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Maasai Harmonial Mission: To improve the livelihoods and health of the impoverished pastoral people of Emburbul Village and to empower the girls and women of Emburbul to control their own reproduction, their own lives, and their own bodies.
Transition Earth Promotes human rights and nature's rights in a world of unsustainable population and economic growth and advocates for global systems change to enable the shift to a sustainable planet for all
Population Media Center Strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change."
EngenderHealth For 65 years, Engenderhealth has improved the lives of men, women, and families through its work in family planning, maternal health, HIV, and AIDS, gender equality, and many other programs
Central Asia Institute Mission: To promote and support community-based education, especially for girls, in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. 'Three Cups of Tea' is the inspiring book about the founder of this organization
Sierra Club Global Population and Environment Program
Seeks to protect the global environment, preserve natural resources for future generations, and foster healthy communities by advancing sustainable development solutions by:
- promoting increased access to voluntary family planning and reproductive
health information and services
- advocating for women's and girls' basic rights, including health care, education, and economic opportunity
- raising public awareness of wasteful resource consumption in the context of social and economic equity
- empowering youth leaders
Center for Biological Diversity - Population and Sustainability "Through the empowerment of women, education of all people, universal access to birth control, and a societal commitment to ensuring that all species are given a chance to live and thrive, we can reduce our own population to an ecologically sustainable level. This will decrease human poverty and crowding, increase our standard of living, and sustain the lives of plants, animals, and ecosystems everywhere." .... Follow the link to a beautiful presentation on Overpopulation.
Global Footprint Network Our mission is to promote a sustainable economy by advancing the Ecological Footprint, a measurement tool that makes the reality of planetary limits relevant to decision-makers.
WOA!s Population Impacts and Solutions (Youtube playlist) The consequnces of overpopulation could be catastrophic, and resources are already being seriously depleted, but if we spend more money on the various and already successful programs for education and voluntary family planning, we have a good chance to soften the damage.
Our Origins Are Our Destiny Bob Walker of Population Institute discusses the origins of population growth and its implications for the future, covering social change, scarcity, and environmentalism along the way.
Population Media Center: Power of Stories Population Media Center (PMC) works worldwide using entertainment-education for social change. PMCs programs encourage positive behavior change among the audience.
Warren Buffett: We Only Have One Planet Terre Blair interviewing an extraordinary group of leaders to find solutions to some of the most urgent challenges facing humanity: global climate change, financial mayhem, nuclear attacks, cyber threats, political paralysis (and population). Here is an excerpt with Warren Buffett, Ted Turner, the Dalai Lama and Thomas Friedman.
When Abortion was Illegal: Untold Stories (1992) This Academy Award-nominated film features compelling first person accounts which reveal the physical, legal, and emotional consequences during the era when abortion was a criminal act.
Saving Lives by Saving Trees to the rainforest and to the villagers who lived within it. Today, the clinic she founded provides affordable healthcare for the communities of Gunung Palung, and has not just improved the lives of residents, but also introduced alternative income sources and dramatically reduced illegal logging of the rainforest.
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Note: not all articles align with WOA!s position
Pressure Mounts on Catholic-run Family Planning Clinics in Papua New Guinea PNG's considered to be one of the world's most religious countries - 96 % of the country identify as Christian, and about a quarter of the population are Catholic. The UN's Population Fund estimates that one in six PNG females will have her first child before she turns 18.
Global Population, Development Aspirations and Fallacies The poorest 3.5 billion adults account for only 2.7% of global wealth. Given average consumption levels, the world can only harbor 4.2 billion people sustainably. With a footprint the size of the USA's current population, the planet could only harbor 1.2 billion people sustainably.
Teenage Pregnancies Remain High at 22%' Teenage pregnancies, which are a major contributor to maternal and child mortality, remain high at 22% in the country as a result of lack of family planning information and services at their disposal.
Trump Administration Sued Over Ending Funding Of Teen Pregnancy Programs Teen pregnancy rates have plummeted in the three decades from about 60 births per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 19, to just 24 in 2014. The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program grants 80 % of its budget to groups that implement pregnancy prevention programs that have been shown to be effective. HHS in July notified all the grantees that their money would be cut. Trump's budget proposal instead has $75 million for abstinence education programs.
UN Issues More Progressive Guidelines on Sex Education The Guttmacher Institute reports that nine out of 10 teachers surveyed in Ghana were teaching students that condoms do not prevent pregnancy. In some countries, up to two-thirds of girls said they had no idea what was happening to them when they began menstruating. In 2016 only one in three young women had comprehensive and correct knowledge of how to prevent HIV.
Family Planning Handbook Despite great progress over the last several decades, more than 120 million women worldwide want to prevent pregnancy, but they and their partners are not using contraception.
Family Planning Remains a Controversial Matter for Saudis THE United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs recently issued a report projecting the Kingdom's population to reach 37.2 million by 2020. The Saudi population has increased 86 percent in the last 20 years or so, with the growth rate reaching 2.1 % compared to the global rate of 1.1 %.
Govt Preps Policy to Cope with Falling Population Growth Until preliminary results from the 2014 census were released that August, the country's official population had long stood at about 60 million. However, the census put the number at just 51.4 million, nearly 17 % less. A falling crude birth rate, measuring live births, was the main reason for the decline and predict a population of 65 million by 2050.
Preference for Sons Influences Contraceptive Use and Reproductive Decision Making in Pakistan In 2012-2013, for example, among women with four children, 62% of those who had no sons wanted another child, compared with 24% of those who had four sons.
Trump 'global Gag Rule' Revival is Set to Hit Planned Parenthood Hard A rule revived by the Trump administration gutting funding for organizations that perform or promote abortions abroad could cost the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) around $100 million in funding. Marie Stopes works in 37 countries and will lose out on $80 million, while IPPF, active in over 170 countries with 29 impacted by the ban, will likely see a $100 million loss.
A Memo in Response to "the Abortion Memo" - Planned Parenthood Action Voices - Medium Nearly 99 % of abortions happen before 20 weeks gestation. 60 % of voters say that abortion after 20 weeks should be legal, and 62 % of Republican voters say this is not an issue on which their elected public servants should be spending their time.
Can Robotic Babies Help Prevent Teenage Pregnancies? Worldwide some 17 million teenage girls give birth every year. In Colombia one in five mothers is between 15 and 19 years old; poor rural teens are at the greatest risk of early pregnancy. In a study of more than 1,400 student participants in one region of Colombia, The robotic babies program reduced the teen pregnancy rate by 40 %.
How Much Would Ending Poverty Damage the Environment?
Our blog often features stories about efforts to improve life for this planet's 7 billion inhabitants: how to make sure everyone has access to clean water and power, medical care to stay healthy, enough income to feed their kids, education for the children so they can fulfill their potential.
But a new study in the journal Nature Sustainability poses a question not often considered: If we were to succeed in providing all this, what would be the cost to the environment?
India's Sanitary Towel Hero Pad Man Bound for Bollywood Glory In India, only 12% of women have access to sanitary products; the rest struggle to improvise, using old newspapers, rags and sawdust. The Indian ministry of health estimates that 70% of women are at risk of severe infection because of this. One in 53 women in India will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in her lifetime, compared with one in 135 in the UK.
Analysis of China's One-child Policy Sparks Uproar Birth-planning policies implemented after 1970 avoided adding between 360 million and 520 million people to China's population. Because the momentum from that decline will continue into later generations, he suggests, the total avoided population could approach 1 billion by 2060.
Melting Permafrost in the Arctic is Unlocking Diseases and Warping the Landscape Our world's northern polar region is warming twice as fast as the global average. Thawing permafrost could release around 120 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere by 2100, resulting in 0.29°C of additional warming. A study published in Nature Climate Change in April predicted that 1.5 million square miles of permafrost would disappear with every additional 1°C of warming.
