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

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

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


Mother Caring for 7 Billion doc

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

Population & Sustainability News Digest

May 22, 2015

Study Links Dolphin Deaths to Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World Population-Food Supply Balance is Becoming Increasingly Unstable

May 11 , 2015, UVAToday   By: Fariss Samarrai

"In the past few decades there has been an intensification of international food trade and an increase in the number of countries that depend on food imports," said Paolo D'Odorico, a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia. "On average, about one-fourth of the food we eat is available to us through international trade. This globalization of food may contribute to the spread of the effects of local shocks in food production throughout the world."

D'Odorico is lead author of a study published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "In order to have food security, food availability and accessibility need to be sustainable and resilient to perturbations associated with shocks in production and price spikes," he said. As the globalization of food increases, the coupled population/food system becomes more fragile and susceptible to conditions of crisis. Computer modeling was used to reconstruct the global network of food trade between 1986 and 2011 in conjunction with a population growth model, factoring in the constraints of food availability through domestic production and trade, and examining the response of the system to perturbations.

The study found that the coupled dynamics of population and access to food are becoming less resilient and increasingly prone to instability. Countries that strongly depend on trade for their food supply appear to be more susceptible to instability and episodic food crises than exporting countries. These findings are consistent with the food insecurity that has affected trade-dependent countries during recent food crises. doclink

The White House Just Got Aggressive Enforcing Obamacare's Birth Control Mandate

May 11, 2015, VOX Media   By: Sarah Kliff

Obamacare has required health insurers to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives with no cost to the patient, including not just the pill, but the patch, IUDs, and even sterilization.

However, insurance companies have been skirting this mandate. Two recent investigations -- one by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and another by the National Women's Law Center -- found violations, and some insurers seemed to blatantly disregard the mandate. The KFF study looked at a sample of 20 insurers in five states. It found one did not cover the birth control ring and four "couldn't ascertain" whether they covered birth control implants.

More common, however, was a measure called "reasonable medical management," where insurers restrict access to certain medications on the basis that equally effective options costs less. This tactic was often used with birth control patches and rings, which use the same hormones as pills but have a slightly worse failure rate than the pill. On these contraceptives, 9 out of 100 women using them will become pregnant within a year, versus a 6% failure rate with the pill. Since the pill can be slightly cheaper than the patch and the ring, the KFF study found that some plans limit access to rings and patches, offering the pill as an equally effective option. One insurer told KFF that it "cover a birth control pill with no cost-sharing and therefore charges cost-sharing for the NuvaRing, which has the same chemical composition." Another insurer charges cost-sharing and requires enrollees to "show medical necessity on why oral contraceptives are not suitable before they will cover the NuvaRing."

To crack down on violators, the new guidelines, released May 11, clarify that insurance plans must cover, without co-payments, all of the 18 types of contraceptives that the FDA has found to be safe and effective, even when the prescription calls for sterilization or an IUD, which can cost up to $1,000. They also clarify that using reasonable medical management to reduce payments is not legal.

While insurers must cover all FDA- approved contraceptive types, they need not cover every approved product. For example, they can offer coverage for the generic birth control patch and refuse to pay for the brand-name one. But an insurance plan cannot deny a woman coverage for a birth control patch and ask her to use pills instead. This new guidance makes that flatly illegal.

Overall, reproductive health advocates prefer the new guidelines. "It is past time for insurers to adhere to the law and stop telling women that their chosen method isn't covered or that they must pay for it," Gretchen Borchelt, Vice President for Reproductive Rights at the National Women's Law Center, stated. "We welcome the Administration's guidance and know it will go a long way to improve the health and economic well-being of women and their families." doclink

Report Ranks U.S. Last Among Developed Countries for Maternal Health

May 07, 2015

An annual report by Save the Children provides a global ranking of the best and worst countries for maternal health and other motherhood-related measures, Time magazine reports. In addition to maternal health, the report considers economics, education, children's well-being, and women's political status.

Averaging all measures, the U.S. ranked as the 33rd best country for mothers out of 179 surveyed countries, down from 31st the previous year (2014). But on maternal health the U.S. ranked 61st. One per 1,800 U.S. women experience a pregnancy-related death, 10 times the rates for Austria, Belarus and Poland. What's more, U.S. infant mortality (death of baby within the first year) is 6.1 per 1,000 live births. (compare to 2.13 in Japan). Washington, D.C. had the highest infant mortality rate among the 25 surveyed capitals of high-income nations, and some U.S. cities -- including Cleveland and Detroit -- had even higher rates. Time magazine correlated high infant mortality with premature births, inadequate prenatal care, low incomes, education, race, age and marital status. doclink

10 Things You Didn't Know About the World's Population

April 13 , 2015, UNFPA - United Nations Population Fund   By: Steven Edwards

On April 13, world leaders opened the 48th session of the Commission on Population and Development and took stock of the world's development and the welfare of its people. Below are 10 little-known facts about the world as it stands today.

1. The 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10 and 24, the largest youth population ever, creates an unprecedented potential for economic and social progress. A disproportionate percentage of this number live in developing countries. In the world's 48 least-developed nations, where extreme poverty, discrimination or lack of information hinders their productivity, they make up most of the population. With better education and opportunities, these young people's ideas, ideals and innovations could transform the future.

2. Women in sub-Saharan Africa are as likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth as the women Charles Dickens described in nineteenth-century England. While global maternal mortality rates are down 45% since 1990, for every 100,000 babies born in sub-Saharan Africa, 510 women still die from maternal causes. Better access to maternal health care and family planning can save more these women.

3. About half of these women want to avoid pregnancy but do not use modern contraceptives. If they all had access to modern contraceptives, and if all pregnant women and newborns received appropriate care, maternal deaths would drop by an estimated 67%. Unintended pregnancies would fall by about 70%, and newborn deaths would drop by about 77%.

4. Complications in pregnancy and childbirth are the second leading killer of adolescent girls in developing countries, each day killing about 20,000 girls under age 18, many of whom become pregnant before they are physically mature. Adolescent births have declined since 1990, but progress has been uneven, and much more work remains to be done. Improving status and access to information reduces pregnancy, and pregnancy-related deaths.

5.Although child marriage is banned around the world, about 37,000 child marriages take place each day. It persists in areas of poverty and gender inequality. Empowering girls can play a powerful role in ending this practice. Girls who know their rights and are equipped with basic life-skills and education show far more resistance to child marriage.

6. In the early 1970s, women had on average 4.5 children each; by 2014, women had around 2.5 children each. Taking these declines into account, the UN has developed three population projections: the highest suggests the world could see 17 billion people by 2100, and the lowest estimates around 7 billion people - roughly the size of today's global population. The middle projection suggests that this century will end with 11 billion people.

7. Since 2005, while HIV-related deaths have fallen by 35%, and new HIV infections are falling as well, adolescents deaths are rising. We must do much more to provide adolescents with comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information, services to help them prevent HIV transmission, and treatment for those who are infected.

8. Current trends will subject about 15 million girls between ages 15 and 19 to female genital mutilation (FGM) by 2030. Globally, an estimated 100 million to 140 million girls and women today have undergone some form of FGM. The practice can cause chronic pain, infections, birth complications, and other adverse effects. In 15 key countries where UNFPA and UNICEF are jointly working to help end the practice, about 12,357 communities have committed to abandon FGM.

9. More people are displaced than ever before. In 2013, some 232 million people were international migrants, up from 175 million in 2000.

10. More than half of the global population is urban - and history's largest urbanization wave will continue. We need forward-looking policies to ensure that all residents are able to benefit from this trend. doclink

A Woman in Guediawaye: Family Planning for Health and Development in Senegal

April 29, 2015

The CSIS Global Health Policy Center produced a new video, A Woman in Guédiawaye: Family Planning for Health and Development in Senegal. The video follows a young woman, Anta Ba, from Guédiawaye, a poor urban area of Dakar, who explains why she decided to access family planning, despite her husband's opposition, and why these services matter for her own life and for women's health and empowerment in Senegal. Through her story, and through the voices of other champions of family planning in Senegal-government and NGO health workers, an imam, and the Minister of Health-the video illustrates new approaches to expanding access to family planning as well as the challenges ahead. doclink

ACA: Some Insurers Stint on Mandated Birth Control Coverage, Reports Say

Plans failing to comply with Affordable Care Act rules.
April 30, 2015, MedPage Today   By: Julie Rovner

Women's health care advocates were thrilled when the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010, because it required for health service providers to offer a variety of coverage at no additional out of pocket costs to the consumer.

Five years later it has been found that health insurance plans around the country are failing to provide many legally-mandated services including birth control and cancer screenings.

Studies by the National Women's Law Center examined health plans and consumer complaints in 15 states and "found some very clear violations of the law," according to Karen Davenport, the group's director of health policy.

Several companies refused to provide coverage for birth control for women over age 50, despite the fact that many women are able to get pregnant long after that.

