World Population Awareness

Socio-Economic Impacts from Unsustainable Population Growth

April 14, 2014

Children, Street Children, Child Labor, Slavery

street children - toddler and 3-year old, in Kathmandu, Nepal, street, amongst the feet of tourists

Unattended street children - toddler and 3-year old, in Kathmandu, Nepal street, amongst the feet of tourists. As modern medicine and sanitation improved, more and more children survived infancy and even into adulthood. Without birth control, family sizes became larger, and land had to be divided up into smaller and smaller pieces between the children. Many offspring are forced to leave and move into the cities, or even leave the country, to make a living wage. In cities, families find that, with children, economic disadvantages outweigh the benefits, and to keep from starving, some or all of the children are sent to factories, sold into slavery, married off, or sent into the streets. doclink

August 2010, Karen Gaia Pitts - WOA!! -

While it has always been true that there are poor people who cannot support their children and have to turn them out on the street, or sell them into servitude, or give their daughters up to child marriages, -- in current times the numbers of children given up to these sad circumstances has multiplied because 1) more children survive infancy today, meaning many more mouths to feed, 2) more families have moved to the city where food must be purchased instead of raised, and 3) human numbers have increased, increasing competition for natural resources, including food and water.

The problem is exemplified by Egypt, where approximately 10% of the population is comprised of street children. doclink

Afghanistan: Children as Barter in a Famished Land

March 08, 2002, New York Times*

Afghanistan is now in its fourth year of drought, and with has come famine. The
hungry cope by selling their possessions, eating fodder, and wandering away to beg. But still, they see their family members die one by one. To survive they must sometimes sell their children into labor. Even without famine,
more than 1 in 5 children die and life expectancy is 44. Even with food aid, roads are few and distribution is poor. Many villages are several days away from food distribuition - far from roads and isolated by high mountains and snow. Girls have always been "sold" for marriage, but now for children it is closer to the practice of bonded labor. Arrangements differ but most often the child is exchanged for a continuing supply of cash or wheat. doclink

Pollution-Related Diseases Kill Millions of Children a Year; Alarming Numbers Part of New UN Report Released for Child Conference

May 9, 2002, World Health Organization

5,500 children die every day from diseases caused by consuming water and food polluted with bacteria, says a new report, Children in the New Millennium: Environmental Impact on Health, produced jointly by UNICEF, the UN Environment Programme and the World Health Organization (WHO), and released for the May 8-10 UN General Assembly Special Session on Children. Diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections are two of the leading causes of child mortality. Diarrhoea is exacerbated by malnutritio, and together the two form a vicious cycle. Children are also affected by high levels of toxic chemicals and the degradation and depletion of natural resources. Lead from leaded gasoline and paint causes permanent neurological and developmental disorders in children. Millions of children who work in agriculture are at high risk of pesticide poisoning. Global environmental problems, such as the impact of climate change, the depletion of the ozone layer and the loss of the planet's biological diversity also leave children vulunerable. The report calls for increased national investment in early child care. doclink

To Build a Country, Build a Schoolhouse

May 27, 2002, New York Times*

by Amartya Sen Extensive empirical studies have demonstrated the critical role of basic education in economic and social development in Europe and North America as well as in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Japan, for example, set a goal in its 1872 Fundamental Code of Education that there must be "no community with an illiterate family, nor a family with an illiterate person." Kido Takayoshi, one of the leaders of Japanese reform, said: "Our people are no different from the Americans or Europeans of today; it is all a matter of education or lack of education." This attention to education was mostly responsible for the speed of Japan's economic and social progress. The ability to read enhances one's quality of life. Educated populaces can better use democratic opportunities than an illiterate ones. Women can make use of their rights and demand more fairness after they have learned to read documents and legal provisions. Literate females have stronger voices in family affairs and experience gender equality. Female literacy tends to reduce child mortality and very significantly decrease fertility rates. A greater voice of young women in family decisions tends to cut down birth rates sharply. In India, fertility rates vary from almost 5 children in some districts per couple to less than 1.7 in some others. Studies show that only two general variables significantly help to explain these differences: female literacy and female economic participation. In sub-Saharan Africa, 40% of primary-age children have no opportunity for schooling. In fact, globally, 125 million children have never seen the inside of a classroom. A well coordinated global initiative on basic education is crucial. doclink

Stunting From Malnutrition Affects 1 in 4 Kids Worldwide

May 15, 2013, NPR National Public Radio

UNICEF reports that stunting in kids -- a sign of poor nutrition early in life -- has dropped by a third in the past two decades, there is still much progress to be made. A quarter of kids under the age of 5 were stunted worldwide in 2011, with nearly 75 percent of them living in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

In East Asia and Latin America stunting has decreased by a whopping 70 and 50%, respectively. Even very poor countries, like Ethiopia and Nepal, have quickly made progress against malnutrition and stunting.

Stunted kids are more likely to get sick, and they tend to have a harder time in school, which can translate to lower paying jobs later in life.
. . . more at NPR National Public Radio doclink

In Niger, Child Marriage on Rise Due to Hunger

September 16 , 2012, Silicone Valley Mercury News

51% of Niger children are stunted. One of three children die of hunger. Their graves dot the landscape.

One of every three girls in Niger marries before age 15, one of the highest birth-rates in the world. By marrying off their daughters at such young age, it's one less mouth to feed and it brings in a dowry from the groom's family, money desperately needed to feed the mouths of the many other hungry souls.

In the small hamlet of Hawkantaki (pop. 200), between the harvest of last year and this spring's planting, 9 of 10 girls between the ages of 11 & 15 were married or engaged. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Girls whose bodies have not yet developed have many more problems giving birth to a healthy baby. The problem is greatly magnified by malnourishment.

Tracking What it Means to Be Born From Unwanted Pregnancy

April 21, 2012, Durango Herald

First published in the Durago Herald, by Richard Grossman MD

The prevention of unwanted pregnancy is more important than ever for the well-being of the family.

One of my strongest memories from medical school was a delivery I assisted with. This was the mother's fifth child and a quick birth. I proudly held up the newborn boy to show him to his mother. She turned her head away and cried.

I don't remember the names of the mother or baby, who would be about 44 years old now. How his life has gone is only conjecture, but the likelihood is that his path has not been an easy one.

We generally assume that all adults are cut out to be parents, but that is not true. Forced parenthood can have unhappy consequences for the adults, and especially for the children. This column examines the outcomes of children of unwilling parents. Next month's column will include the words written by a person who, herself, was born unwanted.

The biggest and best analysis of children born unwanted was done in Czechoslovakia at a time when women had limited access to legal abortion. An American psychologist, Dr. Henry David, collaborated with Czech counterparts. Czech women had two chances to request an abortion in the 1960s. The first chance was at a local clinic. If the woman were turned down, she could apply again at a regional level, the last resort for a legal abortion. Unfortunately, the many advantages of adoption were not considered in this study.

One of the Czech psychologists had a list of women who had been twice denied for the same pregnancy. Because of the excellent record keeping of that country, the children born to these women with unwanted pregnancies could be followed for many years. They were carefully matched to children who were desired—same age, same socioeconomic class, same school etc. All the families lived in Prague, the country's capital.

These people, both those who were unwanted before birth and the "normal" controls, were examined and tested at age 9, in adolescence and again in their early 20s. The investigators also looked at records, interviewed parents and spoke with teachers.

The two groups of people ended up significantly different despite growing up in very similar circumstances. Compared to the people who resulted from pregnancies that were planned (or at least accepted), those born unwanted did not fare so well in life.

Specifically, the babies who had been unwanted were not breastfed as long, and did not achieve as well in school even though their intelligence tests were as good as the more desired children. They were more likely to be less social and more disruptive and hyperactive, and were more likely to have criminal records. When asked as adolescents, the children who had been unwanted believed their mothers showed less maternal interest than did the control group.

The young adults in their 20s were asked how they felt about their lives. Again there was a significant difference, with the people who were unplanned being less satisfied with their lives, with their love relationships, with their own mental health and with their jobs. It is interesting that their sexual debut was at an earlier age and they had more sexual partners than control people. Thus, these people were more likely to beget another generation of unwanted pregnancies.

There are exceptions to the general rule, fortunately. Dr. David's research found three groups of women who requested abortions but were denied. Some had temporary motivation for wanting to abort, such as financial reasons. These women usually accepted the pregnancy and both mother and child did well. For other women the pregnancy resulted from a poor relationship, and they did not do so well with childrearing. The third group of women apparently realized from the beginning that they would not be good parents, and the study, unfortunately, bore this out. Both the women and their children did not fare well.

The Czech study was of women who were denied legal abortion. Those who were allowed to have abortion must have had even more compelling reasons to not parent. If they had been forced to bear their unwanted kids, presumably these children would have had even more severe problems.

What does this mean? A person resulting from an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy starts off life with a handicap, like the baby I delivered in medical school. This can have consequences for society, too. There is a controversial theory, popularized in Freakonomics, that the downturn in serious crime in the USA noted in the early 1990s was due to the decrease in unwanted pregnancies after the legalization of abortion in 1973.

An unwanted pregnancy can be devastating. Sometimes things work out well, but delivering and raising an unwanted baby may be traumatic for the parent(s), and scar the child. doclink


Remittances, and the Recession's Effects on International Migration

May 26, 2011, Population Reference Bureau

The number of international migrants almost doubled between 1985 and 2010. Today, around 3% of the people in the world have lived outside their country of birth for a year or more.

Two-thirds of these, or 2% of migrants, are from developing countries. The remittances that these migrants send back home amounts to about $325 billion - larger than total official development aid, and almost as much as foreign direct investment. The Philippines, for example is home to over 1 million people working abroad, who send remittances equivalent to 10% of the country's economic output. Countries like this hope that sending workers abroad can reduce poverty and catapult them into the ranks of developed countries.

While the the 2008-2009 recession slowed migration into developed countries, not many returned. Remittances have remained resilient compared to private capital flows during the economic crisis.

Migrants usually move to nearby countries, as from Mexico to the United States or from Turkey to Germany. The largest flow of migrants, 74 million, is from one developing country to another, as from the Philippines to Saudi Arabia or from Nicaragua to Costa Rica. The second-largest flow, 73 million, is from developing to developed countries, which include most of Europe, North America, Japan, and Australia and New Zealand. Some 55 million people moved from one developed country to another, as from Canada to the United States, and 13 million moved from developed to developing countries, as with Japanese who work or retire in Thailand.

Migrants make up 10% of developed country residents. The U.S. has the most migrants, with 43 million migrants in 2010, followed by Russia (12 million), Germany (11 million), and Saudi Arabia, Canada, and France. These six countries included 40% of the total.

Gulf oil exporters have the largest share of migrants, such as Qatar with over 85% of the population as migrants; the UAE and Kuwait have 70% migrants.

Because of demographic and economic inequalities and with easier communications and cheaper transportation, international migration is likely to increase.

While remittances reduce poverty for families who receive them and can benefit workers who do not migrate, receiving remittances cannot alone generate development.

Migration across national borders is sometimes called the "third wave" of globalization, after the movement of goods (trade) and money (finance). Some groups of nations, notably the European Union, have added free movement of labor to free flows of goods and capital.

160 governments participate in The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD). Most GFMD governments consider international migration inevitable and desirable; many governments ask why their richer neighbors do not simply open doors wider to the migrants that they are likely to need as their populations age and shrink. Migrant-receiving governments, on the other hand, point to high unemployment rates for the migrants within their borders and public opinion polls that show most residents want to reduce immigration. Destination countries often try to manage migration by restricting the rights of migrants.

Managing international migration in ways that protect migrants and contribute to development in both countries of origin and destination is an increasing global challenge. doclink

The Fake Environmentalists and Their Pretend-Game

September 23, 2010, We Can Do Better website

Regional planners, under the direction of their political overlords---the proxies of developers - are trying to shove tens of thousands more people into the North Vancouver Island region. And they don't want people to grasp the full implications of their devious plans. What is transpiring here is transpiring across Canada and the continent of North America--and elsewhere. New subdivisions are sprouting up all over the map in place of greenbelts, woodlands and marshes and the people have little say in the matter.

The most frustrating thing is that fake environmentalists are able to pose as resisting this imposition. But their issue is not with population growth, but with "sprawl"---even though at least half of sprawl is driven by population growth and not by poor land-use planning. They want to 'manage' growth and steer it away from farmland, while packing the unending stream of newcomers into tighter and denser lots alongside existing residents, who are encouraged to surrender their living space in the interests of food security and the environment.

Thus people are presented with a false antithesis. Either accept growth with sprawl or so-called 'smart' growth without it. The local NDP (New Democratic Party), Greens and environmentalists tell people that population growth is something not in their jurisdiction, that immigration (or child benefits) policy is a federal matter and that nothing can prevent inter-provincial migration as guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In other words, growth out of their hands.

Yet which political parties receive top marks from the Sierra Club? The federal Greens and the federal NDP. And what is their immigration policy? To increase the absurdly high immigration intake quota of the Harper Government by 25%, while matching or besting its pro-natalist programs.

This is the pretend-game that environmental NGOs play. Either population growth is not controllable, or even if it is, they have nothing to do with it--- and in any case, it has little bearing on environmental degradation, whether farmland or species loss, or GHG emissions. "It's not whether we grow", they argue, "but how we grow". Just squeeze tighter in the sardine can so that incoming migrants can snuggle up to you. And above all, feel guilty about having extra space in the backyard for your son to play in or a nature trail at the end of your block to take your dog. If it is nature that you want, well, you can get that on the Outdoor Living Channel, can't you?

Let me confess that, whether it is the white-flight "Freedom 55s" from Alberta or California, or people from across the world, I've never felt lonely enough to want them living under my nose, and neither do most of us who chose our 'low-density" lifestyle. Some may call that selfish, I call it a human right. Is it my demand for space that is unreasonable, or the demand that I accept as reasonable a human population level that is 250% higher now than when I was born? Why are we being forced to accept population growth? Because population growth is thought to be a necessary agent of economic growth, our Great God.

The myth that continued economic growth is necessary, desirable, inevitable or even possible remains our major stumbling block, the first domino of misconceptions that must fall before we can reclaim any semblance of the quality of life that we once enjoyed. We are in a foot race with Mother Nature. If we don't stop growth, she will stop us. Time is almost up. Don't let the Pied Pipers of Fake Environmentalism lead you down a futile path. Fight growth, not the symptoms of growth. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I like low-density living also, but it is a luxury supported by high consumption of a vanishing natural resource: oil. The author should consider how difficult life will be like without it. Consumption is one of the factors of sustainability - it's not just population. On the other hand, why should we accept more and more people into our region? We end up encouraging more births in the region of origin.

Interview with Jason Bremner on Environmental Change: What Are the Links with Migration?

July 30, 2008, Population Reference Bureau

This is a long article with many more questions left unanswered than answered. Following are the points that seemed to be more certain than the rest:

  • Migration is leaving one's birth place. It may be long or short term, and includes moving cross international borders or within a country. "Climate migrants", also called "environmental refugees", result from both disasters and gradual environmental change that threatens people's livelihoods. Environmental conditions may only be one contributing factor in a person or household's decision to move.
  • Though the absolute number of international migrants is greater today than ever before, the percent of the world population living outside their country of birth has risen very little over the last 50 years. We should also consider the positive impacts that migration can have on households, their livelihoods, and sometimes the environment.
  • Restrictive migration policies usually results in changes in the favored destinations of migrants rather than actually slowing or stopping migration.
  • Rural-rural migrants can have impacts on forests and biodiversity when they move to frontier areas in search of arable land. The movement of colonists into the lowland forests of the Amazon for example has resulted in rapid deforestation in areas of Ecuador and Brazil. Migrants may also move to coastal areas to work in fishing sectors or along rural coastal areas as coastal resources are depleted. In addition, rural migrants may move to areas with poor soils, which are more likely to degrade, when little land is available elsewhere.
  • Demographers have largely ignored rural-rural migration despite the continued prominence of rural-rural migration in many developing countries, but conservation organizations have become increasingly interested in the impact of rural migration on biodiversity.
  • Rural-urban migrants can also have impacts on the environment as urban living usually results in changes in consumption patterns and energy use. Research on urbanization in China shows how resulting changes in consumption and household structure will contribute to future growth in carbon emissions.
  • Many impacts of rural-urban migration are related to changes in the number of vehicles, number of factories, etc. rather than to migration itself. Even the propagation of urban slums is probably a lack of services issue rather than an environmental issue.
  • Some examples of man-made disaster-related migration are the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine that resulted in the evacuation and resettlement of 350,000 people, the degradation of the Aral Sea and the failure of fishing livelihoods there, and the construction of the Three Gorges Dam in China's central Hubei province, which, when complete, may displace up to 4 million people.
  • Periodic drought in Ethiopia may result in households sending an adult to a city for employment as means of protecting against food insecurity. Land fragmentation, and the resulting smaller parcels of land, also contribute to the need for non-farm wages to ensure food security when crops fail.
  • Conflicts are certainly man-made and have resulted in some of the largest displacements of people in recent years. Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, have each displaced millions of people.
  • There is little evidence so far to suggest that current changes in climate have had any impact on internal movements of people within the U.S or any developed country. There is research on Hurricane Katrina and the permanent departure of residents from New Orleans, but this may not be climate change induced migration.
  • Some interesting work has been done by researchers at CIESIN looking at projected sea level rise and measuring the coastal populations at risk throughout the world. This paper can be found on the PERN website:
  • Another recent paper has looked at 1930s migration patterns in the U.S. in relation to repeated crop failures due to drought and flooding. At that time a far greater percentage of the U.S. population was dependent on the agricultural sector.
  • Migrants, even refugees of conflicts and natural disasters, face discrimination at destinations. The reasons include: cultural, ethnic, and language differences; perceived competition for jobs; and lack of local capacity to provide services.
  • Human migration can be a major dividing force in facilitating positive social and economic change and in relieving population pressure on the environment.
  • The money migrants send back home is an important source of income for developing countries and for rural areas. An estimated total of 251 billion dollars were sent by migrants to their developing countries in 2007. These remittances can be an important source of development and social mobility for rural households in areas where there are few opportunities for employment, credit, or investment.
  • In a study of the highlands of Ecuador, remittances were rarely invested into agriculture or other production activities. In the same area there is little evidence of agricultural abandonment, since often only one household member would migrate and the rest of the household would continue to farm. This is increasingly the norm as in Africa, Latin America, and Asia urban migrants often retain strong linkages with their rural origin areas. This is accomplished either by planting crops that require less labor or relying on increased labor from those that stay behind (often women and children). This latter phenomenon is resulting in some interesting rural changes in both sex and age ratios among the remaining populations.
  • There are a few examples where out-migration has resulted in less degradation than would have occurred had migrants remained; for example, the recovery of the North Eastern forests of the United States is largely a product of out-migration of farmers and loggers to more favorable lands in the midwest and west.
  • National population redistribution policies in areas like Brazil and Ecuador have had negative impacts on forests in destination areas of the Amazon as well as on the indigenous populations that were already living there.
  • Migration from rural to urban areas impacts the women and children remaining in rural areas, who usually have no guaranteed, long-term access to the means of production (land ownership, credit, agriculture extension, technology). Solutions include micro-credit lending focused specifically on women, girls' education, and a dedication to agricultural extension focused on women's needs.
  • Micro-credit lending to women's groups has been a great success in countries like Nepal and India. Furthermore, programs focused on girls' education in Pakistan are increasing the financial literacy and independence of women and over time will lead to greater access to credit.
  • Migration within a country dwarfs out-migrations and therefore climate migration is mostly of a domestic policy concern.
  • International migration costs far more than internal migration. The poorest households will be those most vulnerable to climate change's impacts, hence, we should expect that those people will also be the least able to move large distances or across borders.
  • Young women are also increasingly involved in migration but women's destinations and decisions regarding migration differ greatly from men's.
  • There is a possible relationship between environmental change, migration, and infectious disease. Climate change could increase the range of some disease vectors (i.e. malaria carrying mosquitoes). This combined with a very mobile population could contribute to the spread of infectious diseases to areas that have never seen them before.
  • Increased water demand due to urban growth will likely lead to increasing development regulations and water restrictions. This is already the case in areas such as Las Vegas.
  • doclink

    Karen Gaia says: not much is mentioned about how 9% of Mexican-born people are in the U.S., or the even higher rate for Guatamalans. Surely this has an impact, socially and politcally, for all three countries. Also, when it is claimed that "migration within a country dwarfs out-migrations," what about rural to urban migration which then turns to out-migration when jobs are hard to find in the city? This should be counted as an out-migration and not added to the total for in-country migration.

    The Earth is Shrinking: Advancing Deserts and Rising Seas

    November 15, 2006, Earth Policy Institute

    Our civilization is being squeezed between advancing deserts and rising seas. Mounting population densities, once generated by the addition of over 70 million people per year, are now also fueled by the advance of deserts and the rise in sea level.

    Expanding deserts are primarily the result of overstocking grasslands and overplowing land. Rising seas result from temperature increases from the burning of fossil fuels.

    China is losing productive land at an accelerating rate. From 1950 to 1975 China lost an average of 600 square miles to desert each year. By 2000, 1,400 square miles were going to desert annually.

    Satellite images show two deserts in north-central China expanding and merging to form a single, larger desert overlapping Inner Mongolia and Gansu provinces. To the west in Xinjiang Province, two even larger deserts--the Taklimakan and Kumtag--are also heading for a merger. Further east, the Gobi Desert is within 150 miles of Beijing. Chinese scientists report that over the last half-century, 24,000 villages in northern and western China were abandoned as they were overrun by drifting sand.

    Kazakhstan, site of the vast Soviet Virgin Lands Project, has abandoned nearly half of its cropland since 1980.

    In Afghanistan, with a population of 31 million, the Registan Desert is encroaching on agricultural areas. A UNEP team reports that up to 100 villages have been submerged by windblown dust and sand. In the northwest, sand dunes are moving onto agricultural land, from the loss of stabilizing vegetation due to firewood gathering and overgrazing. Iran, which has 70 million people and 80 million goats and sheep, is losing its battle with the desert. In 2002 sand storms buried 124 villages in the southeastern province forcing their abandonment. Drifting sands had covered grazing areas, starving livestock and depriving villagers of their livelihood.

    The Sahara Desert is pushing the populations of Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria northward toward the Mediterranean. In countries from Senegal and Mauritania in the west to Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia in the east, the demands of growing human and livestock numbers are converting land into desert. Nigeria is losing 1,355 square miles to desertification each year. While Nigeria's human population grew from 33 million in 1950 to 134 million in 2006, its livestock population grew from 6 million to 66 million. The food needs forced the plowing of marginal land and the forage needs of livestock exceeded the carrying capacity of its grasslands. Nigeria's population is being squeezed into an ever-smaller area.

    In Mexico, the degradation of cropland forces some 700,000 Mexicans off the land each year in search of jobs in nearby cities or in the United States.

    Rising seas promise to displace greater numbers in the future. During the twentieth century, sea level rose by 6 inches. During this century seas may rise by 4 to 35 inches. Since 2001, record-high temperatures have accelerated ice melting making it likely that the future rise in sea level will be even greater.

    If the Greenland ice sheet, a mile thick in some places, were to melt entirely it would raise sea level by 23 feet, or 7 meters.

    A one-meter rise would inundate many of the rice-growing river deltas and floodplains of India, Thailand, Viet Nam, Indonesia, and China. A one-meter rise in sea level would cause some 30 million Bangladeshis to migrate, internally or to other countries.

    Hundreds of cities would be at least partly inundated, including London, Alexandria, and Bangkok. More than a third of Shanghai, would be under water. A one-meter rise combined with a 50-year storm surge would leave large portions of Lower Manhattan and the National Mall in Washington, D.C., flooded. If the Greenland ice sheet should melt, it would force the abandonment of thousands of coastal cities and communities. Rising seas and desertification will present the world with an unprecedented flow of environmental refugees and the potential for civil strife.

    We must deal with rapid population growth, advancing deserts, and rising seas. Growth in the human population is accompanied by a growth of livestock populations of more than 35 million per year. The rising concentrations of carbon dioxide that are destabilizing the earth's climate are driven by the burning of fossil fuels. Reverse these trends or risk being overwhelmed by them. doclink

    U.S.: AP Investigation: Banks Sought Foreign Workers

    February 02, 2009, Yahoo News

    Major U.S. banks sought permission to bring thousands of foreign workers into the country for high-paying jobs. The dozen banks receiving the biggest rescue packages, more than $150 billion, requested visas for more than 21,800 foreign workers over the past six years. The average annual salary for those jobs was $90,721. As the economic collapse worsened the numbers of visas sought by the dozen banks in AP's analysis increased from 3,258 in 2007, to 4,163 in 2008.

    The H-1B visa program allows temporary employment of foreign workers in specialized-skill and advanced-degree positions. The government only grants 85,000 such visas each year among all U.S. employers.

    Foreigners are paid less than American workers.

    Companies can use the lower end of government wage scales even for highly skilled workers, a legal mechanisms to underpay the workers. Beyond seeking approval for visas from the government, banks that accepted federal bailout money also enlisted uncounted foreign workers. Senators Grassley, and Durbin, are pushing for legislation to make employers recruit American workers first. The issue takes on a higher profile as President Obama pushes for massive government spending to create jobs nationwide. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: nothing is said about how our resources will be stretched even further and our environment stressed by the addition of more people. Also, undercutting the U.S. economy will leave our country less able to provide aid to other countries. It is the population pressures that drives the need to leave one's own country and go to a strange country to get a job because there are no jobs to be found where you come from. Are U.S. citizens now going to be driven to work in other countries, or is the beginning of the end of our lifestyle as we know it?

    U.S.: Immigration Affects Environment, Too, Reports E -the Environmental Magazine; But Solutions go Deeper than Building Fences

    May 07, 2008, NewsBlaze

    Immigration has become a hot issue, but often for the wrong reasons. What's missing is frank discussion of its impact on overall population growth, the environment and on how to address its fundamental causes.

    Largely because of immigration, the U.S. Census estimates that from 303 million today we'll grow to 400 million people as early as 2040, and 420 million by 2050. The U.S. is growing so fast it now has the third largest population in the world.

    America is a nation of immigrants. We absorbed 25 million people between 1860 and 1920, and most observers believe we are a stronger nation because of it.

    America's rapid population growth makes it nearly impossible to achieve sustainability. About 93% of U.S. increases in energy use since 1970 can be attributed to population growth. We pave over an area the size of Delaware every year, and every day we remove 3.2 billion gallons of water from aquifers that are not replenished by natural processes.

    The energy and climate effects are little understood. Any efficiency gains we make are being swamped by rapid population increases.

    With just 5% of the world's population, the U.S. is the top consumer of 11 of the world's top 20 traded commodities. The increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., which rose 13 between 1990 and 2000, mirrors the population increase. A huge percentage of climate emissions can be attributed to population growth.

    Many people want to come to America from the overpopulated developing world. The swelling numbers abroad create pressures leading to "increased poverty, hunger, land degradation, a lack of health services and limited social and economic mobility."

    How do we address these pressures without calling for the mandatory caps on U.S. immigration? The organization Population Connection wants to combine action at home (reducing teen pregnancy, ensuring contraceptive availability, defending reproductive rights) with foreign aid. If people see hope for better lives at home, they will feel less pressure to emigrate.

    Such views have many supporters. If we and the governments of the countries they are coming from were to devote as much to improving their standard of living at home, they might not feel the need to come to America.

    The obstacle is to get countries around the world to focus on eradicating hunger, infant mortality and poverty, and limiting births through universal access to family planning. A 20-year plan to address these issues has languished as donor countries, including the U.S., have fallen short of meeting their financial commitments.

    In addition, the reinstatement of the "Global Gag Rule" which mandates that no U.S. family planning assistance be provided to foreign organizations that use funding to make abortion available, has had a severe impact. Cultural and religious opposition have also combined to thwart efforts.

    Nevertheless, UNFPA, says that the process offers the best hope for reducing migration pressures. The growing poverty and demographic divide between rich and poor countries must be addressed. doclink

    CIA Chief Sees Unrest Rising with Population

    May 01, 2008, Washington Post

    Swelling populations and immigration will present new security challenges for the US by straining resources and stoking extremism and civil unrest in distant corners of the globe. The population surge could undermine the stability of some of the world's most fragile states, especially in Africa, while in the West, governments will be forced to grapple with larger immigrant communities and deepening divisions over ethnicity and race.

    The projected 33% growth in global population over the next 40 years as one of three significant trends that will alter the security landscape in the current century. Most of that growth will occur in countries least able to sustain it. With the population of countries like Niger and Liberia projected to triple in size in 40 years, governments will be forced to find food, shelter and jobs for millions, or deal with restive populations. European countries will see particular growth in their Muslim populations while the number of non-Muslims will shrink as birthrates fall.

    The CIA director predicted a widening gulf between Europe and North America on how to deal with security threats. The US sees the fight against terrorism as a global war, European nations perceive the terrorist threat as a law enforcement problem. A third security trend was the emergence of China as a global powerhouse, pursuing its narrow strategic and political interests. If Beijing begins to accept greater responsibility for the health of the international system, as all global powers should, we will remain on a constructive, even if competitive, path. doclink

    Human Trafficking is Slavery and Must Be Battled, Celebrities and Others Say at UN Conference

    February 13, 2008, The Associated Press

    Human trafficking must not be tolerated, a senior U.N. official said.

    Dignitaries urged action at a three-day U.N. conference.

    We have the obligation to fight a crime that has no place in the 21st century," said the head of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

    Some 2.5 million people are involved in forced labor as a result of trafficking, and 161 countries on every continent and in every type of economy are affected by the crime.

    Most victims are between 18 and 24, and an estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.

    "My hope is to secure every child the right to be a child," said Martin, a five-time Grammy winner. "Human trafficking has no place in our world today."

    Estimated annual profits from trafficked, forced labor is around $31.6 million, the U.N. Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking said. doclink


    Sustainababble D.C.?

    September 12 , 2013, World Watch Institute   By: James Luttrell

    Does Washington, D.C.'s new sustainability plan move the city closer to true sustainability, or is it just a bunch of sustainababble? Developed out of inclusive stakeholder deliberations and extensive research, Sustainability D.C. lists goals and steps that might collectively help the city reach "true" sustainability---or at least get it one step closer. By building on ongoing sustainability initiatives, the plan strives to help D.C. overcome challenges presented by an unsustainable U.S. economy, unhealthy food and lifestyle choices, inequity and lack of diversity, and climate change and environmental degradation. doclink

    The Big Squeeze: Can Cities Save the Earth?

    April 08, 2013, NPR National Public Radio   By: Robert Krulwich

    Follow the link in the headline to see how densely packed we can get. Tremendous apartment houses fill the view in these amazing pictures. The overall effect is like staring at a frozen tidal wave of residential construction.

    Modern cities allow enormous numbers of people to spend their lives in extraordinary close proximity, piling them, literally, on top of each other, and somehow, it works! Because cities, even the ugliest ones, have an obvious efficiency. If all 7 billion of us had to live side-by-side in two story ranch houses, or yurts we'd overrun the planet; we'd strangle the forests, the meadows, the plains.

    Tim de Chant has a blog called Per Square Mile, where he thinks about population density. Suppose we could move everybody on Earth into a single city. How much space would that city occupy?

    At the website you will find a pictorial representation of 7 billion at the density of six different cities.

    Seven billion people living like Houstonians would occupy a lot more space than 7 billion people living like Manhattanites. People lumped together in One Big City will still need food, furniture, clothing, water, electricity, building materials, still need a place to store their waste. They still need water systems, farms, ranches, electricity grids, dumps, and lakes. Tim de Chant calculated that if everybody agreed to live like the average Bangladeshi, the world could exist largely people-free. But as soon as we get richer - even as rich as the average Chinese - the world can't carry all 7 billion of us. We need more planet. If we all want to live American-style, we'd need four more planets. doclink

    High Population, Poor Planning and High Unemployment Problem Fuelling Slums in Uganda

    April 03, 2013, New Vision

    In Africa it was a matter of pride for a man to build his own home at age of 18 and marry. However, with colonialism came imperialism and taxes on people's homes. To escape the taxation, people moved to urban areas where their make-shift dwellings grew into slums. These settlements which lacked proper planning,

    With an urbanisation growth exceeding 5% per annum, Uganda is grappling with rural-urban migration with its resultant effects such as high crime rates, unemployment, slums development and poor sanitation.

    At independence, Uganda's population was six million. Through the years, however, a steady growth estimated at over one million annually, increased pressure on land, forcing many to open up formerly inhabitable spaces.

    From 1964 attempts were made to provide low-income housing and access to infrastructure and services at affordable costs.

    Following the UN general assembly resolution of 1987 on the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless, the Government commenced the development of the National Shelter Strategy that was adopted in 1992.

    Uganda has been using the strategy for the last 20 years to guide the blossoming housing sector, says Agnes Kalibbala, the director of housing at the lands and housing ministry.

    "The strategy is designed to put in place an environment that enables people to access housing, cheap land, housing finance and building materials," Kalibbala said.

    Informal settlements have gone on to be a big problem, not helped by overcrowding, considering that a household in Uganda on average boasts five persons.

    Today, Uganda has 33 million people, yet land supply is fixed. It is for this reason that settlement around wetlands, forests and mountain ranges has increased, blighted by the soaring demand for land that attracts profitable returns.

    With 5.8 million in urban areas and 28.3 million in rural areas, the country has an estimated 6.82 families living in 6.2 million poor housings. Of these, 84% are temporal, while 28% are made in traditional materials, according to the 2009/10 Uganda National Household Survey.

    46% of the houses are traditional, constructed out of mud and poles, and 73% of houses have earthen floors. Iron-sheet roof cover 63%, whilst grass thatched roofs cover 35%.

    There is a backlog of 1.6 million housing units, comprising sub-standard and structures not intended for human habitation.

    To fix the housing problem in Uganda, the Government is in the final stages of developing a National Housing Policy to guide housing development, slum upgrading and prevention and repair and maintenance of existing housing stock in order to fix the runaway housing deficit.

    The policy intends to ease land access as land owners who lack the capacity to develop their property will be encouraged to enter joint-ventures with investors, land-sharing schemes or leasing, says Samuel Mabala, the commissioner of urban development in the ministry of Housing and Urban Development.

    "We expect positive development in public-private partnerships in the housing sector because the Government does not have resources to fund this," he says.