Son Preference and Family Limitation in Pakistan: a Parity- and Contraceptive Method-specific Analysis Analyses suggest that the prevalence of modern contraceptive use among parous women would have been 19% higher in 2012-2013 in the absence of son preference.
The Next Cape Town If current patterns of consumption continue unabated, two-thirds of the world's population will be facing water shortages as a daily reality by 2025. In the United States, the largest reservoir in the country-Lake Mead-lost more than half of its water from 2000 to 2015.
Harnessing Ghana's Demographic Dividend Ghana's fertility rate has declined from 6.4 % in the 1980s to 4.2 in 2014. Also, the country's dependency population for example, children below the age of 15 years, has reduced from 46 % in the 1970s to 38.3 % in 2010. Meanwhile, the economic active population, those between 15 years to 64 years, has grown from 49 % in 1970 to 57 % in 2010.
Women Using Contraceptives Promiscuous, Say 47 Percent Andhra Pradesh Men Andhra Pradesh (47.2 %) topped the list of States where men equate so-called 'promiscuity' with usage of contraceptives. A whopping 40.5 % men surveyed in Telangana - between 15 to 49 age group - think women using contraception become 'promiscuous'. Nationally, the figure stands at 20.2 %.
Texas Population Grew by More Than 1,200 People Per Day in One Year The estimated population for Texas as of July 1, 2017, was 28,304,596. Texas had the highest population growth of any state during the reported time period, with a growth of 442,000 people, which equals out to approximately 1,211 people per day.
Vermont Eyes Plan to Boost Its Population Every day there are six fewer workers in Vermont, three fewer schoolchildren and one child born addicted to opiates. Vermont's goal is about 2,200 new workers a year.
Condom Use Among Unmarried Women Rises 6-fold in a Decade The maximum use of condoms among unmarried women was seen in the 20-24 years age group. 3 out of 8 men believe contraception was "women's business", and not their's. A large number of women still use "traditional" contraceptive methods, which included following the menstrual rhythm or withdrawal.
Criticisms of Population Concern - and Why They're Wrong Today's 7.6bn and the 2bn more expected by 2050 must feed themselves from soils with less than 60 more harvests to give, decimated fish stocks, a finite supply of fresh water and the risk of a collapse of insect pollinators and of millions of square miles of land made unproductive by climate change. There are 200 million women in some of the world's poorest countries who have an unmet need for contraception.
A Proposal for a United Nations Framework Convention on Population Growth
Recently, an international assembly of scientists from 184 countries endorsed an article published in the journal Bioscience entitled “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice”. As the warning states, “We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats. By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperilled biosphere.”
From Cape Town to Kabul: Taps Run Dry in Crisis Cities Drought-stricken Cape Town could run out of water as soon as April. Water scarcity already affects more than 40 % of the world's population and is expected to rise due to global warming, with one in four people projected to face chronic or recurring shortages by 2050.
Cheetah Conservation Fund Joins the Population & Sustainability Network Over the last 100 years the global cheetah population has decreased by around 90%, so that today there are only around 7,000 adult and adolescent cheetahs remaining in the wild.
In Northern Uganda, Male Mentors Spread the Word on Family Planning Until 2006, the residents of northern Uganda had lived through 20 years of active conflict between the government and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group. The fighting internally displaced approximately 1.8 million people. An estimated 66,000 children and young adults were abducted during that period. 39 % of currently married women in the region have an unmet need for family planning, compared to the national average of 28 %.
Landmark Law Removes Barriers to Contraception in Md In Maryland, about 58 % of all pregnancies are unintended. The IUD is more than 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy and is a key contraceptive method in helping many women plan their lives.
Melinda Gates Battles to Promote Contraception in Burkina Faso By 2050, Africa's population is projected to double to 2.5 billion. By 2100, the UN estimates it could easily top 4 billion. The fertility rate in Burkina Faso was 5.71 children per woman in 2017. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a multi-billion dollar charity and one of the most powerful in the world, has earmarked $10 million for contraceptive programs in Burkina Faso.
Singapore: Demographic Time Bomb Looms Large on Fast Aging Population Lesser population growth in Singapore could result in fall of countries per capita gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.5 % points per year until 2060. There will be 91 elderly citizens for every 100 working-age Singaporeans by 2080.
Growing Populations, Climate Change Leave Cities on a Fast Track to Water Deficits Currently about 54 % of the world's population lives in cities-which is "likely to grow to between 60 % and 92 %" over the next 80 years. Water demand in cities is estimated to increase by about 80 % by 2050. Due largely to climate change impacts on water supplies and trends of turning natural areas to urban, they estimate 27 % of the 416 cities that rely on surface water will have a water deficit three decades from now.
Women's Rights Issues Are Climate Change Issues It took 200,000 years for the human population to reach 2 billion in 1940 but only 75 years afterward for it to nearly triple to 7.6 billion people. Estimates indicate that more than 200 million women want to prevent or delay pregnancy but aren't using effective contraception. If girls in the developing world all received secondary education, we would see a 42 % decline in the fertility rate.
Imams Support Family Planning in Senegal Senegal is over 90% Muslim and has a fertility rate of 4.8, nearly double the global average. Since 2011, the number of married Senegalese women using modern contraceptives has doubled from 12 % to about 23 %.
Criticisms of Population Concern - and Why They're Wrong Today's 7.6bn and the 2bn more expected by 2050 must feed themselves from soils with less than 60 more harvests to give, decimated fish stocks, a finite supply of fresh water facing even greater demands upon it and, most frighteningly, the risk of a collapse of insect pollinators and of millions of square miles of land made unproductive by climate change.
What "demographic Decline"? American Women Are Having Plenty of Babies Some 86 % of women ages 40 to 44 are mothers, compared with 80 % in 2006. Overall, women have 2.07 children during their lives on average - up from 1.86 in 2006, the lowest number on record. More than half of never-married women in their 40s are mothers, up from 31 % two decades ago.
Baby Bonus Delivers Solution to Japan's Population Crisis In 2005, the average number of children born to women in Nagi was 1.41, lower than Japan's current national rate of 1.44. By 2014, this had doubled to 2.81, thanks to a decade of rewarding families for reproducing. Japan's population reached a peak of 128.1 million, in 2008 - today, there are a million fewer people.
Abortion: Do You Really Know the Global Gag Rule? The Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana saw 50 % more women come to their clinics for postabortion care the year after the Global Gag Rule was reinstated by the Bush administration. International Planned Parenthood Federation alone reports it will lose about $100 million in funding over the next four years from the U.S. government as a result of their unwillingness to be bound by Global Gag Rule.
Down to Business: Drought-hit Kenyan Women Trade Their Way Out of Poverty The BOMA Project has reported positive results in the communities where it works in Marsabit County and Samburu East, with about 15,700 women enrolled in its programme since 2008. In 2016, 99 % of BOMA businesses were still open. Members experienced a 147 % increase in their income, and a 1,400 % increase in their savings, alongside a 63 % drop in children going to bed hungry.
'My Daughter Demands More': the Men Fighting Child Marriage in Lebanon 15 million girls under the age of 18 are married every year worldwide. In Lebanon, 6 % of girls are married by the time they reach 18. Among Lebanon's registered Syrian refugee population of just under 1 million, 41% of Syrian women aged between 20 and 24 were married before 18.
The U.S. Fertility Rate is Down, Yet More Women Are Mothers Today, 86 % of women ages 40 to 44 - near the end of their reproductive years - are mothers, up from 80 percent in 2006. Today, 55% of never-married women ages 40 to 44 have at least one child, up from 31 % two decades ago. Mothers with college degrees are most likely to keep working: 78 % of those with children under 18 are in the labor force. The general fertility rate in the United States is at a record low, and the total fertility rate in the United States is down to 1.84 births per woman.
24-hour Solar Energy: Molten Salt Makes it Possible, and Prices Are Falling Fast The cost of a kilowatt-hour of electricity from a utility-scale solar farm, averaged over the life of the facility, has plunged from 28 cents in 2010 to under 6 cents.
