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

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

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

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

Population & Sustainability
News Digest

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Contraception Is Not Abortion: The Strategic Campaign of Antiabortion Groups to Persuade the Public Otherwise

   November 2015, Guttmacher Institute   By: Joerg Dreweke

During the November 2014 midterm elections, American voters decisively rejected ballot measures in two states that sought to define human personhood -- with all its attendant legal rights -- as starting at fertilization. Personhood measures would make it possible to ban some common FDA-approved contraceptive methods as well, because personhood proponents assert that these methods work by preventing implantation of a fertilized egg.

Even though prominent U.S. antiabortion groups like Americans United for Life (AUL), Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), the Heritage Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have publicly kept their distance from fights over personhood amendments, they have not shied away from asserting in other contexts that certain methods of contraception are actually methods of abortion.

In the 2014 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case, certain for-profit employers were granted an exemption from the Affordable Care Act's (ACA's) contraceptive coverage guarantee. During this debate, the view that emergency contraceptives and IUDs constitute abortion was expressed in legal briefs, press statements and elsewhere.

The claim that contraception is an abortifacients contradicts the facts laid out in detail in an amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court in October 2013 by numerous medical associations, led by Physicians for Reproductive Health and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. A contraceptive method, by definition, prevents pregnancy by interfering with ovulation, fertilization or implantation. Abortion ends an established pregnancy, after implantation.

Because of the scientific fact that most fertilized eggs naturally fail to implant in the uterus, the legal definition of pregnancy reflects also the scientific definition, and this has long been accepted by federal agencies, and by U.S. and international medical associations.

The amicus brief describes evidence showing that hormonal and copper IUDs and the emergency contraceptives Plan B and ella have never been shown to disrupt an existing pregnancy, so none can accurately be called an abortifacient. Plan B and ella work primarily by preventing ovulation; they can work for up to five days after sex, because sperm can survive in a woman's body for that long. The hormonal and copper IUDs work primarily by preventing sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg. Only the copper IUD, when used as an emergency contraceptive, appears capable of preventing implantation of a fertilized egg, which, by medical definition, preceeds pregnancy.

The antiabortion movement has a long history of strategically using outdated information and outright junk science to restrict access to reproductive health care, from the supposed mental health impact of abortion to discredited assertions that abortion causes breast cancer.

Part of the problem is that the label on Plan B that states that Plan B "may inhibit implantation (by altering the endometrium) does not reflect the most current research, But updating FDA-approved labels is a time-consuming and expensive process and so it is not uncommon that such labels do not keep pace with the underlying science, such as the label on the birth control pills Yaz and Yasmin which say that they work primarily by suppressing ovulation, but also state that "other possible mechanisms may include...endometrial changes that reduce the likelihood of implantation.

Court briefs filed by various antiabortion groups in support of Hobby Lobby's refusal to cover certain contraceptives assert that the case is about the company's right to refuse on religious grounds to facilitate abortion. The brief from USCCB contains numerous references to objecting companies being forced to cover "abortion-inducing drugs and devices." AUL states that the the ACA's contraceptive coverage guarantee is a "back door abortion mandate" that requires employers to cover "life-ending drugs that have been deceptively labeled as contraception, despite the fact that the guarantee explicitly extends only to FDA-approved contraceptive methods. SBA List also refers to the guarantee as an "Abortion Drug Mandate," while the Heritage Foundation says it requires "coverage of abortion-inducing drugs and devices."

The American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) says that Plan B can lead to "embryo death" by preventing implantation and that "IUDs work by either killing the embryo or by preventing the embryo from implanting." AUL claims that "ella can kill an embryo even after implantation has occurred,"

While claiming that the ACA's contraceptive coverage guarantee that emergency contraceptives and IUDs constitute abortion, groups like AUL, SBA List and USCCB pretend in other contexts that they hold no such views. In February 2014 article by USCCB's Richard Doerflinger discussing the decline in U.S. abortion rates. Doerflinger consistently refers to IUDs and emergency contraception as "contraceptives" or "contraception," never mentioning these methods' supposed abortifacient qualities and accepting without question the mainstream definition of abortion as the termination of an established pregnancy.

There are hundreds of policies in effect that regulate and restrict access to abortion care across the United States, both at the federal and, especially, the state level. Treating some contraceptives as abortifacients and applying the full range of existing abortion restrictions to them would have a dramatic impact. If the myriad hardships and indignities to which U.S. women who obtain abortions are often subjected were applied to IUD and emergency contraceptive users, the effect would border on the bizarre. For instance, women who self-administer Plan B would potentially run afoul of state laws that prohibit self-inducing an abortion or practicing medicine without a license. Another example: a physician in Missouri inserting an IUD would be required to do so in an ambulatory surgical center and would also need hospital admitting privileges.

Attacks have already been made on public insurance coverage (under Medicaid, Title X national family planning program, and other federal or state programs) and other public funding for some contraceptive methods by claiming they cause abortion.

The influential organizations behind this anticontraception agenda have compartmentalized the debate, which allows them to pick and choose when contraception should be viewed as abortion and when it should not. They are essentially able to pursue a "personhood" argument in areas where doing so is politically feasible, but at the same time feign moderation by keeping the full-fledged, politically toxic "personhood" agenda at arm's length. This deception is part of a deliberate, long-term strategy to limit women's access not only to safe and legal abortion, but to common methods of contraception as well. doclink

What Explains the United States' Dismal Maternal Mortality Rates?

   November 19, 2015

From 1990 to 2013, the maternal mortality rate more than doubled in the United States from 12 to 28 deaths per 100,000 live births. Globally, the United States ranks worse than most developed nations, at 65th in the world. Contributing to these dismal numbers are deep inequities in health across race, socioeconomic status, and geography. Black women die at a rate that ranges from three to four times the rate of their white counterparts, a difference that has remained largely unchanged over six decades. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I watched the video that came with this article, and a big part of the problem is lack of sex education and not being able to get preventative health care (including contraception). Hopefully the latter problem will be solved by the ACA.

Eve and the Fall

   November 2015   By: Roger Martin, Chair of Population Matters

In ancient Africa, the Lord of Earth,
The Gaia, keeper of the sacred flame
Of life upon this favoured speck of dust,
Spoke to the ape-girl, Lucy, in a dream.

"You have done well. That brain is growing fast.
Time to become a human. Listen hard,
And tell the others, and the ones to come.

Throughout this Eden I have given you
You shall be matriarch of beasts undreamt.
They'll live a life of eagles, always fed,
And see all things, and roam the earth and sky,
And read the seas and stars, and want for nought,
Provided that they follow this command.
Already you can feed of plants and flesh,
And only two fruits grow beyond your reach.
Both now I give you. But remember this:
You must eat both together, or else none.
The tree of Knowledge has the sweetest fruit;
The fruit of Wisdom's bitter, green and hard.
But if you gorge upon the first alone,
Without the second fruit to balance it,
Your offspring shall be locusts in the spring.
They'll breed, and swarm, and feed, till, numberless,
They've stripped the land of everything that grows,
And, Earth once made a desert, die in heaps.
That brain will free you from my disciplines
Of claw and dearth and sickness for a time.
Control your numbers only, now you can,
And Earth shall always be your Paradise."

And Lucy, awe-struck, grunted in her sleep;
And half-awoke, and jabbered to her mate,
And told him all that lingered from the dream.
"We'll eat the fruit of Knowledge, and we'll live
Like eagles, and like locusts numberless.
The Earth is ours."

And so the legend passed.
And so the Fall of Man, a few years on,
Took place exactly as the Lord had said. doclink

Free Black Friday Growthbusters Screening 2015 - Annual Tradition Continues

   November 26, 2015, Growth Busters

"We should be troubled by the annual 'consumption watch,' in which economists and newscasters hold vigil and await with bated breath the news that shoppers spent more money than the year before. Black Friday retail sales numbers actually measure how steep our over-consumption death spiral has become," says documentary filmmaker and producer of Growth Busters: Hooked on Growth, Dave Gardner.

Instead of joining the hordes, Gardner encourages family and friends to gather around what has become the "campfire" - the TV set, to share stories of community and sustainability, to get back in touch with what really matters in life. "Repeat after me," Gardner counsels, "I am not a consumer, I am a human being." Every year on Black Friday, the filmmaker makes the GrowthBusters documentary available free all day. He curates a handful of short films to accompany the documentary. "We put together a few relevant films addressing the existential crises of our time - overshoot, overpopulation and overconsumption.

The film Growth Busters: Hooked on Growth will be available on November 27, Black Friday, on this YouTube playlist. doclink

$1 Spent on Family Planning Saves One Ton of Carbon Emissions

   November 23, 2015, Population Matters

Research we recently commissioned in partnership with Lancaster University has revealed that investing in family planning services is an even more cost-effective way to abate carbon dioxide emissions than previously thought.

Reducing future energy demand by preventing unwanted births and hence lifetimes in developed as well as developing countries is far cheaper - US $1.11 per ton - than any renewable energy alternative. The benefits multiply in perpetuity via each never-existing person's never-existing descendants. Furthermore, by reducing the sizes of future populations, the same dollar spent has many other benefits: improving food and water security; reducing soil degradation and desertification; helping to prevent civil conflict and mass migration; protecting biodiversity; empowering women; improving health; stimulating economic development; and reducing unemployment and poverty.

In 2014, more than half of women of reproductive age in developing regions wished to avoid pregnancy. However, approximately 25 per cent of these women - about 225 million - were not using effective contraceptive methods. Those not doing so account for approximately 81 per cent of all unintended pregnancies in developing regions. A respected analysis has shown that fully meeting the global need for modern contraceptive services would cost only about $9.4 billion.

Population Matters Chair Roger Martin said, "Government has been reluctant to consider population size and growth as relevant to energy demand. This study should make them think - not least because the potential cost savings to the taxpayer are enormous. Family planning is a highly cost-effective complement to - not a substitute for - the conventional United Nations approach and if they are serious about climate change it would be irresponsible to ignore it." doclink

Analysis: More Countries Want More Babies

   November 17, 2015, IPS Inter Press Service   By: Joseph Chamie and Barry Mirkin

In 82 nations, home to almost half of the world's people, fertility rates are below replacement level. As a result, even with small projected increases, the native populations of 48 of those countries, including Germany, Japan, Russia and South Korea, are projected to be smaller and older by mid-century. Fearing a shortage of working-age people relative to the number too old or young to work, 56 nations aim to raise birth rates - four times the number promoting higher fertility in 1975. The group includes Australia, France, Germany, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Spain and Turkey.