The report on required coverage of birth control found numerous instances where health plans try to impose cost-sharing on all except generic products.

There is a need more and better enforcement of the rules regarding women's health coverage. We don't need legislation; we need better reinforcement of existing laws.

Karen Ignagni, President and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, the health insurance industry's primary trade group accused the study's authors of drawing on highly selective anecdotes to reach sweeping conclusions about consumers' coverage.

However, researchers found that more than half of the plan documents described coverage at odds with the health law. The study also found that almost all the plans limited access to some forms of birth control in some way, either by not covering them at all or by charging a copay.

"Calling and complaining to your insurance company works," said Sharon Levin, who runs the group Physicians Plus reproductive health policy program, noting that Aetna has reversed a decision not to cover the vaginal ring. doclink

When Sex Ed Discusses Gender Inequality, Sex Gets Safer

A new study shows a 'striking' difference in effectiveness between programs that address gender and power, and those that don't
April 27 , 2015, Atlantic Monthly   By: Julie Beck

"Comprehensive sex education" is often used in opposition to "abstinence-only," but that only means that, at a baseline, it includes information about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases. What would it mean to be truly "comprehensive?"

A new study published in International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, reviewed 22 sex-education programs for adolescents and young adults and compares how effective they were in reducing pregnancy and STIs. Ten of the programs had at least one lesson on gender and power, and 80% of them saw significant decreases in pregnancy or STIs compared with a control group. Of the 12 programs that did not address these issues, 17% led to those positive outcomes.

Other research shows that women who report having less power in their relationships than their male partners have higher rates of HIV infection and other STIs,

Some of the curriculums in study author Nicole Haberland's study asked questions such as, "What is this ad saying to you about what a woman is supposed to look like and act like?" Haberland says. "What are guys supposed to feel and act like?"

Jane does not use a condom because she doesn't want to. It's because she's afraid her boyfriend is going to leave her. "Helping kids identify the inequality in those power dynamics and how it affects all of us in our relationships," is important, cites Haberland.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, only 13 states have laws requiring that sex education be medically accurate, while 19 require that instruction on the importance of engaging in sexual activity only within marriage be provided.

There are emotions and social pressures at play, and it seems that when teachers address them, sex ed gets a little closer to being truly comprehensive. doclink

It's Not Enough to Just Mention Condoms -- Sex Education Should Be Sex-Positive

April 22 , 2015, RH Reality Check   By: Amanda Marcotte

Early in his administration, Obama stopped the requirement that sex education programs teach that abstinence is the only legitimate way to prevent pregnancy and STI transmission. Some states have resisted, but at least the Federal government no longer requires abstinence only. Still, although "abstinence-only" is fading, most sex education programs still imply that sex is evil and could even kill you.

After reviewing some of the content in her son's sex education class at East Lansing High School, Medical historian Alice Dreger joined friends who wanted her to get involved in school board debates over what exactly would be taught in sex ed classes. Administrators emphasized that they do not teach abstinence-only and that "the curriculum (which was developed by a crisis pregnancy center) also reviews contraception choices." Most parents would settle for that. But Dreger concluded that the sex education she observed was more terror-based than abstinence-based." Abstinence-only educators basically hold to the "don't even think about it" line where contraception is concerned. The victory over that approach had not been as big as she and others had hoped. Based on her account, the current class teaches that sex is a shameful activity, premarital sex is evil, people who do it are dirty, and men and women should adhere to traditional gender roles. The new program was not "abstinence-only," but conservatives were still using "sex ed" to brand kids as failures if they chose to have sex without marriage.

The rebranding effort is not all locally based. Congress is allocating $25 million annually to “risk-avoidance education" based on many real and imagined consequences that are likely to follow premarital sex. This amounts to new packaging for abstinence-only. Amanda Marcotte compares this to schools trying to convince kids that owning a pet is evil by displaying pictures of ugly dog bites, telling sob stories about cat allergies, and playing games where everyone who gets a pet ends up with a serious problem. Even those who survive pet ownership end up sad because their pets will eventually die. Teaching responsible pet ownership should not make kids see pets as evil. The same applies to non-marital or pre-marital sex. Only 62% of Americans own pets, but 95% have premarital sex, and most of them find in it a positive experience. Some people may view that as bad, but most of us do not. Kids need education in responsible sexuality, but overall they should not be given negative attitudes about sex. Sex education should offer a non-slanted fact-based education that allows parents and/or religious leaders to express opinions outside the classroom if they wish.

Most of us don't buy the implication that kids should wait a decade or more until marriage before having sex. We want our young people to grow up looking forward to a future of fun, fulfilling sex, not to teach them that it's a thing that they will probably do but should feel bad about. doclink

Will Unequal Access to New IUD's and Implants Worsen America's Economic Divide?

March 15 , 2015, IEET - Inatitute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies   By: Valerietarico

Unwanted pregnancy is contributing to a new "caste system" in America. When new and better technologies become available only to people who are already privileged, the rich get richer and the gaps widens. A recent revolution in contraceptive technology may deepen America's economic divide. Modern long- acting contraceptives set the fertility default setting to "off" until a woman wants it on.

Disruptive, unsought pregnancy and childbearing is one of many factors that creates poverty or keeps people mired there; it is both a cause and consequence of poverty.

IUD's or implants drop the rate of surprise pregnancy below 1 in 500 annually and last for years.

Being able to reach educational goals and settle into a career before parenthood offers a huge boost to lifelong prosperity. It also stacks the odds in favor of a stable partnership and healthy children who then go on to have healthy, prosperous kids of their own. Strong girls with strong social support can sometimes carve out impressive paths for themselves despite early unexpected pregnancy. But stories of their achievements captivate us because they are heroic—and the exception to the rule.

Very few young single mothers get pregnant because they actually want to. 82% of teen pregnancies and 70% of pregnancies among single woman under the age of thirty are unintended, and most of those children are born into poverty. Unintended pregnancies mean more abortions, less healthy moms and babies, more infant death, more high school drop-outs, college foregone, lost earning potential, domestic violence, repeated disruptions in family structure as young moms try to find reliable partnerships, more mental health problems and anti-social behavior in children, and public budgets stretched to the breaking point as states try to fill in resources and services once provided by stable families.

In 2008 unplanned pregnancy was five times as common for women below the poverty level as those above.

U.S., young women of all races and classes voice surprisingly similar aspirations regarding when they ideally would like to have kids -- how many and under what circumstances. But only girls who have grown up with the benefits of financial security and higher education have more and better tools to manage their fertility.

In contrast, girls who don't have what it takes make ends meet depend on cheaper and less effective birth control, and many end up pregnant Less than 2% of these young mothers go on to complete college by age 30.

Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, wrote a book, Generation Unbound, Drifting into Sex and Parenthood without Marriage, in which she concedes that interventions aimed at promoting marriage and preventing divorce are not the answer. For every child lifted out of poverty by financial support and social programs, more are born into fragile families with the odds stacked against them. Today nearly half of births in the U.S. are paid for by Medicaid, and that number is rising.

Part of the solution lies in the highly effective easy-to-use birth control methods.

The current technology shift is a transition from every-day or every-time methods like the Pill and condom to long acting reversible contraceptives known for short as LARCs. LARCs include hormonal and non-hormonal IUD's and contraceptive implants.

Pills and condoms produce annual pregnancy rates of 1 in 11 and 1 in 6 respectively, mostly because it's so hard to use them consistently and perfectly, and that is the reason half of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, and despite the shame and stigma, 1 in 3 women has an abortion at some point before hitting menopause.

With a LARC, failure rates range from 1 in 500 to 1 in 2000, depending on the method. Once an IUD or implant is settled into place, ambivalence, intoxication, impulsivity, sexual coercion or general life chaos no longer puts a young woman on the path to premature parenthood.

For many, coming up with the high cost of a LARC is unimaginable. The Obamacare contraceptive mandate may eventually make these life-changing technologies available to all with no surcharge. Large scale research suggests that when this happens a high percent of teens and women will choose LARCs for themselves and the rates of teen pregnancy and abortion will plummet.

Unless we want to see America's economic divide grow wider and deeper, we need to ensure that reliable, state-of-the-art family planning options are equally available to emerging adults from all stations in life. doclink

What Americans Think of Abortion

It's not so black and white
April 08, 2015, VOX Media   By: Sarah Kliff

"Abortion is killing a baby. But I'm not saying it's always wrong," David King told Vox.

In a Vox poll of 1,067 adults randomly selected, 18% of Americans, pick "both" when you ask them to choose between pro-life and pro-choice. Another 21% choose neither. Taken together, about four in 10 Americans are eschewing the labels that we typically see as defining the abortion policy debate.

Abortion usually gets framed as a two-sided debate: as either pro-choice or pro-life. But people don't live in this world of absolutes. Abortion views are indeed strongly held, but what most discourse misses is the nuance — the personal factors and situations that influence how each individual thinks about the issue.