Cape Town Could Become the First Major City to Run Out of Water in Three Months Unless the city adopts widespread rationing, the government says, the taps "will be turned off" on April 22, 2018, because there will be no more water to deliver. The city is asking residents to restrict their water use to 87 liters per person per day. That's roughly the equivalent of a four-minute shower using a regular shower head, or an eight-minute shower using a low-flow shower head.
How Abortion is Portrayed on TV and in Movies Actually Matters So Much Emergency contraception, which is often called the "morning after pill," can be taken within 72 hours of having sex and works by preventing an egg from being released, so that it never even meets sperm and a pregnancy can't even occur.
Protecting Fragile Progress in Family Planning According to FP2020's progress report, 309.3 million women and girls in the world's poorest countries use a modern method of contraception, as of July 2017. That means 38.8 million more women and girls are using contraception now than in 2012, the year of FP2020's launch. Between July 2016 and July 2017, use of family planning averted 26 million unsafe abortions, prevented 84 million unintended pregnancies, and avoided 125,000 maternal deaths.
Tanzania Slammed for Arresting Pregnant Schoolgirls Tanzania has one of the highest adolescent pregnancy rates in the world, with widespread sexual violence and many girls exchanging sex for school fees, food and shelter. Tandahimba's district commissioner Sebastian Waryuba last month ordered the arrests of 55 other girls who gave birth over the past two years and their parents.
Iowa is Becoming a Contraceptive Desert Last legislative session, the GOP-controlled Iowa Legislature forced the state to forfeit federal family planning money dedicated to, among other things, helping to cover the cost of birth control for uninsured women. The result: Planned Parenthood has closed clinics in Bettendorf, Burlington, Keokuk and Sioux City, which collectively served about 15,000 patients. In 2010, 23,000 Iowa residents experienced an unintended pregnancy. Those pregnancies cost the state and federal governments about $176 million.
Policy Trends in the States, 2017 States continued their assault on abortion in 2017, with 19 states adopting 63 new restrictions on abortion rights and access. During the year, 21 states adopted 58 new proactive measures, a sharp increase from the 28 enacted in 2016.
Venezuela Pill Shortage Triggers Rise in Teenage Pregnancies The price of condoms in Venezuela has gone up 200%. Recent research suggests that three-quarters of Venezuelans lost weight in the past year, an average of 9kg (20lb). There are no official statistics but paediatrician Dr Huniades Urbina Medina, the president of the Venezuelan Society of Childcare and Paediatrics, says that of the births he attends, the vast majority are now unplanned.
Strengthening Conservation Through Stories
Population Media Center's (PMC) entertaining stories bring conservation storylines into people's homes and communities. This video highlights some of our work -- protecting species, planting trees, and entertaining huge audiences.
Malawi's Fearsome Chief, Terminator of Child Marriages A 2012 United Nations survey found that more than half of Malawi's girls were married before the age of 18. It ranked Malawi 8th out of 20 countries thought to have the highest child-marriage rates in the world. Malawi is considered as one of the world's poorest places, ranking 160th out of 182 nations.
Reducing the Barriers to Family Planning Globally, more women who want to avoid pregnancy are using an effective contraceptive method. The number who weren't using modern contraception was estimated to be 225 million in 2014 but is 214 million now. In 2008 in the USA, 51 % of pregnancies were unintended. Now, it's just 45 %.
From Polio To Poverty To Sex Ed: 9 Predictions For 2018 Over half of the world's 7.3 billion people lack access to essential health services, like prenatal care, vaccines and treatment for high blood pressure.
How TV is Tackling Abortion and Pregnancy in Trump's America
Given the daily deluge of political attacks on women’s rights and the female body, it’s no surprise that stories of women choosing to keep or terminate their pregnancies are being elevated on TV. In the last few years, we've seen more diverse portrayals of abortion and pregnancy, from shows like Jane the Virgin to Alias Grace. In America, abortion is still—at best—considered taboo, but reproductive rights are gaining more visibility thanks to creators offering real-life scenarios on screen .
Of course, a woman's right to choose has popped up on television for decades, like on Maude as early as 1972. But these storylines have always come few and far between and are often displayed as shocking, haunting moments. Today, more female creators are showing these narratives in nuanced ways, which feels like a response to the current administration's crusade against reproductive rights.
Downsizing is an Audacious but Uneven Sci-fi Fable About an Impending Environmental Apocalypse
The premise of Downsizing is a great one: Scientists in Norway come up with the technology to reduce humans safely and efficiently down to about the size of your thumb. Small people, the thinking goes, generate less waste, consume fewer resources, and take up less space than their full-sized counterparts. On an overpopulated planet that’s becoming overrun with waste, more and more expensive, and gradually less inhabitable, downsizing could be what saves everyone.
The unintended consequences will quickly present themselves to the average viewer: What happens if everyone shrinks down in a world that is still very much full-sized? Doesn’t a world overrun by, say, regular-sized house pets become Jurassic Park? Wouldn’t the economic benefits eventually disappear?
Abortion Law Could Block Thousands of Women in Arkansas From Safe Procedure, Planned Parenthood Says Planned Parenthood asked the Supreme Court to assess the constitutionality of Act 577, a law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges to a local hospital in order to offer patients even a non-surgical abortion procedure that allows women to end a pregnancy with two pills.
What Will it Really Take to Avoid Collapse? In 2016, the hottest year on record, when the Paris agreement was signed and presidential candidates held widely differing opinions on climate change, the entire year's climate coverage by all network news services in the U.S. amounted to less than an hour: a paltry 50 minutes, representing a 66 percent drop from the previous year. Well-developed plans to avert climate breakdown include a state-by-state and nation-by-nation pathway to reach 100% renewable energy by 2050.
How a rare poison could help bring the first male birth control pill to marketFebruary 5, 2018, Quartz By: Gunda Georg, Jon Hawkinson, Shameem Syeda
Ouabain - a plant extract that African warriors and hunters traditionally used as a heart-stopping poison on their arrows, shows promise as a non-hormonal contracetive for men that hinders the sperms' ability to move or swim effectively.
While the birth control pill has been available to women in the United States for nearly six decades-and approved by the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) for contraceptive use since 1960 -- an oral contraceptive for men has not yet come to market. The pill has provided women with safe, effective and reversible options for birth control, while options for men have been stuck in a rut.
Men curently have only two forms birth control: condoms or a vasectomy, which account for only 30% of contraception used, while women have 70%.
Vasectomy is an invasive procedure to do that's also difficult and invasive to reverse. A male hormonal birth control pill option is in clinical human trials and likely closer to market, but it has potential side effects, such as weight gain, changes in libido, and lower levels of good cholesterol, which could negatively affect the heart health of users.
For nonhormonal contraception methods work, researchers from the University of Minnesota and the University of Kansas have homed in on ouabain: a toxic substance produced by two types of African plants, which affects a type of transporter subunit called α4, which is found only in sperm cells. This protein is known to be critical in fertility -- at least in male mice.
Ouabain by itself isn't an option as a contraceptive because of the risk of heart damage. So researches have designed ouabain derivatives - versions of the molecule that are more likely to bind to the α4 protein in sperm than other subunits in heart tissue. Once bound to those cells, it interferes with the sperms' ability to swim-essential to its role in fertilizing an egg.
Because the α4 transporter is found only on mature sperm cells, the contraceptive effect should be reversible -- sperm cells produced after stopping the treatment presumably won't be affected. Ouabain may also offer men a birth control pill option with fewer systemic side effects than hormonal options.
This new compound showed no toxicity in rats. The next steps are to test the effectiveness as an actual contraceptive in animals, then human clinical trials within five years.
Reversible, effective male birth control is within sight. World Health Organization numbers suggest that reducing sperm motility by 50% or less is sufficient to temporarily make a man infertile. Our ongoing research brings us one step closer to expanding the options for male birth control, providing the world's 7.6 billion people with a much-needed option for safe and reversible contraception.