The most recent and largest pro-natal nation is China, which has announced that it will now allow two, rather than just one, child per family. China's average age has been escalating. In 1950 less than 5% were 65 or older, but now it's 10%, and it could go to 33% by 2050. The change will produce 200 million more people than current fertility rates would yield, raising the population from 1.39 to 1.42 billion by 2030. But China's population should then slowly decline to 1 billion by the end of the century.

Leaders have adopted a variety of policies to raise birth rates. They can prohibit contraception, sterilization, abortion and the education and employment of women. But rather than go to that extreme on a national level, they more often try to reduce the costs to parents for childbearing and child rearing. Some offer bonuses at the time of a child's birth and/or recurrent supplements for dependent children. In Turkey, for example, parents receive 300 Turkish lira ($108) for the birth of their first child, 400 for the second and 600 for the fourth and subsequent child. This can also require continued assistance to couples with large needy families.

In Western countries, most policies try to make employment and family responsibilities more compatible. In addition to extended maternity and paternity leave, they offer part-time work, flexible hours, and work at home. Family-friendly workplaces can have nurseries, pre-school, and after-school care facilities. Such services are expensive. For example, with fertility at two children per woman, French family benefits cost about 4% of GDP.

Selective immigration can also raise the workforce size relative to the number too old or too young to work. A U.N study concluded that even current levels of international migration cannot compensate fully for the expected population decline. Between 2015 and 2050, the excess of deaths over births in Europe is projected to be 63 million, half the projected number of new migrants during that period. The financial costs, social integration and cultural impact of immigration are considered the downside of relying on large-scale immigration. So the E.U. is considering plans to offer aid money and visas to African countries willing to send temporary workers and take them back when the contracts end.

Japan and South Korea hope to avoid immigration by boosting productivity to compensate for a shrinking labor force. But they are also reviewing legislation to encourage more women to work by offering family-friendly work environments, improved career mobility, and promotions to management and senior positions. doclink

Art says: Often nations with pro-natal policies, such as Italy and France, have high unemployment rates. That may be a reason couples aren't having children. Why increase world over-population to balance the percentage of working-age people with those to old or young to work if your nation cannot find jobs for all of its working age citizens?

Karen Gaia says: even if a country is aging, a bigger concern is the footprint of that country and if the country is able to feed its people, or do they rely heavily on imports?

Aid Rises for Family Planning in Poor Nations

   November 13, 2015, Voice of America News   By: Carol Guensburg

A Kaiser Family Foundation report found that international government funding for family planning services climbed 9% to $1.4 B in 2014. The money will help low- and middle-income nations pay for education, contraceptives delivery, counseling and other services.

The U.S. gave $637 M, almost half of all donations, Australia gave $39M, Canada gave $48 M, and the following E.U. nations provided most of the rest: U.K. $328 M, the Netherlands $164 M, Sweden $70 M, France $70 M, Denmark $29M, Germany $31M and Norway $21M.

At the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, all but two of these countries formed a partnership and pledged to increase their funding until 2020. (Most of them had also upped their 2013 donations.) That partnership's progress report shows just over 290 million women and girls in the world's poorest countries are now using modern contraceptives - - up from 266 million in 2012.

Yet the World Health Organization still estimates that 225 million women in developing countries who want to delay or halt childbearing aren't using modern methods of contraception. Meeting their needs would eliminate 54 million unplanned pregnancies and 26 million abortions, said Rhonda Smith, a research associate at the Population Reference Bureau. She noted that Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest level of unmet need and the world's highest fertility rate, averaging five births per woman. That more than doubles the rate in Asia and almost quadruples the rate in Europe.

Surveys find that lack of access - in terms of cost or distance - is not the foremost reason why many people don't use the services. Smith blames false information. Some women "don't even perceive themselves at risk for pregnancy, either because they're breastfeeding or having sex infrequently." She also noted cultural or religious barriers and unfounded concerns about health risks and the side effects of contraception. doclink

Electric Vehicles Beat Gasoline Cars in Cradle-to-Grave Emissions Study

   November 12, 2015, Los Angeles Times   By: Jerry Hirsch

A build-to-scrap analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) found that -- even when you consider power plant emissions - U.S. electric cars produce less than half the global warming emissions of comparable gasoline-powered vehicles.

Rachael Nealer, a UCS scientist and the report's author, said: "Although a battery electric vehicle has no tailpipe emissions, the total global warming emissions ... depend on the sources of the electricity that charge the vehicle's batteries and on the efficiency of the vehicle." When it tallied all the greenhouse gas emissions from every aspect of auto manufacturing and operations, the UCS found that electric vehicles beat their gasoline counterparts in every U.S. region. In upstate New York, which is rich with renewable energy resources, electric cars generated pollution equaling a theoretical gas vehicle that gets 135 mpg. In California, to beat the electric car, a conventional car would need to do better than 87 miles per gallon. In states such as Colorado, Kansas and Missouri, where electricity comes largely from fossil fuels such as coal, electric cars offered the equivalent of a car getting 35 to 36 mpg.

The report relied on data produced by the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Argonne National Laboratory and from auto manufacturers. It considered emissions from oil extraction, refining and transportation to gas stations. On the other hand, making lithium-ion battery packs also produces a lot of pollution. UCS based its modeling on the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S -- the two best-selling electric cars in the U.S. Each has a different greenhouse gas emissions profile. The bigger the battery, the more pollution results from its production. That's why the smaller Nissan -- which also has less than half the range of a Tesla -- offsets its excess manufacturing emissions in about 4,900 miles, or six months of driving. The Tesla offset comes within 19,000 miles, or 16 months of operation.

Nealer expects the emissions profile of electric cars to continue to improve over their gasoline counterparts as technology advances and electricity generation becomes cleaner. She considers electric vehicles essential to achieve the deep emissions reductions by 2050 needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change. "It is really impressive how much cleaner electric cars have become in just the last three years," she said. doclink

One-Third of Millennials Don't Want Kids

   October 22, 2015, Glamour   By: Jillian Kramer

According to the Cassandra Report: Ages and Stages, of the 75 million millennials, about 25 million don't have a desire to have children, and 69% believe there is no longer a societal stigma associated with not wanting to have children.

Cassandra global president Joe Kessler said, "Their attitudes toward the prospect of becoming parents are indicative of their desire to construct their own personal paths to happiness."

The top reasons millennials cite for not wanting children: 34% don't want to give up their flexibility, while 32% don't want to take on the responsibility.

Also 75% of millennials surveyed say it's acceptable to have kids before getting married, according to the report. doclink

Not Even a Global Catastrophe Can Stop the Growth of Human Population

Even a world war or pandemic would result in at least 5bn people by 2100.
   November 2, 2015, AlterNet   By: Steve Connor

In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Professor Corey Bradshaw of the University of Adelaide and Professor Barry Brook of the University of Tasmania show that today's growth rate will not be easily slowed and there are now so many people that even unimaginable global disasters won't stop growth, not even by apocalyptic events such as a third world war or lethal pandemic.

Although there will eventually be a reduction human fertility in the parts of the world where the population growth is fastest, fertility reduction measures have to go hand-in-hand with policies aimed at reducing the consumption of natural resources, the authors reveal.

Professors Bradshaw and Brooke are prominent ecologists who normally study animal populations in the wild. Their study concludes that, even if every country adopts a draconian "one child" policy, the number of people in the world today is one of the most daunting problems for sustainable living on the planet.

"Even a catastrophic mass mortality event of 2bn deaths over a hypothetical window in the mid-21st century would still yield around 8.5 billion people by 2100," they said.

Demographers project a 9 billion population by 2050. If current fertility rates don't fall from current rates, the world population could reach 25 billion by 2100, but they are expected to continue falling.

"We basically found that the human population size is so large that it has its own momentum. It's like a speeding car travelling at 150mph. You can slam on the brakes but it still takes time to stop," Professor Bradshaw said. Fourteen "per cent of all the human beings that have ever lived are still alive today," 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.

"We were surprised that a five-year WWIII scenario mimicking the same proportion of people killed in the First World War and Second World War combined, barely registered a blip on the human population trajectory this century," said Professor Brook.

"Our great-great-great-great-grandchildren might ultimately benefit from such planning, but people alive today will not," 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

Karen Gaia says: While advances in introducing voluntary family planning and advances in contraception and supplying rural areas are having great success in lowering fertility rates, population momentum could easily result in another 3.5 billion people (3.5 billion young people today entering their child-bearing years reproducing at replacement level) being added to the planet.

However, the author neglects the benefits of family planning to families and communities, especially in high fertility areas: greater resilience in the face of famines and disasters, a chance to get an education and job skills, and economic well-being.

In addition, the authors seem to have overlooked the effects of land degradation, climate change, and decline of per capita water and arable land -- all leading to famine of large proportions. In the last 14 years, there have been up to 8 or 9 of those years where production of grains such has exceeded consumption, drawing reserves dangerously low. Many countries import grains, relying on countries like Russia, the U.S., and Venezuela to grow grains, and drought in these areas can lower production to levels that are not sufficient to feed the world.

Another depleted resource not mentioned is fossil fuels. Renewables are a long way from replacing fossil fuels, which still make up about 80% of all fuels. While the energy used to produce a barrel of oil (or coal or natural gas) is increasing, the high quality oil disappears and each barrel costs more to produce. It won't be long before it will cost one barrel of oil to produce only one barrel of oil - unless environmentalists succeed in putting a stop to the catastrophic environmental destruction that fossil fuel extraction causes.

But agriculture runs on fossil fuels, requiring at least 20-30% of the worlds fuel. Without it, prices of food rise, riots ensue, and, eventually big famines will occur.

A crash program for family planning is badly needed, but the One Child policy is definitely the wrong way to go about it. About 40% of pregnancies in the developing world are unintended, and 50% are unintended, which, if the unmet need for contraception had been met, 87 million pregnancies per year would have been avoided. Compare that to the 80 million people that are added to the planet every year.

UN Says Veganism Can Save the World From Destruction

   February 16, 2015, Eater   By: Khushbu Shah

A report from the UN tells us that the Western preference for meat- and dairy-heavy diets is "unsustainable," especially as the population is expected to grow to 9.1 billion by 2050. The Guardian writes that "a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world from hunger, fuel poverty, and the worst impacts of climate change."

In addition, the UN report says "animal products cause more damage than construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals." And more: 70% of the world's freshwater consumption, 39% of the globe's total land use and 19% of its greenhouse gas emissions is due to agriculture.

The more population grows, the greater the impact from agriculture, and even greater due to the increasing consumption of animal products. The report notes that "unlike fossil fuels, it is difficult to look for alternatives." doclink

Karen Gaia says: I have been advocating moving to the lowest minimum daily equivalent of meat for some time. Protein can be found in many plants: let's move in that direction!