    “The Government will also provide incentives to attract housing and financial institutions and ensure housing cooperatives are started to enable people save and mobilise resources for housing development." doclink

    Kenya's Waste Management Challenge

    March 13, 2013, IRIN News (UN)

    The more the population in the city of Nairobi and elsewhere in East Africa grows, the more the solid waste management burden grows. The problem is worsened by poor funding for urban sanitation departments and a lack of enforcement of sanitation regulations.

    Nearly 100 million people in East Africa lack access to improved sanitation, says the UN.

    In Nairobi, the city council's solid waste department, like those in Kampala and Dar es Salaam, is not well equipped, with transport vehicles few and often poorly serviced, despite increasing waste quantities due to rapid urbanization.

    Solid waste is often dumped in abandoned quarries or similar sites In the Mathare slum area, residents live close to one such dumpsite, which exposes them to environmental and disease risks.

    "Burning plastic produces very toxic fumes .. which are very harmful to human beings and the environment. Most of the uncontrolled dumpsites are some of the major sources of greenhouse gases contributing to global climate change," said Andre Dzikus, coordinator of the urban basic services section of the UN Human Settlement Programme (UN-HABITAT).

    More often than not, the urban poor have to make do with living amid waste despite the health risks; child mortality in the slums is 2.5 times higher than in other areas of Nairobi, according to WHO.

    In the Mathare slums, for example, the sight of children playing among plastic bags full of human excrement, referred to as "flying toilets", is common. "We use plastic bags to relieve ourselves because the few toilets that are there are too expensive," one resident said.

    "If I have to choose between paying for the toilet and buying food, the choice is easily made."

    "I have built toilets and bathrooms several times, but every time it rains, or there is a conflict, they are destroyed. Because of the instability, I take my time before I build a new one," said a slum property owner. "Every time some of us try to keep clean, someone defecates in front of your door."

    According to WHO, open defecation was the only sanitation practice available to 33% of the population in East Africa in 2006. Diarrhea is the second biggest killer of children in developing countries, according to UNICEF.

    Many slum dwellers in East African cities pay five to seven times more per litre of water than the average North American, notes WHO.

    "One of the health risks women have is reproductive health because they use public toilets that are not properly maintained. Some of them have suffered from urinary infections," Edith Kalela, a communication officer at Akiba Mashinani Trust said.

    Slum residents often do not own the land they live on, risking eviction. doclink

    Singapore Seethes Over Population Plan

    February 17, 2013   By: Katherine Landergan

    High housing prices are driving people from Singapore. One man, on moving his family to Japan said that prices in Japan are more affordable than properties in Singapore.

    Singapore transformed itself from a tiny island nation with no natural resources to one of the richest countries in the world, sustained by encouraging foreign investment and migrant laborers, and is now the third-most densely populated country in the world.

    The Singapore government is now planning to increase its total population from 5.3 million to 6.9 million by 2030. Thousand have taken to the streets on Saturday in protest. They have seen an aging population coupled with dwindling birth rates, escalating housing prices, overcrowding, and caving infrastructure.

    In addition to the number of foreigners, an estimated 30,000 new permanent residents - a status given to foreigners who live in Singapore for long periods of time - will also be added each year.

    Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, "Our priority is to maintain a strong Singaporean core by encouraging Singaporeans to get married and have children. We will reduce inflow of foreign workers, moderate flow of new citizens and maintain [permanent resident] population at about present size."

    The government's report predicted that the country's population will start to decline by 2025, and over 25% of the number of citizens retiring from the workforce. The fertility rate has now dropped just 1.2 births per woman - among the lowest rates in the world.

    Although the government stressed it would maintain a strong Singaporean core in spite of an incoming surge of foreigners, the majority of Singaporeans remain skeptical about its promise to deliver.

    "It seems like anyone can just come into Singapore," said one man. "So will having 6.9 million people make Singapore a happier place? Is the economy really that important?"

    "The government has been singing the same song for years," one woman said. "They keep adding more and more numbers year after year and assure us that it will be for the best, but when will it end?"

    Many say a potential loss of Singapore's national identity is an even more pressing problem than overpopulation.

    The opposition Singapore Democratic Party called instead for a plan for businesses to favor Singaporeans when hiring and to tighten the screening of foreign professionals to wean businesses off of cheap foreign labor. doclink

    Brazil: Swallowing Rain Forest, Cities Surge in Amazon

    November 24, 2012, New York Times   By: Taylor Barnes

    The surging population growth of cities is turning the Amazon from the world's largest remaining area of tropical forest, interspersed by remote river outposts, to a series of sprawling urban areas with air-conditioned shopping malls, gated communities and a dealerships selling Chevy pickup trucks.

    Scientists are studying such developments and focusing on the demands on the resources of the Amazon - deforestation in the region already ranks among the largest contributors to global greenhouse-gas emissions.

    By enforcing logging laws and carving out protected forest areas, the country has made progress in curbing deforestation; however, biologists and other climate researchers fear that the sharp increase in migration to cities in the Amazon, which now has a population approaching 25 million, could erode those gains.

    In the Amazon city of Manaus the number of residents grew 22% to 1.7 million from 2000 to 2010, according to government statistics. Of the 19 Brazilian cities that the latest census indicates have doubled in population over the past decade, 10 are in the Amazon. Altogether, the region's population climbed 23% from 2000 to 2010, while Brazil as a whole grew just 12%.

    Larger family sizes and high levels of poverty in the Amazon are fueling this growth. While Brazil's birthrate has fallen to 1.86 children per woman, one of the lowest in Latin America, the Amazon has Brazil's highest rate, at 2.42.

    There is also an economic allure: soybean farming fueled the growth of Sinop by 50% in a decade. In other cities, it is manufacturing, logging mining or hydroelectric construction.

    Some researchers suggest that the migration to cities may increase deforestation by permitting cattle ranchers, already responsible for razing big portions of forest, to acquire lands held by small cultivators.

    In the Amazon there is an intensifying an urbanization that has been advancing for decades. For more than 20 years, a majority of the Brazilian Amazon's population has lived in urban areas.

    "It's great that people are moving out of poverty, but one of the things we need to understand when people move out of poverty is there is a larger demand on resources," said Mitchell Aide, a University of Puerto Rico biology professor. doclink

    Urbanization Does Not Necessarily Mean More Wealth

    October 17, 2012, World Bank   By: Serena Dal

    Developing countries in Asia have found that movement to cities correlates with more wealth, but it doesn't apply to Africa, according to a chart from the World Bank's World Development Report on jobs. The chart compares the percentage of population living in urban areas with GDP per capita using data from World Development Indicators.

    Urbanization usually leads to higher GDP because of higher levels of productivity, but that did not happen for Sub-Saharan Africa. The graph shows a sporadic relationship between urbanization and GDP, perhaps because much of non-farm work in Africa is from microenterprises and household businesses that do not earn much. "These businesses make a significant contribution to gross job creation and destruction," the report says, "although not necessarily to net job creation and productivity growth." doclink

    Time to Really Complete Urbanization in China

    September 19, 2012, Marketwatch   By: Caixin Online

    China needs for its production capacity to be concentrated in the city to achieve economies of scale. Urbanization can also help rev up domestic demand, mop up excess production capacity and spur growth. Urbanization, along with industrialization, the IT revolution and globalization, will drive social and economic growth in the years to come.

    There is a danger that China's "incomplete urbanization" will not only impede its growth, but may also become a source of social tension, leading to instability.

    Much of the problems is that Chinese villagers are not treated the same as urban residents. In other words, farmers are not successfully becoming city residents.

    The rate of urbanization went from 18% in 1978 to 51.3% at the end of last year, with the urban population grew from 238 million to 680 million. However, at least 250 million migrants working in cities are not entitled to the social benefits given to urban residents, and have little or no access to a secure job, welfare benefits, or education and medical benefits for their children. If this group of people were taken out of official counts, it would shave at least 10 to 12 percentage points off the urbanization rate, according to analysts.

    Measures are being taken to improve social security benefits for migrant workers, improving the household registration system and giving migrant workers' children better access to education.

    Too often, farmers' land is seized against their wishes. Local governments have been known to try all kinds of ways to convert farmland into development projects, illegally and violently evicting farmers from their homes, turning them into flat dwellers and unwilling urbanites. This is a major cause of the mass outrage and radical protests in recent years.

    With between 500 million and 600 million villagers expected to move into cities in the next 10 to 25 years, the scale and complexity of Chinese urbanization is unprecedented. It is all the more necessary the government ensure the process is sustainable and people-centered. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: giving farmland over to urbanization is likely a huge mistake.

    Joblessness, Brain Drain, Servitude

    Generation Jobless: the Number of Young People Out of Work Globally is Nearly as Big as the Population of the United States

    May 01, 2013, Economist

    The total number of young jobless people is 311 million. Those who start their careers on the dole are more likely to have lower wages and more spells of joblessness later in life, because they lose out on the chance to acquire skills and self-confidence in their formative years.

    In the West economic slowdown has reduced demand for labor, and it is easier to put off hiring young people than it is to fire older workers. In emerging economies population growth is fastest in countries with dysfunctional labour markets, such as India and Egypt.

    There is an "arc of unemployment" from southern Europe through north Africa and the Middle East to South Asia, where the rich world's recession meets the poor world's youth quake. Countries with high youth employment are starting to see riots and violent crime.

    The answer lies in reforming labour markets and improving education.

    Rigid labour markets, such as those with powerful trade unions, high taxes on hiring, strict rules about firing, and high minimum wages help condemn young people to the street corner. South Africa is such an example.

    In addition to deregulating labour markets, governments which take a more active role in finding jobs for those who are struggling can help young people get jobs. Germany, which has the second-lowest level of youth unemployment in the rich world, pays a proportion of the wages of the long-term unemployed for the first two years. The Nordic countries provide young people with "personalised plans" to get them into employment or training. For countries that can't afford this approach, a cheaper approach would be to reform labor-hungry bits of the economy such as making it easier for small businesses to get licenses, or construction companies to get approval for projects, or shops to stay open in the evening.

    In both Britain and the United States many people with expensive liberal-arts degrees are finding it impossible to get decent jobs. In north Africa university graduates are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-graduates. Vocational and technical education needs to be upgraded and companies and schools need to forge closer relationships. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: I certainly agree that we need to invest more in young people. However, jobs will continue to slow as the economy continues to slow. We need to look beyond business-as-usual in preparing young people for a difficult future.

    Facing Limits: Jobs

    November 14, 2011, Lorna Salzman

    Regardless of whether the majority of the world's adults want to work or not in order to gain an income and have job satisfaction, the world cannot support full-time jobs for everyone because many jobs are based on ravaging the natural world to turn living things into dead products (i.e., forests into cardboard boxes and other packaging materials, disposable newspapers and chopsticks, etc.), and we have too many people to maintain such behaviors on the scale needed. Simultaneously the conversion of life into products is destroying habitats for forest residents (including indigenous tribes) and many species in other environments so that they die off at a high rate. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: add to this the fact that jobs are going to lower bidders in other countries, and even countries like the U.S. have big problems.

    How the U.S. is Becoming a 3rd World Country - Part 1

    November 11, 2011, Financial Sense

    The U.S. is experiencing high unemployment, lack of economic opportunity, low wages, widespread poverty, extreme concentration of wealth, unsustainable government debt, control of the government by international banks and multinational corporations, weak rule of law and counterproductive government policies -- all fundamental characteristics that define a 3rd world country.

    While other factors such as public health, nutrition, and infrastructure rank the U.S. above 3rd world countries, they are below European standards, and will rapidly deteriorate in a declining economy.

    The evidence suggests that, without fundamental reforms, the U.S. will become a post industrial neo-3rd-world country by 2032.

    Offshoring of manufacturing, outsourcing of jobs and deindustrialization are aspects of globalization, shoving the U.S. labor market into a long-term downward trend. The U.S. workforce has declined by approximately 6.5% since its year 2000 peak to roughly 58.2% of working age adults and the U.S. now suffers chronic unemployment of 9.1%. Although the workforce grew in the 1980s and 1990s, as dual income families became the norm, the size of the workforce is shrinking due to a lack of economic opportunity.

    Before the Clinton administration, unemployment measures included workers who are now no longer counted as part of the workforce. Thus, while the official long-term unemployment is 16.5%, using pre-Clinton measurements, unemployment exceeds 22%, only 3% below the worst point (24.9%) of the Great Depression, and not far from Armenia at 28.6%, Algeria at 27.3% and the West Bank and the Gaza Strip both at 25.7%. The highest unemployment for countries with over 2 million population is Macedonia with 33.8% unemployment.

    Young Americans are being left behind in terms of economic opportunity. Student loans exceed $1 trillion while the labor force participation rate for those aged 16 to 29 who are working or looking for work fell to 48.8% in 2011, the lowest level ever recorded. The fact of millions of unemployed college graduates and lack of economic opportunity for other young Americans, is a political wildcard reminiscent of countries like Tunisia.

    American workers cannot yet directly compete for jobs with workers in countries like China and India. In China, for example, gross pay, in terms of purchasing power parity, is equivalent to approximately $514 per month, 57% below the U.S. poverty line. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the U.S. trade deficit with China alone caused a loss of 2.8 million U.S. jobs since 2001.

    The cost of living is rising faster than wages, leaving Americans who earn more dollars poorer in terms of purchasing power. If household income is adjusted for inflation, most American families have grown significantly poorer over the past ten years. While wages have risen slightly, when adjusted for inflation, the wages of most Americans have not kept up with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Also, according to economist John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics, CPI systematically understates inflation.

    Prices rise when the money supply is increased faster than population or sustainable economic activity. Apparent economic growth created through credit expansion, i.e., by increasing the money supply, has a temporary stimulative effect but also causes prices to rise.

    The decline in real household income has set Americans back to 1996 levels, despite many households now having two incomes rather than one. The poverty rate in the United States rose to 15.7% in 2011, having risen sharply since 2006 and continues to climb. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as "food stamps," now feeds 1 in 8 Americans and nearly 1 in 4 children.

    The household income and wealth of the wealthiest Americans has increased sharply, despite the overall deterioration of the U.S. economy.

    Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, warned that concentration of wealth undermines the consumer base of the economy, causing GDP to decline and resulting in unemployment, which reduces living standards.

    Economic data from several sources, including the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), show that wealth and income in the United States have become increasingly concentrated with the wealthiest 1% of Americans owning 38.2% of stock market assets, e.g., shares of businesses. For the wealthiest 1% of Americans, household income tripled between 1979 and 2007 and has continued to increase while household wealth in the United States has fallen by $7.7 trillion.

    The Gini Coefficient, a measurement of disparity in income distribution, the United States is now at parity with China and will soon overtake Mexico, a still developing country. Even though the U.S. remains a far wealthier country overall, if the current trend continues the U.S. will resemble a 3rd world country, in terms of the disparity in income distribution, in approximately two decades, i.e., by 2032. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: we must take the money used for war and use it to prepare for hard times. Let's cut our waste, tighten our belts, become more efficient and build a more friendly social structure for our future.

    The Main Threat to the Economy of Tajikistan in 2011

    August 12, 2011,

    Tajikistan is a war-ravaged Central Asian country that is the poorest of the CIS states. Over the last 10 years the population grew from 5.5 million to 6.25 million while the domestic product decreased from 4 billion 615 million to 1 billion 900 million Somoni (approximately 674 million dollars). 74.4% of the population are rural dwellers, which is growing faster than the urban population. The population is forecast to reach 8 million by 2020, according to President Rakhmonov.

    In June 2010 the Parliament of Tajikistan adopted the "Law on Reproductive Health", which includes a number of measures to control fertility.

    According to various international organizations, 2 million Tajiks are starving. 80% of the population lives below the poverty line. In rural areas industry has collapsed and there is lack of demand for labor.

    During the years of independence, agriculture in Tajikistan was degraded and the country almost completely lost the culture of farming. In addition, in recent years have sharply deteriorated, and weather conditions are constant heavy rain, hail and floods, locust invasion.

    However rainfall in the mountains over last fall and winter was only 5 to 15% of average annual norms. The current lack of rainfall is like the winter of 2001, when Tajikistan was faced with severe drought, which caused damage to the economy hundreds of millions of dollars. Some experts are already saying that harvest thousands of hectares of rain-fed (no irrigation) fields in Tajikistan in autumn sown winter wheat are irretrievably lost.

    The irrigation system in the country, established during the Soviet Union did not receive funding and has been virtually destroyed.

    Tajikistan now exports most of its grain from Kazakhstan and Russia. Increase in exports may lead to depletion of foreign reserves in Tajikistan.

    Many of the country's able-bodied male population are leaving the country because of the failure of agriculture.The fields of the republic are run by women and children. Over 90% of Tajik migrants are currently in Russia and their number could reach 2 million.

    Corruption is keeping grants from international financial organizations and donor countries, dedicated to improving the efficiency of agriculture, from being used for their original purpose.

    Click on the link in the headline above to read more. doclink

    U.S.: Time to Get Real: Demographics is a Bigger Problem Than Health Care Costs

    June 23, 2011, Keith Hennessey website

    The rapid growth of per capita health spending in the U.S. needs to be addressed. However the aging of the population is the primary driver of our federal budget problems over the next 30-40 years.

    America is rapidly aging, due to two factors: people are living longer and the Baby boomers.

    People living longer means that people will be collecting benefits for more years. That's good for older people and expensive for the government.