After a Year of Trump Policies, Population Institute's Report Card on Reproductive Health/Rights for 2017 Lowers Overall U.S. Grade to a "D-"
18 States Get Failing Grade Amid Attacks on Family Planning and Birth ControlFebruary 15, 2018, PR Newswire
For 2017, the overall grade on U.S. reproductive health and rights assigned by the Population Institute fell from a "D" to a "D-." 18 states got a failing grade. Twenty-two states received a B- or higher in 2017. Eleven states (California, Washington D.C., Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) received an "A" in 2017. But 27 states received a "D" or lower. 18 of those states received a failing grade ("F"), including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Robert Walker, president of the Population Institute said: "The United States is in danger of becoming, in effect, the Divided States of Reproductive Health and Rights."
The Trump budget proposal unveiled this week signals worse attacks to come. It would eliminate the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, invest in ineffective abstinence-only education programs, and block patients from seeing their preferred health care provider, Planned Parenthood.
Last year a coalition of scientists, economists, policymakers, researchers, and business people published Project Drawdown, a compendium of ways to prevent carbon dioxide from escaping skywards. Drawing from a plethora of peer-reviewed research, the document ranks 80 practical, mitigating measures-along with 20 near-future concepts-that could push back the oncoming storm.
Ranked in order of carbon emissions locked down by 2050, a moderate expansion of solar farms was ranked #8, onshore wind turbines ranked # 2, and nuclear power (# 20), increasing the number of people on plant-rich diets (# 4) and using electric vehicles (# 26).
Suprisingly, the top spot went to managing refrigerants like HFCs, which are incredibly effective at trapping heat within our atmosphere.
Even more surprising, two lesser-known solutions also made this most practical of lists: the education of girls ranked #6 and family planning ranked #7).
Getting more girls into school, and giving them a quality education, has a series of profound, cascading effects: reduced incidence of disease, higher life expectancies, more economic prosperity, fewer forced marriages, and fewer children. Better educational access and attainment not only equips women with the skills to deal with the antagonizing effects of climate change, but it gives them influence over how their communities militate against it.
Poverty, along with community traditions, tends to hold back girls from education while boys education are prioritized.
Then there's family planning. The planet is overpopulated, and the demands of its citizens greatly exceed the natural resources provided by our environment.
Contraception for many of the women across the world is either not available, not affordable, or social and/or religious motives ensure that it's banned or heavily restricted. As a consequence, the world's population will rise rapidly, consume ever more resources, and power its ambitions using fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide will continue to accumulate in the atmosphere.
The education of girls and family planning can be considered as a single issue involving the empowerment of women in communities across the world. Drawdown calculated that, by taking steps toward universal education and investing in family planning in developing nations, the world could eliminate 120 billion tons of emissions by 2050. That's roughly 10 years' worth of China's annual emissions as of 2014, and it's all because the world's population won't rise quite so rapidly.
Project Drawdown isn't the only group that has recently tied population growth to climate change. A study published last summer also found that having just one fewer child is a far more effective way for individuals in the developed world to shrink their carbon footprint than, say, recycling or eating less meat. For women in wealthy countries, these decisions are often freely made, and fertility rates in those countries are already fairly low. In low-income countries, such individual agency - not to mention contraception - is frequently absent, and fertility rates remain high.
Just as policymakers, climate advocates, and science communicators should pay attention to Drawdown's findings, individuals should also do what they can to make sure such a solution comes to pass. Non-government organizations, like Hand In Hand International, Girls Not Brides, and the Malala Fund aren't just uplifting women, but they're helping to save the planet too, and they deserve support.
It's time to face an uncomfortable truth.February 10, 2018, Sciencealert By: David Nield
A new study looked at 151 nations and found not a single one was running itself in a sustainable way - ensuring a decent life for its inhabitants without taking more than it gives back in terms of natural resources. Its conclusion was that there are not enough resources for so many people to make it possible for all of us to live comfortably. We need a radical rethink of how we could start living within our means.
The international team of researchers participating in the study has put together a website showing how each country is performing in terms of balancing the well-being of its citizens against figures such as land use, CO2 emissions, and ecological footprint.
Daniel O'Neill from the University of Leeds in the UK said, "We examined international relationships between the sustainability of resource use and the achievement of social goals, and found that basic needs, such as nutrition, sanitation, and the elimination of extreme poverty, could most likely be achieved in all countries without exceeding global environmental limits."
"Unfortunately, the same is not true for other social goals that go beyond basic subsistence such as secondary education and high life satisfaction. Meeting these goals could require a level of resource use that is two to six times the sustainable level."
The quality of life in each country was measured using 11 indicators: life satisfaction, healthy life expectancy, nutrition, sanitation, income, access to energy, education, social support, democratic quality, equality, and employment.
That was then measured against 7 biophysical indicators: land use, CO2 emissions, ecological footprint, phosphorus emissions, material footprint, nitrogen use, and blue water use. Each country's allotted share of these resources was based on its total population..
William Lamb from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change in Germany said, "Although wealthy nations like the US and UK satisfy the basic needs of their citizens, they do so at a level of resource use that is far beyond what is globally sustainable.
"In contrast, countries that are using resources at a sustainable level, such as Sri Lanka, fail to meet the basic needs of their people."
Among the countries doing the best job are Vietnam, with 6 social thresholds achieved and only 1 biophysical boundary transgressed, and Germany, which hits all 11 social thresholds but has exceeded 5 of the 7 biophysical boundaries.
Other reports suggest we need 1.7 Earths to actually keep up with the rate at which we're plundering what the planet has to offer.
However, the study's authors say we can work towards finding ways to support our population without taking too much out of what the planet can give us. Radical changes are needed to accomplish this, including moving beyond the pursuit of economic growth in wealthy nations, shifting rapidly from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and significantly reducing inequality.
Just as buried fossil fuels are filled with carbon from ancient plant and animal life, so too are living trees and vegetation on Earth's surface today. Razing forests or plowing grasslands puts carbon in the atmosphere just like burning fossil fuels does.
Karl-Heinz Erb, the lead study author and a researcher with the Institute of Social Ecology in Austria, and his colleagues estimated that 450 billion tons of carbon - a massive amount - is contained in Earth's current vegetation. If it were to somehow arrive in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, it would amount to over a trillion tons of the gas.
They also found that, if humans somehow entirely ceased all uses of land and allowed it to return to its natural state, the Earth's vegetation would contain 916 billion tons of carbon. This would infer that current human use of land is responsible for roughly halving the potential storage of carbon by that land.
The research was published in the journal Nature by Erb and 12 colleagues from institutions in Austria, Germany, Portugal, Sweden and the Netherlands.
Deforestation accounted for about half of the loss of potential vegetation. The other half is attributed to the combination of large-scale grazing and other uses of grasslands and forest "management." With the latter, the forests as a whole don't disappear. They were just highly thinned out.
The findings are in line with the thesis of University of Virginia professor William Ruddiman, that humans have been changing the surface of the planet and putting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere through land use for millennia.
"Our finding is in line with the statement that the impact of humans on the climate was quite considerable also before the industrial times," Erb said.
The research showed that so-called degraded land - not fully deforested but not "natural” or whole, either - must be restored. Tom Lovejoy, an ecologist at George Mason University who was not involved in the work, said "That means the restoration agenda is even more important than previously thought and highlights the enormous amount of degraded land in the world.”
Phil Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center said: "Scenarios that limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees require not only rapid cessation of greenhouse gas emissions but also removal of somewhere between about 100 and 300 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere.” ... "This paper suggests that restoring vegetation around the world could in principle achieve that,” Duffy continued, noting that if all the potential vegetation were restored it would offset some 50 years of global carbon emissions.
