about change that makes women's reproductive autonomy a reality, especially at a time when state legislatures continue to break new records for the number of restrictions on reproductive health-care access are proposed or passed into law, when lawsuits against birth control coverage continue to trickle into the courts, when political candidates can't even get it right on rape and the White House has repeatedly used abortion and birth control as bargaining chips?
We need a movement that allows all organizations and individuals to identify as they see fit and truly put their passions to work on shared or complementary goals will thrive.
For example, in Florida, where women's organizations such as the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the League of Women Voters; religious organizations such as Catholics for Choice, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; and reproductive justice organizations such as the Miami International-Latinas Organizing for Leadership and Advocacy (MI-LOLA) all worked to soundly defeat two ballot measures aimed at curtailing abortion access and real religious liberty.
Some advocates for reproductive health, rights, and justice say we must replace the concept of "choice" with "reproductive justice." Both choice and reproductive justice have a place in our battle for women's autonomy; one cannot take the place of the other.
Catholics are called by their faith to advocate for policies that protect and lift up all people, particularly the most marginalized and the poorest of the poor. It is these religious beliefs that compel us to recognize the dignity and rights of all people, who deserve respect and equal access to reproductive health care, no matter their race, color, class, or creed. Justice is already an inherent part of reproductive choice.
We realize, however, that the reproductive justice model does work for some groups to reach the constituencies that they must reach. American women of color first coined the term “reproductive justice" almost 20 years ago, in 1994 to address concerns that were not being addressed by some in the pro-choice movement. The organization SisterSong continues to highlight these concerns, and we are a stronger movement because of their efforts.
Unfortunately, some people have chosen to denigrate the language and framework of choice. Those who have dismissed choice have most often misrepresented it. We've long known that Americans have felt that pitting the two terms “choice" vs. “life" pitted against each other creates a false dichotomy, and that even those who consider themselves staunchly “pro-life" don't want to see Roe v. Wade overturned and do support abortion access at least some of the time.
Younger generations of women, and their daughters, will lose a great deal if we turn our back on the ‘pro-choice label.'" Young people are the ones most often out canvassing, working phone banks, staffing, and leading our organizations, and they are more supportive of reproductive rights than other generations. They are the ones who are of reproductive age.
The concept of reproductive justice itself is right for some organizations, we cannot afford to be Pollyannaish in assuming it is right for everybody.
It is a good thing when there are experts in different fields, when there are individuals working on separate issues who recognize and spread the word about each other's work, who celebrate each other's achievements, and who understand how they complement each other's goals.
We are all painfully aware that the political power of the Catholic hierarchy has long been one of the greatest obstacles to access to abortion, especially for poor women, here in the United States and around the world. We believe Catholics for Choice must confront this opposition and represent the majority Catholic opinion.
With so many issues and agendas to push, something has to give. All too often it is abortion. Whether this happens because the subject entails taking the risk of pushing politicians who are good on other issues; or because if we include abortion, we won't get healthcare reform; or because even among ourselves we can't agree that women should be able to access abortion when they need it, clear, outspoken advocacy for abortion is increasingly pushed to the back burner. If our organizations, of all groups, are not the ones speaking out most consistently and strongly in support of abortion access, we know that no one else will. And we know that women will be the losers, especially marginalized and vulnerable women who most need strong advocates. Failing to address abortion as part and parcel of women's lives further stigmatizes it and the women who have abortions.
Steering us toward a party platform only serves to narrow our base. We should remember that we have Democrats to thank for both the Hyde and Stupak amendments' creation and continuation, and we can't forget that a prominent Democrat handed over D.C.'s public funding of abortion for poor women in order to make a budget deal. We need to widen our constituency to include all those who support access to reproductive health-care services, not just those who toe a particular party line.
As Katha Pollitt wrote earlier this year, “‘pro-choice' means you believe that whether or not a woman keeps a pregnancy is up to her—the position most Americans say they support when asked about Roe."
We believe in choice because it is centered in personal autonomy. The reproductive justice framework asks us to see these women as individuals who cannot make their own decisions about what they want and need because they face obstacles in carrying out those decisions.
This does not mean we ignore the very real issues of access to resources, services, or the inequalities caused by socio-economic conditions and the need for structural change. It does not mean that we ignore the impact of race or class. It is as true for economically disadvantaged women and women of colour as it is for WASP university graduates. It is as true for women in Pakistan as it is in Britain. Claiming that choice “does not matter," implies women have no interest in making these moral choices for themselves, and perhaps no capacity to do so. This is both patronising and degrading.
Our free will, our God-given ability to decide what to do at any given time based on what we believe is right or wrong cannot be taken from us.
The decision to become or stay pregnant rests with a woman and her conscience. Choice recognizes that the ability to make that decision should not be determined by economic, social, or political factors, but by what each woman believes is right for herself and her circumstances. No matter what she decides, she should be able to do so safely, with dignity, and without having to circumvent unnecessary obstacles, coercion, or stigmatization.
Alfred Lotka in 1922 formulated his law of maximized energy flows: In every instance considered, natural selection will operate so as to increase the total mass of the organic system, to increase the rate of circulation of matter through the system, and to increase the total energy flux through the system so long as there is present and unutilized residue of matter and available energy.
Human societies follow this law, their evolution tending to maximize their biomass, their rate of circulation of matter, and hence the total energy flux through the system. Throughout human societies the trend toward higher energy throughputs has been universal, but the process has been proceeding at a very uneven pace, with affluent countries claiming disproportionate shares of modern energies.
To keep global warming and climate disruption within acceptable limits, concentrations of atmospheric CO2 should be kept below 500 ppm; in 2012 they surpassed 394 ppm. To meet this goal it will be necessary to limit future rates of fossil fuel combustion. Energy conservation and massive harnessing of renewable sources of energy are two popular solutions.
Claims that biomass approaches could provide 50% of the world's Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES) by 2050 would put the human appropriation of plant biomass close to or above 50% of terrestrial photosynthesis, leaving less available for microbes and wildlife, eliminating or irreparably weakening many ecosystemic services, and reduce the recycling of organic matter in agriculture.
For as little as 50 GJ (gigajoules) per capita energy expenditure, a society determined to channel its resources into the provision of adequate diets, good health care, and basic schooling for all of its citizens could guarantee decent physical well-being.
The US per capita expenditure is about 375 GJ and one-sixth of humanity consumes more than 150 GJ per capita. Anything beyond 110 GJ per capita does not seem to bring very many fundamental quality-of-life gains. Pushing beyond 200 GJ has been, on the whole, counterproductive. The only unmistakable outcome is further environmental degradation.
The benefits of high energy use that are enjoyed by affluent countries cannot be extended to the rest of the world because fossil fuels cannot be produced at that rate and the environmental consequences of this expansion would be quite unacceptable.
An ever-rising energy and material throughput is not a viable option on a planet that has a naturally limited capacity to absorb the environmental by-products of this ratcheting process. We must so operate as to stabilize the total mass of the organic system, to limit the rate of circulation of matter through it, and to leave an un-utilized residue of matter and available energy in order to ensure the integrity of the biosphere.