How you ask the question matters -- the pollsters asked one half whether they agreed with the statement "Abortion should be legal in almost all cases." The other half got a different wording of a similar idea: "Women should have a legal right to safe and accessible abortion in almost all cases."

Twenty-eight percent agreed with the first statement — and 37 percent with the second. That's a jump of nine percentage points in who thinks abortion ought to be generally legal, just by highlighting the fact that a woman is involved in the situation.

Why do opinions on such a controversial issue swing so significantly just based on the wording of a question?

The abortion debate isn't black and white -- it's thousands of different shades of gray that exist somewhere in the middle. This matters because by ignoring that gray space, we miss something important: there are abortion policies that a majority of Americans could agree on. Americans' opinions on abortion are surprising and nuanced.

King said "I think of myself as pro-choice in a way, because it's such a personal matter for each individual," he says.

Meghann August, a 31-year-old mother of one said "I guess if you're raped or in a desperate situation, then abortion would be the way to go," she says. "But if you're just being careless and irresponsible, then I don't think it's the right decision."

The poll found that those who had talked to a friend or family member about an abortion experience or decision tend to be more supportive of abortion rights.

Most Americans (70 percent) think women shouldn't have to travel more than 60 miles to obtain an abortion. These numbers are higher than those who support the Roe v. Wade decision (68 percent) and much higher than those who think abortion ought to be legal in most or some situations (46 percent). doclink

Karen Gaia: There is much more to this article. Please click on the link in the headline to read the complete article.

World's Population Projected to Grow From 7.3 Billion in 2015 to 8.4 Billion in 2030

April 09, 2015, Population Media Center   By: Joe Bish

The United Nation's Commission on Population and Development held its 48th annual session in early April at the UN Headquarters in New York City. Here are extracts of statements made during the session having to do with population.

UN Secretary-General's message to the Commission on Population and Development (see ):

"You meet as the international community strives this year to forge a set of sustainable goals and a meaningful new universal climate agreement. These twin priorities will be influenced by the profound demographic shifts taking place in our world, especially those related to youth, the elderly, urbanization and migration."

"Our world now has the largest generation of young people in history. Countries experiencing a 'youth bulge' can reap a demographic dividend by optimizing conditions for youth to thrive. This requires enhancing education for both girls and boys, ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health care, and creating more decent jobs."

"Workforces are shrinking and populations are greying."

"Already more than half of the world's population lives in cities, and that proportion will grow over the next 15 years, adding urgency to efforts to optimize the benefits of urbanization and overcome its challenges."

"Far too many migrants suffer from exploitation, discrimination and xenophobia. Addressing these violations of their rights will empower migrants to increase their contributions to development in both countries of origin and destination."

"The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action as well as the 2014 operational review underscored the centrality of the rights and worth of every individual. We must be guided by this vision as we aim to help people meet their needs while protecting the environment for generations to come."

Additional Reporting on Commission on Population and Development, Forty-eighth Session


Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said that, as a post-2015 development agenda was designed, the Commission on Population and Development, by integrating population issues into sustainable development, could turn its timeless principles and commitments into reality. Investments in the rights and well-being of adolescents and youth, now and throughout their lives, would unleash a demographic dividend of inclusive, sustainable economic growth in many countries. Young people, especially adolescent girls, must be empowered to make informed decisions to have control over their bodies and to stay healthy.

It was also important to reach young people early in life to foster positive life-long health behaviour. Investing in the health, education and employment of young people today was the best investment to improve the lives of older persons tomorrow. ... It was imperative to integrate population issues into development, as there could be no sustainable development without people, he said, stressing that "we cannot afford to wait, the time is now".

John Wilmoth, Director, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said that, in Cairo, in 1994, the world had acknowledged the importance of the population dimension, but had also cautioned against efforts to manipulate aggregate trends, out of concern that such policies risked violating individual human rights.

Continued rapid population growth would make it more difficult for some countries to improve health, provide adequate housing, achieve universal education, and provide adequate job opportunities over the next 15 years.

The lesson of Cairo was that the collective concerns about current or future population trends should never become a justification for violating the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals. Population trends mattered for all three pillars of sustainable development..

Barney Cohen, Assistant Director, Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introducing the report of the Secretary-General entitled "Integrating Population Issues into Sustainable Development, Including in the Post-2015 Development Agenda", said the world's population was projected to grow from 7.3 billion in 2015 to 8.4 billion in 2030, roughly equivalent to adding approximately 73 million people every year. By 2030, the global economy would need to support a population that was approximately 15% larger than it was today. In addition, while countries will experience different rates of growth, globally, 2 billion babies would be born over the next 15 years. If the world was to achieve the new sustainable development goals and leave no one behind, then every one of those new-born children, as well as their mothers, should have access to high-quality health services throughout all phases of life. In addition, all children should be able to attend school, and no child should have to grow up malnourished or live in extreme poverty.

Over the next 15 years, he continued, the world would also need to prepare for the 1.9 billion young people who would turn 15, which was a 7% increase globally over the previous 15-year period. Underscoring that young people could be an important vehicle for economic development and social change, he said there must be greater investment in secondary and tertiary education, youth-friendly health services, and opportunities for young people in the labor market.

He said that population projections also suggested that the number of women of reproductive age would increase globally by 9%, and in Africa, by 45% over the next 15 years. Thus, it was important to advance gender equality, ensure that women had a voice in the political process and were given the knowledge and tools to decide on the number and timing of their children. doclink

Humanity's 'Inexorable' Population Growth is So Rapid That Even a Global Catastrophe Would Not Stop it

October 27, 2014, Independent UK   By: Steve Connor

The global human population is "locked in" to an inexorable rise this century and there is no "quick fix" to the population time-bomb, because there are now so many people that even unimaginable global disasters won't stop growth, scientists have concluded.

Two prominent ecologists have concluded that one of the most daunting challenges for sustainable living on the planet in the coming century is runaway population growth - even if every country adopts a draconian "one child" policy.

Professor Corey Bradshaw of the University of Adelaide and Professor Barry Brook of the University of Tasmania published the results of their study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Professor Bradshaw said that the study was designed to look at human numbers with the insight of an ecologist studying natural impacts on animals to determine whether factors such as pandemics and world wars could dramatically influence the population projections. "Global population has risen so fast over the past century that roughly 14 per cent of all the human beings that have ever lived are still alive today - that's a sobering statistic," he said. “Even a worldwide one-child policy like China's" would have little affect on current growth figures and estimates," he added.

The researchers devised nine different scenarios that could influence human numbers this century, ranging from “business as usual" with existing fertility rates, to an unlikely one-child-per-family policy throughout the world, to broad-scale global catastrophes in which billions die.

Measures to control fertility through family planning policies will eventually have an impact on reducing the pressure on limited resources, but not immediately, Professor Brook said.

Simon Ross, the chief executive of the charity Population Matters, said that introducing modern family planning to the developing world would cost less than $4bn - about one third of the UK's annual aid budget.

“So, while fertility reduction is not a quick fix, it is relatively cheap, reliable, and popular with most, with generally positive side effects. We welcome the recognition of the potential of family planning and reproductive education to alleviate resource availability in the longer term," Mr Ross said. doclink

Richard says he has noticed an incredible increase in the amount of people in the time that he's been on the planet.

Karen Gaia says: there has already been much progress made in reducing population growth. Current world fertility is below 2.5. If the fertility rate were to stop declining, our population by the end of the century would be 26 million. But this is not expected to happen with the current progress. We need to step up funding for family planning programs.

A Call to Look Past Sustainable Development

April 14, 2015   By: Eduardo Porter

Compared to the average annual consumption of electricity per citizen in Nepal (100 kilowatt-hours), Cambodia (160 kw-hr), and Bangladesh (260 kw-hr), a standard 20 ft3 refrigerator in an American home consumes 300 to 600 kw-hr in a year.

United States officials are concerned that numerous countries, including Nepal, Cambodia, and Bangladesh, have joined China's new infrastructure investment bank. The new institution may rival the existing fiscal organizations that are supported by the United States. However, many countries feel that their accesses to energy are curtailed due to the environmental priorities of the West. Developing nations seek assistance from established nations and the financial institutions to alleviate their conditions of living and expand the accessibility of energy infrastructure, but to no avail.

Average Electricity Consumption, 2011 ... Source: World Bank

Selected Countries Killowatt-hours per capita per year

United States 13,250; Japan 7,850; Germany 7,100; Albania 2,200; India 680; Bolivia 620; Mozambique 450; Ghana 340; Senegal 190; Yemen 190; Nigeria 150; Myanmar 110; Ethiopia 50; Haiti 30;

Although the United States depends on coal, natural gas, hydroelectric and nuclear power as sources for 95% of their electricity, the U.S. government has strictly restricted the overseas financing of these sources. Ironically, the environmental policies of the West are augmenting the initial problem that they wished to solve. In order to make significant advances in sustainability and preservation of environment, financing low-carbon energy sources for impoverished societies is not enough; there is a need for a plethora of new energy.