Erb was skeptical about the strategy called Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage, or BECCS, which it was claimed to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Poor Women Are Vulnerable as GOP Turns Up the HeatJanuary 19, 2018, Who.What.Why By: Kirsty Vitarelli
Anti-abortion activists, emboldened by conservatives controlling the White House and Congress, and courts stacked with like-minded judges, are setting their sights on a new target: The elimination of federal funding for family planning services.
For 45 years, the "pro-life" movement has gathered in Washington around the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision to protest the legalization of most abortions in the US.
Recently the Trump administration announced that it was strengthening protections for medical providers whose religious beliefs prompt them to refuse to perform abortions or to offer other contraceptive services.
Title X, a provision in the Public Health Service Act of 1970 - is federal grant legislation that secures federal funding for family planning services. It is the only grant legislation approved annually, and is constantly under threat of defunding because of this status. Of the 38 million American women who use contraception, over half - 20 million - rely on publicly funded contraceptive care.
"Without contraceptive coverage, many women would need to pay more than $1,000 out of pocket to start using a highly effective method such as a intrauterine devices (IUDs), a contraceptive implant or sterilization; that would amount to nearly one month's salary for a woman working full-time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour," reports the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization. Other forms of contraception are less costly - as low as $9 a month from Target and Walmart. But, with the exception of emergency contraception, birth control pills require a doctor's prescription, an associated visit and insurance costs.
The theory supporting threats to Title X is that life begins at the moment egg and sperm meet, which increasing numbers of anti-abortion advocates and lawmakers embrace. They equate highly effective, long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) like IUDs and contraceptive implants with abortion itself, believing these methods would dislodge a fertilized egg - a view which is not scientifically accurate.
IUDs and implants primarily prevent fertilization, not implantation - there is no zygote, so there is nothing to abort. However, buoyed by the Supreme Court's ruling upholding Hobby Lobby's religious right to deny access to LARCs, and President Trump's seeming eagerness to please his base, anti-abortion advocates are seeking to promote their ideology in a number of ways, including going after Title X funding.
Title X in the beginning was championed by both sides of the House - its main sponsor was George H.W. Bush and was signed into law by President Nixon." The idea was that women and couples - regardless of their employment or insurance status - should have the opportunity to plan whether and when they would start a family.
However during Ronald Reagan's presidency, there was more anti-abortion ideology involved in the politics and policies of family planning.
Three-quarters of all women in the US who underwent abortions in 2014 were either living in poverty or had low incomes of roughly between $11,000 and $22,000. If federal funding is removed, these low-income households would suffer the most, physically and financially.
An amendment to the recent tax bill fostered the idea that personhood begins at conception by proposing that unborn children could be beneficiaries of college savings plans. The language was cut before the tax bill passed.
House appropriators agreed to defund Title X entirely, eliminating the program - $286 million - from the 2018 budget, but Senate appropriators did not cut the program from their spending bill.
Trump has appointed prominent anti-contraception advocates to his Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in an attempt to keep a promise to his evangelical followers. Valerie Huber, an advocate of abstinence over contraception will continue the push to defund Title X.
A rider in the House Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies spending bill would block Planned Parenthood from any federal money in 2018, and effectively "end the nation's family planning program.”
President Trump signed a law last spring allowing states to withhold federal money from organizations that offer abortion services. Many of these organizations also provide important contraceptive services to the poorest in society, services which would also be threatened.
60% of Americans believe abortion should remain legal. Some physicians remember the time before Roe v. Wade and worry that overturning it would slide the country back to the days when more than 200 women a year died from septic shock due to "back alley” abortions, or became infertile after suffering permanent injury inflicted by barbaric tools.
45% of pregnancies in the US are unintended, and about 4 in 10 of those end in abortion, according to Guttmacher. Three-quarters of all women in the US who underwent abortions in 2014 were either living in poverty or had low incomes of roughly between $11,000 and $22,000. If federal funding is removed, these low-income households would suffer the most, physically and financially.
Title X funding is intact - for now. But "the Trump administration in its first year and Congress under its current leadership have very openly hostile views and agendas against reproductive health and rights.
The birthrate in China fell last year even though the country has changed its One Child policy to allow two children. Reasons given for the low birth rate were the trend toward later marriage, the desire for smaller families and concerns about the high cost of raising children.
With almost 1.4 billion people, China has the world's largest population but it is aging fast even before reaching its expected peak of 1.45 billion in 2029.
China's policy was changed in 2015 in an attempt to increase the size of the younger working population that will eventually have to support their elders. The number of births rose nearly 8% in 2016, with nearly half of the babies born to couples who already had a child. But that appears to have been a one-time increase.
Experts have recommended the country increase its retirement age to address an expected labor shortage and declining economic vitality.
One woman, a housewife in Beijing, pointed out that the burden of looking after aging parents is one reason not to have a second child. "They helped us look after one child, but we would have to babysit the second one ourselves."
"Until the young one is 2, mother won't be able to work which means a big loss of income that we're not prepared for," another person said.
China enacted its one-child policy in 1979, enforced with fines and in some cases state-mandated abortions.
A new study warns if the degradation rate continues, all wilderness areas will be at risk over the next 50 yearsDecember 20, 2017, Guardian By: Susan Chenery
Ten percent of the earth's wilderness has been lost due to human pressure, according to a mapping study by the University of Queensland. .. 52% of the earth's ecosystems have seen a major degradation since the beginning of human history, while the remaining 48% is being increasingly eroded. Since the 1992 Rio convention on biological diversity, three million square kilometres of wilderness have been lost.
James Watson, senior author on the study and director of science at the Wildlife Conservation Society stated: "If this rate continues, we will have lost all wilderness within the next 50 years." He said there is no scientific evidence that degraded eco-systems could ever return to their original condition.
The water cycle (the ability of the area to create rain), biodiversity (loss of wildlife habitat), the nitrogen cycle and pollination are being degraded. Logging, oil and gas exploration, mining, roads and agriculture are the culprits.
These pristine wild places exist in the deserts of Central Australia; the Amazon rainforest in South America; Africa; the Tibetan plateau in central Asia; and the boreal forests of Canada and Russia.
PhD student James Allan, who also worked on the study said: The moment you put a road in, you get people moving in to farm, hunt, and it undermines the wilderness. The risk is that a lot of these systems could collapse. The Amazon is the best example of where you need the whole forest, or a huge portion of the forest, protected for the hydrological cycle to function." One third of the Amazon wilderness region has been lost since 1992.
The UQ study found that conservation efforts are being rapidly outpaced by the acceleration of the decline, thanks to massive global population growth and the associated economic growth that demands ever-increasing natural resources.
The problem is profound. "Intact functioning ecosystems" says Watson, "are critical not only for biodiversity but for the huge amounts of carbon they store and sequester. They provide a direct defence against climate-related hazards like storms, floods, fires and cyclones. They are the most resilient and effective defence against ongoing climate change.”
Loss of wilderness also affects Indigenous communities . "You have got people living in the Amazon, Congo and New Guinea who have been there for thousands of years subsisting through hunting - just sustainable use of the resources,” says Allan.
In 2016, Watson and his team released maps of the global human footprint, using eight data layersof roads, agriculture, grazing land, human population density, urbanisation and navigable waterways.
"The environment footprint of humanity is truly massive,” Watson wrote of his findings in Time. "No other species has ever come close to us in terms of consuming so much of the world's energy, resources and land area. In this Anthropocene era, where the human footprint is now altering many of the Earth systems processes, wilderness areas serve as natural observatories where we can study the ecological and evolutionary impacts of global change.”
Postabortion Contraceptive Counseling Can Help Individuals Prevent Future Unintended PregnanciesJanuary 11, 2018, Guttmacher Institute
The Guttmacher Institute conducted a survey of U.S. abortion patients in 2014, which showed that 51% (half) of those surveyed reported that they had used a contraceptive method in the month they became pregnant. This was a slight decrease from 54% of abortion patients in 2000. The methods most commonly used by abortion patients in 2014 were condoms (24% of patients) and the pill (13%).
