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

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

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


Mother Caring for 7 Billion doc

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

Population & Sustainability News Digest

July 22, 2014

New Contraceptive Shot Being Released in Africa

July 14 , 2014, New York Times   By: Donald G. Mcneil Jr.

Pfizer will release an injectable contraceptive in four African countries this year, including Burkina Faso, where it was recently introduced, followed by Uganda, Senegal and Niger. A single-injection plastic capsule contains a three-month dose of Depo-Provera Sayana Press. Women often prefer injectable contraceptives in Africa and other places where they may not want their husbands to know they use birth control.

Sara Tiff is Associate Director of Global Reproductive Health for PATH, a Seattle-based organization that develops health technology for the poor. She hopes the short, thin needle that slides beneath the skin, rather than into muscle, makes injection so easy that women will eventually be able to inject it themselves.

Although many in poor countries are familiar with Depo-Provera, a spokesman said Pfizer chose the name Sayana Press because you press the plastic bubble to inject the drug, and "sayana" has a good feminine sound.

The Pfizer spokesman would not reveal the cost, but Burkina Faso will initially get 250,000 doses. The country's health ministry hopes to make contraception available to 25% of married women by next year. doclink

Art says: The efficacy rate for injections exceeds other methods. About 9% of women using pills become pregnant each year largely because they don't always take them as directed every day. About 18% of condom users become pregnant each year.

The Crusade Against Reproductive Rights

July 18, 2014, Moyers & Company

Note: this is a summary of the Bill Moyers interview with Cecile Richards. For the complete article, click on the link in the headline or watch the video.

BILL MOYERS (M): In the 40-plus years since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, conservatives and the religious right have tried to overturn it. Several states have effectively restricted access to safe, legal clinics. More than half the American women of reproductive age now live in states hostile to abortion access.

NANCY NORTHRUP: During those four decades, there have been terrorizing physical attacks, clinics bombed, vandalized and torched, doctors and clinic workers murdered, and clinics blockaded. … States are passing laws that single out reproductive health providers for excessively burdensome regulations ….

M:..Since Cecile Richards became president of the Planned Parenthood Federation in 2006, the number of its supporters doubled to seven million. Cecile, An impartial observer … could conclude that you're losing the political battle over abortion.

CECILE RICHARDS (R): … "The Tea Party swept into the U.S. House of Representatives and took over state legislatures (with) a very clear agenda … to roll back women's access. But whenever these issues are actually on the ballot," for example in Mississippi, where "the far right tried to push … a bill that would've outlawed abortion in that state. The voters of Mississippi …. overwhelmingly rejected that. … I do think the state legislatures have moved dramatically to the right." … Unfortunately, an extreme wing of the Republican Party seems to be in charge of the primary process."

M: "Is it conceivable to you that your opponents have … convinced enough people in conservative circles that abortion is morally wrong, leaving politicians that you talk about no choice but to go where the voters lead?"

R: … “We at Planned Parenthood talk to voters a lot, talk to the public a lot. People in this country believe that abortion is a very personal and often complex issue. … The last thing they want is politicians making the most personal decisions for a family." Across party lines, “young people in this country can't imagine going back to a time where abortion was illegal and not available."

M: 68% of young Americans believe abortion services should be available where they live. Why doesn't that translate into political success?

R: … In the last presidential election Mitt Romney wanted to overturn Roe and get rid of Planned Parenthood, while President Obama strongly supported women's rights. “We had the biggest gender gap ever in polling in a presidential election." And in the Virginia governor's race, Terry McAuliffe supported women's access to birth control and Planned Parenthood, while Ken Cuccinelli, the sitting attorney general, opposed basically all of women's rights. ... Women decided that election. “ There was a nine point gender gap for Terry McAuliffe." … Women can determine pretty much any election in the country.

M: Texas Governor Rick Perry wants to make abortion, “a thing of the past."

R: … “He's making safe and legal abortion a thing of the past". … These regulations fall disproportionately on low income and rural women. … “Women now go across the border to Mexico because they can't access legal abortion in the state of Texas." …

When the governor and legislature ended the women's health program, “dozens of health centers that didn't provide abortion services had to shut down because they served low income women and they didn't have the funds to continue. … Women (are) trying to figure out how to get around the country because there are increasingly states where you may have a legal right to an abortion, but effectively you have no access.… The impact is certainly on the ability to access abortion services, but it also has been devastating on women's ability to even access family planning and basic preventive care. … State legislatures are hollowing out the rights under Roe in every conceivable way," and this court has been more sympathetic to those efforts _ not only to safe and legal abortion, but to birth control as well.

M: “Do you think that Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA) that was debated this week could undo some of the damage being caused by this onslaught of regulations?"

R: Absolutely. … Essentially the WHPA says you have to treat women's reproductive health care and abortion access like you do all other medical procedures.…99% of women in this country use family planning." … and 98% of Catholic women have used it at some point. “So for women, birth control is not a moral issue. It's not a social issue. It is a basic healthcare issue. It's an economic issue." And women, men, the majority of this country supports Roe. I guarantee they don't want politicians making their most personal, private decisions.

M: “What is your response to what some of your opponents say that abortion … needs higher medical standards? Is there any merit in that argument?"

R: "Absolutely none. … Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures. … I talk to doctors who were around pre-Roe who said, you know, routinely young healthy women were dying in emergency rooms across this country simply because they had no access to terminate a pregnancy in a medical setting." … Abortion opponents claim they're for women's health and safety, but they're not. …

M: … Why can't hospitals start taking up the slack?

R: …"Many of the hospitals in this country now are owned by the Catholic Church or have Catholic affiliation. They not only will not provide abortion services, they will not provide a whole host of reproductive healthcare." We need a public health care system that “will ensure that women can get access to the care that they need regardless of religion. And that is becoming increasingly a problem .. across the country."

M: … The Hobby Lobby decision says, in effect, that … Capital has religious rights, labor doesn't. Where's this going to take us?"

R: … “ I was actually there for the Hobby Lobby argument, and it was stunning to see the lack of regard for women." But from that and other decisions, it seems “better to be a corporation today than to be a woman in front of the Supreme Court. … How could the rights of one CEO … trump the right of thousands of women to make their own decision?" … “The future and the healthcare of millions of women are at stake." … When Congress passed this law, the Supreme Court overstepped their bounds. …

M: Have we opened another stage in the old debate … over religious liberties?

R: … “We believe in religious liberties, but not the right to … enforce your religion, your religious beliefs on someone else. … When they heard that the Supreme Court had said that there were women who couldn't get birth control from their employer, I think people were just in shock. … It's 2014 and we are still arguing about women being able to access birth control? It just doesn't make sense. Again, you have every woman in the country virtually using it. They don't see this as a controversial issue."

M: … “How do you explain the passion that enters into this debate?"

R: … Toleration of extremist remarks from people and some elected officials invites people to put women and doctors in a certain place. “The Massachusetts buffer zone was passed" … because “women and doctors and clinicians were under enormous personal safety risks. And—“

M: “The two people were murdered there. … Have you received any death threats?"

R: … “I don't fear for myself. But I take very seriously the safety of our doctors and our clinicians and our patients. And that's foremost in my mind all the time." doclink

New Study Documents Reasons Married Women in Developing Nations Who Wish to Avoid Pregnancy Do Not Use Contraceptives

More than One-Fourth Are Concerned About Side Effects and Health Risks
June 17 , 2014, Guttmacher Institute

Increasing women's access to modern contraceptive methods alone will not satisfy their unmet need for contraception, according to a study from the Guttmacher Institute.

Among married women who were not using contraceptives, on average 4-8% of those in Asia, Africa and Latin America attributed their non-use to lack of access. However, in a few countries, lack of access was a significant barrier: in Benin, Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville, Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea, and by 17% of women in the Philippines (more than twice the proportion of women in any other Asian country).

23-28% of married women in Asia, Africa and Latin America who had an unmet need for contraception said they were not using a method because they had experienced or were worried about side effects or health risks.

Approximately one-third of married women seeking to avoid pregnancy in Latin America and Asia and one-fifth of such women in Africa reported that infrequent sex was a primary reason for nonuse. In Asia, nonuse for this reason is becoming more common and was especially prevalent in Nepal (73%) and Bangladesh (58%). The authors suggest that an increase in the number of couples who live apart because of labor migration might help explain this phenomenon.

"There is a pressing need to further strengthen family planning services to ensure that they provide women with counseling on their risk of pregnancy, with information on possible side effects and health risks of specific methods, and with a wide range of methods to choose from," said study author Sedgh. "The findings also highlight the need for investment in new technologies that better address the concerns and needs of women—including methods with fewer side effects that are easily used by women who have sex infrequently."