    The Baby Boom is due to fertility rates surging after World War II from about 2.2 in 1946 to 3.6 babies per woman in 1960. These rates went down from there to 2.0, where it is predicted to stay.

    The first cohort of Baby Boomers started collecting their checks at age 62 in 2008.

    Current workers pay, by way of payroll taxes, for the Social Security and Medicare benefits of current retirees. In 1950, there were 16 workers paying payroll taxes for each retiree collecting Social Security benefits. Today, there the number is 3.3 workers, In the future there will be only 2.

    [A recent analysis showed that, to maintain the SS and Medicare systems at projected costs, a 45% payroll tax would be necessary, or 60% to include other projected federal expenditures.] doclink

    Karen Gaia says:

  • Another thing to consider is that seniors require more health care than younger people
  • Medicare began 45 years ago, in the days of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Life expectancies were 5-years less than now. Woman now take benefits 33% longer and men 44% longer than the days of LBJ. It was expected that wages for American workers would continue to rise, but today they are either stagnant or declining
  • In a poll of students of economics, about 70% indicated they would never be a recipient of SS and Medicare
  • Last, there is nothing in the works to protect retires against loss of the value in their homes, and inflation, which is sure to come with the huge deficit.
  • As Economy in Silicon Valley Slides, Birth Control Booms

    June 26, 2009, San Jose Mercury News

    With the ranks of the uninsured increasing along with unemployment rates, many women are taking steps to avoid having a child.

    Among gynecologists and family-planning clinics throughout the South Bay, there have been more birth-control consultations since the fall, and women are asking for more reliable, more permanent methods of contraception.

    "They want to focus their finances on the one or two kids that they have," said an OB-GYN. "Instead of going with condoms or birth-control pills, they want longer-term solutions like the intrauterine device." IUDs have a lower failure rate than birth-control pills and condoms, according to the CDC.

    A national Gallup poll revealed that 20% of women surveyed were more concerned about an unintended pregnancy during the bad economy, and 19% were more conscientious about using birth control.

    In the years straddling the market crash of the Great Depression, birthrates plummeted almost 30%. Rates peaked after World War II, then took another nose-dive following the recession of the early 1970s.

    Even lower-income women are filling the rooms of in a Planned Parenthood clinic East San Jose.

    Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, which runs 33 clinics in Northern California, including the South Bay region, sees between 40,000 and 50,000 patients every month. Last December clinics had 25% visits than the previous year, and in March, it was 16% more, with the bulk of patients coming in for birth-control consultations, refills and infection screenings and treatment. Local abortion rates went down during the same time period.

    One woman who opted for an IUD said she wanted a more reliable method since her boyfriend started having trouble finding painting and construction jobs. They can hardly pay the rent on their one-bedroom apartment, and as their public benefits run out, they're struggling with the four kids they have. "I tried the injection and I got pregnant, I tried the pill and I got pregnant. I needed something safer."

    Some women use permanent sterilization, such as the outpatient procedure of placing titanium coils in the fallopian tubes.

    Sometimes it is more than the money. For Indian immigrant women on H-1B visas that require them to be actively employed, losing a job can mean leaving the country.

    Paying for the birth control itself is usually a challenge for low income women. California's Family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment program, which provides free contraception and reproductive-health services to low-income Californians of childbearing age, received 5,000 more claims in 2008 for services than in 2007. Latinos make up the majority of enrollees in the program at 65% statewide.

    With the proposed up to $36 million in cuts to family-planning programs in the state budget, there is much to fear. The federal government matches every $1 the state spends on family planning with $9, so even more is at stake.

    Men are also undergoing more vasectomies to cushion their families against hard times. doclink

    U.S.: Why the Unemployment Rate Will Stay High for Years to Come

    September 16, 2010, Black Swan Insights

    America's unemployment currently stands at 9.6%. The San Francisco Fed released a report which shows why the rate will not be coming down for years to come. The number of jobs that need to be created each month in order to reduce the unemployment rate is far above the current rate of job growth.

    1. To keep the unemployment rate steady at 9.6%, the US economy needs to create 100,000 jobs per month. This assumes average population growth of 1% and a flat labor force participation rate.

    2. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the US economy needs to create 227,000 jobs per month. This assumption is based upon a projected uptick in the labor force participation rate to 64.8%. If the CBO is off by only 0.1%, the number jumps 10,000 to 237,000 jobs per month required.

    3. The Social Security Administration expects the labor force participation rate to fall to 64.6% in 2012. This means that starting September 2010, the US has to create 208,000 jobs per month to reach the 8% unemployment rate goal.

    4. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting a labor force participation rate of 65.5% in 2012. Under this assumption the US economy has to create a whopping 294,000 jobs per month.

    5. In August 2010 the US private sector created 67,000 jobs, far below the rate necessary to reduce the unemployment rate. During the last "jobless recovery," when economic conditions were much more favorable job creation averaged 140,000 jobs per month.

    Don't expect the unemployment rate to come down anytime soon. If anything, it might tick up in 2011. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: at some point, maybe already, resource depletion will override our debt-driven economy and providing jobs for the current population, not to mention jobs to accomodate all the new workers, will become more and more difficult.

    Uganda;: Monitor Wins Population Award

    September 10, 2006, Daily Monitor

    Prof. Ssemakula Kiwanuka has said Uganda needs more investment with its fast growing population which stands at 28.2 million.

    We need to equip our children with education and skills and provide them with jobs so that they are gainfully employed and take advantage of our rapidly growing population to become an effective market in the great lakes region.

    Rapid population growth has implications on the environment, food security and sustainable economic development. doclink


    World Bank: Climate Change Will 'Lead to Battles for Food'

    April 06 , 2014, Climate Central   By: Larry Elliott

    Battles over water and food will erupt within the next five to 10 years as a result of climate change, Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank said as he urged those campaigning against global warming to learn the lessons of how protesters and scientists joined forces in the battle against HIV.

    Jim Yong Kim said it was possible to cap the rise in global temperatures at 2°C but that so far there had been a failure to replicate the "unbelievable" success of the 15-year-long coalition of activists and scientists to develop a treatment for HIV. He had asked the climate change community: "Do we have a plan that's as good as the plan we had for HIV?" The answer, unfortunately, was no.

    "Is there enough basic science research going into renewable energy? Are there ways of taking discoveries made in universities and quickly moving them into industry? Are there ways of testing those innovations? Are there people thinking about scaling those innovations?" The answer was 'no' to all these questions. We still don't have a plan.

    The four areas where the bank could help in the fight against global warming are: finding a stable price for carbon; removing fuel subsidies; investing in cleaner cities; and developing climate-smart agriculture. Improved access to clean water and sanitation was also vital, to avoid tension over resources which would result from inaction over global warming.

    "People say that carbon is the currency of climate change. Water is the teeth. Fights over water and food are going to be the most significant direct impacts of climate change in the next five to 10 years. Water and sanitation has not had the same kind of champion that global health, and even education, have had."

    The World Bank president warned that a failure to tackle inequality risked social unrest. The bank has almost doubled its lending capacity to $28 billion a year with the aim of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 and spreading the benefits of prosperity to the poorest 40% in developing countries.

    Because of smartphones and access to media, you have no idea where the next huge social movement is going to erupt, he said. "It's going to erupt to a great extent because of these inequalities. So what I hear from heads of state is a much, much deeper understanding of the political dangers of very high levels of inequality," he said.

    "Now that we have good evidence that suggests that working on more inclusive growth strategies actually improves overall growth, that's our job." doclink

    Indonesia Population Approaching U.S. Revives Birth Control

    January 28, 2014, Business Week   By: Shamim Adam, Berni Moestafa and Novrida Manurung

    President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia announced that he would like families to refrain from having more than two children. The cause of this announcement is due to the slower economic investment and high youth unemployment rate Indonesia is facing.

    A primary concern for the government is that this particular type of demographic attracts companies seeking a young and cheap labour force, which Indonesia is worried will become an economic time bomb. As the growth of the country slows, the world fourth largest population is not generating enough high quality jobs to keep up with the population, the International Labour Organization has stated.

    Thus with the current demographic trend, a revival has begun of a birth control program by former President Suharto, who managed to halve the fertility rate to about 2.6, where it's been stuck ever since. The current fertility rate target the government is aiming for is 2.1, if achieved in two years, will prevent the population from doubling to 250 million by 2060.

    The government increased the budget for family planning programs almost fourfold since 2006, to 2.6 trillion rupiah ($214 million) in 2013, funding everything from training rural midwives via text messages, to persuading Muslim clerics to encourage vasectomies. The measures extend efforts dating back to 1968, when Suharto set up the National Family Planning Institute to provide advice and contraceptives to the people of Indonesia.

    Current statistics indicated that 19.6% of Indonesian youths between the ages of 15 and 24 were jobless in 2012, compared with about 16% in the Philippines, according to the ILO. Furthermore statistics also show that Indonesia's labor force will grow 11.2% this decade, while its population will increase about 11.5%, according to Bank of America Corp. The high proportion of young adults (approximately 50% of Indonesia's population) has attracted companies such as L'Oreal SA, the world's largest cosmetics maker, which opened its biggest factory globally in West Java in 2012 to supply products to Southeast Asia.

    While the rising supply of factory workers appeals to investors, it means the government has to direct more of its resources on education. Public spending on education as a percentage of government expenditure rose to about 17% in 2010 from 11.5% in 2001, according to the United Nations.

    Heru Purnomo, who works at a courier service in the capital, said "Competition is tight". "Now, people have to have a high level of education to get a job. If you have too many children, you get left behind." doclink

    China Accounts for 100% of the Reduction in the Number of the World's People Living in Poverty

    November 24, 2013, Key Trends in Globalisation   By: John Ross

    In 2010 Professor Danny Quah of the London School of Economics noted: "In the last three decades, China has lifted more people out of extreme poverty than the rest of the world combined." This article analyzes data published three years after Quah's analysis; looks at the trends based on two measures of poverty, compares China's numbers to other nations, and concludes that Quah's analysis still holds. China is responsible for 100% of the reduction in the number of people living in poverty in the world.

    With 22% of the world's population in 1978, the percentage of the world's population directly benefiting from China's rapid economic growth is seven times that of the population in the U.S. or Japan when they began rapid growth. China's 9.9% average increase in GDP per capita during the two last five year plans is the fastest ever achieved by a major country. China's annual average 8.1% increase in household consumption and 8.3% annual increase in total consumption, including state expenditure on items vital for quality of life, such as education and health, was the fastest of any major economy. This was coupled with a life expectancy above that which would be expected from China's per-capita GDP.

    Measured in Parity Purchasing Powers (PPPs) - that is the real increase in output in steel, cars, transport, services etc. - the greatest absolute increase in output the U.S. ever recorded in single year was $567 billion in 1999. But in 2010 China added $1,126 billion - more than twice the increase in output in a single year ever achieved by any other country.

    The total number that China has been responsible for lifting out of absolute poverty exceeds the world-wide increase in the number of people lifted out of absolute poverty. (Absolute or extreme poverty is defined as less than $1.25 a day ($37.5 a month) per capita. Poverty is defined as less than $2.00 a day.) Between 1981 and 2009, China lifted 678 million of its citizens out of extreme poverty. In contrast, due to the rise in the number of people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people living in extreme poverty outside China increased by 50 million between 1981 and 2008. Thus, China was responsible for 100% of the world's reduction of the number of people living in extreme poverty.

    Using $2 a day ($60 a month), still a very low figure, the trend was even more striking. The number of people in China living on $2 a day or less fell from 972 million in 1981 to 362 million in 2009, a decrease of 610 million people. In contrast the number of those living at $2 a day in the world outside China rose from 1,548 million in 1981 to 2,057 million in 2008 - an increase of 509 million. Again, China accounted for the entire reduction in the number of people in the world living at this level of poverty.

    Comparing China to India - a country which at the end of the 1940s had a higher GDP per capita than China - China has 66% more nurses and midwives and 160% more doctors per thousand people. In China the literacy rate for women aged 15-24 is 99%, on the latest World Bank data, while for India it is 74%; and the infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births is 12 in China compared to 44 in India. doclink

    Art says: If a nation doubles its population and the number in poverty grows too, but by a lesser amount, that nation has reduced the percentage of its people in poverty.

    Population Growth Undermines Aid Effectiveness

    A recent study sponsored by Population Matters concludes that investment in measures shown to reduce population growth is key to addressing extreme poverty.
    December 6 , 2013, Population Matters

    A recent London School of Economics and Political Science graduate project sponsored by Population Matters, More Aid + More People ≠ Less Poverty, showed that high fertility rates and thus rapidly increasing population size were the main reason for the number of people living in absolute poverty to increase in the 20 highest fertility countries during the past two decades, despite a sharp increase in the number of aid recipients.

    Total fertility rates in these countries remained well above world average. A key factor in poverty reduction is thus reducing population growth to a reasonable level.

    Three aspects of development aid were shown to contribute to fertility reduction: family planning, education and economic infrastructure. However, the percentage of development aid spent on these three aspects combined was a mere 16 per cent, with only a derisory 0.3 per cent being spent on the most important of these — family planning.

    Since fertility reduction is key to reducing poverty, aid donors should have invested much more aid in these three areas — especially family planning.

    Commented Population Matters chair, Roger Martin, "This is yet more evidence supporting the argument for investing far greater sums in programmes shown to reduce fertility rates and hence population growth. Aid strategies that increase longevity without at the same time reducing fertility are simply running to catch up with ever-increasing numbers of people. Indeed they appear actually to create more poor people, and thus the basis for future humanitarian crises." doclink

    World Poverty is Shrinking Rapidly, New Index Reveals

    UN development report uses nutrition and education as yardsticks as well as income
    March 16 , 2013, Mail and Guardian   By: Tracy Mcveigh

    A study by Oxford University's poverty and human development initiative, which uses a new approach to measuring deprivation, predicts that countries among the most impoverished in the world could see acute poverty eradicated within 20 years if they continue at present rates.

    Rwanda, Nepal and Bangladesh were identified as places where deprivation could disappear within the lifetime of present generations. Ghana, Tanzania, Cambodia and Bolivia follow close behind.

    The study comes after the UN's latest development report published last week which stated that "Higher growth in at least 40 poor countries is lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty and into a new 'global middle class'. Never in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast."

    The improvement is the result of international and national aid and development projects investing in schools, health clinics, housing, infrastructure and improved access to water. Trade was also a key factor in improving conditions in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone.

    In the past poverty was measured strictly in income terms without taking into account other factors - health, education and living standards.

    The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), just updated in the 2013 UN report includes ten indicators to calculate poverty - nutrition, child mortality, years of schooling and attendance, cooking fuel, water, sanitation, electricity assets and a covered floor.

    The old methods of looking at income levels - such as those living on $1.25 a day or less- ignores other deprivations such as in nutrition, health and sanitation.

    The institute's director Dr Sabina Alkire said: "Poverty is more than money - it is ill health, it is food insecurity, it is not having work, or experiencing violence and humiliation, or not having health care, electricity, or good housing."

    "Citizen activism is under-appreciated for its role. Maybe we have been overlooking the power of the people themselves, women who are empowering each other, civil society pulling itself up."

    1.6 billion people are living in "multidimensional" poverty. The poorest one billion live in 100 countries. Most of the bottom billion live in South Asia, with India home to 40%, followed by sub-Saharan Africa with 33%. The report also found that 9.5% of the bottom billion poor people lived in developed, upper middle-income countries. doclink

    Will Nigerian Boom Babies Feed Prosperity Or Entrench Poverty?

    April 09 , 2013, Reuters   By: Tim Cocks

    Nigeria adds 11,000 people a day to its population, or 2.4% a year, and is already at 170 million.

    By 2050 the country will have 400 million people and will be world's fourth most populous country , according to the the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) 400 million is just less than the projected figure for the United States, but with only a tenth of its territory.

    Retailers of fast-moving consumer goods are looking forward to the larger population, but it is not clear whether it can reap a "demographic dividend" from an expanding population of young people of working age and turn it into a richer society with widespread higher living standards.

    55-year-old Hunkpe makes $19 a week selling fish to feed her eight offspring and 10 grandchildren; her house sleeps 40 people at a time. "I wanted my children to go to school to give them a better life, but I couldn't afford it," she said.

    Skeptics fear swelling numbers of jobless and uneducated youths threaten the stability of a country already suffering an Islamist uprising in the north and oil theft, piracy and kidnapping by criminal gangs in the south.

    "If we keep growing our population at this rate, without also growing our means to sustain it, we are heading towards catastrophe," says Owoeye Olumide, a demographer at Nigeria's Bowen University. "We have to do something very fast ... or we face more poverty and agitation or worse - disease, hunger, war."

    The Renaissance Capital bank says "Only sub-Saharan Africa is positioned to experience 15-20% growth in the crucial 15-24 age range over the coming decades, which will provide the plentiful labor force the world economy will rely on."

    Yet countries that reap the "demographic dividend" usually do so only once population growth starts to slow.

    Fertility rates in sub-Saharan Africa they remain high at 5.6 while they are crashing across Asia and Latin America (4 per woman) - mirroring falls in Europe a generation ago.

    Sub-Saharan Africa's population will double by 2045 to 2 billion, according to the U.N..