There is plenty of evidence of ecological strain and so far the response has mostly been denial or ignorance. But trouble is coming and we need to respond now.April 28, 2013, Mail and Guardian
Five months ago, PricewaterhouseCoopers released a report that concluded it was too late to hold the future increase in global average temperatures to just two degrees Celsius. "It's time," the report announced, "to prepare for a warmer world".
At the same time, the World Bank released Turn Down the Heat, which set out why a 4 degree warmer world must be avoided. Meanwhile we have seen in the press: the failure of the Rio+20 talks to result in positive action, "zombie" coral reefs, calls for higher birth rates, declining Arctic sea ice, an approaching "state shift" in the earth's biosphere.
In our newest annual report, State of the World 2013 we added an important section, "Open In Case of Emergency."
We should consider ways to upgrade the design of the environmental movement so that it doesn't just respond to immediate threats, such as air pollution and chemical run-off, but helps to cultivate a truly sustainable culture and ground the way we live and think more deeply in ecological reality.
We need to strengthen community roots and social capital, including intergroup networks to bridge different communities. This both inoculates against the worst impacts of disruption and helps with the rebuilding process if it comes to that. We need for the government to be more flexible and responsive to the governed. That requires participation, high skill levels, robust debate, and mutual respect - in other words, a deepened democracy.
The movement for a sustainable future may need to utilize non-violent civil disobedience, especially as things get desperate and governments turn to uncertain solutions such as giant space mirrors, carbon-capturing cement - as quick fixes for a disrupted climate.
There may be some comfort in the lessons learned from Cuba's decline. After the Soviet Union's collapse, Cuba suffered a period of harsh adjustment but has scavenged a culture with a small environmental footprint and remarkably high levels of non-material well-being, including infant mortality rates better than its neighbor to the north.
Science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson says the real question is not "is it too late?" but "how much will we save?" And that will depend on how quickly and boldly we act now. "We can see our present danger, and we can also see our future potential," Robinson explains. "This is not just a dream but a responsibility, a project. And things we can do now to start on this project are all around us, waiting to be taken up and lived."
Watch the following music video for 'Abet', the first Yegna single
A new radio drama, Yegna (pronounced YEN-ya, which means "ours"), that reflects and encourages the potential of Ethiopia's girls, recently started broadcasting to millions of people across Ethiopia.
It follows the story of five very different girls whose shared love of music creates an unlikely friendship that each character draws on as she faces different challenges. The girls go on to form a band, and each episode of the drama features a new song.
The deputy prime minister of Ethiopia, Demeke Mekonnen, said: "This will help to engage the talent of girls and create opportunities for them to be more active participants in school, society and in all economic and political aspects - which is the direct strategy of the Ethiopian government."
The drama is designed to tackle some of the real challenges facing many girls in Ethiopia, including early marriage, violence and the lack of access to education, as well as to encourage and facilitate friendship among girls. Research by the Population Council and others has shown that without social connections girls lack the support, advice and role models they need to reach their potential.
Each 30-minute weekly segment will be followed by a talk show to discuss the themes of the drama. The audience will be able to interact with the show via Facebook, call-in numbers and free SMS messaging. It is hoped the show will evoke conservations in Ethiopian households. The Yegna team is also piloting an approach to provide clubs based on the show, which will create a safe space for girls to come together and learn through games.
Yegna is being aired in the Amharic language, in the capital Addis Ababa and the Amhara region - home to a combined population of some 20 million people, including an estimated 2.5 million girls.
Sea surface temperature for the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem - extending from the Gulf of Maine to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina - reached a record high of 14 degrees Celsius (57.2°F) in 2012, exceeding the previous record high in 1951. Average SST has typically been lower than 12.4 C (54.3 F) over the past three decades according to NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC).
Both contemporary satellite remote-sensing data and long-term ship-board measurements dating back to 1854. were used. The temperature increase in 2012 was the highest jump in temperature seen in the time series and one of only five times temperature has changed by more than 1 C (1.8 F).
The spring 2013 plankton bloom and distributions of fish and shellfish on the Northeast Shelf will be affected. Black sea bass, summer flounder, longfin squid, butterfish, and American lobster have shifted northeastward while Atlantic cod and haddock have shifted southwestward.
NEFSC work reported in 2009 that found about half of the 36 fish stocks studied in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, many of them commercially valuable species, have been shifting northward over the past four decades.
"Changes in ocean temperatures and the timing and strength of spring and fall plankton blooms could affect the biological clocks of many marine species, which spawn at specific times of the year based on environmental cues like water temperature," Kevin Friedland, a scientist in the NEFSC Ecosystem Assessment Program, said.
Last week the 46th session of the Commission on Population and Development concluded at U.N. headquarters. 45 member nations participated. The five-day session was described as fraught with tension and disagreement because most of the states were "concerned about the economic implications of migration, looking at the effects of remittances," said Mohammad Zia-ur-Rehman, chief executive of leading Pakistani NGO Awaz Foundation. He said the connection between health and migration was frequently overlooked. "Many member states are less interested in highlighting issues related to particularly HIV/AIDS and overall sexual and reproductive health rights and gender identity issues and how these can particularly affect migrants," he continued.
The global remittance flows of migration were an estimated $534 billion in 2012, although the U.N. estimates that twice this amount could have been transferred informally.
In October a high-level dialogue on migration and development will be held that will help lay the foundation for how migration will be incorporated into the post-2015 agenda.
The number of internagional migrants reached 214 million in 2010, up from 155 million in 1990, according to U.N. figures.
About half of today's international migrants are women, an extremely vulnerable group, unlikely to receive access to the social and health protections that they need from gender-based violence, unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
I remember how red my face turned when my parents first told me about sex. I can still hear the power in my mother's voice when she told me I always have a choice about when and if I want to have a child. She made sure to end every one of our talks with a reminder about whom we need to thank for equal rights and safe access to reproductive care.
It's no surprise that I work for Global Fund for Women today. It's a place where I am lucky enough to speak and dream with women from Colombia to Afghanistan about a world where women and girls everywhere have voice, choice and the resources to achieve their human rights.
But right now I'm a little worried. Since 2010, 32 states in my own country, the U.S., have enacted laws that restrict women's access to healthcare -- specifically contraceptives and safe abortion services.
Dr. Charles Fowler is a recently retired American scientist who worked for NOAA at the Alaska Fisheries Science Center who in 2008 wrote a paper entitled "Maximizing biodiversity, information and sustainability" - see http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10531-008-9327-2?no-access=true
According to Dr. Fowler, in order to maximize the biodiversity of the planet we would need to reduce human population to about 1/700 (10 million people), overall energy use to 1/6000, CO2 emissions to about 1/8000, consumption of the planet's primary production to 1/13,000, and our water consumption to 1/267,000.