A substantial number of women across the developing world (an average of 14-19% in the three regions) reported that they were not using contraceptives because they had recently given birth or were breast-feeding. Exclusive breast-feeding is considered an effective method of contraception if the woman has given birth within the last six months and has not resumed her menstrual cycle. However, in 43 of the countries studied, fewer than half of the women who cited breast-feeding as their reason for nonuse met these conditions. doclink

Getting Family Planning and Population Back on Track

May 13, 2014   By: Malcolm Potts

Can the world's people live within ecologically sustainable limits? Can they resolve the growing inequities between the least developed countries and the more developed countries? Can they create a more stable, less violent world?

Family planning (FP) is only one factor in addressing these questions, yet it is a prerequisite for any solution to the world's most complex problems. Women want FP assistance; there is no need to force it on them. The Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) partnership wants to bring another 120 million women access to voluntary FP within the next six years. After a generation of declining interest, this partnership is an important step toward a more balanced and evidence-based approach to population and FP.

Following the 1994 United Nations (UN) International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo, family planning budgets fell and the urgent need for new family planning initiatives, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, was set aside. Today, there are approximately 424 million African children aged 14 or under. In 2050, Africa could have 770 million children, allowing a great deal of demographic momentum to build up. It is questionable whether some economies in sub-Saharan Africa will be able to benefit from the demographic dividend in the way that much of Asia did. These were costly mistakes that will help shape the remainder of the 21st century.

Family planning is vital to reaching other goals for several reasons: First, FP has reduced maternal deaths 40% over the last 20 years. Second, FP reduces infant mortality. A child conceived within six months of a previous birth is 60% more likely to die than a child conceived two years after a previous birth. Third, by making the per-child cost of child services more affordable to government, FP advances educational, health care and economic development, so it pays for itself in reducing these costs. Fourth, FP eliminates the motive for an estimated 47,000 deaths from unsafe abortions each year -- which shows that millions of women who want fewer children lack realistic access to modern contraception. Fifth, by aiding economic development, slowing birth rates through FP can preempt conflict and instability.

When people suggest giving incentives, e.g., transistor radios or, worse, adding hormones to the drinking water or compulsory sterilization, the author considers such ideas not just unnecessary, but counterproductive. Making FP voluntary invites less resistance. We can gain more acceptance for slowing population growth when we promote human rights.

Those working to raise status of women should join with those concerned about the capacity of the biosphere to sustain human activity. The investments and policies needed for both groups are identical: To reverse the trend in population growth, we must advance girls' education and meet the unmet need for FP. Without reducing birthrates, we may find it impossible to achieve a biologically sustainable economy. For the individual, the family, society, and our fragile planet, it is imperative to get voluntary FP and a commitment to slowing rapid population growth back on the same track. doclink

Florida Governor Signs Bill Further Restricting Later Abortions

June 16, 2014, RH Reality Check and   By: Teddy Wilson

Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill into law Friday that places additional restrictions on abortions performed in the third trimester, and bans abortions at any point in a pregnancy if a doctor determines the fetus could survive outside the pregnant person's body.

HB 1047 passed the state legislature mostly along party lines.

Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), said the law places unnecessary restrictions on women's access to later abortion care, without taking into consideration the woman's unique and complex circumstances. doclink

House GOP Again Targets Birth Control

June 19, 2014, Population Connection   By: Brian Dixon

The House bill would slash funding for family planning programs in the developing world where there are already a quarter billion women who want to prevent or delay pregnancy but have no access to affordable, appropriate birth control. Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), who chairs the subcommittee that wrote the bill and who calls herself a supporter of family planning, is proposing a 25% cut in overall funding that would help women in the poorest countries take control of their own lives and futures.

The bill would also ban any aid to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) despite its work to expand access to birth control, to prevent and treat obstetric fistula, to eliminate female genital mutilation, to ensure access to basic reproductive health care to women in emergency situations, to end the practice of child marriage, and to eliminate coercive practices in China.

Granger's bill also calls for a reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, one of the most misguided policies ever created. It bans family planning aid to foreign health care agencies that use other, private funding to provide legal abortion, or to offer counselling or referrals on legal abortion, or that publicly support a policy of legal abortion within their own countries. It effectively disqualifies the most effective, experienced, and respected family planning providers in the developing world from receiving U.S. aid.

The same bill would block U.S. funding to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

We'll be working hard to make sure that this bill never becomes law. Please join us in that fight. Click on the link in the headline to send a Thank You note to Senator Jeanne Shaheen for sponsoring a bill to permanently repeal the Global Gag Rule. doclink

High Water Stress Jeopardizes One-Third of World's Corn Crop

June 11, 2014, World Resources Institute - WRI   By: Francis Gassert and Andrew Maddocks

The $65 billion U.S. corn industry faces a range of water-related risks that could disrupt production of this key crop: unchecked groundwater withdrawals, nutrient pollution, shifting precipitation patterns from climate change, and increasing demand from cities and industries.

Corn is one of the largest sources of food calories, feeds the world's livestock, and is used extensively for ethanol production. The world produces more corn than any other crop, making it is essential for economies and livelihoods.

WRI's analysis of corn production and water stress shows that China, Mexico, and India have the largest portions of their corn production coming from highly water-stressed areas. In highly water-stressed areas, more than 40% of renewable water supply is withdrawn for human use, leaving little buffer for inevitable dry years. Stress in the United States and China in particular will have an outsized impact on global corn markets.

Major South American producers, on the other hand, are not currently as limited by water supply. Only 1% of Brazil's corn crop and 7% of Argentina's face high water stress.

WRI also recommends that water stakeholders engage in participatory watershed development, practice conservation agriculture, reduce food waste, reduce corn demand for biofuels, and invest in increased agricultural productivity. By taking these steps, actors across the world can help realize a more food-secure future. doclink

Eugenics and Overpopulation

July 14, 2014, WOA website

Reponse to the video titled Interview 917 - Truth Over Comfort: The Truth About American Eugenics. Click on the link in the headline to see it.

The video: James Corbett joins Carlos Morales on the Truth Over Comfort podcast to discuss the history and development of eugenics. From its ideological origins in the 19th century British gentry to its adoption and application in the United States in the sterilization laws of the 20th century, we discuss the past, present and future of the eugenics-obsessed elite.

WOA!!s response: You don't have to go into the past to find involuntary sterilization. Christian missionaries do it to hilltribe women in Thailand. A doctor did it to indigenous women in Peru a couple of years ago. Women in California prisons were involuntary sterilized over the last several years by one doctor.

Modern day population-concerned activists do not believe in involuntary family planning. Times have changed. They realize that voluntary is the best and only way to achieve a sustainable population. Because they believe that women should have children if they want them, they campaign mostly for contraception that is temporary, rather than for sterilization which is permanent, or reversible sterilization. Fifty percent of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. The average woman spends 30 years of her life trying not to get pregnant. Today's population concerned understand that the most effective effort towards reducing population growth lies with concentrating on unintended pregnancies.

The benefits of family planning (usually a form of contraception) far outweigh some of the abuses (usually involving sterilization) that occur. 98% of American women have used contraception. Families, their communities, and the country benefit economically from the ability to control their own family size. In fact, which is worse: involuntary sterilization, or forcing women to have children when they do not want them?

The connection between eugenics and family planning made in this video is extremely tenuous. One might as well use a similar argue to try to prove that, because eugenicists advocate breathing clean air, that breathing clean air is bad.

Eugenics is practiced by many American women today when they have an amniocentesis to check for birth defects. If they don't want to raise a severely handicapped child, they have an abortion. Thomas Edison practiced eugenics when he warned deaf parents not to have children. Edison himself was deaf.

You cannot apply a narrow definition of eugenics (i.e. Hitler's definition) to people who fall under a broader meaning of the term.

Abortion? What is wrong with abortion? One third of pregnancies are ended in abortion. Black women have more abortions because they don't have access to effective methods to contraception. They are the ones seeking abortion. No one is forcing them. In Cuba and some East European countries, abortion is the number one form of family planning.

As for blacks, was Martin Luther King Jr. stupid when he made the following speech in acceptance of the Margaret Sanger award from Planned Parenthood?

"There is no human circumstance more tragic than the persisting existence of a harmful condition for which a remedy is readily available. Family planning, to relate population to world resources, is possible, practical and necessary.

"Unlike plagues of the dark ages or contemporary diseases we do not yet understand, the modern plague of overpopulation is soluble by means we have discovered and with resources we possess.

"What is lacking is not sufficient knowledge of the solution but universal consciousness of the gravity of the problem and education of the billions who are its victims."