    Nigeria's commercial hub of Lagos - at 21 million people - receives hundreds of thousands of new arrivals each year from rural areas, growing by 672,000 people a year, state data shows. Many live in slums with no reliable electricity or water and families sleep in s 75 square foot rooms. Household incomes are far below the threshold for a retail boom, with 93% with monthly income lower than $390, compared with only 38% in Johannesburg.

    Many retailers seem to think that the middle class in Nigeria is a lot bigger than it actually is.

    Strategies targeting middle-income groups that worked in places like India and South Africa may not yet work so well for Nigeria, Standard Bank's head of equity product, Matthew Pearson said.

    Absolute poverty rose to from 54.7% in 2004 to 60% in 2012, worsened by rapid population growth. Some 100 million Nigerians live in poverty.

    Nearly half of Nigerians are under 15, and in the "Middlebelt" - a region of central Nigeria populated largely by minority ethnic groups - violence is common among youth gangs, with disputes over scarce land and water. 12 million children of school age are not in education.

    In the Niger Delta, gangs of mostly unemployed armed youths steal tens of thousands of barrels of oil a day from pipelines.

    The north's Islamist insurgency is driven by its desperate, unemployed youth population, said Mohammed Junaidu, a northern opposition politician and academic. "It's a combination of failures of governance and the ticking demographic time-bomb," he said. "They urgently need to pacify these youths or face more instability and terrorism."

    While the government has promoted family planning for decades, it struggles to influence a poorly educated population, many living in remote rural areas, that values having many children.

    Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria said that only around 10% use contraceptives.

    Yet Charles Robertson at Renaissance Capital says over a third of children go to secondary school, compared with just 7% in 1975 - similar to India 20 years ago. "As African countries get richer, birth rates will drop dramatically," he said - as has happened in India and Egypt." doclink

    Karen Gaia says: which came first, prosperity or lower fertility rates?

    Environmental Threats Could Push Billions Into Extreme Poverty, Warns UN

    UN's 2013 human development report urges action on climate change, deforestation and pollution before it is too late
    March 14, 2013, Mail and Guardian   By: Claire Provost

    The UN's new 2013 Human Development Report - - predicts that the number of people living in extreme poverty could increase by up to 3 billion by 2050 unless urgent action is taken to tackle environmental challenges.

    "The longer action is delayed, the higher the cost will be," says the report.

    Over 40 countries have done better than previously expected on the UN's human development index (HDI), showing progress on health, wealth and education in dozens of developing countries, and with gains accelerating over the past decade. Norway and Australia are highest in this year's HDI, while the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Niger are ranked lowest.

    However inaction on climate change, deforestation, and air and water pollution could end gains in the world's poorest countries and communities. The proportion of people living under $1.25 a day is estimated to have fallen from 43% in 1990 to 22% in 2008, driven in part by significant progress in China. The millennium development goal to halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015 has been met ahead of schedule, according to the World Bank.

    "Climate change is already exacerbating chronic environmental threats, and ecosystem losses are constraining livelihood opportunities, especially for poor people. A clean and safe environment should be seen as a right, not a privilege."

    The British prime minister, David Cameron, and US president Barack Obama have both made eradicating extreme poverty a key plank in their respective development agendas.

    Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Turkey - have made the most rapid advances, but there has also been substantial progress in smaller economies, such as Bangladesh, Chile, Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda and Tunisia.

    Cash-transfer programmes in Brazil, India and Mexico have helped narrow income gaps and improve the health and education prospects of poor communities. Proactive "developmental states", which seek to take strategic advantage of world trade opportunities but also invest heavily in health, education and other critical services, have emerged as a key trend.

    China and India have doubled their per capita economic output in fewer than 20 years, bringing about greater change and lifting far more people out of poverty than the Industrial Revolution that transformed Europe and North America in the 18th and 19th centuries. "The Industrial Revolution was a story of perhaps 100 million people, but this is a story about billions of people," said Khalid Malik, lead author of the report.

    Short-sighted austerity measures, inaction in the face of stark social inequalities, and the lack of opportunities for citizen participation were seen as critical threats to progress - both in developing countries and in European and North American industrial powers. "Social policy is at least as important as economic policy," Malik said. "People think normally you're too poor to afford these things. But our argument is you're too poor not to."

    He said more representative global institutions are needed to tackle shared global challenges. China, with the world's second largest economy and biggest foreign exchange reserves, has only a 3.3% share in the World Bank, notes the report, less than France's 4.3%. Africa, with a billion people in 54 nations, is under-represented in almost all international institutions.

    With two-thirds of the world's $10.2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves in developing countries, "Even a small share of these vast sums could have a swift measurable impact on global poverty and human development." doclink

    Family Planning Pilot Project in Philippines is a Success Story

    March 03 , 2013   By: Bonnie Tillery

    The Philippines, a country the size of Arizona, has about 1/3 the U.S. population of 313 million and is expected to double in size by 2080. To feed its people, the Philippines imports more rice than any other country on the planet and its oceans show severe signs of overfishing.

    The Philippines has one of the highest birth rates in the world and the highest teen pregnancy rate in the Asian Pacific.

    Two thirds of native plant and animal species are endemic to the islands and nearly half of them are threatened. Less than 10% of the islands' original vegetation remains and 70% of the 27,000 square kilometers of coral reefs are in poor condition."

    Late last year Philippine President Benigno Aquino signed the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012. This means that government health centers will have to make reproductive health education, maternal health care and contraceptives available to everyone. The Catholic Church is vehemently opposed to it and has threatened excommunication for the president and any politicians who support it. One 44-year-old woman, a devout Catholic with 16 children, said, "We don't pay attention to (the Church's opposition). They are not the ones who are giving birth again and again. We are the ones who have to find a way to care for the children."

    In the slums of its capital, Manila, a woman who had 22 pregnancies and has 17 surviving children, reported, "Many times, we sleep without eating." One of the reasons for enacting the reproductive health law is to help break the cycle of poverty.

    Pilot studies from USAID and UNFPA have shown that integrated population, health and environment (PHE) programs have made inroads in saving the environment.

    One community supported by a PATH Foundation family planning program,saw the family size go from an average of 12 children to no more than four children over the first six years of the program. The community set up a marine preserve to protect the fish and eventually boost the declining catch. One man in the community noted that if they can "control the number of children, they don't need as much fish."

    Sam Eaton, maker of the film "Food for 9 Billion: Turning the Population Tide in the Philippines," notes that people empowered by their ability to control their future can make a better future for their children.

    With sequestration looming in the U.S., assistance to important international programs supported by USAID and UNFPA are in jeopardy. Population Action International estimates that cuts will deny access to contraceptive services and supplies to an additional 1.68 million women and couples in developing countries overseas, and result in 1,292 more maternal deaths each year.

    Here in the U.S. some of our lawmakers in the U.S. want to take us backward. Numerous suits have been filed opposing contraceptive coverage in the Affordable Care Act.

    It is vital that all women, here and overseas, have the ability to decide for themselves the size of their families.

    Bonnie Tillery is volunteer population issues coordinator for the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club. doclink

    Flooding, Earthquakes, Disasters

    Whose Fault is the Weather?

    February 01 , 2014, Population Matters

    This year's floods in the UK are at least partly driven by the rising tide of humanity.

    This year's floods in the UK have affected the lives of thousands through disturbance, disruption and the loss, albeit temporary, of homes and livelihoods.

    Britain's weather is never predictable. However, the Met Office's chief scientist has linked this year's exceptional rainfall to climate change, which is linked to carbon emissions from human activity stemming from increasing per capita consumption and rising population levels.

    The rising UK population has another effect. Development pressure affects the green belt and results in much building taking place on unsuitable land where the risk of flooding is high.

    Other countries are also experiencing extreme weather, from the record snowfalls in Japan to the prolonged drought in California.

    Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters, commented: "The UK population has risen by 4.5 million since 2001 and is forecast to grow further by around the same amount by 2020. Household numbers will grow at an even faster rate. This growth in population and households will increase carbon emissions, and rising housing costs will push housing development into areas of increased flood risk or exposure to rising sea levels. A sensible response to this year's floods is to seek to stabilise our population and then return it to a sustainable level." doclink

    Karen Gaia says: California's recent dry weather is caused by a semi-permanent high pressure system called the Pacific Hight that has stalled over the Eastern Pacific and has been deflecting cooler, wetter weather to other parts of the country, picking up cold air coming down from the Arctic area and the colder Canadian areas, right into the central part of the country.

    So some of the weather is caused by normal fluctuations, but regardless of the cause, the impact is far greater because high density forces people to live in risky places so that more people are impacted in flooding, landslides, earthquakes, and other weather-caused disasters.

    There will also be a time when resources needed to mitigate these disasters will be stretched thin as more and more people need them.

    Andrew Revkin: Local Population Dynamics Crucial to Understanding Climate Vulnerability

    February 2014   By: Schuyler Null

    "What's become clear to me on population is that it's really a local issue," said Andrew Revkin in an interview at the Wilson Center. Demographic shifts around the world are for the most part heading in the direction people anticipated, But "ll it takes is a tiny diversion of fertility rates and things could really grow or shrink," he said.

    While some regions have stopped growing entirely and are even shrinking, others, like sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia, are still growing rapidly. This can create local resource scarcity and also put more people in the path of disasters.

    "In many of the areas around the world…where you have high fertility rates, you also have high exposure to natural hazards," he said. The population of Tacloban City, the capital of the province struck most directly by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, almost tripled over the last 40 years. So you if you've got this burst of population growth in the next 30 or 40 years and a lot of urbanization, again, in areas that are vulnerable to disasters, you're setting up a really bad situation."

    “Population was long perceived as ... more people means more demand for stuff," he said. “But in vulnerable places it actually means a bigger exposure to hazard." doclink

    Human Impacts of Rising Oceans Will Extend Well Beyond Coasts

    May 28, 2011, Science Daily

    Researchers Katherine Curtis and Annemarie Schneider from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that identifying the human impact of rising sea levels is far more complex than just looking at coastal cities on a map. Basing on current, static population data can greatly misrepresent the true extent - and the pronounced variability - of the human toll of climate change, they said.

    The researcher's report will be published online in the peer-reviewed journal Population and Environment. It will examine the impacts of rising oceans as one element of how a changing climate will affect humans. Economic and social vulnerability was linked with environmental vulnerability to better understand which areas and their populations are most vulnerable.

    Existing climate projections and maps were used to identify areas at risk of inundation from rising sea levels and storm surges, then coupled those vulnerability assessments with projections for future populations.

    "Future climate scenarios typically span 50 to 100 years or more. That's unreasonable for demographic projections, which are often conducted on the order of decades," explains Schneider. The researchers worked to better align population and climate data in both space and time, in order to describe social and demographic dimensions of environmental vulnerability.

    Four regions susceptible to flooding were studied: the tip of the Florida peninsula, coastal South Carolina, the northern New Jersey coastline, and the greater Sacramento region of northern California. Using current patterns of population change to predict future population demographics in those areas, and patterns of movement to or from those areas, they were able to determine that, by 2030 more than 19 million people will be affected by rising sea levels in just their four study areas.

    Through these migrations networks, "environmental impacts will have a ripple effect," Curtis says. For example, people who would have moved to Florida would have to remain where they started or move elsewhere if Florida floods.

    A population's demographic, social, and economic profile affects the ways in which people can respond to local disaster, she adds. For example, children or elderly require a different approach to evacuation and resettlement than a largely working-age population, while workers from the agricultural lands of northern California will face different post-displacement labor challenges than those from the industrial corridor of New Jersey.

    "As we anticipate future events, future natural disasters, we've learned how dramatic it can be -- and there are things that can be done in advance to mitigate the extent of damage in a location," Curtis says. doclink

    Marshall Islands: If An Island State Vanishes, is it Still a Nation?

    December 6, 2010

    Encroaching seas in the far Pacific are raising the salt level in the wells of the Marshall Islands. Waves threaten to cut one sliver of an island in two. "It's getting worse," says Kaminaga Kaminaga, the tiny nation's climate change coordinator.

    The atoll nations of Kiribati, Tuvalu and other atoll nations beyond are also threatened.

    The rising ocean raises questions, too: What happens if the 61,000 Marshallese must abandon their low-lying atolls? Would they still be a nation? With a U.N. seat? With control of their old fisheries and their undersea minerals? Where would they live, and how would they make a living? Who, precisely, would they and their children become?

    For years global negotiations to act on climate change have dragged on, with little to show. Parties to the 193-nation U.N. climate treaty are meeting again in this Caribbean resort, but no one expects decisive action to roll back the industrial, agricultural and transport emissions blamed for global warming — and consequently for swelling seas.

    "People who built their homes close to shore, all they can do is get more rocks to rebuild the seawall in front day by day," said Kaminaga, who is in Cancun with the Marshallese delegation to the U.N. talks.

    The Marshallese government is looking beyond today to those ultimate questions of nationhood, displacement and rights and took a first step to confront these issues by asking for advice from the Center for Climate Change Law at New York's Columbia University where legal scholars worldwide will be assembled next May to begin to piece together answers.

    The U.N. network of climate scientists projects that seas, expanding from heat and from the runoff of melting land ice, may rise by up to 1.94 feet (0.59 meters) by 2100, swamping much of the scarce land of coral atolls.

    Long before waves wash over them the islands may become uninhabitable, because of the saline contamination of water supplies and ruining of crops, and because warming is expected to produce more threatening tropical storms.

    McAdam, of the University of New South Wales, has traveled in the atoll nations and studied the legal history.

    The 1951 global treaty on refugees, mandating that nations shelter those fleeing because of persecution, does not cover the looming situation of those displaced by climate change. Some advocate negotiating a new international pact obliging similar treatment for environmental refugees.

    In the case of the Marshallese, the picture is murkier. Under a compact with Washington, citizens of the former U.S. trusteeship territory have the right to freely enter the U.S. for study or work, but their right to permanent residency must be clarified, government advisers say.

    The wide scattering of the Marshalls' 29 atolls, 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers) southwest of Hawaii, give them an exclusive economic zone of 800,000 square miles (2 million square kilometers) of ocean, an area the size of Mexico. Tuna from those waters are the Marshalls' chief resource, exploited by selling licenses to foreign fishing fleets. "If their islands go underwater, what becomes of their fishing rights?"

    Potentially just as important: revenues from magnesium and other sea-floor minerals that geologists have been exploring in recent years.

    The "top priority," Kaminaga said, is to save the isthmus linking the Marshalls' Jaluit island to its airport, a link now swept by high tides.

    The Marshalls' representatives will seek international aid for climate adaptation. They envision such projects as a Jaluit causeway, replanting of protective vegetation on shorelines, and a 3-mile-long (5-kilometer-long) seawall protecting their capital, Majuro, from the Pacific's rising tides.

    In the end, islanders wonder, too, what will happen to their culture, their history, their identity with a homeland — even to their ancestors — if they must leave. Cemeteries along the coastline are being eroded as gravesites fall into the sea. doclink

    More Earthquakes Or Just More People?

    May 18, 2010, Californians for Population Stabilization

    Earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and Turkey lead some to wonder if seismic activity is increasing, but seismologists say that improved monitoring and instantaneous news contribute to the sense of more earthquake activity.

    A bigger factor though is that more people in a more populated world are now living in areas along fault lines. There are 130 cities with populations greater than 1 million, and more than half of those cities are on fault lines.

    Haiti, with an estimated population of 9 million, has a fertility rate of 3.81, too high to be sustainable. It's estimated there are about 100,000 Haitians living in the United States illegally and another 30,000 who were awaiting deportation at the time of the quake. doclink

    Help for Pregnant Women in Flood-Affected Pakistan

    August 12, 2010,

    The health system in areas of Pakistan was disturbed by the recent flash floods, with 30 health facilities completely destroyed and no place to seek treatment for displaced persons.

    The government in collaboration with WHO, Unicef, UNFPA, Pakistan Paediatrics Association and Pakistan Gynecologists and Obstetricians Association has begun identifing pregnant women and sick children and providing them immediate treatment. During the last four days, more than 200 displaced expecting mothers have been examined and given medication.

    Mobile treatment programmes have helped uprooted women who were at the risk of giving birth to babies in dangerous circumstances, but they were referred to hospitals where they received treatment. "We have also health education and hygiene promotion sessions with the displaced population to avoid occurrence of opportunistic ailments," a doctor said.

    300 children have undergone medical checkup. Most of them were given vitamin and other treatment.

    Most of the women and children required food and clean drinking water. doclink

    World's River Deltas Sinking Due to Human Activity, Says New Study

    September 21, 2009, New Scientist

    A study from the University of Colorado at Boulder says that most of the world's low-lying river deltas are sinking from human activity, making them increasingly vulnerable to flooding from rivers and ocean storms and putting tens of millions of people at risk.

    The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report said that many river deltas are at risk from about 18 inches in sea level rise by the end of the century, but other factors are involved: upstream trapping of sediments by reservoirs and dams, man-made channels and levees that whisk sediment into the oceans beyond coastal floodplains, and the accelerated compacting of floodplain sediment caused by the extraction of groundwater and natural gas.

    24 out of the world's 33 major deltas are sinking and 85% experienced severe flooding in recent years. About 500 million people in the world live on river deltas. Each year about 10 million people are affected by storm surges.

    Hurricane Katrina in the United States, flooding in the Asian deltas of Irrawaddy in Myanmar and the Ganges-Brahmaputra in India and Bangladesh are examples. Similar disasters could potentially occur in the Pearl River delta in China and the Mekong River delta in Vietnam, where thousands of square miles are below sea level and the regions are hit by periodic typhoons.