There is a new point of view in the relationship between sustainability and the increasing needs of the population. According to the "Eco-Modernist Manifesto," economic development is required to preserve the environment. Rather than adopting "sustainable development" as in the past to promote a symbiotic relationship with nature, this new approach supplants such harmony with a stratagem to reduce humanity's effect on nature through more intensive use. This ideology states that to preserve the environment, the goal should be "intensifying many human activities - particularly farming, energy extraction, forestry, and settlement - so that use less land and interfere less with the natural world." This idea is supported by historical records, as ¾ of all global deforestation was before the Industrial Revolution, whereas the land allocated for crops and animal feed per average person was reduced by half over the last fifty years.

The proposal is not without obstacles: the plan requires high energy demands, safer and cheaper nuclear reactors, and new methods of energy storage. However, this concentrated development would not only contribute to the efforts to preserve the environment; it will also allow poorer classes to migrate to cities to attain better education and opportunities. The subsequent acceleration in demographic transitions will reduce the rate of population growth. doclink

Karen Gaia says:

Nice idea, but the Green Revolution, which intensified farming, is petering out, leaving behind overused soil, excess nitrogen in soil and water, destruction of beneficial soil micro organisms, and salinization. While crop production is still growing, the rate of growth is slowing.

Energy intensification means going after energy sources that are more and more difficult to get, wrecking the environment and people's health in the meantime.

The only answer is to conserve, conserve, conserve. Learn to live happily on less. Eat less meat. Drive and fly less. Hang our clothes on a clothesline to dry.

It's Still Pretty Hard for Women to Get Free Birth Control

March 19 , 2015   By: Emily Cohn

Until recently Emily Cohn got free birth control - a tangible effect of the Affordable Care Act (AFC or Obamacare). But when her CVS pharmacist charged her $20 for a 28-day supply, she said, "I understand Obamacare. I shouldn't be getting charged for birth control." What troubled her most wasn't paying $20 for some pills. She could afford it, but she could not understand the change. Her CVS pharmacists didn't know why she was being charged, and the customer service rep at her employer's benefit manager couldn't clarify it either, so she consulted a lawyer. That is a privilege she has as a journalist writing a story for a widely read publication.

"You're supposed to be getting birth control without cost-sharing," or copays, said Mara Gandal-Powers, a counsel for health and reproductive rights at the National Women's Law Center. Under AFC, all insurance plans cover the full cost of recommended preventive medical services, like screenings for certain types of cancer and immunizations. The law identified contraception as one of these preventative services, and it intended that all FDA-approved forms of contraception be covered free. The financial benefits are obvious: In 2013, women saved nearly $500 million on out-of-pocket-costs for birth control. As of last spring, 67% of insured women paid nothing for the birth control pill, up from 15% before health care reform took effect.

But, according to Express Scripts, the pharmacy benefit manager for The Huffington Post's parent company, AOL, insurance plans can use "reasonable medical management techniques" to encourage customers to get care at a lower cost, Gandal-Powers said. So "The pharmacy plan provided by your employer can offer 100% coverage for contraceptive medications only when the plan's home delivery pharmacy fills them," said the Express Scripts spokeswoman. A rule change that took effect in January, so free pills must now come via mail from Express Scripts. They defended the process by saying, "Studies show that patients who use Express Scripts' home delivery pharmacy for chronic medications have greater adherence to their medication, which is crucial for the effectiveness of contraceptive medications. For these reasons, your plan has decided to require the dispensing of contraceptive medications via home delivery."

For Cohn, this required a new prescription from my doctor for three packs at a time and setting up a mail delivery with Express Scripts. For thousands of other women, it will be more of a hassle. Some women don't want to have birth control delivered because they don't want those they live with to know they're using contraception, and some can't get packages delivered without the risk of theft, Gandal-Powers noted. This group could include minors living with their parents, or women who are in abusive relationships.

Many of Cohn's colleagues had not figured this out. They told her they have always paid at least $20 a month for birth control, even though they should be getting it totally free. One woman who said she picks up a bunch of prescriptions at once admitted to not even noticing which ones she was paying for and which ones she wasn't. Another who did switch was frustrated that mail order was now the only choice. A third was planning to switch to an intrauterine device, or IUD, so "I won't have to worry about it for five years."

Gandal-Powers offered some steps these for women who are still paying for birth control:

1. Make sure this part of the law actually applies to your insurance plan. As of last fall, Obamacare hadn't kicked in yet for one in four people on employer-based plans. These "grandfathered" plans must eventually follow the law, but until then, they can still charge for birth control.

2. Ask your insurance company why you're still getting charged. If you think shouldn't be getting charged, there is an appeals process.

3. If you get your insurance through work, ask your employer's HR department about your problem, Gandal-Powers suggested. "They have a lot of power," she said.

Free birth control for all women was a lofty promise, but women must still do a lot of work to ensure they get the rights they are guaranteed under the law. doclink

Robust Economic Growth Takes Huge Toll on Planet's Biocapacity

March 18, 2015, GrowthBiasedBusted website   By: Dave Gardner

Global Footprint Network (GFN) offers a measure for natural resource accounting. The Ecological Footprint is a measure of people's demand on nature. According to GFN president, Mathis Wackernagel, "Living within nature's budget is vital for each and every nation's economic strength and the well-being of its citizens." GFN now makes its country-by-country data available to researchers, NGOs and journalists for use in news stories and presentations. Measuring and monitoring this type of data, and then taking appropriate action, are key to achieving sustainability.

Using GFN's Ecological Footprint indicator for a world overview, since humanity currently consumes 54% more biocapacity than what our planet can renew in one year, our ecological overshoot is now 54% above the planet's biocapacity. By contrast, in 1961, the first year for which consistent data sets are available, our planet consumed 30% percent less biocapacity than what humanity used.

"…the Ecological Footprints of China and India, the world's two most populous countries…now comprise about one quarter of the Ecological Footprint of the entire world." With the world's largest population and annual economic growth rates above 7% for over 20 years, "China has been the world's largest contributor to annual growth in the demand for ecological resources and services during the last five years for which data is available. China's Ecological Footprint climbed 3.6% in 2010 and 5.2% in 2011."

Meanwhile, the rest of the world, with more modest economic growth, has begun climbing again after experiencing a 2.1% decline in 2009 during the recession…. "The world's Ecological Footprint increased nearly 4% in 2010 and nearly 1.7% in 2011 (the latest year data is available)."

U.S. consumption habits provide damning evidence of the link between economic growth and ecological destruction. "I found it fascinating that the U.S. per capita footprint during the recession fell back to our 1961 level (really?). That is truly astonishing." But since the U.S. population has nearly doubled since then, we still consume an enormous amount of the planet's biocapacity. India and China haven't quite achieved fully industrialized status, but their massive populations of are enough to make them consumption bigfoots. Still, on a per person basis, our “Ecological Footprint is more than seven times higher than that of India and nearly three times that of China." doclink

More Crops Needed for a Growing Population; What Are We Doing About It?

April 12 , 2015, Overpopulation, Overdevelopment, Overshoot Book   By: Eileen Crist

From the OVER Afterword:

Since at least the early 2000s, this "ecologically correct" sound bite has been activated in environmental writings, journalistic reports, and corporate web pages: We must produce more crops (for food, feed, and fuel), as well as more meat and animal products, by means of careful planning and management, with minimal additional ecological impacts. Oddly, the latter disclaimer is stated as if tropical forests are not today giving way to soybean monocultures, cattle ranches, and oil palm, sugar, tea, and other plantations; as if large-scale acquisitions recruiting land in Africa and elsewhere are not already under way in the name of "food security"; as if marine life is not being chewed up by the industrial machine; and as if rivers are not today taxed by damming, extraction, diversion, and pollution that the crisis of freshwater Life may well be the gravest extinction site on Earth (a big nonevent as far as the public and its elected officials are concerned). doclink

Karen Gaia says: this is the state of the real world, with which we must live, except in the unlikely event that we can change the greed of the very rich. We have to at least improve the ability of women to achieve their desired family size, which will enable them to better cope with climate change and resource depletion. This much we have in our power to do.

The Fate of Trees: How Climate Change May Alter Forests Worldwide

By the end of the century, the woodlands of the Southwest will likely be reduced to weeds and shrubs. And scientists worry that the rest of the planet may see similar effects
March 12, 2015, Rolling Stone   By: Jeff Tietz

Heat-aggravated droughts have been killing trees for decades: mountain acacia in Zimbabwe, Mediterranean pine in Greece, Atlas cedar in Morocco, eucalyptus and corymbia in Australia, fir in Turkey and South Korea. In 2010 a group of ecologists wrote the first global overview of forest health describing droughts whose severity was unequaled in the "last few centuries" and documented "climate-driven episodes of regional-scale forest die-off." Even though they couldn't prove that warming climate was responsible, they warned, "far greater chronic forest stress and mortality risk should be expected in coming decades."