Lastly, little or nothing is said in this video -- or by like-minded people who try to connect family planning with eugenics - - about resource depletion. Apparently they are so blinded by the ugly spectre of supposed eugenics and racism, that they reject the claims of resource depletion based on the fallacy that -- "if it is racist, then nothing they say can be right." But to ignore resource depletion is the most unjust act of all. Without sufficient liquid fuel to grow food, or without adequate per-capita water, or without sufficient per capita arable land, how will we feed expanding populations? doclink

Scientists Vindicate 'Limits to Growth' - Urge Investment in 'Circular Economy'

Early warning of civilisational collapse by early to mid 21st century startlingly prescient - but opportunity for transition open
June 04 , 2014, Mail and Guardian   By: Nafeez Ahmed

A new landmark scientific report by the Club of Rome, drawing on the work of the world's leading mineral experts, forecasts that industrial civilization's extraction of critical minerals and fossil fuel resources is reaching the limits of economic feasibility, and could lead to a collapse of key infrastructures unless new ways to manage resources are implemented.

Its latest report conducts a comprehensive overview of the history and evolution of mining, then applies an EROEI (Energy Returned Over Energy Invested) analysis to mineral extraction, and argues that the increasing costs of extraction due to pollution, waste, and depletion of low-cost sources will eventually make the present structure of industrial civilization unsustainable.

It tells how fracking can rise production "rapidly to a peak, but it then declines rapidly, too, often by 80% to 95% over the first three years." ... "Several thousand wells" are needed for a single shale play to provide "a return on investment."

The average EROEI to run "industrial society as we know it" is about 8 to 10. Shale oil and gas, tar sands, and coal seam gas are all "at, or below, that level if their full costs are accounted for… Thus fracking, in energy terms, will not provide a source on which to develop sustainable global society."

World coal production will peak by 2050 at the latest, and could peak as early as 2020. US coal production has already peaked, and future production will be determined largely by China. But rising domestic demand from the latter, and from India, could generate higher prices and shortages in the near future: "Therefore, there is definitely no scope for substituting for oil and gas with coal."

Current uranium production from mines is already insufficient to fuel existing nuclear reactors, a gap being filled by recovery of uranium military stockpiles and old nuclear warheads. While the production gap could be closed at current levels of demand, a worldwide expansion of nuclear power would be unsustainable due to "gigantic investments" needed.

Nickel and zinc, which are used to combat iron and steel corrosion and for electricity storage in batteries, also could face production peaks in just "a few decades" - though metals specialist Philippe Bihoux claimes nickel might be extended some 80 years.

Phosphorous is a mineral which is critical to fertilize soil and sustain agriculture. While phosphorous reserves are not running out, physical, energy and economic factors mean only a small percentage of it can be mined. Crop yield on 40% of the world's arable land is already limited by economical phosphorus availability.

"Prices have gone up by a factor 3-5 and have remained at this level for the past 5-6 years. They are not going to go down again, because they are caused by irreversible increases in production costs. These prices are already causing the decline of the less efficient economies (Italy, Greece, Spain, etc.). We are not at the inversion point yet, but close - less than a decade?" doclink

A Darker View of the Age of Us - the Anthropocene

June 18, 2014, New York Times   By: Andrew C. Revkin

According to those best placed to make projections, a world 4 degrees C. warmer would be a very different kind of planet, one unsympathetic to most forms of life, including human life. Apart from climatic change, other manifestations of human impact in the Anthropocene, from interference in the nitrogen cycle to plastics in the oceans, only add to the grim outlook.

Psychologist Shelley Taylor claims humans can benefit from "benign fictions", unrealistic stories about the world that lead us to predict what we would prefer to see, rather than what is objectively most likely to happen. Yet these healthy illusions that can spur us on against the odds can become dangerous delusions when they continue to be held despite evidence from the outside world telling us we must change course.

Personally, when I think about those toiling, vulnerable masses who are going to suffer the worst consequences of a warming world, I find it offensive to hear a comfortable, white American say, "We are going to do OK."

Eco-pragmatists say that “Humans have solved these sorts of problems before" and “Technology will always provide a solution. It is not surprising that they attract support from conservatives who have doggedly resisted all measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions, defended the interests of fossil fuel corporations, and in some cases worked hard to trash climate science. These are the same people now drawn to geoengineering, especially solar radiation management, as a substitute for reducing emissions.

Things are bad, and if we carry on as we are things will be very bad. It is the possibility of preventing bad turning into very bad that motivates many of us to work harder than ever. But pretending that bad can be turned into good with a large dose of positive thinking is, even more so than denying things are bad, a sure-fire way of ending up in a situation that is very bad indeed.

In the end, grasping at delusions like “the good Anthropocene" is a failure of courage, courage to face the facts. The power of positive thinking can't turn malignant tumors into benign growths, and it can't turn planetary overreach into endless lifestyle improvements. doclink

Karen Gaia says, the same case can be made for the impacts on our lives from resource depletion.

How Has Birth Control Developed? a Brief History of the Pill, by the Decade

May 09, 2014, Bustle   By: Camille Bautista

It has been 54 years since the Food and Drug Administration first approved the birth control pill, forever changing the lives of women across America. 80% of American women take the Pill. Though the Pill has maintained its controversial status over the decades, it has also established itself as a symbol of women's freedom and rights.

In 1960, the FDA approved the new oral contraceptive Enovid, the first drug given to a healthy person for long-term use, launching a cultural shift in family structure and attitudes toward sexual health. A year after the Pill was approved, 400,000 women in the United States were taking it — a number which increased to 1.2 million by 1962.

By 1965, the Supreme Court, in the Griswold decision, struck down the legislation mandating that "any person who uses any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purposes of preventing conception shall be fined not less than forty dollars or imprisoned not less than sixty days." The Court found that the law violated the "right to marital privacy" and couples were allowed access to birth control, including the Pill.

In the 1971 Eisenstadt v. Baird case the Supreme Court struck down a state ruling, allowing unmarried citizens to have all the protected sex they wanted.

While 6.5 million American women were on hormonal birth control by 1965, studies started to reveal medical concerns with the Pill. Word of serious side effects started to spread, including blood clots, heart attack risk, and weight gain. As a result, birth control pill sales dropped 24% in the late 70s. Some Black women were urged not to take the Pill after powerful African-American leaders criticized the contraceptive as contributing to "black genocide."

Then in 1968, Mircette became one of the first oral contraceptives to offer a low estrogen dose coupled with progestrin.

In 2000 a ruling from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission required employers to provide contraceptive coverage as part of their health plans. The sentiment would reemerge in 2012 with President Obama's similar mandate at no cost.

While it's been a long and controversial road for the Pill, one thing is clear: birth control is here to stay. doclink

GOP Lawmaker's Bill Would Outlaw Abortion Before Some Women Know They're Pregnant

June 13, 2014, Huffington Post   By: By Kate Abbey-lambertz

Introduced in the state House this week by Rep. Thomas Hooker (R-Byron Center) and more than a dozen cosponsors, HB 5643, 5644 and 5645 would require women seeking abortions to get ultrasounds and offer them the choice to hear evidence of their fetus' heartbeat, prohibit doctors from performing abortions after a fetal heartbeat has been found, and make violating that law a felony.

According to the American Pregnancy Association, a heartbeat can be detected by vaginal ultrasound as soon as 6 weeks into pregnancy -- before some women know they are pregnant. That means that a woman could be banned from having an abortion before she knows she is pregnant and elects to have one.

In 2012, lawmakers passed legislation that requires screening for coercions and tighter regulations for abortion clinics. Last year, 22 states enacted 70 anti-abortion measures and the majority of women now live in states -- including Michigan -- that are hostile to abortion rights, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit organization that tracks abortion policy and advocates for sexual and reproductive health. "Abortion opponents have a long-term strategy to restrict abortion access in the states, which is reshaping the abortion policy landscape state by state," Guttmacher state issues manager Elizabeth Nash said in a statement. "There has been a widespread assault on abortion rights and access at the state level." doclink

This is No Recovery, This is a Bubble – and it Will Burst

Stock market bubbles of historic proportions are developing in the US and UK markets. With policymakers unwilling to introduce tough regulation, we're heading for trouble
February 24, 2014, Mail and Guardian   By: Ha-joon Chang

In the UK the current levels of share prices are extraordinary considering UK economy has not yet recovered the ground lost since the 2008 crash and per capita income in the UK today is still lower than it was in 2007. Also share prices back in 2007 were themselves definitely in bubble territory of the first order.

Even more worrying is the situation in the US. The Standard & Poor 500 stock market index reached the highest ever level in March, surpassing the 2007 peak, even though the country's per capita income had not yet recovered to its 2007 level. Since then, the index has risen about 20%, although the US per capita income has not increased even by 2% during the same period. This is definitely the biggest stock market bubble in modern history.

No one is offering a plausible narrative explaining why the evidently unsustainable levels of share prices are actually justified.

During the dotcom bubble, the predominant view was that the new information technology was about to completely revolutionise our economies for good. Given this, it was argued, stock markets would keep rising (possibly forever) and reach unprecedented levels.

Unfortunately these stock market bubbles of historic proportion which are developing in the US and the UK - the two most important stock markets in the world - are threatening to create yet another financial crash.