That means each of the 10 million people would use 12% of today's average energy, produce 8% of the CO2, use 5% of the planet's productivity and consume just 0.3% of the fresh water.
These 10 million would have a standard of living of less than 10% what the "world average" person enjoys today.
This is about half the lower-bound number arrived at in Thermodynamic Footprints and Sustainability, which was 20 million people all living a strict hunter-gatherer lifestyle.
We will eventually, somehow revert back to a situation much closer to true sustainability. However, because the gap between where we are and where we need to be is so enormous, it's essentially impossible for us to manage ourselves out of our predicament within the next century. That means an involuntary correction is inevitable, with all the hardship that implies.
This is an animated visualization of Arctic Sea Ice minimum volumes reached every September since 1979. The producer of this video also composed and performed the piano music, "Ice Dreams".
The rate of ice loss in the Arctic is staggering. Since 1979, the volume of Summer Arctic Sea Ice has declined by 80% and is accelerating faster than scientists believed it would, or even could melt. The first ice-free summer in the Arctic Ocean is expected to happen between 2016 and 2022.
Generation Jobless: the Number of Young People Out of Work Globally is Nearly as Big as the Population of the United StatesMay 01, 2013, Economist
The total number of young jobless people is 311 million. Those who start their careers on the dole are more likely to have lower wages and more spells of joblessness later in life, because they lose out on the chance to acquire skills and self-confidence in their formative years.
In the West economic slowdown has reduced demand for labor, and it is easier to put off hiring young people than it is to fire older workers. In emerging economies population growth is fastest in countries with dysfunctional labour markets, such as India and Egypt.
There is an "arc of unemployment" from southern Europe through north Africa and the Middle East to South Asia, where the rich world's recession meets the poor world's youth quake. Countries with high youth employment are starting to see riots and violent crime.
The answer lies in reforming labour markets and improving education.
Rigid labour markets, such as those with powerful trade unions, high taxes on hiring, strict rules about firing, and high minimum wages help condemn young people to the street corner. South Africa is such an example.
In addition to deregulating labour markets, governments which take a more active role in finding jobs for those who are struggling can help young people get jobs. Germany, which has the second-lowest level of youth unemployment in the rich world, pays a proportion of the wages of the long-term unemployed for the first two years. The Nordic countries provide young people with "personalised plans" to get them into employment or training. For countries that can't afford this approach, a cheaper approach would be to reform labor-hungry bits of the economy such as making it easier for small businesses to get licenses, or construction companies to get approval for projects, or shops to stay open in the evening.
In both Britain and the United States many people with expensive liberal-arts degrees are finding it impossible to get decent jobs. In north Africa university graduates are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-graduates. Vocational and technical education needs to be upgraded and companies and schools need to forge closer relationships.
The Food and Drug Administration said that it would allow Plan B One-Step emergency contraception to be offered on drugstore shelves next to other family planning products such as condoms and pregnancy tests. -- but only to those age 15 and over.
Consumers will be required to show proof of age at the register. Many of those under age 17 may not have a photo ID if they do not yet have a driver's license.
Emergency contraception contains high doses of the female hormone progestin and needs to be taken within three days of unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy; it's currently available without a prescription to those age 17 and over but is kept behind a pharmacy counter and dispensed only when the pharmacy is open.
The FDA said that women age 15 and older "understood that the product was not for routine use and would not protect them against sexually transmitted diseases" and could be used safely without a doctor's supervision.
Solar and wind power are, in many places, competitive with fossil fuels, but one drawback is that they are intermittent. But since they can't supply power that is available on demand, they must be backed up by power sources that can provide power when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing.
The ideal power storage solution would be able to store energy densely, at a reasonable capital cost, and would be able to return that power at high efficiency.
Batteries are the most well-known solution. They are often used in personal solar systems to provide power at night. But they have low energy density, are expensive, and have a limited lifespan. However, a great deal of research is being devoted to the development of advanced batteries, which are projected to reach gigawatt levels of utility-scale storage over the next 10 years.
Pumped hydropower storage (PHS) is already commercially used in some conventional power plants. Off-peak power is used to pump water up to a reservoir at a higher elevation, and then returned through turbines to produce electricity. PHS accounts for 99% of utility-scale storage capacity worldwide and is 75% efficient, the highest of many other storage options. With PHS, a very large amount of power can be stored for long periods of time, but accessed quickly. But initial capital costs are high and the technology is limited by geography to locations that can host a large reservoir at a significantly higher elevation than the power station.
Compressed air energy storage (CAES) uses off-peak power to compress air into a storage reservoir, which is later released through a turbine to produce electricity as needed. Utility-scale CAES facilities are in Germany and in the US state of Alabama, both using salt caverns as storage. Another storage option is under water in bags. The cycle efficiency of the CAES systems currently operating is reportedly 40% or less. CAES is also limited by geography.
Hydrogen is an energy-dense storage options, storing a lot more energy than of gasoline by weight, and containing over three times the energy of gasoline per kg. However, in volume, hydrogen takes far more than gasoline. One liter of gasoline contains over 20 times the energy of one liter of 150 bar hydrogen. A utility in Germany is investing in a hydrogen-based storage system where off-peak power is used to make hydrogen from water by electrolysis, and then the hydrogen is injected into a natural gas pipeline. The hydrogen-natural gas mixture can then be used as needed for power production, or for heating. It's efficiency is computed to be less than 50%, which means the value of peak power would need to be more than twice the value of off-peak power to make such storage profitable.
The inventor of the energy return on investment (EROI) metric argues that economic growth could soon stop—and that we need to get smart about incorporating the true cost of fuel in energy policiesApril 2013, Scientific American By: Mason Inman
Editor's Note: The two images from above are not from the Scientific American article summarized below. The first one is based on an infographic in the same issue of Scientific America, but enhanced to include additional sources of energy. The units of measure on the left side have also been changed to a common unit for both liquid of fuels and fuels used for electricity so that the scope of the problem could be seen by comparing how much we rely on liquid fuels to how much we use for electricity. In other words, we would have to produce approximately twice the amount of electricity that we produce today in order to power transportation and food production with electricity.
The second image is taken from an image adapted from a concept by Lambert and Lambert, and used by Charles Hall in his video about EROI, but it has been turned upside down to reflect the smaller the average EROI, the less civilization and economy we can maintain.
While producers of oil and gas promise more and more of those fossil fuels and scoff at alternatives, Charles Hall has been looking at the energy required to access those resources.
Scientific American interviews Charles Hall:
Hall is given credit for creating a measure known as the energy return on investment, or EROI—the ratio of energy output over energy input. Oil, for example, needs energy to find the oil reservoir, drill the well and pump the oil out of the ground. EROI helps us see which energy sources are high quality and which are not.
His pioneering work included a 1984 paper in Science magazine. Recent soaring oil prices and increasing difficulty of accessing new supplies have helped create economic hardships have led to a resurgent interest in EROI.