"Contraceptive methods are highly effective at preventing unintended pregnancies, but no method -- and no user -- is perfect," says Rachel Jones, author of the analysis. "Abortion patients should have access to the full range of contraceptive counseling and services to support them in preventing future unintended pregnancies."
The share of abortion patients relying on condoms decreased from 28% to 24% between 2000 and 2014, but there was a small but significant increase -- 7% to 9% -- in the share of patients who relied on withdrawal. Use of long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods among abortion patients increased from 0.1% in 2000 to 1% in 2014. It is also possible that some abortion patients became pregnant shortly after they stopped using LARCs or other contraceptive methods.
In 2014, about 37.8 million U.S. women aged 15-44 were using a contraceptive method. But only 471,000 abortions were provided to patients who reported they were using contraception in the month they became pregnant. Between 2000 and 2014, the overall number of abortions in the United States declined significantly, and available evidence suggests that improvements in contraceptive use contributed to the abortion decline.
Contraception has been found to be effective at pregnancy prevention and it has numerous health, social and economic benefits. Abortion patients who were not using contraception at the time they became pregnant may benefit from receiving information during postabortion counseling about their risk of pregnancy, and about the full range of contraceptive options available to them and how to use those methods consistently and correctly.
Humanity has 30 years to find out.January 22, 2018, Atlantic Monthly By: Charles C. Mann
In 1970 about one out of every four people was undernourished. Today the proportion has fallen to roughly one out of 10. In those four-plus decades, the global average life span has risen by more than 11 years. Hundreds of millions of people in Asia, Latin America, and Africa have lifted themselves from destitution into something like the middle class. But millions upon millions are not prosperous. No one knows whether the rise can continue, or whether our current affluence can be sustained.
The world is expected to rise from about 7.6 billion inhabitants today to 10 billion by about 2050. Then population is expected to begin to level off. On average, each couple will have just enough children to replace themselves. In the meantime, economists say, the world's development should continue, however unevenly. The implication is that a sizable percentage of the world's 10 billion people will be middle-class.
By 2050 we will have ten billion mouths and three billion more middle-class appetites. How can we provide for everyone without making the planet uninhabitable?
In search of the answer we look at the contrasting viewpoints of two individuals largely responsible for the creation of the basic intellectual blueprints that institutions around the world use today for understanding our environmental dilemmas.
William Vogt, born in 1902, laid out the basic ideas for the modern environmental movement. He believed that, unless humankind drastically reduces consumption and limits population, it will ravage global ecosystems. Affluence is not our greatest achievement but our biggest problem. If we continue taking more than the Earth can give, he said, the unavoidable result will be devastation on a global scale.
Borlaug, born 12 years after Vogt, believed that science and technology, properly applied, will let us produce a way out of our predicament. He was the best-known figure in the research that in the 1960s created the Green Revolution, the combination of high-yielding crop varieties and agronomic techniques that increased grain harvests around the world, helping to avert tens of millions of deaths from hunger. Only by getting richer and more knowledgeable can humankind create the science that will resolve our environmental dilemmas, he claimed.
Borlaug's solution was to find a way to increase per-acre yields. Vogt's solution was to use ecological knowledge to get smaller. He recommended that we "eat lower on the food chain," to lighten the burden on Earth's ecosystems. Vogt's predecessor, Robert Malthus, predicted that societies would inevitably run out of food because they would always have too many children. Vogt said that we may be able to grow enough food, but at the cost of wrecking the world's ecosystems.
Followers of Borlaug view Vogt's emphasis on cutting back as intellectually dishonest, indifferent to the poor, even racist. Following Vogt, they say, is a path toward regression, narrowness, poverty, and hunger -- toward a world where billions live in misery despite the scientific knowledge that could free them. Followers of Vogt sneer that the Borlaug's faith in human resourcefulness is unthinking, ignorant, even driven by greed (because refusing to push beyond ecological limits will cut into corporate profits). High-intensity, industrial farming may pay off in the short run, but in the long run will make the day of ecological reckoning hit harder. The ruination of soil and water by heedless overuse will lead to environmental collapse, which will in turn create worldwide social convulsion.
In 1948 Vogt published Road to Survival, the first modern we're-all-going-to-hell book. He introduced concepts such as carrying capacity -- also known as "ecological limits," or "planetary boundaries" -- which posits that every ecosystem has a limit to what it can produce. As human numbers increase, our demands for food will exceed the Earth's carrying capacity. The results will be catastrophic: erosion, desertification, soil exhaustion, species extinction, and water contamination that will, sooner or later, lead to massive famines. His ideas were embraced by writers like Rachel Carson (author of Silent Spring) and Paul Ehrlich (The Population Bomb).
In the mid-'50s Borlaug created a wheat that produced 10 times as much grain than before, beginning what was call 'The Green Revolution.' In Asia, before Borlaug's new, high-yielding rice varieties were introduced in the 1960s, at least half of Asia lived in hunger and want; farm yields in many places were stagnant or falling. The new high-yielding rice varieties nearly tripled rice harvests. Even though the continent's population has soared, Asian men, women, and children consume an average of 30% more calories than when the high yield rice was introduced.
However, as Vogt had predicted, the enormous jump in productivity led to enormous environmental damage: drained aquifers, fertilizer runoff, aquatic dead zones, and degraded and waterlogged soils. Worse in a human sense, the rapid increase in productivity made rural land more valuable. Suddenly it was worth stealing -- and rural elites in many places did just that, throwing poor farmers off their land.
Also the Green Revolution would merely postpone the hunger crisis; it was a one-time lucky break, rather than a permanent solution. And our rising numbers and wealth mean that our harvests will have to jump again -- a second Green Revolution would be needed.
Even though the global population in 2050 will be just 25% higher than it is now, farmers will have to boost food output by 50% to 100%, due to increased affluence (eating animal products). Growing feed for animals requires much more land, water, and energy than producing food simply by growing and eating plants.
Farmers can't plant much more land, because almost every accessible acre of arable soil is already in use. Nor can the use of fertilizer be increased; it is already being overused everywhere except some parts of Africa, and the runoff is polluting rivers, lakes, and oceans. Irrigation, too, cannot be greatly expanded-most land that can be irrigated already is.
Part of the Green Revolution's success was due to the discovery of a method to produce fertilizer from nitrogen. A little more than 1% of the world's industrial energy is devoted to it. "That 1 percent," the futurist Ramez Naam has noted, "roughly doubles the amount of food the world can grow." The environmental scientist Vaclav Smil has estimated that nitrogen fertilizer from the Haber-Bosch process accounts for "the prevailing diets of nearly 45% of the world's population."
But this innovation also damaged the environment. The 40% of the fertilizer applied in the past 60 years that was not absorbed by plants was washed away into rivers or seeped into the air in the form of nitrous oxides. In the water it boosted the growth of algae, weeds, and other aquatic organisms. When these die, they fall to the floor of the river, lake, or ocean, where microbes consume their remains. The respiration of these microbes drains oxygen from the lower depths, killing off most other life. Nitrogen draining off farms along the Mississippi end up in the Gulf of Mexico every summer, creating an oxygen desert. In 2016 the dead zone covered almost 7,000 square miles. Another dead zone of 23,000 square miles was mapped in the Bay of Bengal, off the east coast of India in 2017.
Nitrous oxide from fertilizers is a major cause of pollution. High in the stratosphere, it combines with and neutralizes the planet's ozone, which guards life on the surface by blocking cancer-causing ultraviolet rays.
A landmark 2011 study from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concluded that up to a third of the world's cropland is degraded.
Our story now goes back to the 1940s. Albert Howard and his wife, Gabrielle, bred new varieties of wheat and tobacco in India, developed novel types of plows, and testing the results of providing oxen with a superhealthy diet. By 1943, they were convinced that soil was not simply a base for chemical additives. It was an intricate living system that required a wildly complex mix of nutrients in plant and animal waste: harvest leftovers, manure. Their idea of returning to the soil of all available vegetable, animal, and human wastes became the founding document of the organic movement.