In 2011, Park Williams, a postdoctoral student at Los Alamos National Laboratory wanted to predict the future of the dominant iconic conifers of the American Southwest — the Douglas fir, the piñon pine and the ponderosa pine and so he began to amalgamate a millennium's worth of data, documenting the lives of 10,000 trees, spanning the years 1000 to 2007. From his research, Williams came up with a "forest-drought stress index" (FDSI), the first-ever holistic metric of atmospheric hostility to trees.

With global warming, the Southwest is projected to dry out and heat up faster than most places — few places will be more punishing to trees. Williams needed a formula that could accurately weigh the variables of heat, aridity and precipitation, and translate atmospheric projections into a unified measure of forest health.

High temperatures can be as deadly to trees as lack of water. Under normal conditions, a tree photosynthesizes when it opens the pores in its leaves called stomata and inhales CO2. Solar-charged chemical reactions then transform the CO2 into carbohydrates which become the parts of the tree such as leaves and wood. During this process, a fraction of the tree's internal water supply evaporates through its stomata, creating the negative pressure that pulls water from the soil into the tree's roots, through its trunk and up to its canopy.

When it is hot trees lose moisture, and the rate at which they lose it escalates exponentially with temperature -- even a small temperature increase can make a big difference. "Forests notice even a one-degree increase in temperature," says Williams.

When water is sucked from the leaves faster than it can be replaced by water in the soil, and the resulting partial vacuum fatally fractures the tree's water column. If a tree closes its stomata to avoid this, shutting down photosynthesis, it risks starvation. Normally trees protect themselves against insects with a toxic sap that repels predatory insects. But many insects can detect when the sap dries up by scent. A hotter climate generally means more insects. It also means more, and more intense, wildfires.

In a 2013 Williams published paper titled "Temperature as a Potent Driver of Regional Forest Drought Stress and Tree Mortality," predicting that by the 2050s, the climate would turn deadly for many of the Southwest's conifers. By then, he wrote, "the mean forest drought stress will exceed that of the most severe droughts in the past 1,000 years."

In 2000, the Southwest had entered an extreme, ongoing drought — the worst since a 20-year-long drought in the middle of the last century. Conditioned by near-record temperatures, dry soils and a lack of rain, the atmosphere stripped trees of moisture with exceptional force.

"It was like looking through a telescope into the future to see how forests would respond, and it felt awful," Williams says. "The result was totally unimaginable: wildfires, bark beetles, a huge reduction in forest growth, massive mortality. .... All over New Mexico, trees keeled over."

Williams' postdoctoral adviser at Los Alamos, Dr. Nate McDowell had been concurrently conducting his own experiments on conifers in the wild. Simulating climate conditions for the remainder of the century, McDowell could see what Williams had foreseen. "The Southwest is going to be a grassland, with the occasional rare tree," McDowell says. "It's going to be a different place. And there's reason to think that's the same for big chunks of the world."

All trees share an essential anatomy and physiology; they employ corresponding mechanisms to fight insects, to transport water, to make food, to outlast drought. They have the same vulnerabilities. Can they survive as they are? The conifer forests of the Southwest, if climate projections are even minimally accurate, cannot, but what about the rest of the world's forests?

In August 2011, a team of scientists led by Dr. Yude Pan, a U.S. Forest Service researcher, reported that between 1990 and 2007, forests sequestered about 25% of all greenhouse-gas emissions — everything not in the air or seas. "Forests . . . exert strong control on the evolution of atmospheric CO2," Pan wrote. They constituted a gargantuan "terrestrial carbon sink."

Climatologists worry that if forests across the planet deteriorate, they could, on balance, begin releasing as much carbon as they absorb. One of Pan's collaborators, Dr. Richard Birdsey, said: "But if the carbon sink in forests fails, a simple speculation is that global temperatures would increase proportionally to the increase of CO2 concentration, so about 25 percent above current climate projections."

"The more forests die, the less carbon they take out of the air, the warmer it gets, the more forests die," McDowell says. "It's a thermostat gone bad."

Williams has analyzed climate and tree-health data from the dry forests of inner Asia, including northern China, Mongolia and Russia. "I saw the same thing that I saw in the U.S. Southwest," he said.

By 2100, McDowell believes rising temperatures could kill more than 50% of the conifer forests in the Northern Hemisphere. This would result in a "massive transfer of carbon to a decomposable pool."

The rest of this article is a 'must read.' Please go to the link in the headline for more. doclink

Population + Solutions

April 01 , 2015, Global Population Speakout (GPSO)

Note: this is a teaser only. Please click on the link in the headline to read the entire set of articles.

There is good news -- in the 21st century, solutions to the population challenge are many. They are progressive. They strengthen human rights and improve human health. They are things we should be doing anyway. And they contribute toward solving some of today's most pressing social and environmental challenges.

Improving the Stats of Women and Girls

How well a society treats its women is one of the strongest indicators of the success and health of that society. Discrimination against women and girls occurs in many forms — through gender-based violence, economic discrimination, reproductive health inequities, and harmful traditional practices ....

Primary and Secondary Education

Education is not only an obvious human right — but it is also an important demographic variable, influencing global population growth trajectories. There is a strong correlation between fertility decline, education, and socioeconomic development. Girls' secondary education is especially important because, among other things, ....

Family Planning Information and Services

Family planning, one of the greatest public health achievements in human history, allows individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births. It protects the health of the mother and the outcome of .....

Population, Health and Environment Programs

Population, Health, and Environment (PHE) programs offer an integrated approach to solving human development and conservation challenges through improving access to health services — including family planning and reproductive health — while also helping people improve livelihoods, manage natural resources, and conserve the critical ...


Entertainment-education (EE) is any form of communication that is designed to entertain and educate audiences simultaneously. Entertainment-education has existed for thousands of years in the form of parables and fables that promote social change. Modern forms of entertainment-education include television productions, radio soap-operas, and ....

Public Discourse, Campaigning, & Activism

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." So said Margaret Mead, a leading feminist whom Time magazine once named "Mother of the World." When it comes to the issue .... doclink

Hot Hands: Fingerprints of Climate Change All Over California Drought

April 02, 2015, Washington Post   By: Jason Samenow

California's astonishingly low snowpack which is a pathetic 5% of normal isn't some fluke. It's a likely consequence of climate change.

For three years the atmosphere steering flow has hit a road block along the West Coast (dubbed the "ridiculously resilient ridge"). Climate change probably isn't directly driving the weather pattern behind the drought, but it is helping to raise the background temperatures. Atmospheric levels of the heat-trapping gas carbon dioxide, due to increased industrialization, have risen about 25% since 1958.

Carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases substantially increase the likelihood that new climate records are set.

The state of California set a number of heat records in the last two years. Among them.................

* The hottest year on record in 2014

* The hottest winter on record in 2014-2015.

* Los Angeles doubled its record for 90-degree days last March, logging 6 such days compared to the previous record of 3.

* In March, Redding, Sacramento, Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Diego set records for average highs.

The added heat from climate warming acts to intensify the drought in important ways:

* When it's warmer, the evaporation of water speeds up, allowing the ground to heat up faster, which then evaporates more water in a vicious cycle which continues until meaningful rain stops it.

* When it's warmer, the snow season shortens. In other words, snow starts falling later in the fall and stops falling earlier in the spring, and snowpack declines.

* When it's warmer, snow levels rise. In other words, the elevations at which rain changes to snow in the mountains goes up, and snowpack declines.

It's interesting to note that in 1976-1977, California experienced a similar weather pattern to this year but the drought was not as severe because California's April snowpack in 1977 was 25% of normal compared to 5% in 2015.

Stanford professor Noah Diffenbaugh said "It really matters if the lack of precipitation happens during a warm or cool year." .. "We've seen the effects of record heat on snow and soil moisture this year in California, and we know from this new research that climate change is increasing the probability of those warm and dry conditions occurring together."

Future projections suggest warming temperatures will continue to lead towards stronger and more frequent droughts.

“We found that essentially all years are likely to be warm - or extremely warm - in California by the middle of the 21st century," said Daniel Swain, a graduate student of Diffenbaugh's. “This means that both drought frequency - and the potential intensity of those droughts which do occur - will likely increase as temperatures continue to rise." doclink

Richard says that the picture of the skiers and riding the chairlift is absolutely terrifying. There is hardly any snow anywhere to be seen.

California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth

A punishing drought is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been the state’s engine has run against the limits of nature.
April 04, 2015, New York Times   By: Adam Nagourney, Jack Healy and Nelson D. Schwartz

For more than a century, California has been the symbol of prosperity and possibility: Hollywood, Silicon Valley, aerospace, agriculture and vineyards.

But now a punishing 4-year drought -- and government mandated water rationing -- threaten to get in the way. The 25% cut in water consumption ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown raises questions about what life will be like in the future.