He discovered the importance of the EROI concept when studying fish migration patterns and found that the fish went where the water was highly oxygenated (energy) when they were breeding. His study found that fish populations that migrated would return at least four calories for every calorie they invested in the process of migration by being able to exploit different ecosystems of different productivity at different stages of their life cycles.
His mentor, Howard Odum, had written a book - Environment, Power and Society - telling how systems have similar patterns and many similar processes of consumption and production, and similar controls on them. Hall was also influenced by Paul Ehrlich, Garrett Hardin (The Tragedy of the Commons), George Woodwell (founder of the Woods Hole Research Center).
While there a lot of oil left in the ground, we have to struggle more and more to get the next barrel of oil, so the EROI goes down, down, down.
Since everything we make depends on energy, you can't simply pay more and more and get enough to run society. At some energy return on investment -- maybe 5:1 or 6:1 -- it doesn't work anymore.
1.1 - pump the oil out of the ground and look at it.
1.2 - you could also refine and look at it.
1.3 - also distribute it to where you want and look at it.
3.0 - build and maintain the truck and the roads and bridges required to use it
5.0 - grow grain and put it in the truck and deliver it
8.0 - to support farmers and truck drivers and their families
9.0 - if your want to give your children an education
10.0 - if you want health care
14.0 - if you want arts in your life
Corn-based ethanol has an EROI of around 1. Most alternatives are very low on EROI. We may not be able to sustain our civilization on these alternative fuels.
If you correct the U.S. GDP for debt, which is some kind of not-real growth - then I think the GDP hasn't grown at all since 2005. Clearly growth has declined. The middle class has not increased its income for 20 years. Probably due to the decline in the availability of energy.
It's terrifying to people -- politicians and economists -- who base everything on growth. I think they won't talk about it because the concept is terrifying.
Economists made their determination that economic growth can continue indefinitely at a time when we were able to pump more oil out of the ground.
Karen Gaia says: A study on this subject is published at: http://www.roboticscaucus.org/ENERGYPOLICYCMTEMTGS/Nov2012AGENDA/documents/DFID_Report1_2012_11_04-2.pdf Commissioned by the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID) and developed by the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry
The subscription version of April 2013 Scientific American has a nice-looking chart showing the EROI of various fuels and the amounts of each fuels used annually. I revamped this chart to put fuel quantity in a different unit of measure in order to compare the quantities of all fuels and to add a couple not on the Scientific American chart. See below. Also, I revamped the Energetic Needs Pyramid found in the DFID report. See above.
With the lesson of Deepwater Horizon, one thing became very clear: the easy oil is gone. That's not a future development; it's already here.
No one pursues a course as risky, dangerous, and expensive as drilling four miles down into the Gulf of Mexico unless all the easier stuff is no longer available.
Follow this link for some basic facts about oil extraction - http://ibiblio.org/tcrp/sidebars/extraction.html
In the graph showing the future of liquid fuels from the U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Information Agency (EIA) the top line is world demand for liquid fuels. Over the long term it always increases steadily due to population growth, if nothing else.
As the graph makes clear, existing sources of conventional oil are already in steep decline, and unconventional sources can't keep up with that decline. The result is a growing gap between supply and demand beginning not long after 2012. No combination of currently foreseeable efforts can make up for the rate of decline in conventional oil production, and any new projects are certain to be much more expensive than those of the past.
Before, there has always been enough liquid fuel to meet demand, because it could be pumped out as fast as people had a use for it.
In the short term (10 years), no current proposal of liquid fuel alternatives will avert a near-term future of decreasingly less available liquid fuel. The proposed technological solutions to the coming oil crunch are at best wishful thinking and at worst border on the fraudulent.
One example is hydrogen, which is, in fact, not a source of energy; it's just a way of storing energy, like batteries. And if we had the extra energy to store, we could distribute it much more easily by building out the existing electric grid—and much more efficiently, too. Because hydrogen has to go through the extra steps of electrolysis, liquification or compressions, and transport, the pure electric approach delivers three times the power to the road from a given input of electricity than the hydrogen-based approach.
Car manufacturer GM promoted hydrogen cars, but the last serious publicity the company put into this was in 2006. Now attention is focused electric cars. This is an improvement, but unfortunately not a solution.
Transitioning to electricity may make some technical sense but is not adequate considering the scale of the problem.
According to the EIA, total U.S. petroleum consumption in 2007 was 20,680,000 barrels per day, and 70% of it went to transportation, which figures to about 9.0 billion MWh/year of energy from petroleum. But total U.S. electrical output in 2007 was only about 4.2 billion MWh -- one-half the amount of fuel we're using in vehicles. We would have to double the size of our entire electric generating and distribution system, which includes doubling the amount of fuel consumed. It is safe to assume that we will not see this happening in the next ten years.
Only a tiny proportion of our electrical generating capacity is due to wind, solar, and biomass. Electricity from nuclear is much greater, of course, but the cost and planning horizon of nuclear projects means that any nuclear expansion would take many years.
Hydrofracking for natural gas would give us a temporary shot of fossil fuel at the cost of our farms and our drinking water, and at the end of the process we're left back where we started but with permanent damage to our environment. Oil from "tar sands" and "oil shales," don't yield significantly more energy than they use but simply substitute one source of energy for another, in this case, massive amounts of natural gas to heat the “tar". Also production uses phenomenally large amounts of water and is even more destructive to the environment than hydrofracking.
Ethanol from corn also doesn't actually deliver significantly more energy than it consumes.
The development of solar and wind power are worth pursuing, but neither can change the history of the next decade or so, either because they are not solutions at all or because it is physically impossible to increase production from alternative sources quickly enough to have a meaningful impact in that period of time.
We could produce liquid fuels from coal, creating an excellent synthetic fuel, but the process is brutally expensive and therefore instituted only as a last resort. And coal and natural gas are themselves finite resources that are closer to their own peaks than most people realize.
A 2005 DOE study decided that widespread disruption to our economic system from peak oil could be averted by nothing less than a WW2-level national mobilization effort to implement coal-to-liquids starting at least a decade ahead of the peak - and we don't have that kind of time left.
Researchers Owen, Interwildi, and King found that supply and demand is likely to diverge between 2010 and 2015, unless demand falls in parallel with supply constrained induced recession.
A study by a team from Kuwait University published last April in Energy & Fuels 2010, performed an in-depth mathematical analysis of the 47 leading oil-producing countries and found that world oil reserves are being depleted at an annual rate of 2.1%. World production is estimated to peak in 2014.
The United States Joint Command published an assessment last February in Joint Operating Environment 2010, which found that, by 2012, surplus oil production capacity could entirely disappear, and as early as 2015, the shortfall in output could reach nearly 10 MBD (12% of current global oil production).
In September, Forbes interviewed oil analyst Charles Maxwell who said: "A bind is clearly coming. We think that the peak in production will actually occur in the period 2015 to 2020." .. "On the other side of that plateau, production will begin slowly moving down. By 2020, we should be headed in a downward direction for oil output in the world each year instead of an upward direction, as we are today."