One obvious way of dealing with these bubbles is to take the excessive liquidity that is inflating them out of the system through a combination of tighter monetary policy and better financial regulation against stock market speculation. Of course, the danger here is that these policies may prick the bubble and create a mess. doclink

Karen Gaia says: few economists take into consideration what the depletion of natural resouces does to the economy, especially energy resources and the energy it takes to produce them. We are currently living on both monetary debt and the over-withdrawal of non renewable natural resources, and this cannot last.

These Are the Birth Control Methods Family Planning Doctors Use

May 19 , 2014, Huffington Post   By: Rachael Rettner

A survey of female family planning providers found that obstetricians, gynecologists, midwives and nurses are seven times more likely than other women to choose IUDs (intrauterine devices) for their own use. Of about 550 family planning providers surveyed, 335 used contraception and, compared to only 6% of women in the general population, 42% of that group used a long-acting method of birth control (40% used IUDs, and 2% used implants that release hormones to prevent pregnancy). Just 12% used the pill, compared with 21% of women in the general population.

Another 2012 poll of just female obstetricians and gynecologists found that these doctors are three times more likely than the general public to use IUDs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that less than 1% of women who use IUDs and implants become pregnant each year, making these devices among the most effective forms of birth control. About 9% of women using pills become pregnant each year largely because they don't always take them as directed every day. About 18% of condom users become pregnant each year.

Dr. Jill Rabin of the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York said the new findings make sense because health care providers tend to use the best available methods of care and have the fewest barriers to access. Researcher Dr. Ashlesha Patel, System Director of Family Planning at Cook County Health & Hospital System in Chicago, referred to family planning providers as "theoretically, the most educated group of people in this arena who would choose the most effective birth control methods." In addition to knowing more about birth control, family planning providers may have better access to long-acting birth control methods. What's more, Patel said, some doctors are not comfortable with the procedures for inserting the devices (which requires some expertise) so women who see these doctors may get birth control pills or patches instead of IUDs or implants.

The Affordable Care Act covers long-acting birth control, but that coverage is not yet in place for all women, Patel said. So cost may still be a barrier for some. Planned Parenthood estimates that if an IUD is not covered by insurance, women must pay between $500 and $1,000.

In a study where 2,500 women were told about long-acting birth control methods and offered them free, about two-thirds chose to use them. Dr. Rabin said, "This finding speaks to the need for greater educational effort and the reduction of the barrier of costs in so far as possible, if we are serious about reducing the rate of unintended pregnancy." doclink

Quarter of Djibouti Population Desperate for Drought Aid, Says UN

June 12 , 2014, Modern Ghana

Nearly a quarter of the population in drought-hit Djibouti is in desperate need of aid, with malnutrition and a dramatic lack of water causing a mass exodus from rural areas, the UN said on Thursday.

"Persistent and recurring droughts have resulted in a general lack of water for both people and livestock," said the UN's Djibouti coordinator Robert Watkins.

The crisis, which has dragged on since 2010, has left 190,000 of the country's 850,000 residents in need of humanitarian assistance.

They include 27,500 refugees, mainly from neighbouring Somalia.

The appeal comes amid warnings from Britain on Thursday that Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents were planning further attacks in the tiny and traditionally tranquil Horn of Africa country.

Shebab suicide bombers hit a crowded restaurant in Djibouti last month, killing at least one, in an attack apparently linked to the country's participation in the African Union force in Somalia.

Djibouti's port also serves as a key base for international anti-piracy operations off the Somali coast.

18% of the population is considered acutely malnourished, rising to 26% in some areas -- well above the 15% emergency threshold. doclink

People-Oriented Cities: 3 Key Elements for Quality Public Transport

June 12, 2014, World Resources Institute - WRI   By: Claudio Sarmiento

Disjointed transport and urban planning practices in developing cities mean that relatively little effort is put into designing communities around transport systems.

Mexico is one such country that has struggled to develop land patterns in a way that supports mass transport systems. According to estimates from SEDESOL, the urban population in Mexico has doubled in the past 30 years while urban land areas have expanded seven-fold. So-called "urban" housing developments tend to be built far from the actual urban footprint. This problem is then compounded by low density in new developments. As a result, the cost of transport infrastructure—which has to cover much greater distances—increases dramatically.

Transit-oriented development can reverse these trends, rebuilding cities and transport systems around the needs of people and communities by using these three principles:

1. Bring communities closer through transport

In order to increase access to public transport, urban communities must connect to one another. This means that cities cannot depend entirely on regional, high-speed, car-oriented roads (like federal or state highways). These roads are typically not viable for public transport, and they create both physical and social divisions between communities.

2. Keep cities compact

To make quality public transport viable, cities must develop in such a way that fosters demand for public transport services. This means creating more compact neighborhoods and encouraging higher building density and mixed land use. Most unsubsidized public transport services can operate with densities of 20 residences per acre that are within half a mile (0.8 km) of transport hubs.

3. Design transport around people

Neighborhood design can support public transport systems while acting as a catalyst for more cohesive and sustainable urban communities. Street design must accommodate transport needs - like where to locate stops - but it also must be safe and accessible for all populations. doclink

7 Billion and Counting: That is a Lot of People

June 03 , 2014, EcoRI

Fifteen years ago the world's population was 6 billion. Today it is closing in on 7.2 billion and is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050.

While global population growth must be part of the conversation about sustaining the planet, it is seldom discussed. To help bring population to a higher priority, the Nature Conservancy hosted a panel discussion in April entitled "7 Billion and Counting: Population and the Planet." Roger-Mark De Souza, director of population, environmental security and resilience at the Wilson Center and Alan Weisman, author of "Countdown" and "The World Without Us," Caroline Crosbie, senior vice president of Pathfinder International, and Peter Kareiva, chief scientist for The Nature Conservancy were the four panel members. They spent 90 minutes discussing the impacts of human population growth.

Weisman was the most pessimistic; Kareiva the most optimistic. But there's little disagreement globally that humankind's rapidly growing numbers are stressing the planet's finite natural resources.

Water: Over 90% of all fresh water used worldwide is for agriculture. Fewer than 15% of the world's rivers now run freely to the ocean. By overpumping aquifers and misusing rivers, humans are using water faster than it can be naturally replenished. By 2025, according to the Wilson Center, nearly 2 billion people will be living in countries with scarce water supplies, and two out of three people will be living in conditions of water stress. Within a decade 3.5 billion people will face water shortage issues, says the Waterkeeper Alliance.

Land: Almost 25 acres of forest, on average, were lost every minute from 2000 to 2010, according to the Wilson Center. Most of it was cleared by humans for agriculture and timber. The energy demands of some 2 billion people who depend on wood for cooking and heating is devastating rainforests, according FAO. Rhode Island has lost 80% of its farmland since 1945, and less than 7% of the state's farmland remain in production. In Massachusetts from 1999 to 2005, land was developed at a rate of 22 acres a day. About 14% of the region's vital Narragansett Bay watershed - in Massachusetts and Rhode Island - is under streets, roofs, driveways and parking lots. Impervious cover by municipalities in this 1,754-square-mile area ranges from 3 percent to 40 percent.

Humans have been dousing much of the world's land with synthetic toxins every day since the 1940s. From 1947 to 2007, the amount of pesticides produced in the United States went from 124 million pounds to 1.1 billion pounds. "We're chemically force-feeding the land and all this poison is no good for the soil or water," Weisman said."

Food: 40% of the planet's land is used to produce food. Nearly one in eight people is food insecure and food production will need to increase 70% by 2050 to be able to feed another 2-3 billion more people, according to FAO. Only about 1% of all farm products sold in the Rhode Island are from that state. These percentages are quite similar in both Massachusetts and Connecticut. Worldwide, we are relying more on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetic engineering to feed us. In the US over than half of all farmland is used to grow GMO crops, such as soybeans and corn. This growing practice, largely controlled by multinational corporations worth billions, has both supporters and detractors. GMO opponents say that in the past three decades only a few commercial successes have been produced by the corporations that manufacture GMO food. Since most of these crops are immune to herbicides, they claim hundreds of millions of pounds more of weed-killer are now being used. They say building up and supporting local food systems is the best way to sustainably increase the world's food supply. Others, like Weisman, believe we already produce enough food to feed the planet; we just need to be more equitable with the bounty.

Mass extinction: Every hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, three species become extinct, and humans' growing presence is a huge factor in these disappearances. Centuries of alterations have transformed diverse habitat into less-resilient monocultures. In fact, according to research, human population density is an excellent indicator of biodiversity loss. About half of the human population lives on less than 3% of the planet's habitable land. Humans are geoengineering the planet to sustain our expanding and unsustainable numbers.

200 years ago, Thomas Malthus published "An Essay on the Principle of Population," noting that human population tends to grow geometrically, while the resources available to support it tend to grow arithmetically. Consequently, human population would inevitably outgrow the supply of food, he wrote. Improvements in agriculture and the Industrial Revolution postponed the disaster Malthus thought was imminent, but two centuries later many don't believe we can again geoengineer our way out of the numerous impacts a growing population creates.