This state has defied doomsayers before, and often emerged stronger than ever. These days the economy is thriving and supporting evidence can be seen in the form of construction cranes dotting the skylines of Los Angeles and San Francisco. But even California's biggest cheerleaders are wondering if the severity of this drought will force a change in the way the state does business.

Can Los Angeles continue to lead the way if people are forbidden to take a shower for more than five minutes and water bills become prohibitively expensive? Will tourists stop visiting?

Almost 40 million people live in California today, more than double the roughly 16 million people who lived here in 1960.

California's 2 trillion dollar economy today is the seventh largest in the world. The median household income jumped to an estimated 61,000 dollars in 2013, from almost 45,000 dollars in 1960, adjusted for inflation.

For over 10,000 years only 300,000 to 400,000 people lived in California, current Governor Jerry Brown says. Now the state is home to nearly 40 million people, all living mostly high energy lifestyles. Brown said. "Now we are embarked upon an experiment that no one has ever tried: 38 million people, with 32 million vehicles, living at the level of comfort that we all strive to attain. This will require adjustment. This will require learning." "This will require adjustment" he says.

Even in places like Palm Springs, where daily per capita water use is over double the state average, drought is now forcing change. Palm Springs has ordered 50 percent cuts in water use by city agencies and plans to replace irrigated public lawns with native landscapes. City government is paying residents to replace their lawns with rocks and desert plants, and offering rebates to people who install low-flow toilets.

Other places face different threats to their way of life. In Mendota, farm workers are moving on as once moist farmland turns dry and crusty. "You can't pay the bills with free food," said Mendota Mayor Robert Silva. "Give me some water, and I know I can go to work, that's the bottom line."

Richard White, a Stanford University professor says the scarcity of water could hinder housing development in places such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. "How many (housing) developments can you afford if you don't have water?" he said.

The California governor's executive order mandates a 25% overall reduction in water use throughout the state, however this does not apply to farms, which consume the great bulk of this state's water.

Reductions in water supplies for farmers were likely to be announced in the coming weeks, and there is also likely to be increased pressure on the farms to move away from certain water-intensive crops — like almonds.

"We have to deal with a new normal," Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles said. “That said, do we have enough water to sustain life here? Absolutely. Do we have enough water to grow economically? Absolutely."

Felicia Marcus, head of the State Water Resources Control Board, said "We have a long way to go before we have tapped out our resources," she added.

But to what extent has Governor Brown succeeded in persuading people here to shake long-held habits and assumptions?

Now that “we have ....... reached the limits of supply...... the focus is on demand." said Heather Cooley, water program director for the Pacific Institute, an environmental research group based in Oakland.

Despite the mandatory cuts in supply, efficiency has been slowly gaining ground in recent decades. Total water use in Los Angeles, San Francisco and many other urban areas is now lower than it was in 1980, despite the huge economic growth and population increases.

What Californians traditionally regarded as beautiful, according to Ms. Cooley "has been a lawn that has been the standard for front yards and backyards." Now utility companies are paying people to replace their traditional thirsty plants with more drought resistant shrubbery. "This will change what Californians see as beautiful," she said.

But of all the surface water consumed in the state, roughly 80% is earmarked for the agricultural sector. Now even a small consumption shift by farmers can have the same effects as large lifestyle changes taken by local residents.

“Every time California has a problem -- we ran out of electricity in the early 2000s, then we ran out of money, and now we are running out of water -- people say California is over," Dr. Starr said. “It's not over. It's too important a part of American culture to be over. But it will change itself." doclink

Suzanne York of says:

It's shocking, but a mainstream media outlet has actually mentioned the idea of limits to growth and limits of nature. The New York Times, no less, has run a front-page story on the drought in California, invoking the concept of limits, in an article titled "California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth."

For decades, barely anyone has questioned California's model of development. Perhaps now that the New York Times is raising questions, it should give us hope that humanity is waking up and growing up.

Dr. Starr noted that the state “is not going to go under, but we are going to have to go in a different way." That is obvious, and it applies not only to California, but also to the world. Business as usual cannot go on unabated without serious environmental and social consequences.

Yes, Governor Brown seems to understand the reality of the drought crisis, yet while he talks the talk, at the same time he is also supporting fracking, a very water intensive extractive industry. And one of his major projects for the state is building tunnels to bring water from the Sacramento Delta region to southern California.

Hopefully the mentioning of limits to growth in the New York Times will lead to more discussion and acceptance of it. We live on a planet with finite resources. Now, with increasing and unknown impacts of climate change and continued population growth (8-10 billion people by 2050), it's time to accept some hard truths.

- See more at:

Addressing U.S. Population Growth Through Better, More Accessible and More Affordable Contraception

April 08 , 2015, WOA website   By: Karen Gaia

50% of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. Why? Mostly because of ineffective contraception (i.e. the pill and condoms) and not being able to afford effective contraception. Another reason is that many doctors still discourage women with no children from using the IUD.

In 2009, the estimated number of pregnancies was 6,369,000 (4,131,000 live births, 1,152,000 induced abortions, and 1,087,000 fetal losses). Eliminate half of those by meeting the unmet need for affordable, accessible, effective contraception and accurate information about it, and you have only 2,050,000 (2.05 million) live births.

In 2009 there were 307 million Americans. The U.S. was growing by 0.9% at that time, or 2.76 million people. If we had cut the birth rate in half by using effective contraception for all who wanted it, we would have had a population growth of only .71 million, or about 0.35%.

However, the population growth rate has declined to 0.7% in 2013, probably due to lowered desired family size, so we could expect an even faster decline if every woman of child bearing age got effective contraception, if desired.


World Terrestial Vertebrate Mass

April 01 , 2015, Bhodi Paul Chefurka Facebook page   By: Paul Chefurka Via Vlacov Smil

Notice the overwhelming mass of humans and their domesticated animals compared to wildlife.

Note: the source of all figures can be found in the link above, in the same photo album. Lots of interesting graphs can be found there doclink

OVER: Overpopulation, Overdevelopment, Overshoot: View this entire amazing 316-pg coffee table photo book online!

April 05 , 2015, Global Population Speakout (GPSO)

Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot (OVER) contains powerful and evocative images showing the ecological and social tragedies of humanity's ballooning numbers and consumption. It retails for $50, but as part of Speak Out you can request free books to use raising awareness about these important and urgent issues. doclink

Antarctica Just Got Hotter Than Has Ever Been Recorded, Twice

March 28, 2015, Think Progress   By: Ari Phillips

The coldest place on Earth is getting warmer.

A temperature of 63.5°F was recorded at Argentina's Esperanza Base, located near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, on March 24th. It was a record for the polar continent, eclipsing all previous highs, according to the Weather Underground.

Setting a new all-time temperature record for an entire continent is rare and requires the synthesizing of lots of data, as Weather Underground's Christopher C. Burt explains. For example, according to the World Meteorological Organization, the official keeper of global temperature data, the previous high temperature for Antarctica was 59°F in 1974.

As Burt reports, these temperature records occurred nearly three months past the warmest time of year in the Antarctic which occurs traditionally in December, but, he adds, previous records at Esperanza have been set in October and April, so these anomalies are not "unheard of."

Rapid melting of ice is happening at increased rates in Antarctica. A new study found that ice shelves in West Antarctica have lost as much as 18% of their volume over the last two decades, with rapid acceleration occurring over the last decade. The study found that over the last decade West Antarctic losses increased by 70%.

The Antarctic Peninsula has warmed almost 5°F in the last 50 years, according to measurements taken by the British Antarctic Survey.

46 nations or territories out of 235 have set or tied record highs since 1910, while four have set record lows. doclink

Mother Caring for 7 Billion - View Free Through the End of April

March 30, 2015

Mother is a groundbreaking and award-winning film that reveals the compelling challenges we face in a world of 7 billion. It tells the story of Beth, an American mother and child's right activist, and her journey to make sense of the controversy and the forces trying to keep it in the shadows. Mother features world-renowned experts to help explore this issue and how it intersects with gender equity, religion, reproductive health, economic inequality and the environment. It is fundamentally a film of hope and shows the strength of the human spirit to make a better world. WWW. MOTHERTHEFILM.COM

We hope you enjoy watching Mother during this Earth Day free streaming through the end of April. For more information about Tiroir A Films and the programs we create, go to our website at doclink

Road Rage: Scientists Denounce $60 Trillion Infrastructure Expansion

G-20 nations make commitment to invest $60 to $70 trillion worldwide in new infrastructure over the next 15 years
March 14, 2015,   By: Mrinalini Erkenswick Watsa

The author watched the 2,500 kilometer-long Interoceanic Highway -- which connects the west coast of Peru with the western Brazilian border -- change from a scraggly dirt and gravel path, blanketed on both sides by massive Amazonian trees in 2009, to a faster, wider, paved road with the trees cut further away from the road and farms developing along the way by 2014.