Fracking Disaster: Kansas Went From 1 Earthquake Per Year To 42 A Week

   October 16, 2015, Occupy Democrats   By: James Devinnie

Fracking, a relatively new natural gas extraction method, has resulted in contaminated water supplies, polluted air, health problems, environmental degradation, and now, apparently, earthquakes. This past week, of all earthquakes in the world, 17% have occurred in Oklahoma and southern Kansas -- which have suffered 42 earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 on the Richter scale. This brings the count up to 680 such tremors for this year. Up until 2009, the area experienced an average of 1.5 of these quakes each year. This change in seismic activity has occurred since the Woodford Shale that straddles the two states' border has attracted a massive influx of fracking operations.

Fracking is revolutionary because it allows oil companies to access natural gas deposits that were previously inaccessible, being embedded in bedrock up to a mile below the surface. Fracking shoots a noxious combination of water, sand, and toxic chemicals down into the bedrock at high pressures and then explodes horizontally into tiny fissures in the rock. This seriously destabilizes the bedrock and reactivates long-dormant fault lines. In Oklahoma and Kansas there is the mid-continent rift, a billion-year old fault line buried more than a mile below the surface.

There are indications that the earthquakes are getting worse in almost every way and the earthquakes appear to be getting more powerful. The USGS has warned of an increasing risk of M5.0 or greater earthquakes, which are large enough to cause significant local damage. Every year, a higher percentage of Oklahoma's frack-quakes are M4.0 or greater.

Even if there were a total end to fracking in the area right now the crisis may continue.

Oklahoma's Republican lawmakers in the pocket of the oil industry have continued to question the source of the quakes happening daily under their feet. The state has enacted legislation preventing localities from banning fracking and has even put penalties in place on the use of solar energy. doclink

Water Shortages Unite Iraq, Islamic State Against Turkey

There’s one thing Islamic State militants and the Iraqi government they’re besieging agree on: Turkey is using more than its fair share of water.
   July 1, 2015, Bloomberg View   By: Zaid Sabah, Selcan Hacaoglu and Jack Fairweather

Water levels on the Euphrates River that flows 1,700 miles from eastern Turkey through Syria and Iraq past ancient Mesopotamian lands have fallen more than half this year, withering farmers' crops, endanger millions and raising the risk of a wider regional conflict, according to Iraqi officials.

Recently re-flooded and restored marshlands which had seen the rise of agriculture only to be drained in the 1990s by Saddam Hussein, are in danger of drying out as a result of the tactics of Islamic State, which captured a dam in Ramadi to cut off water, says Azzam Awash, who runs an NGO helping preserve Iraq's wetlands.

Turkey acted unilaterally to build $35.5 billion worth of dam and irrigation works to ensure reliable water supplies.

Jay Famiglietti, a NASA water scientist says the problem "is really over the failure to agree on how to manage the waters of the rivers across political boundaries."

Turkey signed an accord with Syria in 1987 to keep about a third of the Euphrates historic average flow, according to the FAO. It has no such treaty with Iraq. No international agreement for the Tigris river exists at all.

Still, "Turkey's desire to withdraw yet more water runs the risk of plunging the region into greater turmoil," said Adel Darwish, co-author of Water Wars: Coming Conflicts in the Middle East. "Turkey believes it can act with impunity while other countries are busy fighting Islamic State."

About 261 transboundary basins support 40% of the world's population. The UN says the number affected by water scarcity due to climate change may more than double to 1.8 billion by 2025.

The Euphrates and Tigris, meanwhile, suffer high rates of groundwater storage loss.

A NASA study of the Tigris-Euphrates river basins showed stored freshwater reserves about equal to that in the Dead Sea was lost over seven years through 2009.

Turkey claims the falling water levels are the result of others' poor downstream management, failure to make repairs and conflict. Leaks cost Syria 60% of its water, says the International Committee of the Red Cross.

An Iraqi official claims that Turkey is taking more than a fair share. Islamic State agrees.

"There's enough water to go around but the conflict with Islamic State has weakened" Iraq and Syria's ability to negotiate resource-sharing agreements with Turkey, Awash said.

Water "played a significant role in the instigation of the civil war in Syria," Jay Famiglietti of NASA said.

The result may be a vicious circle where water shortages exacerbate the conflict, in turn blunting resource management. doclink

Karen Gaia says: instead of Islam State, which gives these terrorists legitimacy, this faction should be called Daesh, a name used by the victims of ISIS in Syria. See an more (a rather long article) at

Ethiopian Drought Threatens Growth as Cattle Die, Crops Fail

   October 15, 2015, Bloomberg View   By: William Davison

Rain failure from February to May this year in Ethiopia has left 8.2 million people in need of emergency support, with the crisis set to worsen through September next year, according to the UN.

Since agriculture accounts for 40% of output, employs almost 77% of Ethiopia's 97 million people and receives significant government support, the effect may spread to the economy, according to the World Bank.

El Nino is one of the causes of the drought, Ethiopia's economy, which has averaged about 10% growth over the past decade, contracted by more than 3% in 2003, the last time El Nino occurred.

Ethiopia will need about $191 million to combat the drought this year. 15 million people may need food aid in 2015. The number of children needing emergency treatment for malnutrition reached 43,000 in August, more than during any month in the last major Ethiopian humanitarian crisis in 2011, according to the UN.

In the Amibara district of Afar region, 200 farmers in Sa'adin Omar's community have benefited from government help to irrigate 146 hectares of corn from the river, which is Ethiopia's longest. Because of drought, only half the plot may produce crops, amd the carcasses of dozens of cows lay scattered around. The price for the animals has crashed from 7,000 birr to as low as 1,500 birr as desperate herders saturate the market. doclink

Long in the Background, Population Becoming a Bigger Issue at Climate Change Discussions

   November 10, 2015, New Security Beat   By: Robert Engelman

The word 'population' (referring to growth or size) appears 20 times in a new 66-page synthesis of country pledges to cut greenhouse-gas emissions by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change's Secretariat.

Last year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) talked about the effect of population growth on rising greenhouse gas emissions and touted the benefits of wider access to voluntary family planning services.

Worldwatch Institute's Family Planning and Environmental Assessment project has also noticed: worldwide, researchers are increasingly recognizing the strong population-climate change link.

Unfortunately the topic remains too fraught with the potential for shaming of high-fertility groups and individuals, and scars from coercive "population programs" by some governments in the past. Yet the problem of population affecting the environment cannot be wished away.

Most countries have reported on the proportion of global emissions reductions they can contribute between now and 2030 to help keep the planet's average temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius higher than the pre-industrial average.

In doing so, governments had to note how many people will live within their borders in 15 years and how per-capita emissions multiplied by population might evolve. It should become obvious that the more a population grows, the more challenging it will be to achieve any specific pledge a government makes to cut, cap, or restrain growth in national emissions.

The UNFCCC synthesis report will show different population growth scenarios for the next decade and a half. The synthesis report references the latest (July) UN Population Division projections of world population, and suggests that a few governments aren't using the best - or any - population data in calculating "business-as-usual" emissions scenarios.

Some governments also want the world to know that population growth is a significant challenge as they try both to restrain emissions and adapt to climate change already experienced or expected. Several governments state that their countries' population growth or density constrains their ability to adapt to climate change and protect their citizens.

The Worldwatch Institute and the Population Reference Bureau have joined to assemble an expert group from the reproductive-health and climate fields to consider the link the effect that family planning has on climate-compatible development. In our recommendations, we tried to make clear that there is no reason to stigmatize the relationship. The population perspective on climate change is not about pointing fingers, but linking arms - in developed as well as developing countries - to empower women and men to achieve their desired family sizes and improve the wellbeing of current and future generations.

Properly managed and sensitively expressed, connecting population and climate change can support epochal improvements in the lives of women and girls. It supplements the many other arguments for sweeping away barriers to the use of contraception in all countries.

Even the IPCC authors noted that some industrialized countries with high per-capita emissions have high levels of unintended pregnancy.

Gender-related abuses such as child marriage could be helped by the linking population and climate change conceptually.

Young wives are pressured to have babies early and often, with the resulting high fertility rates leading to a higher proportion of dependent young people to economically productive adults, setting back low-income countries economically. This is the reverse of the "demographic dividend" with which economies prosper. Also the resulting population growth creates challenges which some governments say hold back their efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change.

Finding out what will be needed to avoid catastrophic climate change will require us to conjure up innovations and ways of thinking and behaving.

Vigilance to assure that any policies that result are based on the rights and reproductive choices of individuals and couples can help assure that this emerging interest promotes human well-being in more ways than one. doclink

Bixby Report Explains Cross-Cutting Effect of Family Planning on Food Security, Climate Change

   July 16, 2015, New Security Beat   By: Linnea Bennett

"With current neglect of family planning, the UN's recent projection of a 2100 world population of up to 12.3 billion is a possibility," says a report from the University of California, San Francisco's Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. Increased voluntary family planning efforts are needed, the authors contend, to meet existing demand for contraceptives, stabilize the threat of global food insecurity, and reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.

Recent research shows that family planning and reproductive health programs can reduce carbon emissions 16-29% of the amount needed by 2050 to avoid catastrophic levels of climate change.

The authors also claim that it will take $9.4 billion a year to meet family planning needs in developing countries to ensure food security in developing countries between now and 2050. Other initiatives such as changing agriculture models and oil divestment will require huge funds to combat climate change and food insecurity, while a modest commitment to increased family planning funding could make a substantial change in both arenas.

Approximately 11% of humanity was chronically underfed in 2014 and climate change is threatening production in many countries. Population is expected to swell from over 7 billion people today to around 9 billion by 2050, with most of the growth coming in already-stressed nations. The UN Food and Agricultural Organization estimates food production must increase 50-70% to meet the demands of a larger, more affluent, more urban population by 2050.

Meanwhile there is a large unmet need for family planning tools - 225 million women in developing countries want to delay or stop childbearing but are not using modern contraceptives. In the Sahel area in Africa, per capita crop yield has decreased 13% in five years while population is expected to increase from 135 million to 330 million by 2050, There unmet need for family planning is 16 - 37%. If this need were met, an estimated 52 million unintended pregnancies could be avoided globally every year.

In addition, livestock and agriculture for food make up 30% of the world's carbon emissions and have a substantial role in climate change. "Worldwide meat production alone emits more greenhouse gases than all forms of global transportation or industrial processes," say the study's authors.