Going back to the Owen, Interwildi, and King survey, which said that supply and demand are likely to diverge between 2010 and 2015, unless demand falls in parallel with supply constrained induced recession. This forecast, like the rest, is based on the assumption that the economy stays healthy. But how likely is that?
Fuel prices and the economy have become deeply interdependent. Prices above $85 per barrel have a damaging effect on the economy. Our current economic downturn was about bad credit and a real estate bubble, but some analysts suspect that the first card to be pulled out of the house of cards was the spike in oil prices that briefly drove crude to $145 a barrel.
Because of this we may see a period of boom-and-bust cycles where a rising economy causes a rise in fuel prices followed by an economic downturn and falling fuel prices. This may push the peak into the next decade.
Both sides of the boom-and-bust cycle limit the amount of fuel we will be consuming on average. Either we will be employed but unable to afford the high fuel prices associated with a good economy, or we will have lower fuel prices in an economic downturn but be unable to buy any because we're unemployed.
Since the U.S. imports most of its oil, the picture looks very dark indeed. Oil exporting countries have to meet their own needs at the same time that almost all of them are producing less oil every year, causing exports to fall.
China's acquisition of long-term contracts with major oil producers would also mean less oil for the U.S.
The American economy is based on the assumption that growth is inevitable. Take that growth away, and the whole thing collapses, as we saw when real estate prices stopped increasing.
An analysis by the German Army (the Bundeswehr), summed up the consequences of declining oil production for their country this way: "Investment will decline and debt service will be challenged, leading to a crash in financial markets, accompanied by a loss of trust in currencies and a break-up of value and supply chains -- because trade is no longer possible. This would in turn lead to the collapse of economies, mass unemployment, government defaults and infrastructure breakdowns, ultimately followed by famines and total system collapse."
When the economy is bad, we won't have the money to spend on sensible measures like alternative energy and mass transit, and when it starts to recover, we'll tell ourselves that the problem was temporary.
Since less fuel will be available to use, we will find ourselves staying closer to home. Life will become more local. Supply chains will have begun to contract and we will shift back to more local production.
Food (as a percentage of income) will be increasingly expensive and farm land will increase in value, and farm employment will rise as manual labor begins to replace energy provided by liquid fuels.
We may begin to see occasional interruptions in some services (electricity, water, sewer, internet, etc.) since huge quantities of liquid fuel are consumed in maintaining all of these service infrastructures, and rising fuel prices will probably result in deferred maintenance and a possible consequent lack of reliability.
U.S. household income in real dollars peaked in 1998-1999 and has been declining ever since. There's no reason to believe that this trend will be reversed.
The government will have fewer financial resources and the most meaningful responses will have to come from individual efforts or self-organized community action.
Follow the link in the headline to see how densely packed we can get. Tremendous apartment houses fill the view in these amazing pictures. The overall effect is like staring at a frozen tidal wave of residential construction.
Modern cities allow enormous numbers of people to spend their lives in extraordinary close proximity, piling them, literally, on top of each other, and somehow, it works! Because cities, even the ugliest ones, have an obvious efficiency. If all 7 billion of us had to live side-by-side in two story ranch houses, or yurts we'd overrun the planet; we'd strangle the forests, the meadows, the plains.
Tim de Chant has a blog called Per Square Mile, where he thinks about population density. Suppose we could move everybody on Earth into a single city. How much space would that city occupy?
At the website you will find a pictorial representation of 7 billion at the density of six different cities.
Seven billion people living like Houstonians would occupy a lot more space than 7 billion people living like Manhattanites. People lumped together in One Big City will still need food, furniture, clothing, water, electricity, building materials, still need a place to store their waste. They still need water systems, farms, ranches, electricity grids, dumps, and lakes. Tim de Chant calculated that if everybody agreed to live like the average Bangladeshi, the world could exist largely people-free. But as soon as we get richer - even as rich as the average Chinese - the world can't carry all 7 billion of us. We need more planet. If we all want to live American-style, we'd need four more planets.
Even though Europe has three-quarters of the world's total installed capacity of solar photovoltaic energy and Germany has trebled its wind-power capacity in the past decade, by far the largest so-called renewable fuel used in Europe is wood.
Biomass in the form of wood accounts for about half of Europe's renewable-energy consumption. In Poland and Finland, wood meets more than 80% of renewable-energy demand. In Germany, wood makes up 38% of non-fossil fuel consumption.
The argument that wood is low in carbon goes like this: if wood used in a power station comes from properly managed forests, then the carbon that billows out of the chimney can be offset by the carbon that is captured and stored in newly planted trees. Once it was determined to be 'low carbon' the leap was made toward calling it a renewable, and its usage soared.
Power stations can burn a mixture of 90% coal and 10% wood with little new investment, helping them meet environmental standards. Wood energy is not intermittent as is that produced from the sun and the wind. The EU wants to get 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020; it would miss this target by a country mile if it relied on solar and wind alone.
At first Scandinavian pulp and paper mills would have a power station nearby which burned branches and sawdust. But in 2011 a large German utility converted a power station in eastern England to run entirely on wood pellets. In Britain, Drax, owner of one of Europe's largest coal-fired power stations, converted three of its six boilers to burn wood. In 2016 they will generate 12.5 terawatt hours of electricity a year. This energy will get a subsidy paid on top of the market price for electricity. Drax could be getting £550m a year in subsidies for biomass after 2016—more than its 2012 pretax profit of £190m.
Europe does not produce enough timber to meet the additional demand. Imports of wood pellets into the EU rose by 50% in 2010 alone. Much of the exports will come from a new wood-exporting business that is booming in western Canada and the American south.
Companies that use wood as an input are feeling the pressure. Particle board manufacturers, pulp and paper companies, and furniture-makers complain that competition from energy producers are pushing to have the energy subsidies significantly reduced or removed.
But real the problem is that wood produces carbon twice over: once in the power station, once in the supply chain. The process of making pellets out of wood involves grinding it up, turning it into a dough and putting it under pressure. That, plus the shipping, requires energy and produces carbon: 200kg of CO2 for the amount of wood needed to provide 1MWh of electricity.
Using land to produce plants for energy typically means that this land is not producing plants for other purposes, including carbon otherwise sequestered.
Tim Searchinger of Princeton University calculates that if whole trees are used to produce energy, as they sometimes are, they increase carbon emissions compared with coal (the dirtiest fuel) by 79% over 20 years and 49% over 40 years; there is no carbon reduction until 100 years have passed, when the replacement trees have grown up. But as Tom Brookes of the European Climate Foundation points out, "we're trying to cut carbon now; not in 100 years' time."
UN development report uses nutrition and education as yardsticks as well as incomeMarch 16 , 2013, Mail and Guardian By: Tracy Mcveigh
A study by Oxford University's poverty and human development initiative, which uses a new approach to measuring deprivation, predicts that countries among the most impoverished in the world could see acute poverty eradicated within 20 years if they continue at present rates.