Now Brazil could transfer Amazonian produce much faster by exporting west through Peruvian ports, much closer to production sites than the eastern Atlantic coast of Brazil. Global Forest Watch, a subsidiary of the World Resources Institute, monitors land use via satellite imagery across the planet and reports over 67,000 hectares of deforestation in the region around Puerto Maldonado.

As the forest on either side was cut down, sold, bought, farmed and exploited, the wildlife succumbed to slaughter on the highway.

The story of this road is like thousands of other stories all over the world. The Bengal tiger, the Amazonian jaguar, and the African forest elephant have suffered great reductions in numbers due to roads. Over 37% of roadkills were reptiles. Amphibians experienced the next-highest mortality rate, followed by birds.

Last November, at the annual G-20 summit - for the 20 wealthiest of the world's nations, a staggering commitment was made to invest $60 to $70 trillion worldwide in new infrastructure over the next 15 years. This is akin to doubling the current value of all global infrastructure put together.

"The G20's pledge would be the largest financial transaction in human history," writes William Laurance, a Researcher and Australian Laureate at James Cook University. "Unless these projects are managed carefully, their ecological consequences could be almost unthinkable."

It is expected that there enough paved roads globally by mid century to circle the Earth more than 600 times. Nine-tenths of these new roads will be in developing nations, which sustain many of the planet's most biologically rich and environmentally important ecosystems. Massive hydroelectric projects involving damming some of the world's largest rivers have been planned for the Mekong region, the Congo basin and the Amazon basin.

The authors recommended that the road planners avoid the first cut, since every road brings with it the potential for further subsidiary roads, thus exponentially increasing the area eventually modified. Even upgrading an existing road cannot be dismissed as irrelevant, because upgraded roads maintain access year-round, which increases traffic speeds and has wide-ranging impacts on the surrounding environment.

Laurance suggests for those who wish to see the African wilds and all it contains not to hesitate, but to go now, for soon will be too late. Indeed, Global Forest Watch shows large portions of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo have been allotted for mining concessions. "It's a bit of a tsunami," Laurance said. doclink

Karen Gaia says: by all means let's all rush to see it in our jets burning fossil fuel, flaunting the rich polluting lifestyle dream to every region in the world.

All Aboard the UK's First Poop Bus

November 2014, Quartz   By: Adam Epstein

Public transport powered by human waste and sewage could be the next big trend in sustainable energy. Seriously.

The UK's "Bio-Bus" took it's first trip today, running entirely on biomethane gas produced by treating waste and sewage at a plant run by the biotechnology company GENeco. The 40-seat bus can travel 186 miles on one tank of gas, which requires roughly the annual waste of five people to fill.

Biomethane produces fewer emissions than regular diesel fuel does. GENeco general manager Mohammed Saddiq said that the Bio-Bus "is actually powered by people living in the local area, including quite possibly those on the bus itself."

In 2009, the city of Oslo, Norway converted 80 public buses to run on biomethane. And some European countries, like Sweden, have been using biogas to power vehicles for years. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Let's do the math: 40 people can travel 186 miles on the annual poop of 5 people. That means the average person could travel 8 trips per year, of 186 miles each trip -- or 29 miles a week -- on his own poop. Not bad. But not anything like what we are used to.

UN Calls for Action as Global Water Crisis Looms

The UN has warned that the world will soon face a crisis of huge dimensions if water management does not improve
March 20 , 2015, DW

The U.N. warned in its annual World Water Development Report that, if current trends of water usage continue, the demand for water will exceed its replenishment by 40% by 2030.

One of the main factors is the rise in the world's population by some 80 million people per year. The current population of some 7.3 billion is likely to reach 9.1 billion by 2050.

Agriculture uses some 70% of water resources globally and over 90% in most of the world's least-developed countries. With growing population agriculture will need water resources to increase by some 60%, the report said.

Climate change, and growing urban populations across the world will also exacerbate water shortages, with global demand for water likely to rise by 55% by 2050.

About 20% of groundwater supplies -- which provide drinking water to about 50% of the world's population -- are now suffering from over-extraction, which leads to freshwater in coastal areas often being contaminated by saline intrusion.

In India, regions such as Maharashtra and Rajasthan are subjected to significant water stress, according to the report.

"The fact is there is enough water to meet the world's needs, but not without dramatically changing the way water is used, managed and shared," the report said, pointing to a number of current abuses, including agricultural and industrial pollution and contamination by untreated sewage.

The report called for the introduction of measures to curb waste and punish pollution, increased education about the problem and possibly rises in the price of water. doclink

World Ocean Heartbeat Fading? ‘Nasty' Signs North Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation is Weakening

March 23 , 2015, Robertscribbler

Scientists call it Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). But we may as well think of it as the heartbeat of the world ocean system. And when that heartbeat begins to slow down, we'd best sit up and start paying attention:

Near Greenland in the North Atlantic, salty, dense, ocean water issuing from the tropics along the Gulf Stream begins to cool. The heavier water, burdened with salt, sinks to the bottom in the North Atlantic. This drives a massive ocean conveyer belt, driving less oxygen rich bottom waters to the surface where they can be reinvigorated. It also drives this ocean revitalizing train of currents through every major corner of the world ocean.

However, scientists have been warning policymakers for 30 years that this salt and heat driven (thermohaline) circulation could be disrupted, reducing oxygen levels throughout the whole ocean system, and greatly reducing the oceans' ability to support life and shifting one step closer to the nightmare ocean state called a Canfield Ocean.

This disruption could be caused by warmer, salty water cooling and sinking in the North Atlantic. And any disruption of the overturning process in the North Atlantic basically kills off a life-giving circulation to the entire world ocean system.

For details and graphs, click on the link in the headline. doclink

Introduction to OVER by William Ryerson

March 20 , 2015, Global Population Speakout (GPSO)

Well worth reading.

In the introduction to the picture book Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot (OVER), William Ryerson covers all the bases on overpopulation, sustainable living, resource depletion, poverty, preventing unplanned pregnancies, educational soaps, child brides, and so on.

The book was written for the Global Population Speakout, an annual event promoting the 'speaking out' for population awareness. Ryerson is the president of the Population Media Center and CEO of the Population Institute.

. . . more doclink

Global Dependence on Food Imports Leaves Countries Vulnerable

March 14 , 2015, Malaysian Times

Over one-third of countries import 25% or more of their grains, according to Gary Gardner, a researcher at the Worldwatch Institute and author of the study "Food Trade and Self-Sufficiency". This is an increase of 57% since 1961. Total grain imports have increased by 500% in the same time.

There are fears that many countries have become too dependent on the vagaries of international markets for their food. If prices rise or exports suspended, countries that dependent heavily on imports could face crisis.

Thirteen countries were dependent entirely on imports for their grain supply by 2013, an 18% increase from 1961, said Gardner.

In 2010, bad weather prompted Russia to suspend grain exports. This was partially responsible for triggering social unrest and a revolution in Egypt as global prices rose damaging Egypt's state bread subsidy program.

Although food prices are at lowest levels in more than 4-1/2 years, population growth and expanding appetites for meat in developing countries -- which requires grain for feed -- and environmental pressures mean these low price levels won't last forever.

Governments should do their best to nurture homegrown production and not just leave food supplies to the mercy of global markets.

The number of people worldwide without enough to eat has dropped from nearly a million in 1990 to 805 million in 2014, according to the FAO. However population pressures and economic growth are leading countries to convert farmland into urban or suburban areas. In the United States alone, agricultural lands the size of Indiana were "paved-over" between 1982 and 2007, Gardner said. doclink

Access to Contraception

March 24 , 2015, ACOG - American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynocologists

Nearly all U.S. women who have ever had sexual intercourse have used some form of contraception at some point during their reproductive lives. However, multiple barriers prevent women from obtaining contraceptives or using them effectively and consistently.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (the College) recommends full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement that new and revised private health insurance plans cover all U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved contraceptives without cost sharing.

Also recommended:

* Easily accessible alternative contraceptive coverage for women who receive health insurance through employers exempted from the contraceptive coverage requirement.