    People have trouble coping with the fury of storm surges that can temporarily raise sea level by three to 10 meters (10 to 33 feet). The trend seems to be worsening. doclink

    Can We Save California's Water?

    February 23, 2008, AlterNet

    An effort is under way to save The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California's least-known environmental jewel, a unique ecological, economic and cultural resource. The Delta is also a source of drinking water for two-thirds of California's 37 million residents.

    The Delta is in crisis. The levees providing flood protection and secure water supplies are crumbling. The complex system by which water is moved through the Delta is over-subscribed and under the jurisdiction of federal and state court judges.

    Seismologists predict a one-in-three chance of a catastrophic earthquake in the next 50 years that would damage or destroy major portions of the levee system and revert the Delta to an inland salt sea. Federal experts warn that Sacramento is now the most flood-prone city in the nation, exceeding New Orleans.

    There is agreement that the Delta is unsustainable and unacceptable. Political gridlock has prevented California's leaders from fashioning a solution, and those problems have mushroomed into a crisis as government leaders have failed to act.

    Governor Schwarzenegger appointed a Delta Vision Task Force to develop an independent vision for the Delta. The seven-member group began its work last March, advised by expert scientists and a group of stakeholders reflecting every conceivable interest. The resulting Delta Vision, recommends state actions approved unanimously. but will not be universally popular. It speaks some harsh truths, notably, that each day brings California closer to a major disaster. Task Force members noted that "what the nation learned from New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina is the terrible price of waiting."

    Protection of the Delta's ecosystem and a reliable water supply for California should be primary goals. Among recommendations sure to spark controversy: Repairing the Delta is likely to require reduced water diversions -- or changes in the pattern and timing of diversions; New, coordinated water conveyance and storage facilities are needed. Conservation and water system efficiency are the cornerstones of better water management; Urbanization must be halted, and the landscape should be dominated by agricultural, environmental and recreational uses. The locally-dominated governing structure must be changed, in favor of a single authority.

    The Task Force is embarking on fashioning a plan it has presented to California's political leaders. That promises to be equally daunting. But the future of the Delta, and those who depend on it, will require equally bold thinking and actions in 2008. doclink

    Indigenous and Tribal People

    Hadzabe Facing Severe Pressure on Traditional Way of Life

    July 02, 2006, Guardian (London)

    The Hadzabe are hunter-gatherers in Tanzania.

    Their ancestral homelands covered large parts of northern Tanzania and included the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti Plain.

    Now, the Hadzabe exploit a far smaller territory that is home to a wide array of wildlife and flora that includes the baobab trees, home to the bees from which they collect wild honey.

    The Hadzabe are facing severe pressures on their traditional way of life.

    Scientists fear that the Hadzabe ethnic group could become extinct in a few years.

    According to research by Oxfam, the Hadzabe, who survive on fruit-gathering and hunting, are under threat of extinction as their habitats have been converted into conservation areas and agricultural farms.

    The researchers blamed the situation on poor government policies, which favour conservation of land for wildlife hunting. Researchers found that hunting companies were allowed to hunt in the Maswa game reserve while no locals had access.

    The pastoralist Maasai face similar restrictions on account of licensed hunting.

    Critics say that efforts to resettle Hadzabe in permanent villages have failed.

    The indigenous groups across the planet are struggling to maintain ancient ways of life in the face of the relentless encroachment of modern ways of living.

    While the Tanzanian government is not hostile to the Hadzabe way of life the politics of land in Africa are often fraught with many competing claims and full restoration in the region of Hadzabe hunting rights looks a long way off. doclink

    Ralph says: Not a single comment regarding the pressure of overpopulation that is the basic cause of their problem --- that has in the past affected us all. Karen Gaia says: The indigenous are the first to suffer from overpopulation. They are like the canaries sacrificed in the mines to tell if there was enough air.

    Exploitation, Sex Traffic, Slavery

    India: Mayel Lyang Sut Lom - Sikkim Threatened by Damming of Rivers

    November 06, 2011, International Rivers

    Mayel Lyang Sut Lom (Voices from the Hidden Land) is a 20 minute documentary showing the campaigns of the Lepcha community in Sikkim, India, against the construction of large dams in their homeland. The film shows the Lepchas struggle against the damming of the Teesta River and the destruction of the Dzongu region.

    Dzongu, on the banks of the Teesta, overlooks the sacred Khangchendzonga the worlds third highest mountain and is home to red pandas, snow leopards, and the famous Khangchendzonga National Park. The Lepcha are waiting in apprehension for the harbingers of development the giant bulldozers, the heavy cranes, the polluting crushers. The film asks whether the dams being built in the name of development will destroy the Lepchas culture, identity and socio-economic fabric. It questions whether the construction of dams on the Teesta will leave the Lepcha homeless and disconnected from their mountains and hills, their sacred rocks and springs, their forests and streams. The film seeks to uncover who loses and who benefits from this kind of development. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: When aquifers in India are depleted by overpumping necessitated by its large population, the country turns to other ways of obtaining water, including damming of rivers from the Himalayas. Energy for India's fast-growing middle class is another factor driving the building of dams.

    Half the Sky: How the Trafficking of Women Today is on a Par with Genocide

    August 19, 2010, Guardian (London)

    The authors of a new book, Half the Sky, say the slavery and abuse of women is the greatest moral outrage of our century. One of the authors of the book 'Half the Sky' is a columnist for the New York Times found that girls as young as 14 years were sold to a brothel in north-western Cambodia.

    The two authors of Blue Sky claim that the world is in the grip of a massive moral outrage no less egregious than the African slave trade of the 18th and 19th centuries or the genocides of the 20th.

    It is a key factor behind many of the most pressing economic and political issues today, yet the phenomenon is largely hidden, invisible to most of us and at best it is ignored.

    Many call it "gendercide". In this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality in the developing world.

    Kristof, one of the authors said: "I went to a village outside Phnom Penh where a very young teenage girl was having her virginity auctioned. Instead of helping her, the police were there to ensure that, if she escaped, she would be returned to her owners. These girls would be dead of AIDS by their twenties."

    It could be that one major reason why high-school girls drop out of school is that they have trouble managing menstruation, but it is likely that people who run aid organisations and write about it have never menstruated.

    Every year, at least two million girls worldwide disappear because of discrimination. The authors have begun investigationg its various forms, from sexual slavery to honour killings of women deemed to have disgraced the family, to rape as an extension of war, to genital mutilation, to the less violent but no less damaging exclusion of women from health services and education.

    We realised there was a societal attitude that doesn't allow women to be active members of society, that doesn't treat them like human beings.

    The authors give a list of action points that readers can take within 10 minutes to make a difference and they challenge us to join a historical movement to eradicate sex slavery.

    A four-hour public broadcasting TV documentary is in the works, and a videogame version of the book will be launched in an attempt to reach a younger audience. doclink

    Nigeria's Oil Fires Stoke Claims of Villagers to Spoils

    August 20, 2007, The Seattle Times

    A fire burned for 45 days, blanketing the village with ash and torching the cassava. No one would put out the fire.

    The average Nigerian lives on less than $2 a day, despite the country's rise in oil exports. Villagers saw the fire as a negotiating tool, risking their health, land and even lives to grab spoils from the multinational oil companies that rule the region.

    Pipeline explosions have killed hundreds in past years, including more than 400 in Lagos.

    Oil firms blame criminals who tap the line to steal crude, villagers argue that aged pipes rupture.

    In Kegbara Dere, village youths confessed to sabotaging the line, and village leaders refused to let the fire be extinguished without a payout.

    Foreign companies left the land riddled with polluted waterways and half-cleaned-up spills. Oil companies continue production in the rest of the delta, but in Ogoniland, residents ran Shell out in 1993, leaving the pipeline and the pollution.

    In May, 40 young men closed off pipe valves for six days to extract money from Shell. The closure cut output by about 170,000 barrels a day. The pressure from the stepped-up pipes was so intense that the ground shook.

    The rest of the village banded to reopen the valves. Shell invited the youth involved to a training session on environmental cleanup in a fancy hotel. They expected lucrative cleanup contracts, but none arrived. The young men wrote to Shell warning "the situation would be bad" if the company failed to give them contracts. When no contracts came, the fire started.

    Youth leaders said it was wrong to cut the pipes. But he said villagers now wanted $40,000 to let Shell put out the fire and repair the leak. In Lagos, the fire was a problem for Shell. The oil companies say it's not their job to pave roads or build schools. The Nigerian government owns 55% of Shell's venture in Nigeria.

    A young man from Ogoniland runs a contracting company that helps get oil companies into villages to clean up spills but he won't work in Ogoniland because of accusations that he profits off his people's misery.

    In two nearby villages, smoke continues to fill the air from pipeline fires that haven't yet been negotiated out. doclink

    Prostitution Growing in India, Says Survey

    July 02, 2006, Times Of India

    Several factors are pushing more women and young girls to take to prostitution all over India. Latest estimates show there are some three million, a majority in the 15-35 year group.

    There are several reasons why prostitution is growing, migration and poverty, political instability, erosion of traditional values, desire to earn easy money, globalization and declining job opportunities for uneducated and unskilled youths. Also urbanization, new attitudes to sex, apprehension among youths about their sexual performance, rise in hospitality industries, promiscuity as well as myths about sex with virgin women.

    But prostitution is largely an urban phenomenon; a study involved interviewing 10,000 people, mostly prostitutes, across 31 states and territories.

    Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal accounted for about a fourth of the total respondents. Girls and women from these states were operating in more than 12 states and territories. Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Bhutanese and Myanmar women also formed a small part of the prostitution market.

    There is a new form of 'commuting prostitute' where girls and women from rural areas come to cities for specific hours on the pretext of working in offices/homes. They come mainly from groups and backward castes and are of all religions.

    Call girls are from general caste groups and have had better education.

    Most prostitutes, are 15 to 35 years. Many young men look for sex for pleasure and fun. While income for the majority of prostitutes ranges from Rs.2,000 to Rs.24,000 a month some call girls earn Rs.40,000 to Rs.800,000 a month.

    But girls and women live in dilemma and duality. The study says complete eradication of prostitution is not possible. But its prevalence can be reduced. Dealing with such a problem will require sincere and sustained efforts of the government, voluntary organizations, people's group and all round support of the socio-religious and political leaders based on properly planned national line of action. doclink

    Child-theft Racket Growing in China; Thousands Are Abducted for Profit Each Year

    January 01, 2006, Los Angeles Times

    Thousands of children are snatched from their parents each year in China. Some are babes in arms. In July, 28 baby girls, none older than 3 months, were found drugged and bound in nylon duffel bags on a long-distance bus. One died; the rest were taken to an orphanage. The reasons for child trafficking are as varied as they are disturbing. Some children end up abroad. Others remain in the country, especially in rural China, where having a son is still a must for inheritance. But girls are in demand in areas where men outnumber women. Some are forced to work as prostitutes, maids or in begging rings. The problem is growing despite efforts by the government. China rescued 3,488 abducted children in 2004, only a fraction of those lost. China has laws against baby-buying and strict regulations to prevent children who have been purchased from entering international adoption channels. Nonetheless, the Hengyang orphanage was recently caught buying babies. Everyone adopts with the idea these are orphans needing a home. The amount of money Chinese orphanages receive for foreign adoptions creates a big incentive to obtain children legally or illegally and route them into foreign channels. Stealing children was unthinkable when communism was the ideology and neighborhood minders watched a person's every move. The headlong rush for material wealth since then has resulted in problems as social mores give way to greed. Most families have little chance of ever seeing their children again. Migrant workers living on the edge of China's big cities in poor neighborhoods filled with desperate people make easy pickings. As the market develops and profits soar, sophisticated gangs are replacing opportunistic freelancers. Some children are also sold willingly by their parents, in hopes they can have a son under China's one-child policy, or simply for cash. Those who snatch the kids can expect to get $36 to $60, according to confessions of those caught. Middlemen can sell them for $400 or more, with the end buyer paying upward of $1,200 for girls, and $2,000 for boys. Most parents voice support for the government's use of the death penalty against child thieves. But parents of the missing say the state should also come down heavily on those who buy children. Buyers are subject to a three-year jail sentence, but the law is almost never enforced. doclink

    Killer Drought Forcing Kenyan Women Into Prostitution

    January 13, 2006, Agence France-Presse

    A searing drought across east Africa is forcing poor Kenyan women and children into prostitution. Shortages of food and water have sent prices skyrocketing for staples amid fears of a catastrophic famine. At least 40 people, mainly children. have already died of drought-related malnutrition and associated illnesses, as have thousands of livestock. 2.5 million people are expected to need food aid to survive. But extreme hunger may lead to an jump in Kenya's high HIV infection rate as women turn to prostitution. Several groups said there had been an increase in the number of sex workers along highways and streets. More and more girls are standing at the road side, many not even 13. Food reserves have run out and mothers can no longer afford to feed their children. Such prostitution accounts for between 10,000 and 20,000 new HIV infections a year. Parents are unable to provide for their families, children cannot go to school because parents have lost their source of livelihood. Now children have to contribute to the welfare of the family and the only way out is for the girl-children to venture into prostitution. About 7% of Kenya's 32 million are estimated to be infected with HIV and AIDS has killed about 1.5 million in Kenya since 1984 but the fear of the disease was not detering women from prostitution as they are faced with equally dismal prospects of dying from hunger. doclink

    Ralph says: A sad sign of overpopulation that will only incrase with the growing population.

    Malawi: Abuse of Women and Girls a National Shame

    February 01, 2006, IRIN News (UN)

    Publicised cases of gender violence have raised concern in Malawi. A survey covering over a thousand school-age girls found that more than half had experienced some form of sexual abuse in schools. Urgent measures to curb violence against girls both at home and in schools were recommended. Of 1,496 respondents, 85.2% were attending school and 14.6% not, in nine districts across the country's three regions. Marriage, pregnancy and sexual abuse by schoolboys and teachers were the main reasons girls put forward for staying out of school. 90.2% were between 11 and 18 and the rest 18 years or older. Just over 94% had never been married, while 5% were married or cohabitating. Girls in schools were subjected to violence by male teachers, including sexual abuse, forced relationships, beatings and severe punishments. 5% said their private parts had been touched by teachers or schoolboys. The major perpetrators were fellow pupils, who committed 51.6% of all incidents. Friends accounted for 16%. Only 2% reported the abuse to the police, while 52.3% did not report the matter largerly beacuse they were embarrassed. President Bingu wa Mutharika warned all who committed violence against girls and women that his government would punish them. Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati stressed, "When a woman says, 'I do not want to have sex with you', it does not mean that you should beat her or force her. Government will not tolerate this kind of violence against women. Adult men are raping many children and they are given lenient punishments. We want this to come to an end." The situation in Malawi remains very serious, due to a combination of chronic poverty, bad weather, bad harvest, a high prevalence of HIV and an outbreak of cholera. About 40% of the population, 4.9 million people, are in need of food. Of these, one million are children younger than five years and pregnant women. 48% of children under five in Malawi are stunted; 5% are severely malnourished; 22% are underweight or malnourished. doclink

    No Legal Caviar Exports This Year

    January 5, 2006, Environment News Service

    International trade in caviar from wild sturgeons will not be allowed until exporting countries promote sustainable fishing. This position amounts to a temporary ban on the legal export of caviar. The 169 CITES countries have set strict conditions for permitting caviar exports in an effort to control poaching and the black market in caviar. A government must show that trade is not detrimental to the long term survival of the species. Countries sharing sturgeon stocks must agree amongst themselves on catch and export quotas. They must also adopt a regional sturgeon conservation strategy and demonstrate that their catch and export quotas reflect current population trends and are sustainable. Information provided by the sturgeon exporting countries bordering the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea/lower Danube River, and the Heilongjiang/Amur River indicates that many of the species are suffering serious population declines. The proposed quotas may not fully reflect the reductions in stocks or make sufficient allowance for illegal fishing. It is currently not possible to export caviar and other sturgeon products from shared stocks. Iranian caviar from the Caspian Sea accounts for 90% of world caviar trade and at least 110 metric tons have been exported from the region each year. Consumers will be able to purchase this legal caviar as long as supplies last in shops and with online distributors. In 2001, CITES responded to high levels of poaching and illegal trade in the Caspian Sea by agreeing on a temporary ban. With the agreement of the countries where sturgeons are found, the rules on how to set quotas were made even more rigorous in 2004. The measures taken by exporting countries must be complemented by regulations in importing countries who are obligated to ensure that all imports are from legal sources. The CITES regime for international trade in caviar is comprehensive and strong enough to ensure that the trade in sturgeon products is sustainable. To ensure the long term health of the sturgeon fisheries, many states are establishing sturgeon hatcheries, and taking measures to stamp out illegal fishing. In 2001 CITES estimated the legal caviar trade to be worth some $100 million annually. Because prices of illegal caviar vary widely, it is difficult to estimate the value of illegal trade, but, it is enormous. doclink

    Wars, Conflict, Terrorism, Refugees

    The Cause of Riots and the Price of Food

    June 21, 2013, MIT Technology Review

    If we don't reverse the current trend in food prices, we've got until August 2013 before social unrest sweeps the planet, says Marco Lagi of the New England Complex Systems Institute in Cambridge, who say they've found a single factor that seems to trigger riots around the world.