Discussing the issue is often frowned upon, and many of the conversations that are held inevitably veer toward population control and China's since-lax one-child policy. Family planning and empowering women by improving their access to education and health care are effective and relatively inexpensive ways to address this challenging issue, according to De Souza. "We need to think about the impact we are having on the planet," he said. "We need to talk to communities at the local level about public health and population. We need to talk about and understand reproductive health."

Caroline Crosbie reported: "The U.S. government is becoming more conservative when it comes to family planning." ... "The rest of the world is becoming more progressive. Government commitment is needed, like in Thailand and Bangladesh." Or in Iran, where a voluntary family-planning program helped drop the highest rate of population growth in the country's history to replacement level a year faster than China's compulsory one-child policy.

Individual countries are learning that smaller families makes more sense economically and environmentally, Brown University's Foster said. The global fertility rate is falling, except in some places such as sub-Sahara Africa, he noted. In remote villages on the shore of Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania women give birth, on average, to more than seven children. In Niger, with the world's highest fertility rate, each woman bears an average of nearly eight children. And 15 million girls from 10 to 14 in developing countries (one in nine) were still forced into marriage in the past decade. Some 220 million women in developing countries wish to delay or stop having children, but aren't using any method of contraception, according to Pathfinder International. Family planning must play a critical role in addressing these issues, but the idea, especially in the United States, is seemingly held hostage by the fiercely divisive topic of abortion.

De Souza noted that there is a positive when it comes to the issue of family planning. "Younger generations understand population concerns better than past generations," he said. "They understand reproductive health.

Carbon concerns: U.S. carbon dioxide emissions have stopped declining, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Carbon emissions increased by 2.4 percent in 2013 compared to 2012, and for the first two months of this year, they increased by 7.5 percent compared to the same period in 2013. Slowing population growth by 2050 could produce a 16% to 29% reduction in carbon emissions, according to the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Our carbon emissions have also led to ocean acidification. The world's oceans are a third more acidic than they were in 1800, and by the end of this century they likely will be 150% more acidic than they were at the start of the Industrial Revolution, according to an article written by Daniel Smith in the May 2014 edition of Harper's Magazine. About 1 of every 3 tons of carbon dioxide spewed into the air is absorbed by the sea - this 2.5 billion tons of annual carbon dioxide dissolves and forms carbonic acid.

Expert estimations of the planet's carrying capacity range from 1.5 billion people to 10-plus billion. Both Weisman and Foster said the answer will ultimately depend on how humans decide to address greenhouse gas emissions. Weisman mentioned studies that say 2 billion people - the world's population in 1930, while Foster believes the Earth could support up to 10 billion, if society is willing to make some hard choices. "Are we willing to make some sacrifices?," he said. Are we willing to live in smaller houses? Are we willing to live in more dense communities? Are we willing to eat less meat? Are we willing to invest in public transportation? "If I ride my bike to work every day, the impact on the environment will be negligible," he said. "But if everyone in Rhode Island biked to work, the world most certainly would be a better place." Is there an economy that can prosper with a shrinking population? - and "we have to be willing to tax carbon in some way." doclink

Karen Gaia says: In the comments section following the article:

Mr Critic says: "The perspectives presented are closely aligned with eugenics and anti-immigrant fervor, and builds the connections between the mainstream white conservationists and right-wing movements. The focus of population talk always turns to 'Third World' nations with higher rates of population growth, ignoring the histories of colonialism, genocide and resulting poverty. The problems we face are not about population, it's about corporate capitalism, consumerism, and the overconsumption of the 1%. It's about waste and inequity in the distribution of resources, not about blaming poor people for having babies. For resources and research visit the Center for Population and Development at

Mr Carini answers: "This story basically focused on the natural resources a growing human population consumes. No one quoted in the story or anyone I spoke with blamed poor people for having babies. I also don't believe the story was framed in that manner. Many of the problems we face are about corporate capitalism, consumerism and overconsumption, as you mention, but our sheer numbers can't and shouldn't be ignored. If we all shared equitably that doesn't mean the planet could sustain unbridled human population. The planet's resources are finite, no matter how we divvy them up. We can't blame everything on the 1%. This issue isn't that simple. We have to look at the entirety of our worldwide society."

Stop the War on International Law

June 21, 2014, Global

The Women's Equality Treaty (officially known as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, or CEDAW) has been languishing in the Senate for over 30 years due to a well-funded and coordinated opposition that feels threatened by international law.

This law has been used by over 180 other countries to address female illiteracy, discrimination, female genital mutilation, sex trafficking and income inequality.

But opponents are portraying it as a threat to the "traditional family" and deliberately distorting the truth about it and several other treaties. They are threatening to run against Senators who support international cooperation, leading many to keep silent on their support for ratification.

Our Senate is better than this. Our citizens deserve better. It's time our Senators went on the record about the U.S. standing up for women's equality and ratifying CEDAW.

Opponents of international cooperation are threatening any Senator who supports working with other countries to solve global problems. Help us fight this "war on international law" and recommit American leadership to engaging and shaping global norms that reflect our shared values. doclink

Studies in Family Planning Publishes Special Issue on Unmet Need

June Issue Explores Challenges in Addressing Unmet Need for Contraception, Featuring Research and Case Studies from Africa, Asia, and Latin America
June 16, 2014, Population Council

"Unmet need has been an important indicator for measuring the progress of family planning programs for more than 25 years," said John Bongaarts, vice president and Distinguished Scholar at the Population Council. "This issue features work from some of the leading minds in family planning. It explores trends, identifies issues, and proposes solutions to ensure that sexual and reproductive health programs and policies are structured to meet the changing needs of women and men over the course of their reproductive lives."

All of the articles in "Unmet Need for Family Planning" are available online, free of charge, here: doclink

Shifting to Renewable Energy Can Save U.S. Consumers Money

June 18, 2014, World Resources Institute - WRI   By: Joshua Ryor and Letha Tawney

Studies by the New York Independent System Operator (NY ISO), Synapse Energy Economics, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) suggest that increased renewable energy generation has the potential to save American ratepayers tens of billions of dollars a year over the current mix of electric power options.

The studies all show that renewable energy cuts costs system-wide by replacing power plants that are expensive to operate, mainly due to fossil fuel expenses.

However, lower wholesale power prices far outweigh the needed infrastructure investment and provide a net benefit of up to $9.4 billion a year in MISO—$241 per year per person—and $6.9 billion a year in PJM—or $113 per year per person.

The lower cost of operating renewable energy facilities and the system-wide cost savings outlined above have already eroded coal's role in new generation in the United States. In 2013, only 10 percent of new U.S. capacity was from coal. Investors and ratepayers are rightly skittish about betting on coal for new facilities.

The trend is clear: The United States is moving towards cleaner power generation, with renewable energy at the forefront. doclink

Fix the Helms Amendment

June 17 , 2014, Population Connection

The Helms Amendment bars the use of U.S. foreign aid for "abortion as a method of family planning." Although the law clearly indicates that funding is allowed under some circumstances, for decades our government has treated the amendment as a blanket ban. In fact, the law has been enforced so strictly that health care providers cannot use U.S. funds even to purchase equipment to treat women suffering the consequences of unsafe abortions. The end result is that women who have been raped and those whose lives are endangered by their pregnancies often find little help in clinics that receive U.S. funding. The Helms Amendment shows little concern for what women struggling with unwanted pregnancies in the developing world face.

In today's political climate we should not expect an outright repeal of the Helms Amendment, although it offers no benefit to foreign policy or global health. However, the Obama administration can clarify misinterpretations of the law without Congress having to change the law. Instead of a new law, he just needs to clarify what the current law actually says. President Obama has the authority to bring our overseas abortion policy in line with domestic abortion funding restrictions and with American public opinion. doclink

Just the Numbers: the Impact of U.S. International Family Planning Assistance

June 15 , 2014, Guttmacher Institute

For over 45 years the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been a major provider of contraceptive services to the world's poorest people. Helping poor women and families gain control over childbearing choices means fewer unintended, unwanted, and/or risky pregnancies. It also reduces the motive for wanting abortions, which poor people often resort to under unsafe conditions. Planned birth spacing contributes to healthier mothers, babies and families. Having affordable numbers of children improves prosperity for families, communities, and nations. For FY 2014, USAID has allocated $610 million to assist family planning and reproductive health programs, of which $35 million is designated for the UN Population Fund.

This modest funding level is enough to:

• Provide contraceptive services and supplies to 31 million women or couples;

• Avert 7 million unintended pregnancies and 3 million induced abortions;

• Avert 13,000 maternal deaths, meaning that 60,000 fewer children will lose their mothers.