Rwanda, Nepal and Bangladesh were identified as places where deprivation could disappear within the lifetime of present generations. Ghana, Tanzania, Cambodia and Bolivia follow close behind.
The study comes after the UN's latest development report published last week which stated that "Higher growth in at least 40 poor countries is lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty and into a new 'global middle class'. Never in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast."
The improvement is the result of international and national aid and development projects investing in schools, health clinics, housing, infrastructure and improved access to water. Trade was also a key factor in improving conditions in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone.
In the past poverty was measured strictly in income terms without taking into account other factors - health, education and living standards.
The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), just updated in the 2013 UN report includes ten indicators to calculate poverty - nutrition, child mortality, years of schooling and attendance, cooking fuel, water, sanitation, electricity assets and a covered floor.
The old methods of looking at income levels - such as those living on $1.25 a day or less- ignores other deprivations such as in nutrition, health and sanitation.
The institute's director Dr Sabina Alkire said: "Poverty is more than money - it is ill health, it is food insecurity, it is not having work, or experiencing violence and humiliation, or not having health care, electricity, or good housing."
"Citizen activism is under-appreciated for its role. Maybe we have been overlooking the power of the people themselves, women who are empowering each other, civil society pulling itself up."
1.6 billion people are living in "multidimensional" poverty. The poorest one billion live in 100 countries. Most of the bottom billion live in South Asia, with India home to 40%, followed by sub-Saharan Africa with 33%. The report also found that 9.5% of the bottom billion poor people lived in developed, upper middle-income countries.
New Study Finds Girls Younger than 15 Especially Vulnerable to Arranged and Unwanted MarriageApril 11 , 2013, Guttmacher Institute
Lack of educational opportunities for girls is fueling the Ethiopia's high level of early marriage, according to Annabel Erulkar, of the Population Council in Ethiopia. Of the 20-24-year-old women that she studied, 79% of those who had married before age 15 had never been to school and only 3% had attained any secondary schooling. Unschooled women had 9 times the risk of marrying before age 15 as women who had some degree of formal education and five times the risk of marrying at ages 15-17.
Of those married before age 15, 97% had a mother with no education and 91% had a father with no education, compared to those who had not married during adolescence, 76% and 64%.
89% of girls married before age 15 had arranged marriages, compared with 52% of those married at ages 18-19. 71% of girls younger than 15 had not met their spouse until the wedding day. and only 33% had known about the marriage beforehand, and just 31% wanted to be married at the time.
Those who had married before age 15 were far less likely to have wanted to have sex than were those who had married at ages 18-19 (49% vs. 85%). The youngest brides were more likely than older brides to have recently experienced intimate partner violence at the hands of their husbands.
Girls in rural areas - with high rates of poverty and where cultural beliefs and social norms uphold the practice - were found to be four times as likely as urban girls to marry before the age of 15. In the Amhara region, the median age at marriage among females is 14.4.
Community-based programs that get girls into school and keep them there may be more effective at combating early child marriage than strategies that address girls already in school or seek to change community attitudes toward early marriage.
Under an amendment proposed by Republicans in Ohio's legislative House, sex ed classes wouldn't be permitted to provide students with any information that might "condone" gateway activity. That includes dispensing contraception. Gateway activity is described as "sexual contact" ; that is, “any touching of an erogenous zone of another, including without limitation the thigh, genitals, buttock, pubic region, or, if the person is a female, a breast." The legislation would also empower parents to sue if their children end up receiving this type of sexual instruction, and sex ed teachers could be subject to thousands of dollars in fines:
The legislation would also empower parents to sue if their children end up receiving this type of sexual instruction, and sex ed teachers could be subject to thousands of dollars in fines:
It goes on to prohibit distributing certain materials, conducting demonstrations with “sexual stimulation" devices, or distributing contraception.
If a student receives such instruction, a parent or guardian can sue for damages, and a court may impose a civil fine of up to $5,000.
Last year, Tennessee Republicans pushed to strengthen their state's abstinence-only law by defining kissing and hand-holding as gateway activities that could lead teens to engage in sexual intercourse. Whether or not U.S. teenagers are taught abstinence in their health classes, most of them still become sexually active. By their 19th birthday, 70% of American teens will have had sex.
Abortion opponents in Ohio also successfully pushed for an amendment to the legislation that would defund the state's Planned Parenthood clinics, and reallocate those family planning dollars to right-wing “crisis pregnancy centers" that don't actually provide the same kind of health services.
In the first three months of this year state legislatures introduced 694 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. 93 have been approved by at least one legislative body.
About half of these seek to restrict access to abortion, most of them seeking to ban abortion outright. 14 states introduced provisions seeking to ban abortion prior to viability. All of these proposals are in direct violation of U.S. Supreme Court decisions which allow abortions up until viability.
Legislators in 10 states have introduced proposals that would ban all, or nearly all, abortions. In eight of those states (AL, IA, MS, ND, OK, SC, VA and WA), legislators have proposed defining "personhood" as beginning at conception; if adopted, these measures would ban most, if not all, abortions. In CO, FL, IA and ND, legislators introduced measures that would ban abortion except in very limited circumstances, such as when the woman's life is endangered or in cases of rape or incest; none have passed a legislative chamber.
Arkansas and North Dakota have already enacted legislation this year banning nearly all abortions beginning at some point in the first trimester of pregnancy; similar measures have been introduced in KS, KY, MS and WY.
Legislation to ban abortions at 20 weeks postfertilization was enacted in Arkansas and is pending in nine other states (IA, IL, KY, MD, ND, OR, TX, VA and WV). These bans are patterned after a 2010 Nebraska law that has already served as the model for such laws in eight other states, two of which are enjoined pending legal challenges because they prohibit abortion prior to viability.
Eight states (AL, AR, IA, IN, MO, MS, NC and TX) have introduced provisions to restrict medication abortion. If adopted, these restrictions threaten U.S. trend toward very early abortion.
Seven states already ban telemedicine for prescribing medication abortion.
On the other hand, two states, Colorado and Hawaii, were poised at the end of March to enact legislation expanding access to comprehensive sex education; if enacted, it would be the first time since 2010 that any state has done so.
China has loosened its one-child policy to allow more couples to have a second child in the rural areas of five provinces and two municipalities, it was announced on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the National People's Congress (NPC).
Couples from rural areas in the municipalities of Shanghai and Tianjin and the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin, Jiangsu, Anhui and Fujian could have a second child if either of them was the only child.
Currently rural couples can have a second child if the firstborn was a girl and both rural and urban couples can have a second child if the father and mother was the only child of their parents.
30 years ago China introduced the one-child policy bringing China's fertility rate to 1.5 today.
Issues related to aging, gender imbalances, urbanisation, an expanding shortage of migrant workers and an only-child generation may have led to the decision.