After 1943 scientists discovered that plants need nitrogen chiefly to make a protein called rubisco, an enzyme needed to make roots, stems, leaves, and seeds. Rubisco is an enzyme that takes carbon dioxide from the air, and uses it in the process of photosynthesis.
Rubisco is an inept, inefficient enzyme, so plants make a lot of it to do the job. This requires a lot of nitrogen to do so. However, nature has produced a work-around: C4 photosynthesis. C4 is a four-carbon molecule that turbocharges plant growth. This involves a special adaptation of leaf anatomy.
When carbon dioxide comes into a C4 leaf, it is initially grabbed not by rubisco but by a different enzyme that uses it to form a compound that is then pumped into special, rubisco-filled cells deep in the leaf. These cells have almost no oxygen, so rubisco can't bumblingly grab the wrong molecule. The end result is exactly the same sugars, starches, and cellulose that ordinary photosynthesis produces, except much faster. C4 plants need less water and fertilizer than ordinary plants, because they don't waste water on rubisco's mistakes.
C4 photosynthesis has been found in more than 60 plants. Corn, tumbleweed, crabgrass, sugarcane, and Bermuda grass -- all of these very different plants evolved C4 photosynthesis.
Scientists from around the world are trying to convert rice into a C4 plant-- one that would grow faster, require less water and fertilizer, and produce more grain. Rice is the world's most important foodstuff, the staple crop for more than half the global population. An estimated 40% increase rice production is needed to satisfy increasing population numbers and increasing affluence. Meanwhile, the land available to plant rice is shrinking as cities expand into the countryside, thirsty people drain rivers, farmers switch to more-profitable crops, and climate change creates deserts from farmland.
The C4 Rice Consortium is a genetic-engineering project funded largely by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This genetic engineering is NOT like Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybean, which contains a snippet of DNA from a bacterium that was found in a Louisiana waste pond. That snippet makes the plant assemble a chemical compound in its leaves and stems that blocks the effects of Roundup, Monsanto's widely used herbicide. The foreign gene lets farmers spray Roundup on their soy fields, killing weeds but leaving the crop unharmed.
The C4 Rice Consortium scientists are trying to refashion photosynthesis, one of the most fundamental processes of life. Because C4 has evolved in so many different species, scientists believe that most plants must have precursor C4 genes. The hope is that rice is one of these, and that the consortium can identify and awaken its dormant C4 genes-following a path evolution has taken many times before. No company will profit from the result; the International Rice Research Institute, where much of the research takes place, will give away seeds for the modified grain, as it did with Green Revolution rice.
In addition to C4 rice, other projects are attempting self-fertilizing maize, wheat that can grow in salt water, and enhanced soil-microbial ecosystems.
All attempts to compare organic farming with new technology has shown that organic farms yield fewer calories per acre than techonology-enhanced farms -- sometimes by a little, sometimes by quite a lot.
But evaluating farm systems wholly in terms of calories per acre is folly. It doesn't include the sort of costs identified by Vogt: fertilizer runoff, watershed degradation, soil erosion and compaction, and pesticide and antibiotic overuse. It doesn't account for the destruction of rural communities. It doesn't consider whether the food is tasty and nutritious.
Organic farmers have their own innovations: planting perennials that come back summer after summer, for as long as a decade. Perennial grasses build up root systems that reach deep into the ground, they hold on to soil better and are less dependent on surface rainwater and nutrients than annual grasses. Many of them are also more disease-resistant. Perennials emerge from the soil earlier in the spring and keep photosynthesizing longer in the fall, they have a longer growing season. They produce food year after year with much less plowing-caused erosion. They could be just as productive as Green Revolution-style grain, but without ruining land, sucking up scarce water, or requiring heavy doses of polluting, energy-intensive fertilizer.
A perennial cousin to bread wheat, wheatgrass was introduced to the Western Hemisphere from Asia in the 1930s as fodder for farm animals. This wheatgrass has been crossbred among the best performers in an attempt to make a commercially viable perennial. The Land Institute, a nonprofit agricultural-research center dedicated to replacing conventional agriculture with processes akin to those that occur in natural ecosystems has been developing wheatgrass since 2002. Its new variety of intermediate wheatgrass is named Kernza. The Land Institute hopes to have field-ready, bread-worthy wheatgrass with kernels that are twice their current size (if still half the size of wheat's) in the 2020s, though nothing is guaranteed.
Other attempts to feed people are being made: creating a hybrid of bread wheat and wheatgrass; focus on tubers and trees, both of which are generally more productive than cereals. The point is to have multiple ways to meet tomorrow's needs.
And then there is to consider the kind of society tied to each of these two ideologies: The Borlaugians (followers of Borlaug) ideal for society is that the drudgery of agriculture should be eased and reduced as much as possible to maximize individual liberty. National governments (except for China) have directed labor away from agriculture. The goal was to consolidate and mechanize farms, which would increase harvests and reduce costs, especially for labor. Farmworkers, no longer needed, would move to the cities, where they could get better-paying jobs in factories. Both the remaining farm owners and the factory workers would earn more, the former by growing more and better crops, the latter by obtaining better-paying jobs in industry. The nation as a whole would benefit: increased exports from industry and agriculture, cheaper food in the cities, a plentiful labor supply.
There were downsides: Cities in developing nations acquired entire slums full of displaced families. And in many areas, including most of the developed world, the countryside was emptied -- exactly what Borlaugians intended, as part of the goal of freeing agriculture workers to pursue their dreams.
To Vogtians, agriculture is about maintaining a set of communities, ecological and human, that have cradled life since the first agricultural revolution, 10,000-plus years ago. It can be drudgery, but it is also work that reinforces the human connection to the Earth.
Pro-life proponents claim that human life begins at conception, which could lead to the conclusion that abortion is murder. However, 'life' is a quality that plants, bacteria, dogs, termites, humans, and other living entities have. Life is described as "A distinctive characteristic of a living organism from dead organism or non-living thing, as specifically distinguished by the capacity to grow, metabolize, respond (to stimuli), adapt, and reproduce." .. Biology Online Dictionary https://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Life
The Catholic Church uses ensoulment as a criteria to determine if a fetus is worthy of protection from abortion. The determination of when this ensoulment occurs during the development stages of a human -- from conception to birth -- has changed over the last several centuries.
Catholics claim they have been anti-abortion pretty much forever. While it is true that they considered it was a sin, they did not always treat it as the crime of murder.
From the time of Aristotle and up until the 19th century, Catholics based their timing of ensoulment in the human zygote on the embryology of Aristotle.
Aristotle's On the Generation of Animals was produced in the latter part of the fourth century B.C. It was the first work to provide a comprehensive theory of how generation works and the first scientific work on embryology. https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/generation-animals-aristotle
Chapter 3 of Book II defines the degree of "aliveness" at various stages of embryological development. This is the section in which Aristotle discusses three different types of human souls: a nutritive soul, imbued from the very beginning; a sensitive soul, imbued later; and finally the intellective soul, imbued forty days after conception for a male embryo and eighty days for a female embryo. The nutritive soul, also called the vegetative soul, is the essence possessed by all living things , including plants, and can be considered the lowest level of soul. The sensitive soul is what separates plants from animals, and provides animals the ability to move and to interact with the world around them. The intellective soul is what separates humans from all other animals, and allows humans to think and reason.
Until the late 19th century, most popes and Catholic's alike did not believe that the soul was infused at conception. Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585) said that an embryo wasn't human until it was 40 days old and therefore was not homicide to kill an embryo less than 40 days from conception. His successor, Sixtus V, disagreed completely. Sixtus V's successor, Gregory XIV (1590-1591), said to pretend that Sixtus V's were never issued. For centuries Catholic leaders varied in their beliefs on if the soul was infused at conception or not, and if abortion was allowed, especially when it threatened the husband's marriage/honor and/or the women's life.