These gains are seriously jeopardized when program funding gets targeted for budget cuts . For example, each $10 million decrease in USAID international family planning and reproductive health assistance:

• Reduces the number receiving contraceptive services and supplies by 520,000;

• Results in 110,000 more unintended pregnancies, including 50,000 more unplanned births;

• Results in 50,000 more mostly unsafe abortions and 200 maternal deaths affecting 900 children. doclink

It's Simple. If We Can't Change Our Economic System, Our Number's Up

It's the great taboo of our age - and the inability to discuss the pursuit of perpetual growth will prove humanity's undoing
May 27, 2014   By: George Montbiot

Although anything close to perpetual growth is unsustainable, our inability to discuss this problem logically could prove our undoing. A calculation by the investment banker Jeremy Grantham shows that after 3000 years of continuous 4.5% growth a single cubic meter would expand to consume 2.5 billion billion solar systems. Considering this example, he concludes that "salvation lies in collapse." To succeed for several generations in meeting our economic expansion goals could lead to our destruction. That is the bind we find ourselves in. Ignore, if you must, climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil; even if all these issues miraculously vanished, the mathematics of compound growth make continuous growth impossible.

A few days after scientists predicted the collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheet, the Ecuadorean government decided to allow oil drilling in Yasuni national park. Ecuador had offered to leave the oil in the ground if other governments would pay them half of its profit potential. Be this blackmail or fair trade, poor Ecuador has rich oil deposits, so why leave them untouched without compensation when everyone else is taking the money? Ecuador gave the contract to Petroamazonas, a company known for habitat destruction and spills. Petroamazonas may now enter one of the most biodiverse habitats on the planet, where a hectare of rainforest supports more species than exist in all of North America.

In a similar manner, the UK firm Soco hopes to drill in Virunga (Congo), Africa's oldest national park. Virunga is home to endangered mountain gorillas, the okapi, chimpanzees, and forest elephants. Wealthy districts are not exempt. In Britain, possibly 4.4 billion barrels of shale oil may exist in the south-east, so the government is changing the trespass laws to enable drilling without consent while paying off some local people. These new reserves will not for long satisfy our growing needs. Our plans for compound growth have no end in sight, so we will continue scouring of the planet until we have consumed all the extractable oil available. As the global economy expands, all resources will be extracted and dispersed, and some of the world's most biodiverse regions may resemble slag heaps.

While man has occupied the earth for thousands of years, every prior economic expansion collapsed when the growth rate hit a limit. Coal pushed back the barriers and enabled what we now call sustained growth for more than two hundred years. We may credit capitalism for the cumulative wealth of the modern age, but without carbon-fuelled expansion (coal, oil and gas), our current GDP would not be possible. Our economic systems are "mere subplots." Now, with our accessible reserves growing scarce, we must ransack the hidden corners of the planet to sustain our current rates of consumption.

The super-rich now set the pace for global consumption, with giant yachts, personal jets, multiple large homes, they squander scarce resources on things they don't even need. Sensing that this is unsustainable, some now fantasize about colonizing space where an untapped store of new resources awaits us. For those who expect that technological breakthroughs will allow endless growth, the numbers show a different picture. Iron ore production has risen 180% in 10 years. The trade body Forest Industries tells us that, despite digital reading material, "global paper consumption is at a record high level and it will continue to grow." If, we can't cut paper consumption, what hope exists for other commodities?

Efficiency solves nothing so long as growth continues. Philosopher Michael Rowan explains that if we sustain the predicted global growth rate for 2014 (3.1%), even if we miraculously reduced the consumption of raw materials by 90%, we delay collapse by just 75 years. The more we rely on growth, the greater the destruction of the Earth's living systems. But economists rarely mention this. Warnings based on the outcomes of basic arithmetic are conveniently discarded, while the impossible proposition that founds our economy they consider so normal and unremarkable that it isn't worth mentioning. They would rather discuss recipes, renovations and resorts. We can measure the depth of this problem by our inability to even discuss it. doclink

Art says: Reducing population will help, but it will not solve this problem. Even negative growth rates would not restore non-renewable resources. Only a switch to renewable and recyclable resources will solve the long-range problem.

This U.S. Law Contributes to Women's Deaths Around the World

May 26, 2014, Huffington Post   By: Alissa Scheller

The Helms Amendment, which passed in 1973 - more than 40 years ago, prevents U.S. foreign assistance funds from being used to pay for abortion as "a method of family planning" or "to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions." in 1994 Congress passed legislation to clarify that women in countries receiving aid could be counseled on all pregnancy options, including abortion. However, the Helms Amendment still inhibits funding to family planning agencies.

According to Al Jazeera, in Ethiopia, "a woman living in an area where health facilities receive USAID support will be denied the abortion care that is legal in her own country, whereas a woman living in a different district funded by another donor will have access to safe care." More than 100 women die each day from complications of unsafe abortions. These deaths often occur in poor countries that receive aid from the U.S. for other medical treatments.

U.S. anti-abortion rules endanger women around the world. WHO studies show that where women can access safe abortions, fewer women have unsafe abortions, and a study in Nepal showed that legalizing abortion cut the maternal mortality rate in half. doclink

Worth the Wait: President's Fy 2015 Budget Request for Family Planning and Reproductive Health

April 21, 2014, Population Action International

Six weeks after posting its general initial budget, the Obama Administration released the details of its FY-2015 request for international family planning (FP) and reproductive health (RH) programs. Its call for $644.3 million is $34.3 million -- nearly 6% -- higher than the current appropriated level enacted in January. It allocates $538 million to the Global Health Programs account, $71 million to Economic Support Funds, and $35.3 million as the U.S. contribution to the UN's Population Fund. At a time of increasing budgetary pressures, these requested increases suggest strong administration support for FP/RH programs.

Nevertheless, this proposal remains lower than the $669.5 million the Senate Appropriations Committee approved in FY 2014—a level of funding endorsed by 124 House members and 24 Senators in letters to their respective Appropriations Committee colleagues earlier this month. It also falls far short of the $1 billion that is the U.S. fair share of total global expenditures required to address the unmet need of 222 million women in the developing world who want FP services where they are not yet available.

Of course, now that Congress has received the budget request, it still must decide over the next several months whether to grant the requested amounts or continue underfunding these urgent projects at current levels. doclink

Karen Gaia says: 8 billion is needed. $4 billion has already been supplied. That leaves $3.4 billion to meet the unmet need of 222 million women for access to -- and accurate information about -- affordable effective contraception.

Women's Rights Activist Sandra Fluke Heads to Calif. General Election

June 04, 2014, OnPolitics   By: Catalina Camia

Women's rights activist Sandra Fluke took second place behind fellow Democrat Ben Allen in her primary race for the state Senate seat currently held by of Ted Lieu in Southern California. California's primary rules allow the top two vote-getters to move on to the Nov. 4 general election, even though both, in this case, are Democrats.

Fluke gained national fame in 2012 as a Georgetown University law student when Rush Limbaugh called her a "slut" and a "prostitute" on his radio show for her support of President Obama's health care law (Limbaugh later apologized). Republicans had blocked Fluke from testifying at a congressional hearing in support of contraceptive coverage by insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act. Fluke went on to become a featured speaker at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and campaigned for Obama. doclink

Iran's Baby Boom Decree Prompts Fears for Women's Rights

Reformists warn Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's population drive could restrict access to contraception and further marginalise women
May 30 , 2014, Guardian

During the 1980s, Iran's clerics and political leaders joined forces to reduce birthrates. Billboards displayed smiling small families with the motto 'fewer kids, better life.' This resulted in the world's fastest decline in birthrates for any voluntary family planning program. Then, abruptly, former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei changed course and called for larger families, a request that people have mostly ignored. Now the Ayatollah has mandated more forceful tactics that could restrict access to contraception and further unravel some of the few rights that women have recently gained.

In his 14-point decree, Khamenei claimed that increasing Iran's 76 million-strong population would strengthen national identity and counter undesirable aspects of western lifestyles. On his website, he said,"Given the importance of population size in sovereign might and economic progress" Iran needs "firm, quick and efficient steps" to reverse the recent trend. All three branches of government are required to obey this order, which calls for nearly doubling the population to 120 million.

The falling fertility rate is one of several issues that divides Iran's conservatives and reformists. Most Iranians dislike the policy shift. Reformist Iranians fear the fertility campaign could undermine the position of women in a country where, according to the Statistical Centre of Iran, 60% of university students, but only 12.4% of the workforce, is female. And, with his energies fully committed to removing the economic sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program, reform-minded President Hassan Rouhani remains mum on birth control.

Farzaneh Roudi of the Population Reference Bureau, a Washington-based think tank, said that Tehran could stimulate its economy by hiring more women, "many of whom do not work in the formal economy."