In India, Anita Devi had five children in nine years of marriage; three of her children were born within a year of each other. As part of India's postpartum family planning effort, the nurse-midwife encouraged Anita to choose contraception after the birth of her fifth child. Anita chose intrauterine contraception.
"My mother-in-law was against any form of contraception," Mrs. Devi explained when asked about her previous births. "Though my second child was a son, she said that I should try for more sons. But my next children were girls. I was tired and felt I had nothing left in my body."
In Bihar province, families have on average 3.7 children, and only 32.4 percent of women use any family planning method.
With the support and technical expertise of Jhpiego (affiliate of Johns Hopkins University) and under the PPFP (Post Partum Family Planning) initiative supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, India's nurse-midwives are educating and counseling women about their family planning options during antenatal visits and introducing them to the intrauterine contraceptive device (IUCD). This long-acting method lasts for 10 years and can be inserted within 48 hours after giving birth. 16 states are participating in the program.
She has seen firsthand the challenges women and their families face when burdened with too many children, often struggling to provide them with food and clothing. "Only if we have smaller families will we be able to have healthier families where the children will get better nutrition and opportunities to educate themselves. Only then can we ultimately have a better and healthier society."
Anna has five children, and wants to plan her family, but her mother-in-law, said she didn't have enough children.
Victoria Marijani, the Program Manager for Reproductive Health Services at PSI Tanzania said "There are lots of Annas who have barriers and cannot access services."
Population Action International was represented by President Suzanne Ehlers at a Senate briefing which included Marijani as well as Ellen Starbird, the new Director of Office of Population and Reproductive Health at USAID; and Harvard economist David Canning, who co-authored the Lancet article "The Economic Consequences of Reproductive Health and Family Planning." The focus was providing women everywhere with the family planning services they want, and the potential impact that can have.
“Development is a best buy," Ehlers said. “Let's not forget it, and let's…get that message in front of those who, for whatever reason, haven't heard it for the past 30 years. Emphasis on family planning, and women's sexual and reproductive health, is completely a multiplier investment for nations."
Jonathan V. Last, senior writer at The Weekly Standard, insists that America is heading over a demographic cliff because we're not making enough babies. And the Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast, The Los Angeles Times, and others, gave him a forum.
The U.S. has relentlessly added 2 to 3 million people per year for decades —33 million in the 1990s, 27 million in the 2000s. We added more than 100 million in the last 40 years, and in the next 40 to 50 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, we will add another 100 million, most of it directly and indirectly from immigration.
Our current population of 315 million runs a substantial ecological deficit that is pushing us ever deeper into ecological debt, according to the Global Footprint Network, which says: if every country in the world were as overpopulated and resource- intensive as the United States, it would take more than four Earths to support us all. But we only have one planet at our disposal.
Part of caring for our planet is having the collective wisdom to live within limits, including limiting the size of our families and population.
We are busily sawing off the limb upon which the entire human enterprise rests—degrading and squandering the "natural capital" that makes sustainable economic prosperity possible.
Mr. Last quotes Julian Simon who said that "…growing populations lead to increased innovation and conservation. Think about it: Since 1970, commodity prices have continued to fall and America's environment has become much cleaner and more sustainable—even though our population has increased by more than 50%. Human ingenuity, it turns out, is the most precious resource."
Commodity prices did fall from 1970 to 2000, but in the 2000s prices for almost all raw materials have increased sharply. Americans mistook temporary abundance of nonrenewable natural resources like the fossil fuels and metals as permanent sufficiency. It's a miscalculation with monumental consequences.
We have fewer wetlands, fewer free-flowing rivers, less available surface and groundwater, less open space, fewer remaining fossil fuels and high grade metal and mineral ores, fewer arable soils, fewer healthy and more diseased forests, more wildfires and droughts, record temperatures, fewer fish, less de facto wilderness, more threatened and endangered species, more harmful invasive species, higher carbon dioxide emissions, and more crowded parks and beaches than ever before. The climate is becoming more erratic; sea level is rising, and the oceans are becoming more polluted and acidic.
Julian Simon once bragged: “We now have in our hands—in our libraries, really—the technology to feed, clothe, and supply energy to an ever-growing population for the next 7 billion years."
Physicist Al Bartlett calculated that after just 17,000 years (only 0.00024% of 7 billion years), a population growing at the underwhelming but steady rate of 1% annually—about equal to the U.S. growth rate—would produce as many humans as atoms in the known universe.
In recent months we've seen a spate of assertions that peak oil is a worry of the past thanks to so-called "new technologies" that can tap massive amounts of previously inaccessible stores of "unconventional" oil. "Don't worry, drive on," we're told.
We can fall for the oil industry hype and keep ourselves chained to a resource that's depleting and comes with ever increasing economic and environmental costs, or we can recognize that the days of cheap and abundant oil (not to mention coal and natural gas) are over.
Unfortunately, the mainstream media and politicians on both sides of the aisle are parroting the hype, claiming — in Obama's case — that unconventional oil can play a key role in an "all of the above" energy strategy and — in Romney's — that increased production of tight oil and tar sands can make North America energy independent by the end of his second term.
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Amusing video starring Dave Gardner.
Growthbuster Dave Gardner took advantage of Earth Day 2013 to pass out Endangered Species Condoms from the Center for Biological Diversity. The condoms are intended to raise awareness that human population growth is causing an alarming rate of species extinction. Gardner's 2011 documentary, GrowthBusters: Hooked on Growth, examines our culture's unsustainable worship of growth everlasting. Find out more about the film at http:www.growthbusters.org. Check out the Center for Biological Diversity at http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/
Dear Chairwoman Granger and Ranking Member Lowey:
We write to urge your support for international family planning and reproductive health programs in the FY 2014 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill. We respectfully request that international family planning and reproductive health programs be funded at least at the President's Budget request of $635.4 million, including $37 million for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
We believe this would be an important step toward investing $1 billion annually in family planning and reproductive health in developing countries. This level of funding would meet the U.S. share of the global need for these critical programs, which are cost-effective, save lives and support broader diplomatic, development and national security priorities. In addition, any increased investments in international family planning and reproductive health will help rectify the disproportionate cuts this program has faced in the last several years in addition to the impact of sequestration. Based on an analysis of the powerful impact of U.S. investment in family planning and reproductive health overseas by the Guttmacher Institute, the effects of the sequester could mean:
* 1.6 million women denied access to contraceptive services and supplies
* 460,000 additional unintended pregnancies
* 215,000 additional unplanned births
* 215,000 additional abortions (of which 153,000 are unsafe)
* 1,225 maternal deaths
* 6,140 more children will lose their mothers
Our nation's investment in international family planning has had a significant sustained impact. U.S. assistance in FY 2012 helped prevent 9.4 million unintended pregnancies, 4 million abortions, 96,000 children from losing their mothers and 22,000 women from dying. These investments are also highly cost-effective. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has found that in Zambia, for example, one dollar invested in family planning saves four dollars in other development areas.