    Lagi and company say that when food rises above a certain threshold, social unrest sweeps the planet.

    Two sources of data were used: the United Nations plot of the price of food against time using the food price index of FAO The second is the date of riots around the world, whatever their cause.

    Follow the link in the headline to see the graph which clearly seems to show that when the food price index rises above a certain threshold, the result is trouble around the world.

    It stands to reason that people become desperate when food is unobtainable.

    Lagi and company say that high food prices don't necessarily trigger riots themselves, they simply create the conditions in which social unrest can flourish.

    In other words, high food prices lead to a kind of tipping point when almost anything can trigger a riot, like a lighted match in a dry forest.

    Lagi and company say that two main factors have driven the increase in the food price index. The first is traders speculating on the price of food, a problem that has been exacerbated in recent years by the deregulation of the commodities markets and the removal of trading limits for buyers and sellers.

    The second is the conversion of corn into ethanol, a practice directly encouraged by subsidies.

    Those are both factors that the western world and the US in particular could change.

    The food index is rising and is likely to cross the threshold in August 2013. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: while consumption is part of the problem, everyone has to eat, so population also contributes to this problem, especially at the rate at which it is growing (1 billion every 12-14 years). Also, the graph is only for 8 years - however, it has only been the last 12 years that consumption has exceeded production 8 out of 12 of those years.

    Papua New Guinea: Population Growth Fuels Conflict

    December 21, 2011, IRIN news

    Papua New Guinea (PNG) already has a history of clan violence and clashes over land, but "rapid population growth is adding to the risk of conflict," said Max Kep, director of the PNG's national Office of Urbanization, noting that various types of conflict are fuelled by limited resources, fighting over smaller plots of land and clashes between swelling urban areas are clashing with nearby owners of traditional land.

    PNG's population is nearly seven million, comprised of nearly 700 ethnic groups speaking some 800 languages. 40 percent of PNG's population is under 15 and nearly half are under 20.

    The country's population has more than tripled over the last 30 years and is expected to double in another 25 years. The average total fertility rate of 4.4 births per woman remains one of the highest in the Pacific region, says the UN.

    "It's like having wild grass lying around waiting to be struck by lightning for a brushfire," said Helen Ware, a professor at the University of New England in Australia, noting the risk of so many idle, underemployed men.

    Migrants - drawn to towns and cities for jobs and services - are fuelling population growth in urban areas, which are now growing at an average of 4.5-5% a year.

    Around 97% of the country's land is reserved for traditional land owners who are often unwilling to release land for urban growth, so PNG's cities have nowhere to expand, according to the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). The city of Goroka, for example, is facing critical land shortages which have caused rapid and informal urbanization.

    Kep said a government initiative to encourage landowners to lease their land to municipalities is aimed at empowering them, with increased income and access to government services.

    Many young people migrate to urban areas, but there are few job opportunities when they arrive, so they often turn to crime.

    In addtion, in rural areas, "Villages which once were separated are now bordering one another, and conflicts are definitely arising through competition for resources," said Chris Turner, from Marie Stopes International, an NGO providing family planning and reproductive services in PNG.

    In and around Goroka, fighting between families is also turning violent. One woman told of her family of five siblings, and more than 15 offspring arguing over smaller and smaller pieces of property. doclink

    Population Media Center says: Learn about how PMC's radio drama in Papua New Guinea is addressing these issues! .

    Population Connection says: Islands are useful for demonstrating the concept of carrying capacity. When populations keep growing and the ability to spread out is hampered by ocean on all sides, it is glaringly obvious why population stabilization is a necessity--in island countries like Papua New Guinea and on planet Earth. After all, Earth is like a giant island--once we fill it up, there's nowhere else to go.

    Karen Gaia says: It happens not just on islands. In many countries farm families outgrow their land when births exceed deaths, a modern day phenomonon, and at least some grown children of the family must leave, or, worse, some children become indentured servants or street children, or girls are married off early.

    Witches' Hats Theory of Government: How Increasing Population is Making the Task of Government Harder

    August 25, 2011, Australian Labor MP Kelvin Thomson

    In an address to Sustainable Population Australia & the Australia Institute, Australian Labor MP Kelvin Thomson told his audience that there is a clear correlation between population growth and social upheaval and unrest. The Arab Spring riots were a result of rising food prices, high unemployment, and a widening gap between rich and poor, and these riots resulted in changes of government in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.

    Due to a 70% rise in global wheat prices between June and December 2010, people simply could not afford the bread they needed to live.

    Egypt's population had grown from 22 million in 1952 to 81 million in 2010 - four times larger. This meant a high percentage of high-testosterone young males, who are prepared to risk bullets and oust dictators. After decades of exporting oil to pay for grain, Egypt now needs to import both oil and grain to meet the needs of a population that doubled under Mubarak, and didn't thank him for it.

    A US sociologist, Professor Jack Goldstone, said there was a clear link between rapid population growth and social unrest, seen in events like theFrench and Russian Revolutions. He looked at the recent riots in the London suburb of Tottenham and found that the population had grown by nearly 8% between 2000 and 2005, with a high percentage of new immigrants and young people - three times the UK average for this period.

    Nigeria, Africa's most populous country saw a tripling in population from its independence in 1960 to 2010. Along with this rapid increase there have been economic booms and busts, military coups, widespread corruption, and ethnic and religious divisions.

    Ghana's population quadrupled over 50 years and saw military coups during that time, even though the country is rich in natural resources. In 1994-95 land disputes in the North erupted into ethnic violence

    Kenya's population quadrupled in the same period, and is currently growing at a brisk 2.8% per year. It has been beset by mismanagement and corruption.

    While often the instability is attributed to ethnic or religious differences, these are merely symptoms of the underlying problem - too many people for the available resources of land, food, water, fuel, housing, jobs.

    The Witches' Hats theory of government is that population growth is likely to undermine support for governments, irrespective of the prevailing political system and culture. The Witches Hats refer to the plastic orange cones used on slalom type driving courses. If you hit too many you fail. If a government fails a number of public policy tasks, it is likely to be voted out. If you're a government you're much more likely to successfully solve peoples' problems, that is, avoid those witches' hats, if you have a population that is pretty stable, rather than one that is growing rapidly.

    For example, post WWII California is described by US environmentalist Frosty Wooldridge as "the most beautiful State in the Union." California's mountains, coastline and weather beckoned. Californian condors soared through limitless blue skies. Yosemite National Park, giant sequoia redwoods, whales and seals along its coastline - created the Californian mystique. Then it housed a reasonable 10 million people. Today 38 million people cram, jam, gridlock and fume in their fumes on forever crowded freeways. It is a massive subdivision, housing sprawl. Roads, malls, schools, churches, and homes devour land. Developers demolish nature.

    California seems on its way to becoming ungovernable. Democratic governor, Gray Davis, was recalled. Governor Jerry Brown has been unable to bridge the budget gap and a sharp partisan divide. That sharp partisan divide is an increasing feature of, and blot on, United States politics -dragging the whole country down and making it nigh on ungovernable.

    Example after example is given showing a correlation between rapid population growth and unrest. The article is worth reading - just follow the link in the headline above. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: In the U.S. the population has only grown by 1% for many years, yet this growth will double the country's population in 70 years. Changes from open spaces to crowded living have become more noticeable. Perhaps this is like the parable of the lily pond where you don't notice the growth until it is almost too late. The middle class has dwindled down to almost nothing and people are sure to be upset at the high food prices. We have almost reached a point where we will have to start importing most of our food. Perhaps this is what Invade Wall Street is all about.

    Demographic Dividend Can Become a Liability for India

    August 23, 2011, India Today

    Under the Indira Gandhi government, a policy error pushed for population control through a programme of coercive sterilisation. The reaction to that policy created the concept of coalition government in India, and resulted in a population explosion which ended up creating the demographic dividend a couple of decades later.

    From this demographic dividend came a young, educated, eager- to- work population that has powered Indian IT companies to the global top league, pushed India's automotive sector to world scale volumes, and helped build the steeland- glass symbols of India's growing economic might in our mushrooming cities.

    But if the factors which make having a younger working population such a great competitive advantage — energy, drive, ambition — are not channelized productively, they can explode into anarchy and destruction.

    For example, in England this summer, riots flared into an orgy of mindless violence and looting. Most of the rioters and looters were youth with little or no role to play in the sustaining of Britain as one of the world's largest economies.

    In 2008, Jet Airways, caught in the unexpected turbulence set off by the global financial meltdown, tried to sack 1,900 staff, most of them fresh recruits meant to man the cabins of its growing fleet. The sacked staff took to the streets and approached a rabble- rousing political party. For the first time, India saw smart, educated, middle class boys and girls take to the street to voice their anger. Fortuitously, since that recession didn't last too long.

    But now things may be worse than 2008 and an estimated 611 million Indians were under the age of 25 as of 2010. These post- reform children do not understand shortages or lack of services or infrastructure. But they are young, and youth is the age of rebellion. So far they did not really have anything to rebel against. But hand them a concept they can relate to — and the idea of rebelling against an amorphous, anonymously evil idea like corruption is something young people can easily relate to — and they can explode. doclink

    World Bank: No Low-income Fragile Nation Achieves Millennium Development Goal (MDG); Enhanced Global Efforts Vital

    April 10, 2011, Xinhua

    About 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by organized violence, either currently or recovering from political violence, fragility and high levels of homicide, according to the World Bank's World Development Report (WDR) 2011.

    Economic, political and security challenges undermine development and trap fragile states in cycles of violence. National institutions must be bolstered and governance improved to value job creation, citizen security and justice, said the agency.

    "Children living in fragile states are twice as likely to be under-nourished and three times as likely to be out of school. And the effects of violence in one area can spread to neighboring states and to other parts of the world, hurting development prospects of others and impeding economic prospects for entire regions."

    Poverty rates are 20% higher in countries affected by violence over the last 30 years. Nations lose an estimated 0.7% of their annual gross domestic product (GDP) for each neighboring country involved in civil wars. In the four weeks following the unrest in Libya, global oil prices surged by 15%.

    While much of the world has made huge progress in reducing poverty over the past 60 years, countries facing political instability and criminal violence are being left far behind and face stagnation, both in terms of economic growth and disappointing human development indicators.

    Securing jobs and to paying attention to vulnerable groups of people are the "key to social stability and economic development in different nations", said a World Bank representative.

    The World Bank said it could play a constructive role helping governments to "stabilize domestic prices and to secure the supply of food to citizens."

    The report suggested improving global coordination through measures including providing more integrated assistance for citizen security, justice and jobs, forging new international consensus on the norms of responsible leadership and encouraging knowledge exchange. doclink

    Men Without Women; the Ominous Rise of Asia's Bachelor Generation

    March 14, 2011, Newsweek

    The U.N. says there are far more men than women in the world. In Asia, where there are 100 million more guys than girls. In the Western world,women outnumber men because the mortality rate for women is lower than for men in all age groups.

    In many Asian societies, girls are economically undervalued. The kind of domestic work they typically do is seen as less important than paid work done by men. So they are less looked after. And, of course, early marriage and minimal birth control together expose them to the risks of multiple pregnancies.

    Even as living standards in Asian countries have soared, the gender gap has widened because a cultural preference for sons over daughters leads to selective abortion of female fetuses, a practice made possible by ultrasound scanning, and engaged in despite legal prohibitions. People in northwestern India and China widely practice "gendercide."

    Demographer Nicholas Eberstadt reports there are about 123 male children for every 100 females up to the age of 4. In Jiangxi, Guangdong, Hainan, and Anhui provinces, baby boys outnumber baby girls by 30% or more. One in five young men will be brideless. Imagine 10 cities the size of Houston populated exclusively by young males.

    German scholar Gunnar Heinsohn says European imperial expansion after 1500 was the result of a male "youth bulge." Japan's imperial expansion after 1914 was the result of a similar youth bulge. During the Cold War, it was youth-bulge countries--Algeria, El Salvador, and Lebanon--that saw the worst civil wars and revolutions. Heinsohn has also linked the recent rise of Islamist extremism in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan to an Islamic youth bulge. Political scientists Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer warn that China and India could be the next countries to overdose on testosterone. doclink

    US Army Can Advance Mission Success by Greening Operations

    September 27, 2008, Environment News Service

    The U.S. Army has become involved with environmental issues in every operation. By better managing environmental issues Army units can gain tactical and strategic advantages that will boost overall mission success. Commanders have not usually given environmental concerns high priority, despite the effect environmental conditions can have on troop health, safety and security, and for the local population.

    These include clean water, sewage-related infrastructure, soldier health, compliance with environmental laws, sustainability, protection of historical and cultural sites, and management of agricultural and natural resources. Research showed that environmental concerns can have significant impacts especially in cost, current operations, soldier health, diplomatic relations, reconstruction activities, and the success of the mission.

    In Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans, U.S. soldiers have helped to build wells, sewage treatment plants and other water infrastructure systems. Army leaders should give weight to environmental considerations and develop practices to address environmental issues.

    The Army's new counterinsurgency doctrine highlights the importance of environmental improvements, especially sewage, water and trash, to gain support of the local population.

    Public opinion surveys suggest that Iraqis care about these issues almost as much as security.

    Providing these things can influence whether inhabitants support the local government and U.S. goals and objectives.

    Over the last 20 years, U.S. forces have remained in conflict locations longer than expected. Camps considered temporary have been occupied for many years and often have inadequate environmental systems. Pollution can affect relations with locals, cause health problems for soldiers, and require costly cleanup efforts. Operations that require less fuel, water and other resources, and produce less waste, will reduce the logistics burden.

    Providing reliable sources of potable water, electricity and sanitation has "an important stabilizing effect". doclink

    Babies Win Wars

    March 2009, Wall Street Journal

    Note: This article is presented here as an example of what kind of thinking is out there. Some of it is true, some not true, but my concern is that the author is too concerned about the decline of white people and not enough about the longage of people vs a shortage of resources ... Karen Gaia.

    Thirty European countries are either dying today or, like France, seeing their cultures and populations transformed by growing ethnic and religious minorities.

    Europe is shrinking as the population in Islamic, African and Asian countries is exploding. In 2020, there will be one billion "fighting-age" men; only 65 million will be Europeans. At the same time, the Muslim world will have 300 million males, often with limited opportunities at home.

    Little can be done to reverse Europe's fate. Germany's 80 million inhabitants would need 750,000 skilled immigrants every year up to 2050 to offset the declining fertility rate that started in 1975. Even if this could be achieved Germany's median age would jump to 52 from 42 while ethnic Germans would become a minority.

    Throughout the 1400s, outbreaks of bubonic plague and pressure from conquering Muslim armies reduced Europe's population to 40 million. In 1484 Pope Innocent VIII decreed the death penalty for "persons of both sexes who slay infants yet in the mother's womb hinder women from conceiving."

    The results produced fertility rates as high as today.

    By 1510, the number of male births in England had almost doubled. Up to 1914, West European women raised on average about six children. The European economy couldn't keep up. In the 16th century, Spain called its young conquistadors "Secundones," second sons, those who don't inherit. Europe's surplus males began the conquest of the world. And despite the 80 million who died in Europe's domestic wars and genocides, their population rose tenfold to 400 million. Over the next few centuries, Europeans took control of 90% of the globe.

    It took an alliance of Great Britain (10 million people) and Prussia (also 10 million) to prevail over France's 27 million. After 1861, Germany passed France's population and shortly afterwards defeated its neighbor across the Rhine. At the beginning of the 20th century, Europe's share of fighting age males had grown to 35%, with 10% belonging to the empires of Berlin and Vienna alone. In 1914 these two used their population advantage to make a bid for world supremacy. But their campaign to capture Eurasia's land mass failed. Though separated by an ocean, the U.S. commanded about the same demographic and industrial potential.

    After 1945 Europe lost every war it fought, from Indochina, to Algeria to Timor. If Europeans had continued to multiply like in its imperialistic prime, the world would still tremble before their armies. In just 100 years, Muslim countries have duplicated the tenfold growth that Europe experienced between 1500-1900. In the last century, the Muslim population skyrocketed to 1.4 billion from 140 million.

    If Europe had matched the fourfold increase of the United States the continent's 1.6 billion would still dwarf China (1.3 billion) and India (1.1 billion). Yet, is lower today (9%) than it was in 1500 (11%).

    With a fertility rate at the 2.1 replacement level, the U.S. is still defendable. But how many times can America send out their only sons to prevent all those second, third or fourth sons from engaging in acts of violence abroad? The alternative to the terrorism of the Islamist secundones will not be peace but conquest. Terror is conquest's little brother. doclink

    Ralph says: So we have to increase our population to avoid conquest or reduce it to have sufficient resources to
    survive? Who is going to toss the coin?

    Overuse of Land

    U.S.: The Growth Ponzi Scheme

    2011, Strong Towns

    This article originally appeared in Grist. It is available at no charge for non-commercial reprinting. Please credit Strong Towns and link back to our site at

    We often forget that the American pattern of suburban development is an experiment, one that has never been tried anywhere before. We assume it is the natural order because it is what we see all around us. But our own history — let alone a tour of other parts of the world — reveals a different reality. Across cultures, over thousands of years, people have traditionally built places scaled to the individual. It is only the last two generations that we have scaled places to the automobile.

    How is our experiment working?

    At Strong Towns, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization I cofounded in 2009, we are most interested in understanding the intersection between local finance and land use. How does the design of our places impact their financial success or failure?