Environmental change and consumption are straining natural resource bases, which can lead to social or political instability and even conflict. When a state experiences instability, it is more likely to face food insecurity. Conversely, food insecurity can create or exacerbate instability. A decrease in food demand also means less stress on water and energy resources, as water, food production, and industry often interact in a way in which a demand on one sector places strain on the other two.

The UN projects world population to reach 10.9 billion by 2100, but this number will only be accurate if population levels in high fertility developing countries decrease at the same rate as they have elsewhere in the world. If not, the total world population could reach 12.3 billion by 2100.

In addition, the total demand for family planning is expected to increase by 40% in the next 15 years alone.

Because there is already a $5.3 billion a year gap in family planning, the authors recommend a $3.5 billion annual investment from foreign aid donors, with the rest covered by developing country governments. While family planning is not a Sustainable Development Goal itself, it benefits other SDGs, including food security, sustainable agriculture, women's empowerment, and action on climate change. In addition, increased use of family planning can mold countries' age structures so they have a chance to receive a "demographic bonus", improving economic productivity as well. doclink

New Poll Shows Widespread Support for Birth Control Access in the U.S.

   November 9, 2015, PRWeb

'Thanks, Birth Control Day', occurring on November 10, celebrates the many benefits of birth control, including fewer unplanned pregnancies and more educational and economic opportunities.

In the U.S. a nationwide telephone survey of over 1,000 adults, conducted for The National Campaign by SSRS, an independent research company, found that:

•86% (91% of Democrats and 83% of Republicans) support policies that make it easier for those 18 and older to get the full range of birth control methods.

•71% ( 86% of Democrats and 53% of Republicans) support policies that make it easier for teens to get the full range of birth control methods.

•About 80% think more people would use birth control if they knew more about its many benefits, knew more about the many methods of birth control available, and were comfortable talking openly about birth control.

•87% of Democrats, 76% of Republicans, 81% of white non-Hispanics, 77% of Hispanics, and 73% of black non-Hispanics agree that birth control is a basic part of women's health care.

•84% of Democrats, 72% of Republicans, 82% of black non-Hispanics, 79% of Hispanics, and 77% of white non-Hispanics believe policymakers who are opposed to abortion should be strong supporters of birth control.

•82% of black non-Hispanics, 75% of Hispanics, and 68% of white non-Hispanics support polices that make it easier for teens to get the full range of birth control methods.

•91% of black non-Hispanics, 87% of Hispanics, and 86% of white non-Hispanics support policies that make it easier for those age 18 and up to get the full range of birth control methods.

"Access to birth control has been a game changer for women and families. It has contributed greatly to reduce rates of teen and unplanned pregnancies that we know will ultimately lead to better educational and economic opportunities for women, healthier kids and families, and reduced public costs," said Ginny Ehrlich, CEO of The National Campaign. doclink

Use of Long-Acting Birth Control Methods Surges Among U.S. Women

   November 10, 2015, New York Times   By: Sabrina Tavernise

The proportion of American women on birth control who use intrauterine devices and implants almost doubled, rising from 6% in 2006-2010 to 11.6% in 2011-2013, according to a recent study from the National Center for Health Statistics.

This share is still smaller than for the pill (26%) or condoms (15%), but it is the fastest-growing method.

Long-acting birth control is giving American women more say over when - and with whom - they have children. About half of the pregnancies in the United States are unintended, and long-acting methods could help reduce that number, because the methods work better than other types.

The methods are effective because, unlike the pill, a diaphragm or condoms, they do not require a woman to take action to work. Last fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics published guidelines that for the first time singled them out as a "first-line" birth control option for adolescents, citing their "efficacy, safety and ease of use."

About 62% of women in the United States use birth control, according to the report.

About 8.6% of black women used long-acting methods, compared with 15.1% of Hispanics and 11.4% of whites.

Female sterilization, the second most popular method after the pill, was used by 40% of women with just a high school diploma or the equivalent, compared with about 15% for women with a bachelor's degree or higher. In contrast, the pill was used by about a third of women with a college degree or more but by just 13% of women with a high school degree or less. doclink

When it Comes to Ending Child Marriage, Involve Young People

   August 20, 2015, Girl Effect   By: Leila Billing

Young people's engagement in political, economic and social spaces is essential for ensuring sustainable human development. Youth lead almost 20% of the organizations that make up Girls Not Brides' global partnership, according to Leila Billing, Head of Partnership Development.

Over 100 youth activists aged 15 to 30 years from around the globe who are actively addressing child marriage were surveyed.

One respondent from India said: "Do not underestimate the power of young people speaking out against early marriage. We are strong role models for our peers and are living evidence of what your life can be like if you are allowed to stay in school or continue with another form of education. We can, and we do, encourage solidarity actions by our peers and are capable of mobilizing powerful movements. We generate strength in numbers."

"Youth provide an insight that adults simply do not possess," said one youth advocate from Bangladesh. "My insights have helped programme designers understand what strategies girls in my community use to self-protect and avoid early marriage. I have told them what it takes to make myself and my friends feel safe."

A Ugandan advocate made the argument that youth play an central role in identifying which girls are threatened by early marriage: "We know who is at risk of child marriage; we hear the conversations that adults do not."

Yet, the challenges for ensuring meaningful youth participation in all aspects of work towards ending child marriage remain. And that's largely due to their age and standing in society.

From Tonga to Tunisia, Palestine to Pakistan, youth resoundingly mentioned their frequent inability to convince adult decision-makers, donors as well as other civil society stakeholders that they are credible actors who can contribute valuable perspectives and opportunities.

A group of South Asian respondents felt they faced a backlash when they spoke out against child marriage because they were openly speaking about a sensitive topic, and they weren't following accepted norms of how young people should behave.

Those surveyed urged more creativity in the way youth are trained, and they said they wanted sustained working relationships with adults.

They said collaborative relationship with adult activists would support them when reaching out to diverse groups of young people, including young women whose voices are seldom heard.

They asked for the technical support that will allow them to take the lead in the future: "We need preparation and support to enable us to lead an anti-child marriage campaign. Sometimes I feel we are set up to fail," said one youth advocate from Kenya.

As adults, we must ask ourselves if perhaps we are we still holding on to the reins, reluctant to give young people access to spaces adults usually control. It's time to strive for a brave new world where youth action to end child marriage is supported by us all. doclink

The Fallacy of the Latest Contraception Case

   November 6, 2015, New York Times   By: New York Times Editorial Board

Soon the Supreme Court will hear the latest challenge to the Affordable Care Act's guarantee of insurance coverage for birth control. It is worth going over the conflict at the core of these cases to better understand it.

The plaintiffs are employers who -- even they they are not required to provide coverage for those contraceptives which they believe induce abortions -- refuse to notify the government or their insurers of their refusal to provide coverage. All they would have to do would be to submit a simple two-page form designed for the purpose. The notion that these contraceptives produce abortions are contrary to scientific consensus.

They argue that signing the form would make them complicit in the eventual provision of contraception, and thus would violate their faith. They rely on the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Under that 1993 law, any regulation that imposes a "substantial burden" on religious practice must be in furtherance of a "compelling governmental interest" that cannot be achieved by less restrictive means.

Seven federal appeals courts threw out the plaintiffs' argument against signing the form because there is a compelling interest in ensuring that women have easy access to health care, including contraception, and it is hard to imagine a less restrictive approach than requiring employers simply to sign a form.

However, the federal appeals court for the Eighth Circuit upheld the employers' argument on the grounds that they have a "sincere religious belief" that signing the form makes them "morally and spiritually complicit" in what they consider to be a sin.

Since there is a legal conflict among the federal courts, the Supreme Court is slated to resolve it.

After Hobby Lobby, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that thinking that "one's religious beliefs are substantially burdened - no matter how sincere or genuine that belief may be - doesn't make it so."

Such lawsuits are a well orchestrated assault on the right of women to control their bodies, and thus the course of their own lives, by deciding if and when they will have a child. doclink

The Imams, the Taliban and the Condoms

   November 2015, Guardian

In Afghanistan, half of all deaths among women aged 15 to 49 are because of pregnancy and childbirth, according to UNICEF - and most are preventable. doclink

November News Summary

   November 7, 2015, WOA website   By: Art Elphick

In the U.S., population-related problems are not considered a top-ten issue among Democrats, and Republicans keep trying to defund Planned Parenthood. Only in a poll of top scientists was overpopulation ranked as the world's top problem.

A Google search revealed more articles warning against falling birthrates than articles that view falling birthrates as a benefit. And searching Google on overpopulation revealed one article calling over-population a myth and a NY Times article claiming that over population really poses no threat to humanity and the planet.

Places with low birthrates generally enjoy higher per-capita output and consumption rates. But, unfortunately, as billions of people have moved up the economic ladder, their increased consumption rates have resulted in serious, and often irreversible, environmental consequences. So, at least in the short term, places with falling birthrates fuel the sustainability problem even more than those less common places where most families still have more than five children.

Economists and most other people measure a nation's success in terms of GDP growth. But GDP growth differs from sustainable growth. When steadily increasing numbers of people try to achieve endless growth in output and consumption, unless they meet requirements for sustainability, they eventually reach a set of natural bounds. If resource depletion determines those bounds, soon after productivity peaks, it sharply declines. And, of course, massive rates of production and consumption inevitably lead to massive discards of waste and pollution.

To describe the importance of the overpopulation and overconsumption problems in terms people can relate to, I have tried comparing the sustainability problem to the damages caused by WWII.

It is hard to fathom the horror and misery caused by WWII. In less than ten years the war took 60 million lives and damaged more than two trillion dollars' worth of property. Yet the war did not deplete the resources needed for recovery, and the air, land and seas remained mostly as they were before the war began. By the early 1960s, less than 15 years after the war ended, most people around the world lived better than they lived before the war and, on average, they live even better today (see final chart on linked page).

The sustainability problem evolves slowly and goes on indefinitely. With many decades to run its course, over time it will probably do more damage than was caused by WWII. As we adjust to the consequences of unsustainable growth rates, our world grows less capable of meeting some of the basic requirements of its inhabitants. This has already resulted in massive species extinctions, overfishing, dying reefs, dead zones, high pollution levels (including greenhouse gasses), desertification, deforestation, resource exhaustion, and more.

Even if we could freeze the current unsustainable levels of population and consumption, new damage would continue to occur until we get back to sustainable levels. That could take hundreds of years. Even then, all future generations must forever do without lost species, lost or ruined top soil, and depleted reserves of finite resources.

World commodity output forecasts suggest that we will not succeed in slowing consumption (forecasts for energy, other consumption), and U.N. forecasts show no end to population growth. Will people just keep adapting and shrugging off the losses as they occur?