Despite this investment, every year 291,000 women die from largely preventable complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. Today, at least 222 million women in the developing world would like to prevent or delay pregnancy but lack access to safe, effective contraception; this demand is projected to increase by 40% over the next 15 years. For the health of women around the world, we firmly support international family planning programs and urge you to provide this level of funding in the FY 2014 Appropriations Bill.
Nigeria adds 11,000 people a day to its population, or 2.4% a year, and is already at 170 million.
By 2050 the country will have 400 million people and will be world's fourth most populous country , according to the the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) 400 million is just less than the projected figure for the United States, but with only a tenth of its territory.
Retailers of fast-moving consumer goods are looking forward to the larger population, but it is not clear whether it can reap a "demographic dividend" from an expanding population of young people of working age and turn it into a richer society with widespread higher living standards.
55-year-old Hunkpe makes $19 a week selling fish to feed her eight offspring and 10 grandchildren; her house sleeps 40 people at a time. "I wanted my children to go to school to give them a better life, but I couldn't afford it," she said.
Skeptics fear swelling numbers of jobless and uneducated youths threaten the stability of a country already suffering an Islamist uprising in the north and oil theft, piracy and kidnapping by criminal gangs in the south.
"If we keep growing our population at this rate, without also growing our means to sustain it, we are heading towards catastrophe," says Owoeye Olumide, a demographer at Nigeria's Bowen University. "We have to do something very fast ... or we face more poverty and agitation or worse - disease, hunger, war."
The Renaissance Capital bank says "Only sub-Saharan Africa is positioned to experience 15-20% growth in the crucial 15-24 age range over the coming decades, which will provide the plentiful labor force the world economy will rely on."
Yet countries that reap the "demographic dividend" usually do so only once population growth starts to slow.
Fertility rates in sub-Saharan Africa they remain high at 5.6 while they are crashing across Asia and Latin America (4 per woman) - mirroring falls in Europe a generation ago.
Sub-Saharan Africa's population will double by 2045 to 2 billion, according to the U.N..
Nigeria's commercial hub of Lagos - at 21 million people - receives hundreds of thousands of new arrivals each year from rural areas, growing by 672,000 people a year, state data shows. Many live in slums with no reliable electricity or water and families sleep in s 75 square foot rooms. Household incomes are far below the threshold for a retail boom, with 93% with monthly income lower than $390, compared with only 38% in Johannesburg.
Many retailers seem to think that the middle class in Nigeria is a lot bigger than it actually is.
Strategies targeting middle-income groups that worked in places like India and South Africa may not yet work so well for Nigeria, Standard Bank's head of equity product, Matthew Pearson said.
Absolute poverty rose to from 54.7% in 2004 to 60% in 2012, worsened by rapid population growth. Some 100 million Nigerians live in poverty.
Nearly half of Nigerians are under 15, and in the "Middlebelt" - a region of central Nigeria populated largely by minority ethnic groups - violence is common among youth gangs, with disputes over scarce land and water. 12 million children of school age are not in education.
In the Niger Delta, gangs of mostly unemployed armed youths steal tens of thousands of barrels of oil a day from pipelines.
The north's Islamist insurgency is driven by its desperate, unemployed youth population, said Mohammed Junaidu, a northern opposition politician and academic. "It's a combination of failures of governance and the ticking demographic time-bomb," he said. "They urgently need to pacify these youths or face more instability and terrorism."
While the government has promoted family planning for decades, it struggles to influence a poorly educated population, many living in remote rural areas, that values having many children.
Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria said that only around 10% use contraceptives.
Yet Charles Robertson at Renaissance Capital says over a third of children go to secondary school, compared with just 7% in 1975 - similar to India 20 years ago. "As African countries get richer, birth rates will drop dramatically," he said - as has happened in India and Egypt."
Earlier this week, Worldwatch launched State of the World 2013: Is Sustainability Still Possible? to a crowded room of friends and supporters. If you were unable to participate in the event, we will have videos of the symposium available shortly.
To commemorate the launch, the e-book versions of the report are now available for only US$3.99, for a limited time only - http://www.amazon.com/State-World-2013-Sustainability-ebook/dp/B00C4Y9AYM/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1 . And you can still purchase hard copies of the report from our bookstore ($22) http://www.worldwatch.org/bookstore/publication/state-world-2013-sustainability-still-possible
Family Planning in MalawiMarch 27, 2013
Deciding when to have a child is a small, dignifying gift. A gift more nurturing than the bully of chance.
This film is the story of Marda and Alfred, a young couple from the country of Malawi who have experienced firsthand the power and the potential that come with being able to use family planning to decide how many children to have, and when to have them.
It is also the story of Malawi, a country struggling with the burdens of extreme poverty, resource scarcity, and a rapidly growing population that could triple in size in the next 35 years. A country in which people like Marda and Alfred are not the norm, and many are forced to leave the size of their families to chance. One quarter of women in developing countries like Malawi want to plan their families, but don't have access to the commodities, services and information they need.
Access to family planning isn't just about empowering individuals like Marda and Alfred. It's also about the future of countries like Malawi, and the future of our planet. When women have access to voluntary family planning they choose to have smaller families, which reduces population growth and gives countries the chance to develop sustainably.
The Aspen Institute's Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health is a group of world leaders committed to ensuring that all people have access to family planning and reproductive health.
You can help by sharing this video or by donating to support our work.
Alerts, Take Action
California: Support Medi-Cal Expansion
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), California has the chance to expand Medi-Cal coverage for low-income individuals throughout the state. Two bills, ABX1 1 and SBX1 1 would do just that.
Support the UNFPA! Defeat the Wicker Amendment in US Senate
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) has just introduced an amendment to eliminate all U.S. aid to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has long been a target of the extreme Right because of its work to expand access to voluntary family planning in the poorest parts of the world. Working in 150 countries around the world, the UNFPA helps increase the availability of safe, effective, and affordable contraceptives; supports work to eliminate harmful practices like female genital cutting; prevents and treats maternal injuries and illnesses; and is quick to respond with lifesaving reproductive health supplies and personnel in the case of natural and man-made disasters.
Stop the Sequester. It's a Terrible Way to Govern and it Will Do Real Harm to People - Especially Women - at Home and Around the World.
Our aid to international family planning programs is facing devastating cuts due to the sequester. A 5.3% cut to our international family planning programs would mean:
March 8 - International Women's Day
March 22 - World Water Day
March 23 - Earth Hour 2013 At 8:30 PM on Saturday 23rd March 2013, lights will switch off around the globe for Earth Hour and people will commit to actions that go beyond the hour.
April 7 - World Health Day
April 22 - Earth 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 31 - June 11
Women's Greater Economic Empowerment Workshop
June 5 - World Environment Day
June 8 - World Ocean Day
July 11 - World Population Day
August 12 - International Youth Day
August 22 - Earth Overshoot Day - the day when humanity has consumed all the resources the planet will produce this year (advances every year)
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Karen Gaia's Sustainability & Family Planning Travel Study
South Asia 2000
South Asia 2001