She added that the political push for a baby boom is unlikely to succeed. "It's hard for me to imagine that people will have more children because Khamenei wants them to." doclink

End of Growth: How to Achieve a Truly Sustainable Future

October 12, 2012   By: Jeff Rubin and David Suzuki

Consider today's sociopolitical landscape and it's likely you'll note the environment and the economy don't exactly go hand in hand.

In reality, the two are inextricable and, increasingly, need to be treated as such, according to Jeff Rubin, the award-winning economist who, along with David Suzuki, wraps up a cross-Canada tour addressing the juncture of the two issues on October 18, 2012 in Alumni Hall.

Rubin, former chief economist and chief strategist for CIBC World Markets, is the author of The End of Growth, a national bestseller. He was among the first economists to predict rising oil prices more than a decade ago and is one of the most sought-after energy experts.

Suzuki, an environmental activist, academic and broadcaster, is perhaps best known for The Nature of Things on CBC television. He has written more than 40 books and is known as a leader in sustainable ecology.

The End of Growth Eco Tour came out of a meeting earlier this year in which the two realized their goals of addressing climate change and sustainability were the same, despite an approach from different disciplines. doclink

Senator Bill Frist: Family Planning Improves Maternal and Child Health

June 25, 2014, USAID Blog

Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader William H. Frist, M.D. discusses the importance of expanding access to voluntary family planning to improve maternal and child health globally. Studies show that family planning could reduce maternal deaths by as much as 30 percent and child deaths by 25 percent. doclink

Governor Brown: Support the End of Forced Sterilization of California Prisoners

Ask the California legislature to immediately pass SB 1135, a proposed law that would prohibit sterilization of prisoners for birth control or without their consent.
June 19 , 2014,

Ask the California legislature to immediately pass SB 1135, a proposed law that would prohibit sterilization of prisoners for birth control or without their consent.

The State of California cares for its prisoners so badly that in 2005, a judge mandated federal oversight of their prison healthcare system after it was documented that one person dies in California prisons every day from extreme medical malpractice or neglect. But as horrific as these crimes of neglect are, it shocks the conscience anew to hear that the medical care that was provided to prisoners included forced sterilization as recently as 2010.

Eugenics is a word that sounds to too many of us like it belongs only in the history books, but the eugenics programs started in California in the 1920s were found still alive and kicking in its prisons until very recently. While mainstream, and mostly white, women's rights advocates celebrated and defended legal abortion, too little attention has been paid to genocidal medical violence practiced against members of society deemed 'unfit' parents due to poverty, mental health, or non-white ethnicity.

As Loretta Ross, an African American victim of forced sterilization at the age of 23, wrote recently, "After my sterilization, I felt empty, lost, and butchered. I was in shock and felt powerless." There is no justification for an atrocity like this and the State of California must immediately act to ensure that state power is never again abused to deprive people of their right to parent and make their own decisions about their family size.

Tell Governor Brown to ask the California legislature to act immediately to pass SB 1135 and safeguard against forced sterilization of vulnerable populations. doclink

Act Now for Women and Girls

June 18 , 2014

Around the world, women and girls are targeted for rape and sexual violence as a tactic of war, to tear apart and terrorize families and communities. But women and girls are taking a stand for what they need to recover and survive. We can take a stand. And the United States must take the lead. Stand with CHANGE, Global Fund for Women, and tens of thousands of women and girls. Send President Obama a strong message: act now for women and girls raped in conflict and crisis. Join us at doclink

Forget the Pill, IUD is the New Queen of Birth Control

With an estimated 4 million unintentional pregnancies each year, gynecologists are urging their patients switch from oral contraceptives to an intrauterine device (IUD). Just three years after doctors cast it off as unsuitable, the IUD is reigning supreme.
May 30 , 2014   By: Sarah Kunst

In the United States there 4 million live births each year, and half are estimated to be unplanned or unintended. Of the majority of unplanned births the largest majority come from women in their 20s.

With the questionable efficacy of condoms and the widespread misuse of birth control, an alternative has now been recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Intrauterine devices (IUD). With less than one pregnancy per 100 women in a year, its the most effective birth control method available on the market, yet only 10% of women using birth control are using this form of birth control.

It has been estimated that of the 2 million births in America in 2011 came unexpectedly. According to Dr. Tina Raine-Bennett of the Women's Health Research Institute at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, "20-24-year-olds have highest number of unintended pregnancies across all demographic groups while over one-third of unintended pregnancies end in abortion."

Despite current birth control methods, in 2012 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists got behind the IUD recommending it as the preferred birth control option for all women, even those who haven't yet given birth. Although there are risks, that can be said for any drug or implant. Smaller issues that result from IUDs mirror those of other contraceptives, such as menstrual cramps, spotting, or infection. But more dangerous issues can, in rare cases, arise. One in about 1000 users may experience perforation (the IUD puncturing the uterus wall), while others may experience expulsion (the IUD falling out completely).

Overall there is hope for the device, and studies show women are generally more satisfied with IUDs compared to the pill. doclink

Karen Gaia says: this is really where we ought to be focusing. IUDs are more expensive and many women don't know enough about them. Let's start helping projects that focus on IUDs, making them affordable, and making sure contraceptive counselling includes them.

Why Shrinking Populations May Be No Bad Thing

June 03 , 2014, Economist

For an ideal state to be achieved the total fertility rate used by demographers for the number of children a woman is likely to have needs to be above two: around 2.1 in wealthier countries and higher in poorer countries, due to the fact children are more likely to die before adulthood. However recently, the global fertility rate is beginning to decline. Even in Africa, the number of children per woman in 2010-15 is forecast to fall to 4.7, compared with 5.7 in 1990-95 Overall the average fertility around the world is estimated to be 2.5.

In a growing number of countries the fertility rate has fallen below replacement levels, and this is beginning to worry governments. Fewer babies mean fewer workers later on, and as people are beginning to live longer, they will have to support a growing number of pensioners.

In a growing number of countries the fertility rate has now fallen below replacement level. South Korea, at 1.3, has the lowest rate of any big country. Numbers are also slipping below replacement level in less wealthy South-East Asia. Quite soon half the world's people will live in countries where the population is no longer reproducing itself.

This worries governments, because fewer babies mean fewer workers later on, and as people are living longer, they will have to support a growing number of pensioners.

But is a fertility rate at replacement level the right target? In a recent study Erich Striessnig and Wolfgang Lutz, of the Vienna University of Economics and Business and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria, argue that in predicting dependency ratios (the number of children and pensioners compared with people of working age), education should also be taken into account. And that makes optimal rates much lower than previously thought.

Not everyone of working age contributes equally to supporting the dependent population. Better-educated people are more productive and healthier, retire later and live longer. Education levels in most places have been rising and are likely to continue to do so.

Overall the worries about falling populations can be better addressed through education rather than current alternatives such as baby bonuses or tax breaks. But population policies are not all about rational economics: the world pays more attention to populous countries with sizeable armies than small ones without them. And countries that feel under threat tend to look for safety in numbers. It is no accident that, almost alone among developed countries, Israel has a fertility rate well above replacement level, at 2.9 doclink

Decades After Birth Control Became Legal, It's Still Controversial

Five places in America where contraception is still a scary subject
June 06, 2014, Rolling Stone   By: Robin Marty

Nearly a half-century after the Supreme Court legalized birth control, conservatives are still fighting to restrict access to contraception.

Over 49 years ago the Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut legalized the use of birth control devices for married couples, and within six years, singles gained the same right. Now that people have been using pills, IUDs, patches and injections legally for almost half a century, we might assume the right of people to buy these products. But in several U.S. places, that assumption is wrong. A number of high-profile Americans still think that you and I should have no right to prevent pregnancy by artificial means. What's more, some who think that way have influence over some of our laws and lives. For example, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia openly challenges Griswold. To him the decision implies that married couples have a right to privacy in the bedroom. Our constitution grants "no generalized right to privacy," Scalia told Fox News when asked about Griswold in a 2012 interview.

Getting birth control in a clinical setting has become more challenging due to a growing crusade to defund and close Planned Parenthood and other providers. Last April an entire Oklahoma town nearly lost all legal access to hormonal contraception (birth control) after the city medical center required physicians to stop offering it. Although that decision was overturned; based on personal religious or moral values, anyone having power in a hospital or clinic may use a "conscience clause" to challenge your access to birth control. These new bills say that neither doctors nor clinic managers have any obligation to provide birth control or help you find it.

Salinas (CA) County Commissioners rejected grant money for an IUD program, calling the use of IUDs "murder." Although IUDs have nothing to do with abortion, during the funding debate, Commissioner John Price said that using IUDs would be the same in God's eyes as aborting the kids. "The commission stated it may reconsider, but has yet to accept the grant - although preventing unwanted accidental pregnancies saves money by reducing abortion requests and birth-related health care costs and services.