    What we have found is that the underlying financing mechanisms of the suburban era — our post-World War II pattern of development — operates like a classic Ponzi scheme, with ever-increasing rates of growth necessary to sustain long-term liabilities.

    Since the end of World War II, our cities and towns have experienced growth using three primary mechanisms:

    * Transfer payments between governments: where the federal or state government makes a direct investment in growth at the local level, such as funding a water or sewer system expansion.

    * Transportation spending: where transportation infrastructure is used to improve access to a site that can then be developed.

    * Public and private-sector debt: where cities, developers, companies, and individuals take on debt as part of the development process, whether during construction or through the assumption of a mortgage.

    In each of these mechanisms, the local unit of government benefits from the enhanced revenues associated with new growth. But it also typically assumes the long-term liability for maintaining the new infrastructure. This exchange — a near-term cash advantage for a long-term financial obligation — is one element of a Ponzi scheme.

    The other is the realization that the revenue collected does not come near to covering the costs of maintaining the infrastructure. In America, we have a ticking time bomb of unfunded liability for infrastructure maintenance. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates the cost at $5 trillion — but that's just for major infrastructure, not the minor streets, curbs, walks, and pipes that serve our homes.

    The reason we have this gap is because the public yield from the suburban development pattern -- the amount of tax revenue obtained per increment of liability assumed -- is ridiculously low. Over a life cycle, a city frequently receives just a dime or two of revenue for each dollar of liability. The engineering profession will argue, as ASCE does, that we're simply not making the investments necessary to maintain this infrastructure. This is nonsense. We've simply built in a way that is not financially productive.

    We've done this because, as with any Ponzi scheme, new growth provides the illusion of prosperity. In the near term, revenue grows, while the corresponding maintenance obligations -- which are not counted on the public balance sheet -- are a generation away.

    In the late 1970s and early 1980s, we completed one life cycle of the suburban experiment, and at the same time, growth in America slowed. There were many reasons involved, but one significant factor was that our suburban cities were now starting to experience cash outflows for infrastructure maintenance. We'd reached the "long term," and the end of easy money.

    It took us a while to work through what to do, but we ultimately decided to go "all in" using leverage. In the second life cycle of the suburban experiment, we financed new growth by borrowing staggering sums of money, both in the public and private sectors. By the time we crossed into the third life cycle and flamed out in the foreclosure crisis, our financing mechanisms had, out of necessity, become exotic, even predatory.

    One of humanity's greatest strengths -- our ability to innovate solutions to complex problems -- can be a detriment when we misdiagnose the problem. Our problem was not, and is not, a lack of growth. Our problem is 60 years of unproductive growth -- growth that has buried us in financial liabilities. The American pattern of development does not create real wealth. It creates the illusion of wealth. Today we are in the process of seeing that illusion destroyed, and with it the prosperity we have come to take for granted.

    That is now our greatest immediate challenge. We've actually embedded this experiment of suburbanization into our collective psyche as the "American dream," a non-negotiable way of life that must be maintained at all costs. What will we throw away trying to sustain the unsustainable? How much of our dwindling wealth will be poured into propping up this experiment gone awry?

    We need to end our investments in the suburban pattern of development, along with the multitude of direct and indirect subsidies that make it all possible. Further, we need to intentionally return to our traditional pattern of development, one based on creating neighborhoods of value, scaled to actual people. When we do this, we will inevitably rediscover our traditional values of prudence and thrift as well as the value of community and place.

    The way we achieve real, enduring prosperity is by building an America full of what we call Strong Towns. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: This article only covers part of the problem. To be sure, no part can be neglected, but we must also look at our unsustainable drawing from the world's bank of natural resources. When a resource such as oil, per-capita soil, or per-capita water peaks, then the economy suffers and people pay the price. This usually happens with overpopulation and/or over consumption. In the U.S., both have contributed to the sprawl, paving over of farmland and wildlife habitat, and resource depletion.

    Water Hauling and Girls' Education

    June 28, 2013, Council on Foreign Relations

    Girls' education has come to be seen as one of the most potent vaccines against poverty and disease. The most recent UN Human Development Report found that "a mother's education level is more important to child survival than is household income. Shifting the emphasis from efforts to boost household income to measures to improve girls' education was found to have a far greater positive impact. "Educated women tend to have fewer, healthier and better educated children; in many countries educated women also enjoy higher salaries than do uneducated workers."

    However, 35 million girls remain out of school worldwide, with nearly half of them in Sub-Saharan Africa, says the World Bank.

    A World Bank study in Ghana found that the time a girl has to spend fetching and hauling water is directly connected to her school attendance especially in rural areas where distances to water sources are usually longer than they are in cities.

    Reducing the time to haul water by half would increase the proportion of girls aged 5-15 who attend school by 2.4% points on average, especially in rural communities, the report said. Another paper finds that both boys and girls go to school in higher numbers when it is easier to access water. For every hour less spent to walking to the water source increases girls' school enrollment rates by about 10% in Yemen, and by about 12% in Pakistan." Similar results have been found when it comes to the gathering of firewood. doclink

    The Earth is Shrinking: Advancing Deserts and Rising Seas

    November 15, 2006, Earth Policy Institute

    Our civilization is being squeezed between advancing deserts and rising seas. Mounting population densities, once generated by the addition of over 70 million people per year, are now also fueled by the advance of deserts and the rise in sea level.

    Expanding deserts are primarily the result of overstocking grasslands and overplowing land. Rising seas result from temperature increases from the burning of fossil fuels.

    China is losing productive land at an accelerating rate. From 1950 to 1975 China lost an average of 600 square miles to desert each year. By 2000, 1,400 square miles were going to desert annually.

    Satellite images show two deserts in north-central China expanding and merging to form a single, larger desert overlapping Inner Mongolia and Gansu provinces. To the west in Xinjiang Province, two even larger deserts--the Taklimakan and Kumtag--are also heading for a merger. Further east, the Gobi Desert is within 150 miles of Beijing. Chinese scientists report that over the last half-century, 24,000 villages in northern and western China were abandoned as they were overrun by drifting sand.

    Kazakhstan, site of the vast Soviet Virgin Lands Project, has abandoned nearly half of its cropland since 1980.

    In Afghanistan, with a population of 31 million, the Registan Desert is encroaching on agricultural areas. A UNEP team reports that up to 100 villages have been submerged by windblown dust and sand. In the northwest, sand dunes are moving onto agricultural land, from the loss of stabilizing vegetation due to firewood gathering and overgrazing. Iran, which has 70 million people and 80 million goats and sheep, is losing its battle with the desert. In 2002 sand storms buried 124 villages in the southeastern province forcing their abandonment. Drifting sands had covered grazing areas, starving livestock and depriving villagers of their livelihood.

    The Sahara Desert is pushing the populations of Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria northward toward the Mediterranean. In countries from Senegal and Mauritania in the west to Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia in the east, the demands of growing human and livestock numbers are converting land into desert. Nigeria is losing 1,355 square miles to desertification each year. While Nigeria's human population grew from 33 million in 1950 to 134 million in 2006, its livestock population grew from 6 million to 66 million. The food needs forced the plowing of marginal land and the forage needs of livestock exceeded the carrying capacity of its grasslands. Nigeria's population is being squeezed into an ever-smaller area.

    In Mexico, the degradation of cropland forces some 700,000 Mexicans off the land each year in search of jobs in nearby cities or in the United States.

    Rising seas promise to displace greater numbers in the future. During the twentieth century, sea level rose by 6 inches. During this century seas may rise by 4 to 35 inches. Since 2001, record-high temperatures have accelerated ice melting making it likely that the future rise in sea level will be even greater.

    If the Greenland ice sheet, a mile thick in some places, were to melt entirely it would raise sea level by 23 feet, or 7 meters.

    A one-meter rise would inundate many of the rice-growing river deltas and floodplains of India, Thailand, Viet Nam, Indonesia, and China. A one-meter rise in sea level would cause some 30 million Bangladeshis to migrate, internally or to other countries.

    Hundreds of cities would be at least partly inundated, including London, Alexandria, and Bangkok. More than a third of Shanghai, would be under water. A one-meter rise combined with a 50-year storm surge would leave large portions of Lower Manhattan and the National Mall in Washington, D.C., flooded. If the Greenland ice sheet should melt, it would force the abandonment of thousands of coastal cities and communities. Rising seas and desertification will present the world with an unprecedented flow of environmental refugees and the potential for civil strife.

    We must deal with rapid population growth, advancing deserts, and rising seas. Growth in the human population is accompanied by a growth of livestock populations of more than 35 million per year. The rising concentrations of carbon dioxide that are destabilizing the earth's climate are driven by the burning of fossil fuels. Reverse these trends or risk being overwhelmed by them. doclink

    Population Growth and Poor Farming Methods Weigh on the Land

    August 21, 2007, International Press Service

    In Burundi, the Mbarushimana clan is receiving a lesson in the limits of natural resources. Three sons, and other relatives, are trying to survive on land inherited from their father. They have one hectare, to be shared between the three. They are busy having children…in an uncontrolled way. What will be become of our children?" asks one of the sons, who fears the children will become landless, and even find themselves living on the streets.

    Subsistence farmers in this small Central African country are struggling to find land to cultivate.

    Plots are subdivided to meet the needs of growing families, which over-exploit the land, leading to soil degradation and its attendant problems. Agricultural land is insufficient and no longer has the quality necessary to give good harvests.

    Burundi has a population of eight million, and a surface area of 27,834 square kilometres; a population density of 270 inhabitants per square kilometre. But for an independent environmental consultant, the problems relating to land use are also a result of the lack of effective equipment, of bad agricultural practices and of a high rate of illiteracy. Population expert Evariste Ngayimpenda believes more needs to be done. "While there is not a clear national land policy, nothing will be able to slow this pressure on the land," he told IPS. Burundi's population is set to top 10 million by 2015. Burundians fear that disputes over land will cause ethnic tensions to flare. Tutsis have long been at odds with the majority Hutu group in this country.

    The return of Burundian refugees who fled conflict in their country is complicating land matters further.

    About 33,000 Burundian refugees returned from years in Tanzania, leaving roughly 400,000 Burundian refugees in Tanzania. Fear of food shortages and continued insecurity seem to account for the decline in returns, The return of refugees has multiplied conflicts over land ownership, flooding the justice system with land cases. doclink

    India Completes Huge Dam, Critics Damn It

    January 02, 2007, Planet Ark

    India completed a controversial dam on Sunday, that environmental groups say will destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands.

    Authorities hailed the completion of the Sardar Sarovar Dam as an answer to the water needs of millions in the west of the country.

    The Sardar Sarovar is the centerpiece of the multibillion- dollar Narmada Valley development project that taps the Narmada, India's fifth-largest river. The dam will connect an 86,000 kilometer (50,000 mile) network of canals and help irrigate 1.8 million hectares (4.5 million acres) of farm land and provide drinking water to 20 million people. It will help in flood control and generate 1,450 MW of peak power.

    Construction of the dam, which is 1,250 metres (4,100 ft) long, 122 metres (400 ft) high, began in 1987. But it became the focus of one of the world's longest social and environmental campaigns.

    Nearly a decade was lost over how to divide water and power and five years in legal battles with activists from the Save the Narmada Movement.

    They claim the dam will displace 320,000 people -- and the benefits are false promises.

    One said the dam showed policymakers favoured the rich in urban India, and went on a hunger strike that forced authorities to come up with better rehabilitation plans for some of those affected.

    The Sardar Sarovar project will have to prove whether it is a right combination of engineering and natural resources or a blunder of depriving farmers of their land. doclink

    Brazil Monkeys Sign of Intense Biological Diversity

    February 22, 2006,

    The prevalence of monkeys in Brazil stands against the country's demand for more arable land to feed and house an ever-growing population. This makes the monkeys' survival an important measure of the effect of human beings on the natural environment. Two new monkey species were found in the Amazon in 2002 but more species are threatened with extinction. 13 out of the 24 new monkey species found worldwide since 1990 have been found in Brazil, in the Atlantic Forest, on the east coast of the country. The Atlantic Forest is now 10% of its original size due to the vast human population of 186 million. 21 primate species in the Atlantic Forest are found nowhere else in the world and more plant species in two and a half acres than are found on the entire Atlantic coast of the US. If monkey populations are getting smaller, the likelihood is that the fabric of the surrounding ecosystem is deteriorating. 5.4 million acres of forests are cleared every year in Brazil. On a global scale, it is estimated that 157 species become extinct every year. Human development and expansion into the Amazon is overwhelming the forest's ability to recuperate and to sustain the intense diversity of life within it. Researchers suggest there is significant evidence that current forests have not yet recovered from humanity's imprint thousands of years ago. Collapse of the diverse, oxygen-producing Amazon ecosystem could impact rainfall, soil fertility, and sustainability of harvests and natural resources. So Brazil's numerous monkey species represents ecological factors which could have far-reaching global implications. The sustainability of their habitat serves as a measure of the future of systems that support human life and civilization. doclink

    Dying for Firewood

    March 15, 2006, InterPress Service

    Uprooted from their homes by armed conflict, persecution and humanitarian disasters, almost 35 million people live as displaced persons (IDPs) or refugees. For women and girls in refugee settings, life is particularly grim and dangerous. Every day, millions of women and girls collect firewood at a risk of rape, assault, abduction, theft and even death. Refugee camps provide shelter, water, health care and food but rarely the fuel that cooks that food. Cooking fuel is crucial, but for refuges it cannot be taken for granted. Not only does fuel, in the form of firewood, provide the means to eat, it is often used as construction material or for health care. In addition, it is a source of income and can be sold or traded. However, the risks of collecting cooking fuel often remain overlooked by the humanitarian organisations. The burdens and risks of collecting cooking fuel fall disproportionately on girls and women. The risks are obviously hardest in situations of ongoing conflict - Darfur being perhaps the most dangerous place. Women and girls begin their search for firewood at three o'clock in the morning into the surrounding desert, hoping to find enough wood to last for the day, and to be back in time to cook breakfast before sunrise. But the finding a single tree means walking for several hours, and digging by hand in the clay soil for pieces of root. They often fall victim to the Sudanese government military forces, or the Darfur militia group which waits in the deep desert. Both are aware of the early morning treks, and feel free to commit mass rape and sexual assault. The attackers know they will not be caught, and women are well aware of what will happen when they venture out to collect firewood. In other settings, such as among the refugees that live in eastern Nepal, sexual attacks on the women and girls outside the camps occur less often. Yet local "forest guards" remain a threat for refugee girls, some who have been gang-raped and murdered in the forest. The situation becomes problematic since Nepalese law prohibits refugees to engage in any income generation activity. The women are not allowed to get firewood, therefore they cannot report the crimes they are subjected to. Fuel alternatives and firewood collection are important and urgently need to be addressed. Fuel-efficient solar-powered stoves, food that requires less cooking, and cooking techniques that require less time were some of the measures to change the situation. A report recommended sending patrols out with women as they collected firewood, as well as bringing in fuel in a humanitarian crisis. Income-generating opportunities for refugees and displaced populations must be provided. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: The article does not mention that, in these places, firewood is already scarce because of overpopulation.

    Dying for Firewood

    March 15, 2006, InterPress Service

    Uprooted from their homes by armed conflict, persecution and humanitarian disasters, almost 35 million people live as displaced persons (IDPs) or refugees. For women and girls in refugee settings, life is particularly grim and dangerous. Every day, millions of women and girls collect firewood at a risk of rape, assault, abduction, theft and even death. Refugee camps provide shelter, water, health care and food but rarely the fuel that cooks that food. Cooking fuel is crucial, but for refuges it cannot be taken for granted. Not only does fuel, in the form of firewood, provide the means to eat, it is often used as construction material or for health care. In addition, it is a source of income and can be sold or traded. However, the risks of collecting cooking fuel often remain overlooked by the humanitarian organisations. The burdens and risks of collecting cooking fuel fall disproportionately on girls and women. The risks are obviously hardest in situations of ongoing conflict - Darfur being perhaps the most dangerous place. Women and girls begin their search for firewood at three o'clock in the morning into the surrounding desert, hoping to find enough wood to last for the day, and to be back in time to cook breakfast before sunrise. But the finding a single tree means walking for several hours, and digging by hand in the clay soil for pieces of root. They often fall victim to the Sudanese government military forces, or the Darfur militia group which waits in the deep desert. Both are aware of the early morning treks, and feel free to commit mass rape and sexual assault. The attackers know they will not be caught, and women are well aware of what will happen when they venture out to collect firewood. In other settings, such as among the refugees that live in eastern Nepal, sexual attacks on the women and girls outside the camps occur less often. Yet local "forest guards" remain a threat for refugee girls, some who have been gang-raped and murdered in the forest. The situation becomes problematic since Nepalese law prohibits refugees to engage in any income generation activity. The women are not allowed to get firewood, therefore they cannot report the crimes they are subjected to. Fuel alternatives and firewood collection are important and urgently need to be addressed. Fuel-efficient solar-powered stoves, food that requires less cooking, and cooking techniques that require less time were some of the measures to change the situation. A report recommended sending patrols out with women as they collected firewood, as well as bringing in fuel in a humanitarian crisis. Income-generating opportunities for refugees and displaced populations must be provided. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: The article does not mention that, in these places, firewood is already scarce because of overpopulation.

    Malnutrition, Starvation

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