I offer no magic solutions, but we can at least do the following:

1. Practice consumption and reproduction restraints ourselves.

2. Note that: the population keeps growing; nearly half of all pregnancies are unplanned; half of unplanned pregnancies are also unwanted.

3. If you teach any subject at any grade level, learn to use PopEd lesson plans.

4. Promote the use of PopEd lesson plans at your child's school.

5. Promote government support for UN and NGO family planning programs.

6. Check candidate positions and voting records on

7. Fight to save funding and insurance coverage for family planning programs.

8. Fight to save abortion rights.

9. Look for opportunities to educate others. For example, a discussion on climate change invites a mention that climate change reflects the production and consumption of billions of people.

10. Donate to NGOs that sponsor family planning programs. doclink

Karen Gaia says: GDP may be OK, but per capita GDP is slipping, especially for the lower 90% of U.S. residents, whose income averages $30K. Furthermore, somewhere between 2-3 billion people in the world are under nourished. Wealth is distributed unequally, and this, combined with climate change, is leading to a tremendous migration from affected areas.

Stigma Deters Young People From Accessing Contraception in Nigeria

   November 2, 2015, Thomson Reuters Foundation   By: Nnamdi Eseme

Many young people have limited access to sexual and reproductive health services, making it hard for them to access family planning and HIV services, putting them at risk for HIV, unplanned pregnancies, unsafe deliveries and abortions.

Ahead of the International Conference on Family Planning (9-12 Nov), in Bali, organizations are calling for greater integration of sexual and reproductive health and HIV services. "Integration of services can increase the range of services provided to and taken up by communities, especially young people, saving time and money in settings where resources are particularly limited. Most importantly, it can play a role in expanding access to services that allow people to choose if, when and how they want to plan to have a family," noted Lucy Stackpool-Moore of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.

Around 225 million women in developing countries would like to delay or stop childbearing but are not using any method of contraception.

In western Africa only 9% of married women use modern methods of family planning, according to the Population Reference Bureau. Many believe the myths claiming contraception causes weight gain, cancer, high blood pressure and even a reduction in sex drive.

Stigma from HIV can limit the choices that young people can make relating to planning families and accessing health services. In Nigeria the stigma is high despite several NGOs and health organisations advertising on TV and radio trying to educate people about HIV. Some women with HIV have to choose between a condom, needed to prevent spreading the disease, and a more effective birth control method.

Many young people in Nigeria do not want to be seen accessing sexual and reproductive health services because of stigma and discrimination, particularly if they are young people.

Health service centers are not situated in places where young people can easily access them. They are either in public hospitals, where the identity of people accessing the services are not protected, or in private hospitals where the high cost implication serves as a deterrent.

There is also a lack of open discussions on sex, so that young people do not get the information they need.

In Nigeria, as well as across Africa, poor knowledge of modern contraceptive methods, sociocultural practices, lack of relevant health policies and youth-friendly services are factors that continue to limit young people accessing sexual and reproductive health services.

Goal three of the sustainable development goals is to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages by 2030. Governments are now committed to ensure access to sexual and reproductive health services for all people by 2030, regardless of age, sexual orientation or any other factor that might cause people to be denied services. doclink

Methane Release From Melting Permafrost Could Trigger Dangerous Global Warming

A policy briefing from the Woods Hole Research Center concludes that the IPCC doesn’t adequately account for a methane warming feedback
   October 13, 2015, Mail and Guardian   By: John Abraham

Carbon dioxide is considered the most important human-emitted greenhouse gas (GHG), but methane is also important and has also increased in the atmosphere. Molecule for molecule, methane traps 30 times more heat than carbon dioxide; but it is present in much smaller concentrations.

Carbon dioxide is emitted primarily through burning of fossil fuels, but methane has a large natural emission component from warming permafrost in the northern latitudes. Permafrost is permanently frozen ground. Much of the permafrost is undisturbed by bacterial decomposition.

As the Earth warms, and the Arctic warms especially fast, the permafrost melts and soil decomposition accelerates. Consequently, an initial warming leads to more emission, leading to more warming and more emission. It is a vicious cycle and there may be a tipping point where this self-reinforcing cycle takes over.

A policy briefing from the Woods Hole Research Center cites two recent papers that study the so-called permafrost carbon feedback.

One of these studies uses projections from a recent IPCC report to estimate that up to 205 gigatons equivalent of carbon dioxide could be released due to melting permafrost. This would cause up to 0.5°C (0.9°F) extra warming. And this permafrost melting would continue after 2100 which would lock us into even more warming. Under this scenario, meeting a 2°C limit would be harder than anticipated. Current IPCC targets do not adequately take into account this feedback.

There is twice as much carbon in permafrost as in the atmosphere. With the Arctic is warming twice as fast as the globe as a whole, the upper layers of this frozen soil begin to thaw, allowing deposited organic material to decompose. A network of monitoring stations have measured ground temperatures and detected a significant heating trend over the past few decades and so has the active layer thickness.

Woods Hole expert Robert Max Holmes said, "It's essential that policymakers begin to seriously consider the possibility of a substantial permafrost carbon feedback to global warming. If they don't, I suspect that down the road we'll all be looking at the 2°C threshold in our rear-view mirror."

If we are to stop the warming-thawing-more warming cycle, it is critical to reduce carbon emissions now. doclink

Karen Gaia says: One area we can concentrate on reducing methane emissions is in cow manure in confined feed lots. If we ate less meat this would be less of a problem. Another greenhouse pollutant is soot which is produced by burning wood. The fires in Indonesia and some of the forest fires in the drought areas of the U.S. emit a lot of soot that we should look into preventing.

How a Billionaire-Backed IUD is Fighting the GOP War on Women's Bodies

Republicans should love Liletta, but instead they're fighting it every step of the way
   October 27, 2015, AlterNet   By: Kali Holloway

Liletta is a new intrauterine device which became available in April. It is affordable, safe, 99% effective, and widely accessible. Studies prove the IUD reduces rates of unplanned pregnancies, and it's been shown to decrease the number of teen abortions. Once Liletta is inserted by a healthcare professional, it can remain in place for up to three years without any patient intervention, effectively eliminating the kinds of user errors that lead to pregnancy.

In multiple studies, Liletta has been proven safe, placing it far outside the troubled history of IUDs.

Unfortunately the conservative response has been to obstruct the use and availability of Liletta and similar contraceptive methods at every opportunity. Their mission seems like one less focused on protecting the sanctity of human life than it is penalizing and stigmatizing women for having non-reproductive sex.

Most IUDs cost anywhere from $800 to $1,200 -- prohibitively priced for most family planning clinics, many of which are already severely underfunded. But with Liletta, its developer Medicines360 has capped out-of-pocket expenditures for insured women at $75, and in cases where patients qualify financially, even that cost can be subsidized. Medicines360 has made it a priority that public health care centers can purchase the IUD at just $50 a pop, allowing them to keep plenty in stock. Batches of Liletta have been recently shipped to 49 states, with more than half of the devices going to clinics that serve low-income patients.

The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation, the philanthropic organization co-founded by Warren Buffett and his late wife, has recently focused on funding family planning work, spending an estimated $200 million to determine the best and most effective contraceptive methods, underwriting costs for product development, conducting clinical trials, and creating distribution channels that ensure affordability.

Judith DeSarno of the Buffett Foundation, said that Warren "thinks that unless women can control their fertility -- and that it's basically their right to control their fertility-that you are sort of wasting more than half of the brainpower in the United States."

In 2007, the Buffett Foundation gave approximately $20 million to fund the Contraceptive Choice Project, a three-year study involving more than 9,000 women of childbearing age in St. Louis, Missouri. Participants were given information about various types of birth control, with particular insights on IUDs, and offered the method of their choice for free. 56% ultimately opted for an IUD, proving women would be interested in the devices when armed with the right information.

Between 2008 and 2013, the Buffett Foundation spent over $50 million in Colorado on a project that offered free and reduced-cost IUDs to some 30,000 women through 68 family planning clinics statewide. Subsequently the teen birth rate in the state fell by 40% from 2009 to 2013, while their rate of abortions fell by 42%, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. There was a similar decline in births for unmarried women under 25 who have not finished high school.

Colorado governor John Hickenlooper said that "Colorado moved from the 29th lowest teenage birth rate in the nation before the initiative began in 2008 to 19th lowest in 2012." The project saved the state "$42.5 million in public funds in 2010 alone."

In the 1970s and '80s, IUDs were synonymous with the Dalkon Shield, a brand that was recalled for causing septic abortions, infertility, and in rare cases, death. In 2000, the FDA-approved Mirena hit the market, followed in 2013 by pharmaceutical giant Bayer's Skyla, both of which helped revive interest in the IUD for a generation of women less familiar with its history.

To remedy the dark name of the IUD, the Buffett Foundation spent $74 million to launch Medicines360, which immediately set about creating a generic IUD. Liletta was the result.

There are nearly 3.4 million unintended pregnancies each year in America; many likely to end in abortion. Poor and low-income women, more specifically, are five times more likely than wealthier women to experience both unplanned pregnancies and unintended births, according to a Brookings Institute study.

Although conservatives often discuss the birth rate among women in underserved communities as if it points to some innate, class-based moral failing, Brookings notes that rates of premarital sex are not socioeconomically determined. "There is no 'sex gap' by income," researchers write.

A study by the Guttmacher Institute of women aged 18-34 with household incomes below $75,000 found that cost led many women to cut corners with their birth control, skipping pills, delaying prescriptions, or adopting a one-month-on, one-month-off approach to taking the pill. One in four women who struggle financially are forced to take such measures, compared to among women with financial stability, whose rate is roughly one in seventeen.

Because of the upfront cost of IUDs and hormonal implants, low-income women are less likely to access these most effective forms of birth control, which are 99% successful in preventing pregnancy.

Another Guttmacher survey finds that a "majority of respondents reported that birth control use had allowed them to take better care of themselves or their families (63%), support themselves financially (56%), complete their education (51%), or keep or get a job (50%). Young women, unmarried women, and those without children reported more reasons for using contraception than others: not being able to afford a baby, not being ready for children, feeling that having a baby would interrupt their goals, and wanting to maintain control in their lives were the most commonly reported reasons for using birth control.

Many conservatives might not be interested in the self-determination birth control provides for women. But as a measure that helps reduce abortions and unwanted births -- they should be all for it. In 2010, nearly 70% of unintended births were paid for by public insurance programs, especially Medicaid. The GOP, which supposedly values dollars and cents above all else, should appreciate any solution likely to send those numbers downward.