Two influential groups, the American Life League (ALL) and Personhood USA (P-USA), are dedicated to fighting legal contraception. Calling sex without a desire to create life the "contraceptive mentality," ALL says that it threatens marriage, parenting, proper gender dynamics and our entire civilization's moral fiber. To portray it as a medical issue, they sponsored "The Pill Kills," a decade-old anti-Griswold campaign online and in front of reproductive health clinics across the country. ALL claims hormonal contraception instigates such physical complications as strokes, breast cancer, heart attacks and death, as if being pregnant and giving birth every year or two has no harmful effects.

P-USA sponsors changes to our laws. When a "personhood" amendment goes on a state ballot, its backers claim granting legal rights at the moment of fertilization has no impact on hormonal birth control. However, some Mississippi P-USA advocates admit to reporters that it will. They told Irin Carmon in 2011 that passing the amendment would ban hormonal contraption and IUDs. Although some P-USA supporters have said this goes too far, the movement none-the-less backs a referendum that will extend its war on contraception to North Dakota. doclink

Art says: I wonder if Judge Scalia has been troubled by the fact that the Constitution never specifically granted him (or us either for that matter) the right to go to the bathroom.

The Power of Planning

Seven Billion Strong
May 01, 2014

200 years ago there were around 1 billion people on Earth. 150 years later, in 1965, there were just under 3.5 billion. In the past fifty years that number has doubled to over 7 billion. This was only possible through exploiting the Earth's fossil energy, to temporarily escape the constraints that kept human population levels in check.

Now that one-time reserve of cheap and easy fossil fuels is running low and we're facing other environmental limits. And yet, we're on course to add another 2 billion humans in the next 25 years! Family planning is essential for reducing future demand on the planet's already strained resources. But it's also a powerful way to increase the quality of life and choices available for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Expanding access to information and contraceptives—and even more so, educating and supporting people to challenge regressive cultural norms that oppress women and limit opportunity—is one of the most important global investments we can make. It will improve lives today, and tomorrow. doclink

Endangered Species Condoms Project

June 19, 2014, Center for Biological Diversity

Whether you've received Endangered Species Condoms, signed up for a chance to get them in the future, or just want to know more about how you can engage people in the conversation about human population growth and the wildlife extinction crisis, we've put together downloadable resources and helpful links to help you make the most of your outreach experience (follow the link in the headline). doclink

30 Years is Enough: End the Global Gag Rule

June 07 , 2014, Population Action International


U.S.: SB899 - Take Action: Why is California Telling Women How Many Kids to Have?

June 01 , 2014, Act for Women and Girls - California

Repeal the MFG rule. Stop punishing families.

California has a long history of supporting a woman's personal decisions regarding her reproductive choices. We trust women to make decisions about what's best for their families. But there is a state policy - the Maximum Family Grant rule (MFG) - that actually limits women's ability to make reproductive decisions.Tell California's lawmakers and Gov. Brown today: it's time to repeal the MFG rule.

The MFG rule is part of CalWORKs, California's program to help families in poverty. But this rule punishes poor women for their reproductive decisions by withholding aid for a newborn child. It also punishes poor children by denying them financial support and drives families deeper into poverty.

The MFG rule limits reproductive freedom by telling women how many children they should have. The government shouldn't be intruding in families' private lives like this.

For the past 20 years, this failed state policy has made life harder for families. It's time to stop punishing children and start supporting families who are trying hard to make ends meet. It is time to tell the government out of women's decisions about when to have children. It's time to repeal the MFG rule. Take action today.

A strong coalition led by State Senator Holly Mitchell has come together to repeal the MFG rule through a bill, SB 899, and the state budget doclink

Karen Gaia says: this is not what we population folks are all about. We believe that families must be trusted to make the best decision for their families. Voluntary family planning is the essence of our ideals. Fifty percent of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. That tells us that women do not always have the best information about, and access to, affordable effective contraception. This is where we must focus.

Rural Household Food Security Status and Its Determinants: the Case of Laelaymychew Woreda, Central Zone of Tigray, Ethiopia

March 31, 2014, Academic Journals   By: Misgina Asmelash

Ethiopia continues to face high levels of food insecurity. It is estimated that 6.2 million people required emergency food assistance from July 2009 until the end of the year, an increase of 1.3 million people over the January 2009 figure.

Additionally, in Ethiopia there are currently more than 10 million people who have been affected by drought. The deteriorating situation is compounded by high food prices, the cost of cereals has more than doubled in many markets since the beginning of the year, hampering the ability of many people to meet their most basic food needs and impoverishing them further (WFP, 2009).

While droughts and other disasters such as floods are significant triggers, land degradation, limited household assets, low levels of farm technology, lack of employment opportunities and population pressure all contribute. As a consequence, but also exacerbating the situation, levels of education are low and disease prevalence is high.

A survey of food security in the Tigrai area of Ethiopia showed that 31.2% had food security and 68.8% had no food security. This was put into an econometric model and analyzed. This analysis showed that that cultivated land, holding land size, total livestock holding, and total annual income were related to food security.

The study area is characterized by high population pressures, lack of alternative employment opportunities, serious land degradation, heavy dependence on agriculture based livelihood strategies, and inappropriate utilization of land based resources which cumulatively lead to diminution of agricultural land and thereby its production and productivity. In response to these, farmers in the area are forced to seek out alternative off-farm or non-farm income sources within and/or outside their villages.

A number of studies that made use of various methodologies were conducted to identify determinants of food security in different parts of Ethiopia. According to these studies, ownership of livestock, farmland size, family labor, farm implements, employment opportunities, market access, levels of technology application, and levels of education, health, weather conditions, crop diseases, rainfall, oxen, and family size are identified as major determinants of food security

Increasing production and improving productivity is possible through integrated watershed management, protection and restoration of ecosystems in agricultural landscapes, and strengthening land tenure security. The watershed development approach is the cornerstone of the sustainable land management and using chemical and biological technology on such limited land resources could improve food security status in the study area. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Ethiopia also has the problem of little or no small farm ownership by farmers. Farmers cannot make the long term investment needed to build terraces in the mountainous regions if they do not own the land.

Modern Ocean Acidification is Outpacing Ancient Upheaval: Rate May Be Ten Times Faster

June 02, 2014, ScienceDaily   By: Donald Penman

In a study published in the latest issue of Paleoceanography, the scientists estimate that ocean acidity increased by about 100% in a few thousand years or more, and stayed that way for the next 70,000 years. In this radically changed environment, some creatures died out while others adapted and evolved. The study is the first to use the chemical composition of fossils to reconstruct surface ocean acidity at the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a period of intense warming on land and throughout the oceans due to high CO2.

The oceans have absorbed about a third of the carbon humans have pumped into the air since industrialization, helping to keep earth's thermostat lower than it would be otherwise. But that uptake of carbon has come at a price. Chemical reactions caused by that excess CO2 have made seawater grow more acidic, depleting it of the carbonate ions that corals, mollusks and calcifying plankton need to build their shells and skeletons.

For more, follow the link at doclink

IEA Says the Party's Over

June 05, 2014, Post Crabon Institute   By: Richard Heinberg

The International Energy Agency says $48 trillion in investments is required through 2035 to meet the world's growing energy needs. IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in a statement the reliability and sustainability of future energy supplies depends on a high level of investment. "But this won't materialize unless there are credible policy frameworks in place as well as stable access to long-term sources of finance," she said. "Neither of these conditions should be taken for granted."

The oil industry is actually cutting back on upstream investment. Global oil prices ($90-100 per barrel) -- which are at historically high levels -- are nevertheless too low to justify tackling ever-more challenging geology.

At least $120 per barrel is needed to fund exploration in the Arctic and in some ultra-deepwater plays. With ultra-low interest rates, thanks to the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing, finding investment capital should be about as easy as it is ever going to get.

The U.S. shale oil production was forecast by the IEA in 2012 to overtake Saudia Arabia oil production by 2020 and become a net oil exporter by 2030, but a new IEA report says US tight oil production will start to decline around 2020. We think the IEA is probably still erring on the side of optimism: our own reading of the data suggests the decline will start sooner and will probably be steep.

OPEC is doing poorly these days. Iraq, Syria, and Libya are in turmoil. Iran is languishing under US trade sanctions. Saudis have seen declines in old oilfields and they've run out of new fields to develop.

The IEA expects world petroleum prices to gradually increase in world petroleum prices to $128 per barrel by 2035. This means an upstream investment over the forecast period by $2 trillion above the IEA's previous investment forecast.

15% of the needed $48 trillion is expected to go to renewable energy. The rest is just for patching up our current oil-coal-gas energy system so that it doesn't run into the ditch for lack of fuel. But if climate change were to be seriously addressed, $7.2 trillion spread out over twenty years simply doesn't cut it. Investments will have to ramp up to $1.5 to $2.5 trillion per year.

In effect, the IEA is telling us that we don't have what it takes to sustain our current energy regime, and we're not likely to invest enough to switch to a different one. doclink

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