An article which claims to prove that ensoulment occurs at conception is at http://catholicism.org/ensoulment-theories-and-the-abortion-debate.html . Its claim is based on modern understanding of the development of the human from conception to birth, but it did not seem it very convincing. "Having all the necessary genetic information and immanent activity heading towards full maturation, the full development of the human body is already in dynamic process; therefore, the human soul must be there."
Doesn't this same argument apply to the egg and the sperm before they unite? After all, they are the two essential parts of a human 'person'.
But once an egg is fertilized, the pregnancy has a 31% chance of ending in a miscarriage. Often this happens even before woman knows she is pregnant. http://www.nytimes.com/1988/07/27/us/study-finds-31-rate-of-miscarriage.html . Does this sound like "heading for full maturation"?
Up to 70% of first-trimester miscarriages are caused by chromosomal anomalies. Examples inclulde blighted ovum: where no embryo forms; intrauterine fetal demise: where an embryo forms but stops developing and dies before any symptoms of pregnancy loss occur; and molar pregnancy: where both sets of chromosomes come from the father - there is usually no fetal development. These do not sound like "heading for full maturation".
Is the notion that ensoulment occurs at conception believable when there are so many miscarriages? The potential to become human does not exist for these products of conception.
Every woman should have the right to do what they want with their body. About 30% of women will have had at least one abortion in their life if current abortion rates continue.
Why should the religious beliefs of a patriarchal church outweigh the beliefs of women that they have the right to terminate a pregnancy they don't want or that would be a threat to their life, or that would interfere with the well-being of her family?
Prior to 1973, abortion was legal in some of the 50 states of the U.S., usually with restrictions. In 1973, the United States Supreme Court, in its Roe v. Wade decision, ruled that a woman has a right to an abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy. However, the states are still allowed to regulate abortion during the second trimester and prohibit it during the third trimester. Since that time, abortion has become one of the most controversial and divisive issues within society.
Pro-life activists represent one extreme of opinion. They believe life begins at the instant of conception. Therefore, abortion is murder and is prohibited by the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:13). They strongly support laws banning all or almost all abortions.
Abortion is never mentioned in the Bible, despite the fact that it has been practiced since ancient times by a variety of means. However, a number of Bible passages have been cited as evidence that a fetus is truly a living human being and deserves the same protection. They may well state some general principles that are relevant, but none of them were originally intended as statements about abortion.
The following three passages and others are sometimes cited as evidence that abortion is wrong. However, when read in context, it seems clear that was not the intended message.
Luke Chapter 1 tells about God's intervention in the miraculous births of Jesus and John the Baptist.
(NIV, Luke 1:39-44) At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.
Jeremiah Chapter 1 is about Jeremiah's call as a prophet.
(NAS, Jeremiah 1:4-5) Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."
Job Chapter 10 is Job's plea to God to relieve his unfair suffering.
(NIV, Job 10:2, 8-9) I will say to God: ... "Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again?
The passage below from Genesis Chapter seems to suggest that a person is not living until he or she takes a first breath after birth. Life is equated with breath throughout the Bible.
(NIV, Genesis 2:7) The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
However, Genesis Chapter 2 is actually about God's creation of mankind as special and spiritually-aware beings.
The passage below seems to say that causing death to a fetus is not as serious a crime as causing death to a person, but it is actually just part of a long section specifying the punishments for various crimes.
And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide. "But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, (NAS, Exodus 21:22-24)
However, the belief that life begins at conception does not have clear support from medical science, the Bible, religious tradition or legal tradition.
Abortion, infanticide and child abandonment were permitted under Roman law at the time of Jesus.
Some early Church fathers (e.g., Tertullian) wrote against abortion, and it has been considered sinful throughout Church history. However, early Christians apparently did not view abortion as murder until well beyond conception. In the thirteenth century, Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote that a soul enters the body at 40 days after conception for males and 80 days for females. That became church doctrine for many centuries, and abortion before that time of ensoulment was not considered a mortal sin. The belief that life begins at conception apparently has its origins in an 1869 decree by Pope Pius IX that abortion at any point in pregnancy was cause for excommunication.
English common law apparently tolerated abortion until "quickening," the first detectable fetal movements, around the fifth month. Similarly, abortion was largely unregulated in the U.S. until the mid 1800s. Laws against abortion were passed around 1900, but the primary reasons had to do with the injuries and deaths resulting from unskilled abortions and a struggle between opposing factions for control of medical practice.
Polls typically show that about 28% of people in the U.S. say abortion should be legal in all circumstances. Another 17% say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. A majority, 54%, favor legal abortion in some circumstances. The Roman Catholic Church is strongly associated with the movement to outlaw abortion, but the polls actually show that the views of Catholics on this issue do not differ from the rest of the population.
Many people have deep and serious doubts about the morality of abortion. At the same time, they believe abortion may be the lesser of evils in some cases. Situations thought to justify abortion include, with varying degrees of acceptance, danger to the mother's life, defective fetus, rape, incest, teen pregnancy, risk to the mother's physical or emotional health, unstable family situations, mental retardation of the mother, etc.
Before the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion throughout the U.S., many women living in areas where abortion was not allowed simply traveled to states or countries where abortion was legal to terminate their pregnancies. Those who could not afford that option often sought out someone to perform the procedure illegally. Some sympathetic doctors were willing to help. But many illegal abortions were performed by unqualified practitioners, and many women suffered exploitation, sexual abuse, injury, infection, sterility and even death at the hands of these "back alley" practitioners. Despite some claims to the contrary, the mainstream of medical opinion is that legal abortions are very safe, with less risk to a woman's physical and mental health than continuing a pregnancy.
Some politicians exploit the abortion issue for political gain by inflaming people's passions and fears. A very small number of activists have harassed and deceived women seeking abortions, illegally blockaded clinics, harassed doctors and committed acts of violence, including murder. Such actions are clearly against Bible teachings and are not condoned by mainstream Christian denominations. However, the actions of a few have created an unfavorable view of the pro-life movement in the minds of many.
There is no general agreement among Christians, Christian theologians or Christian churches about what situations could make terminating a pregnancy the right and moral choice. However, most would agree that it is not a step to be taken if satisfactory alternatives are available. A woman or couple faced with the choice is left with medical counseling, pastoral counseling, advice of family and friends, and prayer to help with the decision.
The strong emotions surrounding the abortion issue may lead those on both sides of the issue into the sin of self-righteousness. But Jesus and other New Testament leaders taught by word and example not to condemn or shun or discriminate against those we consider to be "sinners" (Matthew 7:1-2, 9:10-13, Luke 7:36-48, 18:9-14, John 8:1-11).
A number of churches, including United Church of Christ, Episcopal, Presbyterian (USA) and United Methodist, do not approve of abortion as a means of birth control. However, they support the right of a woman to obtain an abortion, if she deems that is the best choice in her circumstances, and they favor keeping abortion legal. Other churches, including Roman Catholic and Southern Baptist, oppose all abortions and favor making abortion illegal.
The Roman Catholic says: 2270. Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.
2271. Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law. ... From Catechism of the Catholic Church, (c) 1994, United States Catholic Conference, Inc., http://www.nccbuscc.org/catechism/text/index.htm
Southern Baptist: Procreation is a gift from God, a precious trust reserved for marriage. At the moment of conception, a new being enters the universe, a human being, a being created in God's image. This human being deserves our protection, whatever the circumstances of conception. From Position Statements, Copyright (c) 1999 - 2001, Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, http://sbc.net/default.asp?url=position-statements.html
United Methodist: The beginning of life and the ending of life are the God-given boundaries of human existence. While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born. Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother, for whom devastating damage may result from an unacceptable pregnancy. In continuity with past Christian teaching, we recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures. We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection. We oppose the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available, or in the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life.