Early this summer, House Republicans voted to eliminate funding for Title X, the only federal program which specifically funds family planning and reproductive-health services, including birth control, for low-income women. Now they are currently trying to defund Planned Parenthood, which provides a long list of family planning services to millions of women. Abortions represent just 3% of the services Planned Parenthood offers, a figure Republicans might care about if any of this was actually about abortion.

Conservatives in Texas, Kansas, Utah, Arkansas, Louisiana and Alabama are trying to defund Planned Parenthood at the local level. Louisiana Planned Parenthood clinics don't even provide abortion services, "so defunding it would only keep low-income patients...from accessing cancer screenings and other preventative health-care." Across the country, health care clinics have been rapidly disappearing, thanks to Republican efforts.

In 2014 the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision ruled in favor of a companies with closely held religious beliefs to opt out of providing women insurance that covers the cost of IUDs and some morning-after pills. (Hobby Lobby says IUDs are abortifacients; doctors and elementary school-level reproductive science say that's not true.)

Ann Friedman wrote of the decision: "The Supreme Court's decision -- and most reproductive-health restrictions passed by lawmakers across America over the past several decades -- expresses the view that women make their choice when they choose sex, and it's up to them to figure it out after that. That there is no social or moral or governmental obligation to make it easier for them to make choices that follow from a perfectly human impulse to want sex but not babies. For women, sex is an option, an inessential luxury like LASIK eye surgery."

In Colorado, after money ran out on a family planning project that resulted in a massive drop in teen pregnancies and abortions across the board, conservatives in the legislature turned down a bill to fund the program. One local anti-choice group said giving teens access to contraception "does not help them understand the risks that come with sexual activities."

These anti-choicers want no part of a program that teaches young women how to be sexually responsible, or that doesn't scare them into believing the only way sex can end is badly. These same conservatives refuse to fund anything that benefits children once they leave the uterus, who vilify single mothers, who bemoan "entitlement programs" for the most vulnerable families and children. In voting against those measures, conservatives are voting for teen pregnancy, unplanned births and abortion.

As more clinics introduce Liletta to their clients, and more health care plans offer it as a choice (mine does!), the 10% of women who rely on IUDs for birth control will only continue to grow. Republicans will keep pushing for policies that attempt to stop women from having sex, instead of plans that actually benefit women's reproductive health and offer real choice. doclink

Putting Family Farmers First to Eradicate Hunger

FAO report urges enabling the world’s half billion family farmers to be agents of change
   October 16, 2014, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Ninety percent of the world's farms are managed by families, according to FAO's new report, State of Food and Agriculture 2014.

Family farms produce about 80% of the world's food. Their prevalence and output mean they "are vital to the solution of the hunger problem" afflicting more than 800 million people, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva wrote.

Family farms are also the custodians of about 75% of all agricultural resources in the world, and are therefore key to improved ecological and resource sustainability. They are also among the most vulnerable to the effects of resource depletion and climate change.

While evidence shows impressive yields on land managed by family farmers, many smaller farms are unable to produce enough to provide decent livelihoods for the families.

Family farms must not only yield growth to meet the world's need for food security and better nutrition, they must also sustainably protect the environment to secure their own productive capacity, and in addition, grow productively and diversify livelihood in order to lift themselves out of poverty and hunger. All these challenges mean that family farmers must innovate, according to the report.

Although agricultural research by private companies is increasing, public-sector investment remains indispensable to ensure research in areas of little interest to the private sector - such as basic research, orphan crops or sustainable production practices. Such research constitutes a public good with many potential beneficiaries.

Eighty-four percent of the world's farms are less than two hectares in size. However, farms larger than 50 hectares - including many family farms -- occupy two-thirds of the world's agricultural land.

In many upper-middle to high-income countries, large farms, responsible for most agricultural production, account for most farm land. But in most low- and lower-middle-income countries, small and medium-sized farms occupy most farm land and produce most of the food.

Small farms produce a higher share of the world's food relative to the share of land they use, as they tend to have higher yields than larger farms within the same countries and agro-ecological settings.

However, the higher productivity of land on family farms involves lower labor productivity, which perpetuates poverty and hinders development. Much of the world's food production involves of unpaid labor by family members.

The report emphasizes that it is imperative to boost output per worker, especially in low-income countries, in order to lift farm incomes and expand rural economic welfare in general.

Farm sizes are becoming smaller in most developing countries, where many smallholder farm households derive the bulk of their income from off-farm activities.

To encourage family farmers to invest in sustainable agricultural practices, which often have high start-up costs and long pay-off periods, authorities should seek to provide an enabling environment for innovation.

Policies meant to catalyze innovation will need to go beyond technology transfer, according to the report. They must also be inclusive and tailored to local contexts, so that farmers have ownership of innovation, and take gender and intergenerational issues into consideration, involving youth in the future of the agricultural sector. doclink

Karen Gaia says: this should put to rest the notion that "there is enough food -- it is only a matter of distribution".

Mediterranean Ecological Footprint Report 2015

   October 2015, Global Footprint Network

Virtually every country in the Mediterranean region consumes more ecological resources than local ecosystems can replenish. To cover the widening gap between supply and demand, the region is increasingly relying on global resources, which are also becoming increasingly limited. Nations in the region now need to factor in the resource constraints of their trade partners and recognize the risk it poses to their own economic prosperity.

The average Food Footprint of a Mediterranean resident is approximately 0.9 gha per person-with a range from 0.6 gha-thus higher than that of such countries as India (0.4 gha), China (0.5 gha), Costa Rica (0.6 gha) and Germany (0.8 gha).

On a scale of zero to one, the U.N. Development Programme defines 0.7 as the threshold for a high level of development (0.8 for very high development). Since 2000, most of the Mediterranean countries have moved beyond that threshold. Today only Morocco and Egypt have a HDI score less than 0.7, although their scores are also rising.

Residents of Cairo (about 16% of the country's population) demand about 85% of the overall country's biocapacity.

The demand for renewable resources in Athens exceeds the entire nation of Greece's supply of resources by 22%, although the city's population comprises about a third of the nation's population.

The food sector is the biggest driver of the Ecological Footprint in the Mediterranean region, at about 35% of its overall Ecological Footprint. Food is a substantial share (ranging between 20% for Slovenia and 70% for Morocco) of Mediterranean countries' overall resource requirements. Other significant drivers are transportation (≈28%) and housing (≈9%). This composition poses a specific challenge because food consumption can only be shifted (increased or decreased) to a small extent, given that food is one of the key basic human needs.

The reasons for the Mediterranean region's relatively high food Footprint include water scarcity, low agricultural productivity, growing dependence on imported food, and a transition away from the traditional environmentally friendly and healthy Mediterranean diet. Instead of consuming cereals, vegetables and oil typical of the Mediterranean diet-which have a low Footprint-countries are consuming more meat and dairy, which have higher Footprints. doclink

The Economics of Male Birth Control

   October 19, 2015, Priceonomics   By: Rosie Cima

Women have a lot of options for reversible birth control: pills, rings, intra uterine devices, patches, implants, while men are still limited to condoms and withdrawal.

In the 1950s. Carl Djerassi, a chemist, synthesized noresthisterone, an essential component of the first oral contraceptive. His involvement earned him the title, shared with Dr. Gregory Goodwin Pincus, "Father of The Pill." Djerassi said "scientifically, we know how to create a 'male Pill,'" but because of a combination of legal, social, and biological factors, male contraceptive technology hasn't been able to attract the necessary research dollars.

Elaine Lissner, one of his former students, has been working on advancing male contraception research since 1986, when she became interested in the work of a Swiss doctor, Dr. Marthe Voegeli, who discovered a method of male contraception in the 1930s that involved soaking the testes in a hot bath once a day for three weeks. 45-minute-soaks in water 116˚ F resulted in 6 months of infertility. Participants who discontinued use of the method went on to successfully have children, with no apparent complications.

Lissner found it maddening that, though it was eventually used by hundreds of volunteers in India, it was never developed and implemented into an accepted clinical procedure. In a seminar taught by Djerassi, Lissner wrote a report on male contraception. Her research turned up eight, non-hormonal methods that were known to work, but not in use.

Within the health care and pharmaceutical industry, it was believed that there was "no public demand" for new male contraceptives.

Lissner wrote articles on male contraception in Ms. and Changing Men in 1992. For her article in Ms., Lissner received over 200 hand-written letters in response, from both women and men, most of them interested in knowing more about male contraception.

But a product that would better-facilitate sex without the threat of pregnancy existed was considered immoral and obscene. Thus, it was a taboo to attempt to satisfy it.

It took a while for people to come around to the Pill, and once they had, it was assumed, for a long time, that men would not be interested in having their own version.

However, between condoms and vasectomy, men are already covering about a quarter of the country's birth control. If you add withdrawal, that's even more," Lissner adds. Men use the techniques available to them in great numbers, despite the limitations of those methods. Why should anybody think they wouldn't be interested in another option?

Gary Gamerman, a former consultant to Lissner's foundation and vice president of Afaxys, Inc., said to "take the time and effort to develop and test a completely new product, or just an improvement, you could easily spend $20-$50 million. To launch it you're going to spend another $30-40 million in marketing. And the whole thing will take 5 years at the very minimum."

Also any new product pharma companies could introduce would be likely to cannibalize their existing products. After all, one reason for a man to want to use a reversible contraceptive is so his partner can stop taking the pill.

Both old and new companies are deterred from investing in developing new contraception techniques because the liability is much higher than in other areas of research.

With female contraception, the less desirable side effects are offset by the health complications that can arise from unwanted pregnancy. Not so with male contraception products.

Lissner founded the Parsemus Foundation at the end of 2005 after coming into some cash and finding great strides had been made in the non-profit and academic sectors.

First Parsemus tested ultrasound contraception, a variation on Voegeli's method to heat testicles using a hot bath. The method worked great for dogs and rats, but not for humans.

In the last few decades, most of the truly new contraceptive technology was incubated outside the commercial sector and then purchased and brought to market. This includes the popular Mirena IUD, the new Liletta IUD, and the ParaGard copper IUD. Products like Essure -- a tubal ligation alternative -- were developed when a small medical devices company was trying to make something else, and then bought by a larger company.

The California Institute for Biomedical Research recently founded a startup called DARÉ Bioscience. DARÉ's mission is to connect the groups developing the technology -- mostly non-profits and academic organizations -- to more traditional investment dollars. The Gates Foundation and US Agency for International Development fund contraceptive research.

The presiding wisdom is that in these more traditional societies, birth control is still very much a "women's issue," and men are less receptive to anything that might limit their virility.