* Medicaid expansion in all states, an action critical to the ability of low-income women to obtain improved access to contraceptives

* Adequate funding for the federal Title X family planning program and Medicaid family planning services to ensure contraceptive availability for low-income women

* Sufficient compensation for contraceptive services by public and private payers to ensure access, including appropriate payment for clinician services and acquisition-cost reimbursement for supplies

* Age-appropriate, medically accurate, comprehensive sexuality education that includes information on abstinence as well as the full range of FDA-approved contraceptives

* Confidential, comprehensive contraceptive care and access to contraceptive methods for adolescents without mandated parental notification or consent, including confidentiality in billing and insurance claims processing procedures

* The right of women to receive prescribed contraceptives or an immediate informed referral from all pharmacies

* Prompt referral to an appropriate health care provider by clinicians, religiously affiliated hospitals, and others who do not provide contraceptive services

* Evaluation of effects on contraceptive access in a community before hospital mergers and affiliations are considered or approved

* Efforts to increase access to emergency contraception, including removal of the age restriction for all levonorgestrel emergency contraception products, to create true over-the-counter access

* Over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives with accompanying full insurance coverage or cost supports

* Payment and practice policies that support provision of 3-13 month supplies of combined hormonal methods to improve contraceptive continuation

* Provision of medically accurate public and health care provider education regarding contraception Improved access to postpartum sterilization

* Institutional and payment policies that support immediate postpartum and postabortion provision of contraception, including reimbursement for long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) devices separate from the global fee for delivery, and coverage for contraceptive care and contraceptive methods provided on the same day as an abortion procedure

* Inclusion of all contraceptive methods

* Funding for research to identify effective strategies to reduce health inequities in unintended pregnancy and access to contraception

The CDC named contraception one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century because of it's contribution to improved health and well-being, reduced global maternal mortality, health benefits of pregnancy spacing for maternal and child health, female engagement in the work force, and economic self-sufficiency for women. 87.5% of U.S. women who have been sexually active report use of a highly effective reversible method.

The College supports women's right to decide whether to have children, to determine the number and spacing of their children, and to have the information, education, and access to health services to make those choices. Women must have access to reproductive health care, including the full range of contraceptive choices, to fulfill these rights.

The U.S. has higher pregnancy and abortion rates than most other developed countries. Low-income women have even higher rates. The Healthy People 2020 goal is to decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies from 49% to 44%.

Women with unintended pregnancies must choose between carrying the pregnancy to term, putting the baby up for adoption, or to undergo abortion. Medical, ethical, social, legal, and financial reasons come into play. U.S. births from unintended pregnancies cost taxpayers approximately $12.5 billion in 2008. Each dollar spent on publicly funded contraceptive services saves the U.S. health care system nearly $6.


* The emphasis on abstinence-only education may have in part led to widespread misperceptions of contraceptive effectiveness, mechanisms of action, and safety that can have an effect on contraceptive use and method selection. Many individuals believe that oral contraceptives are linked to major health problems or that IUDs carry a high risk of infection, or that certain contracptives may be abortifacients. None of the FDA-approved contraceptive methods are abortifacients because they do not interfere with a pregnancy.

* Many clinicians are uncertain about the risks and benefits of IUDs and lack knowledge about correct patient selection and contraindications.

* Legal rulings and legislative measures can impede access to contraceptives for minors and adults and interfere with the patient-physician relationship by impeding contraceptive counseling, coverage, and provision. Hobby Lobby is an example.

* Supporters of "personhood" measures argue erroneously that most methods of contraception act as abortifacients because they may prevent a fertilized egg from implanting; if these measures are sucessful, hormonal contraceptive methods and IUDs could be illegal.

* While the Title X family planning program and Medicaid require that minors receive confidential health services, currently, 20 states restrict some minors' ability to consent to contraceptive services.

* More than one half of the 37 million U.S. women who needed contraceptive services in 2010 were in need of publicly funded services, either because they had an income below 250% of the federal poverty level or because they were younger than 20 years. 25% of women in the United States who obtain contraceptive services seek these services at publicly funded family planning clinics.

* There was a 17% increase (about 3 million) in the number of women needing publicly funded contraceptive services from 2000 to 2010. As the ACA goes into effect, obstetrician-gynecologists can be strong advocates for continued expansion of affordable contraceptive access, which has been shown to be cost neutral at worst and cost saving at best.

* In 2000, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concluded that a company's failure to cover contraception is sex discrimination under the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act. However, even when contraception is covered, women pay approximately 60% of the cost out of pocket compared only 33% for noncontraceptive drugs.

* Under the ACA, all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient contraceptive education and counseling are covered for women without cost sharing by all new and revised health plans and issuers. This requirement also applies to those enrolled in Medicaid expansion programs. However, many employers are now exempt from these requirements because of regulatory and court decisions, leaving many women uncovered. In addition unauthorized immigrants remain uninsured in spite of the ACA. For these women the most effective methods, such as IUDs and the contraceptive implant, likely will remain out of reach.

* Another barrier is the distribution of only a month's supply of contraception at one time. Data show that provision of a year's supply of contraceptives is cost effective and improves adherence and continuation rates.

* Some policy makers also require women to "fail" certain contraceptive methods before an IUD or implant will be covered.

* Allowing over-the-counter access to oral contraceptive pills is a good strategy for improving access, but only if over-the-counter products also are covered by insurance or other cost supports in order to make them financially accessible to low-income women.

* Ten of the 25 largest health systems in the country are Catholic-sponsored facilities which object to contraception.

* Another barrier is the pharmacist who refused to fill contraceptive prescriptions or provide emergency contraception. For women in areas where pharmacies and pharmacists are limited, such as rural areas, this obstacle may be insurmountable.

* There is no benefit to a routine pelvic examination or cervical cytology before initiating hormonal contraception. However some doctors insist on one, in order to deter a woman, especially an adolescent, from having a clinical visit that could facilitate her use of a more effective contraceptive method than those available over the counter.

* Another common practice is requiring two visits to place a LARC device when one is all that is really needed.

* A study showed that almost 50% of women who did not receive a requested postpartum sterilization were pregnant again within 1 year. Twenty seven percent of reproductive-aged women choose to undergo permanent sterilization once they have completed childbearing, and many of them want the procedure to take place immediately after birth. However often the hospital is not always prepared for this, or the insurance does not cover it. Medicaid regulations require signed consent 30 days before sterilization, eliminating immediate postpartum sterilization as an option in many cases. The regulation was created to protect women from coerced sterilization, but it also can pose a barrier to a desired sterilization.

* Highly effective LARC methods are underutilized, mostly by adolescents and women who have not had children. Providing effective contraception postpartum and postabortion can be ideal because the patient is often highly motivated to avoid pregnancy, but appropriate reimbursement for LARC methods at these times can be difficult to obtain.

* Unintended pregnancy rates for poor women are more than five times the rate for women in the highest income bracket and this number has increased substantially over the past decade. Publicly funded programs that support family planning services, including Title X and Medicaid, are increasingly underfunded and cannot bridge the gap in access for vulnerable women. To address these barriers, the ACA has encouraged states to expand Medicaid eligibility for family planning services to greater numbers of low-income women. In states that choose to expand Medicaid under the ACA, fewer poor women will lose Medicaid eligibility postpartum.

All women should have unhindered and affordable access to all U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives as an integral component of women's health care. doclink

Karen Gaia says: My daughter was told by her doctor that she couldn't have an IUD because she didn't have any children yet. So she had to go to another doctor to get it. Her friend was told by her doctor that the IUD promoted slutty behavior.

World Population Video

March 20 , 2015

Watch human population grow from 1 CE to present and see projected growth in under six minutes. This "dot" video is one of our most popular teaching tools. Recommended for grades six and up. An interactive companion site to the video will launch in July 2015. doclink

A Fools Take

March 01, 2015, Motley Fool investors e-newsletter   By: Morgan Housel

One of the most important money lessons is that wealth is relative. Someone with millions in the bank can feel broke, while someone with a modest stash can feel like they're on top of the world, so rich that they can retire 15 years after puberty.

Think about this. The group belonging to the "1%" richest Americans has become a symbol of the rich elite. But if you earn more than $34,000 in America, you are part of the richest 1% of the globe, even adjusted for differences in purchasing power, according to World Bank economist Branko Milanovic.

We always think about wealth as a number. But it's really just a feeling, a product of your own expectations. This is so important to understand because a lot of people talk about how to get rich. It involves making a lot of money. But to stay rich, you have to do something else. You have to ensure that your expectations don't grow faster than your wealth. doclink

Karen Gaia says: to save the Earth and its inhabitants, we must learn to live well with less.

100+ Ways to Conserve

March 01, 2015, Water Use It Wisely

When it comes to conserving water, small adjustments can have a big impact. Here you can sort through nearly 200 water-saving tips, download and print tip posters or share your favorites on social media. doclink

Karen Gaia says: the best answer to a growing population -- other than family planning -- is not so much technology but conservation.

Amazon's Carbon Uptake Declines as Trees Die Faster

March 19, 2015, Exeter, University of

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Review of the Past and Current State of EROI Data

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

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

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

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

EROI for Oil and Gas

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

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

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

EROI for Coal

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

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

EROI for Tar Sands

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

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

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

EROI for Shale Oil

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

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

EROI for Nuclear

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

EROI for Wind

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

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

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

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

EROI for Photovoltaics

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

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

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

EROI for Hydropower

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

EROI for Geothermal

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

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

EROI for Wave/Tidal

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

EROI for Corn Ethanol

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

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

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

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

February 27, 2015

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

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

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

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

3 Counterintuitive Connections Between Climate Change and Extreme Weather

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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