Parsemus is doing its best to catch male contraception as it falls through the cracks. In 2010, the foundation bought the rights outside India to RISUG: Reversible Inhibition of Sperm Under Guidance. RISUG is a male contraception product that was developed at the Indian Institute of Technology, and would be the model for Vasalgel.

Compared to hormonal birth control, the technology behind RISUG and Vasalgel is simple: the vas deferens is extracted with forceps, as in a vasectomy, and then injected with a gel. When the patient wants his fertility back, they inject the vas deferens with a solvent, and the gel goes away.

RISUG's gel is thought not to rely on blocking the vas deferens entirely, but also destroy or disable the sperm as they pass through.

"Part of what's held male contraception up for so long is a narrowness of thinking," Lissner complains. She says that for a long time people assumed that reversible male contraception would be hormonal, like the female pill. "You've got this narrow tube that all the sperm have to go through. Why not attack there instead of pumping hormones through the whole body?"

RISUG made it all the way to advanced clinical human trials in India, but Vasalgel is still in development for human use. Human trials are expected to start next year, in 2016. If everything goes well, the product could hit the market in 2018.

If that happens, Vasalgel will probably be the salvation of many would-be fathers, who will be glad to have another option. As a man once wrote to Lissner, "Condoms are a nice method. However, I have a 3-year-old that proves they are not 100 percent effective." doclink

Running on Empty: Rex Weyler (#109)

   October 22, 2015, Conversation Earth   By: Dave Gardner

In this newly released 2010 interview, Rex Weyler shares his observations of "what can happen as a civilization grows out of control." Technology, economics, consumption, population and politics are all in his cross-hairs. Weyler does express some hope for the future, as well, and outlines changes needed to bring human civilization back to living within ecological limits.

This is the ninth in our series of podcasts and radio programs. We post a new podcast episode every Thursday.

Click here to play this audio interview doclink

Global Youth Unemployment Requires 600million Jobs, Says World Bank

   October 12, 2015, In2EastAfrica

Currently one third of the world's 1.8 billion young people are not in employment, education or training, according to a report released recently by Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE), a global coalition established to improve youth access to work opportunities.

Of the one billion more youth that will enter the job market in the next decade, only 40% are expected to be able to get jobs that currently exist.

Reversing the youth employment crisis is a pressing global priority and the socio-economic cost of inaction is high, the report says.

S4YE is a coalition started by the World Bank Group, Plan International, the International Youth Foundation (IYF), Youth Business International (YBI), RAND, Accenture, and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Matt Hobson, S4YE Coalition Manager says young people account for 40 percent of the world's population - the largest youth generation in human history - but they are disproportionately affected by unemployment.

We need to act now, and we need to act together if we are going to realize the significant opportunities presented by this many young people today," said Hobson.

When the world's youth are unable to find sustainable productive work, this contributes to inequality, spurs social tension, and poses a risk to present and future national and global prosperity and security.

This first report provides a baseline of trends, identifies constraints, and provides potential solutions to the youth employment crisis based on knowledge of successful and promising programs.

It also highlights specific populations - young women, youth in conflict-affected and fragile states, as well as rural and urban youth - that require dedicated attention. doclink

Contraception and the American Dream

   October 15, 2015, Brookings Institution   By: Ron Haskins and Isabel V. Sawhill

Children raised in stable, two-parent families do much better in life. But births outside of marriage have risen from 5% in 1960 to 41% in 2009.

Unplanned pregnancies are a significant factor: 60% of nonmarital births to women under 30 are unplanned.

The most effective way to prevent nonmarital births and restore marriage, or at least to promote more stable relationships and better outcomes for children is helping couples to avoid early, unplanned childbearing, says a new policy brief for The Future of Children, a joint publication between Brookings and Princeton University.

Children in female-headed families are five times as likely to live in poverty. Fathers of children being raised by single women can face crippling child support payments. Nonmarital births result in increased public spending on health care costs associated with the birth, and an increased likelihood that the child will be eligible for cash and in-kind welfare benefits.

Given the costs of unplanned births, contraception is highly cost-effective. Every $1 spent on implants and IUDs (the most reliable forms) saves more than $7, according to a study by Diana Greene Foster.

A study by Martha Bailey of the University of Michigan suggests that the expansion of federal funding for family planning clinics between 1964 and 1973, along with a reduction in unplanned births caused by expanded legal access to abortion had positive effects on children born afterward, including effects on their education, employment, wages, and family incomes as adults.

Only about 7% of all women 15-44 use Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARCs). LARCs change the 'default' for women, from having to take action to avoid pregnancy (that is, consistently take a pill or use a condom) to having to take action to become pregnant (that is, remove an IUD or an implant). Several recent studies of programs offering LARCs find significant effects on rates of abortion and unplanned births.

Many conservatives believe LARCs are an abortifacient but the truth is that they reduce the abortion rate by preventing accidental pregnancies. But we believe that the benefits of expanded access to birth control are sufficiently strong that most elected officials will want to support it once they understand the benefits. doclink

Time to Replace the GDP with a Measure That Accounts for Natural Resources

Nation needs new economic yardstick
   October 1, 2015, Upstate Business Journal   By: Matthew Heun, Michael Carbajalas-hale, Becky Roseleus Haney

Instead of problems in the subprime housing market, as economists claim, the Great Recession was a resource depletion problem masquerading as a financial crisis.

The depleted resource was oil: demand increased and production flatlined. The average gas price spiked to more than $4 a gallon in 2008, and homeowners in suburbs across the country faced difficult spending choices. Many chose to put food on the table and gas in their tanks instead of paying their too-large mortgages.

The world's economic and environmental fates have become forever interconnected. Natural resources are not unlimited, We can clear-cut only so many forests, pump only so much oil out of the ground and drain only so much water out of aquifers before our behavior becomes unsustainable.

GDP - or gross domestic product - measures a nation's flow of income, but it's a flawed yardstick and leads to some perverse accounting. For example, GDP grew when agricultural runoff caused toxic algal blooms in Lake Erie last year due to spending on bottled water and the goods and services needed to repair the damage. This would suggest that polluting one of our Great Lakes benefits our economic health

When we become singularly focused on growing GDP, we're left with no incentive to sustainably manage our natural resources. We need to look to the future beyond short-term growth. What we use today is gone forever, making the problem worse and leaving it for our children to solve.

In the author's new book "Beyond GDP: National Accounting in the Age of Resource Depletion," we need to stop thinking of the economy as an "engine" that can stall, and start thinking of it as a metabolism or an organism that does not consume more energy than it acquires.

Using the metabolism metaphor, we ought to develop a new system of national accounting that includes raw materials flowing into the economy, burning of fossil fuels for energy and disposal of waste wherever possible.

In the early 1990s, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis began a program called the Integrated Environmental-Economic System of Accounts. Congress expressly forbade the collection of such data in 1994.

Meanwhile, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and even emerging economies have moved ahead without the United States. Economic-environment accounts are now common outside U.S. borders.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis ought to seek authorization to restart its program. If we as a society can begin collecting relevant data, perhaps we can begin to use the analytical tools, metrics and knowledge to go beyond GDP and make wise choices for the future. Our deepest hope is to make a positive contribution in that direction. doclink

X-Ray Technology Reveals California's Forests Are in for a Radical Transformation

   October 20, 2015, Los Angeles Times   By: Thomas Curwen

Greg Asner, a biologist with the Carnegie Institution for Science, has been flying out of Sacramento and Bakersfield with instruments aboard his plane that give him X-ray eyes into the foliage, to assess not just dead trees but trees so stressed by the drought that their death is likely.

The Forest Service had estimated that nearly 12.5 million trees in the state's southern and central forests were dead. But Asner calculates the loss this year will be 7% to 20%.

Under normal circumstances, forests lose between 1% and 1.5% of their trees annually.

Asner's instruments measure how water molecules are bending, stretching, rotating and vibrating inside a leaf undergoing photosynthesis. These motions resonate into the atmosphere as reflected light, which is picked up by an on-board spectrometer. The more reflected light, the drier the foliage.

The spectrometer works in conjunction with a laser that fans out beneath the aircraft, creating a 3-D image that shows the condition of the forest. Healthy trees are blue, and drought-stressed trees run from mild (yellow) to severe (red).

Asner's assessment shows that the mountains ringing Los Angeles are "a tinderbox" and the oak forests in the Sierra foothills are "in big trouble." Pinnacles is "not a happy place for a tree," and the forests northwest of Redding are surprisingly compromised.

"We don't know when the lack of rain will lead to runaway conditions where the forests are beyond repair," Asner said.

"Think of it as one gigantic ax swing at the forest," he said. "It takes a huge chunk out of the population, and if we see two or three more of these droughts, then that's even more ax swings."

Jeffrey Hicke, an associate professor in the department of geography at the University of Idaho, said "Species will march uphill as the climate warms." ... "Sequoia forests might become ponderosa pine or oak. Oak forests might become grasslands.

The three-week mid-summer survey was paid by a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is interested in the findings because the images can provide a more accurate picture of how fire behaves in dry terrain, which can help with the location of fire breaks and the management of controlled burns.

Diminishment of the state's forests means the loss of clean water and erosion control, recreation and jobs, Ashley Conrad-Saydah of the California Environmental Protection Agency, said. As trees die, decompose or burn, carbon is released into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming, she said. Forests become scrublands with 97% less carbon.

"This is our chance for science to play a role in supporting innovations in management and policy, rather than just bringing bad news that is not actionable," Anser wrote. doclink

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

   August 7, 2015, NewSecurityBeat   By: Newsecuritybeat

Paving the Way: Ethiopia's Youth on the Road to Sustainability transports viewers to an innovative development project in Ethiopia's Gurage Zone where youth and their parents are working together to build a more sustainable future by connecting the dots between conservation, access to health care, and sustainable livelihoods. It is the final installment in the Wilson Center's "Healthy People, Healthy Environment" trilogy, which explores integrated population, health, and environment (PHE) projects around the world. doclink

How We Can Make the World a Better Place by 2030

   September 2015, TED Talks   By: Michael Green

Can we end hunger and poverty, halt climate change and achieve gender equality in the next 15 years? The governments of the world think we can. Meeting at the UN in September 2015, they agreed to a new set of Global Goals for the development of the world to 2030. Social progress expert Michael Green invites us to imagine how these goals and their vision for a better world can be achieved. doclink

How Anti-Abortion Extremists Target Black Women

Anti-abortion groups claim to care about black lives, but only for the purpose of advancing their own agenda.
   October 21, 2015, Vice   By: Gabby Bess

Despite the fact that black people are being killed by police at twice the rate of white people, pro-life extremists want you to believe that a very different black genocide is quietly taking place.

Billboards appeared stating things like, "Black children are an endangered species," or "The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb," or "Every 21 minutes, our next possible leader is aborted" (with the image of President Barack Obama). While these heavy-handed ads have almost all but disappeared, other anti-abortion groups have adopted the tactic of framing abortion as a calculated assault on black people. In California, New Jersey, and Virginia, a group called the Radiance Foundation put up billboards that simultaneously shamed black single mothers and black women who choose to have an abortion.

It's not like these groups actually care about black lives. They only care about advancing their anti-abortion agenda and capitalizing on the political cachet of the Black Lives Matter movement.

After the "Center for Medical Progress" released deceptively edited videos that claimed Planned Parenthood employees profited from the sale of fetal tissues, an new anti-abortion campaign named the fetal tissue in the Center for Medical Progress video Emmett, saying the fetus the tissue was from "is the Emmett Till of the pro-life movement," referring to Emmett Till, the black Mississippi teen who was brutally murdered in 1955 after allegedly "flirting with a white woman."

The logic connecting a black boy who was murdered in the Jim Crow South to a sample of fetal tissue voluntarily donated to a health provider is virtually non-existent.

"Things like this feed the stereotype that black women are inherently bad people who are going to hurt their children simply because they may need an abortion at some point in their lives," said NARAL board member and activist Renee Bracey Sherman." A lot of these organizations tend to play off the fact that black women are five times more likely to have an abortion than their white counterparts, but don't actually look at the root cause of that, which is lack of access to consistent contraception. In Texas, people are splitting [birth control] pills between family members because they're so hard to get."

These groups are doing nothing to make sure that black children have the right to an education, have a roof over their head, or can play in the park without being killed.

Anti-abortion groups frequently claim that abortion clinics systematically set up shop in black communities, which has lead to "black genocide. They tout abortion as the number one killer in the black community. But according to the Guttmacher Institute, only 6% of abortion providers are located in majority black neighborhoods; 60% are located in majority white neighborhoods.

An organization, SisterReach, in Tennessee, is combatting the rise of patronizing, anti-abortion billboards with messaging of their own. A poll from 2013 shows that eight in ten African Americans support abortion and the majority believe that "efforts to prevent unintended pregnancy are preferable to making abortion illegal."

"I don't deserve to be shamed for my reproductive health decisions, even when it's an abortion," one of SisterReach's billboards read. "Trust me to make the best decisions for myself, my family, and my community." doclink

World News Summary October 2015

   October 23, 2015, WOA website   By: Art Elphick

The 2015 revision of the document World Population Prospects updates the UN's forecasts for world population growth. As recent articles on the WOA!! website have stated, previous recent revisions of U.N. forecasts have twice raised the estimated levels for population growth. This link describes How the Global Population Will Change.

The FP2020 progress report on London Summit family planning goals lists family planning programs funded by money raised as result of the London Summit. $2.6 billon was pledged, making the London Summit one of the world's greatest sources of family planning program support.

Still some low-hanging fruit: Helping those who want, but don't have, access to services.

To help enable Catholics to not breed like rabbits this pope should reverse a long-established church policy. As the world waits for a definitive statement, the Pope is mum on modern contraception.

Study shows that human-caused desert expansion costs trillions and fuels migration.

Google-powered map shows that deforestation isn't just about the Amazon. The Amazon is making some progress, but ten other nations have rapid deforestation problems.

Author suggests replacing the GDP with a measure that accounts for natural resources

Local news from African nations

Nigeria's population will pass 200 million in the next three years. By the year 2050, three of the world's ten most populous countries will be in Africa.

Zambia's population predicted to grow five-fold or more by 2100. Water shortages already serious where fastest population growth is expected.

How Will the Population Boom Change Africa?

Costs and benefits of investing in contraceptive services in Cameroon and Malawi

Uganda: Search on for Family Planning Champion

Rwanda: UNFPA envoy says family planning barriers remain.

Sierra Leone prioritizes family planning in its post-Ebola recovery plans

Local news from other Nations

Family Planning Vital in Post-quake Nepal

Let's Talk About Sex, Says Pakistani Daily After Condom Ad is Banned. The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority banned a contraceptive ad, calling it "immoral" and contrary to religious norms. A reporter questions why the topic is taboo in a nation where one third of Pakistanis have no access to birth control.

Volunteers help with reproductive services in Uttar Pradesh doclink

The World Hits Its Credit Limit, and the Debt Market is Starting to Realize That

   October 18, 2015, Zero Hedge   By: Tyler Durden

In a critical report Citigroup's Matt King asked "has the world reached its credit limit?"

Even as central banks have continued pumping record amount of liquidity in the market, the market's response has been increasingly shaky. There is too much global debt accumulating at an ever faster pace, while global growth is stagnant and in fact declining. As of early 2014, total debt build up among US corporations was 35% higher than its prior peak, as was net debt.

It used to be that incremental debt results in incremental growth, but now we are currently in an unprecedented place where economic textbooks no longer work, and where incremental debt leads to a drop in global growth.

The world is now tapped out, and there are virtually no pockets for credit creation left at the consolidated level, between household, corporate, financial and government debt.

Although large corporations seem to have no problems with accessing debt markets and raising capital, the biggest use of proceeds is stock buybacks, thereby creating a vicious cycle, in which the rising stock prices courtesy of more debt, is giving debt investors the impression that the company is far healthier than it actually is precisely because it has more, not less, debt!

The debt build up among US corporations has more than surpassed the increase in cash. In early 2014, total debt was 35% higher than its prior peak, as was net debt.

IBM, for example, bought back so much stock its investment grade rating was put in jeopardy and the company has seen its stock languish ever since. doclink

America's Child-Marriage Problem

   October 13, 2015, New York Times   By: Fraidy Reiss

In the U.S. thousands of children under 18 have recently have been married - mostly girls married to adult men, often with approval from local judges.

The minimum marriage age in most states is 18, but every state allows exceptions under which children under age 18 can wed. Most states allow children age 16 or 17 to marry if their parents sign the marriage license application, but state laws typically do not call for anyone to investigate whether a child is marrying willingly. In most states there are no laws that specifically forbid forced marriage.

The second common marriage-age exception is for children marrying with judicial approval. This exception lowers the marriage age below 16 in many states, and many states do not specify a minimum age. Judges in those states can allow the marriage even of an elementary school student.

In New Jersey, 16- and 17-year-olds may wed with parental consent, and children under 15 may marry with judicial approval. 3,499 children were married in New Jersey between 1995 and 2012. Most were age 16 or 17 and married with parental consent, but 178 were between ages 10 and 15, meaning a judge approved their marriages.

91% of the children were married to adults, often at ages or with age differences that could have triggered statutory-rape charges, not a marriage license. In 2006 a 10-year-old boy was married to an 18-year-old woman. In 1996 a 12-year-old girl was married to a 25-year-old man.

The Tahirih Justice Center, an NGO that provides services to immigrant women and girls, identified as many as 3,000 known or suspected forced-marriage cases just between 2009 and 2011, many involving girls under age 18. Tactics used against the victims included threats of ostracism, beatings or death.

The survey found child marriage or forced marriage, or both, in families of many faiths, including Muslim, Christian (particularly Catholic), Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh. There have been child and forced marriage in the Orthodox Jewish community, and also in the Mormon and Unification Church backgrounds.

Reasons parents force their children into marriage include controlling the children's sexuality and behavior and protecting "family honor." Often families use forced marriage to enhance their status or gain economic security.

The New Jersey data show that 90% of the children married were girls, which is consistent with global trends. Across the world, child marriage and forced marriage disproportionately affect girls and women.

Unchained at Last also requested health department data on the ages of people recently married in New York State, where 16- and 17-year-olds may wed with "parental consent" and 14- and 15-year-olds may wed with judicial approval. The data show that 3,853 children were married between 2000 and 2010.

In New York, 2011 data shows that a 14-year-old married a 26-year-old, a 15-year-old was wed to a 28-year-old, another 15-year-old was wed to a 25-year-old and a 15-year-old married someone age "35 to 39."

Globally, 88% of countries set 18 as the minimum marriage age, but over half allow minor girls to marry with "parental consent," according to the World Policy Center. More than 700 million women alive today were married before 18, including some 250 million who wed before 15, according to the United Nations Children's Fund. Most live in South Asia or sub-Saharan Africa, but as these new numbers show, too many live right here in the United States.

A recent report found that child marriage "undermines girls' health, education and economic opportunities, and increases their risk of experiencing violence."

State legislators should eliminate the archaic legal exceptions that allow children to wed. doclink

The Really Important Thing Many Women Are Starting to Do Right After Having a Baby

   October 12, 2015, Washington Post   By: Danielle Paquette

In last three years, more women are having an intrauterine device or contraceptive implant inserted right after having a baby.

Within 10 minutes of delivering the placenta, a doctor can implant one of the long-acting reversible contraceptives, known as LARCs, which are widely considered to be the most effective form of birth control. A new mother wouldn't have to schedule another appointment - or worry about conceiving again before she's ready. A physician can be sure she's not pregnant, skipping prerequisite tests.

Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income Americans, now covers delivery room LARCs in 19 states, according to a new report in the journal Contraception. Eight more states are moving to adopt the measure.

"Many of these children are born to women who did not intend to get pregnant, and who state that the pregnancy was either unwanted or mistimed," according to the article in Contraception. "Reducing the number of children born to these mothers would significantly reduce the number of children born into poverty."

40%-60% of new mothers who live in poverty and express interest in a LARC don't make it back to the doctor for a follow-up appointment, said Michelle Moniz, a University of Michigan gynecologist and co-author of the article.

"It's a lack of transportation, a lack of child care, unstable insurance, the inability to get time off work ..." she said.

The share of U.S. women who use an IUD or implant has increased from 9% to 12% from 2009 to 2012, according to a report published last week by the Guttmacher Institute.

There are two types of IUDs: copper, which lasts up to 10 years, or a plastic hormone-releasing IUD, which is good for at least three. The T-shaped devices create a hostile environment for sperm and are 99.9% effective in preventing pregnancies.

IUDs implanted right after birth carry a slightly higher risk of dislodging on their own.

But barriers to care can endanger mother and baby.

When there is not enough spacing of children (conception 18 months after giving birth), risk heightens for preterm labor, low birth weight and small gestational age. 30% of American women don't wait long enough between pregnancies, according to the CDC.

Twice as many low-income patients who relied on buses in a New York City suburb reported missing doctor's appointments than those who drove cars, a 2012 survey found. A quarter of poor adults in a national survey said they'd had to miss or reschedule an appointment because of tenuous transportation. Respondents also said they had trouble making it to the pharmacy for prescription refills. doclink

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