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Maasai Harmonial Mission: To improve the livelihoods and health of the impoverished pastoral people of Emburbul Village and to empower the girls and women of Emburbul to control their own reproduction, their own lives, and their own bodies.
Transition Earth Promotes human rights and nature's rights in a world of unsustainable population and economic growth and advocates for global systems change to enable the shift to a sustainable planet for all
Population Media Center Strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change."
EngenderHealth For 65 years, Engenderhealth has improved the lives of men, women, and families through its work in family planning, maternal health, HIV, and AIDS, gender equality, and many other programs
Central Asia Institute Mission: To promote and support community-based education, especially for girls, in remote areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. 'Three Cups of Tea' is the inspiring book about the founder of this organization
Sierra Club Global Population and Environment Program
Seeks to protect the global environment, preserve natural resources for future generations, and foster healthy communities by advancing sustainable development solutions by:
- promoting increased access to voluntary family planning and reproductive
health information and services
- advocating for women's and girls' basic rights, including health care, education, and economic opportunity
- raising public awareness of wasteful resource consumption in the context of social and economic equity
- empowering youth leaders
Center for Biological Diversity - Population and Sustainability "Through the empowerment of women, education of all people, universal access to birth control, and a societal commitment to ensuring that all species are given a chance to live and thrive, we can reduce our own population to an ecologically sustainable level. This will decrease human poverty and crowding, increase our standard of living, and sustain the lives of plants, animals, and ecosystems everywhere." .... Follow the link to a beautiful presentation on Overpopulation.
Global Footprint Network Our mission is to promote a sustainable economy by advancing the Ecological Footprint, a measurement tool that makes the reality of planetary limits relevant to decision-makers.
WOA!s Population Impacts and Solutions (Youtube playlist) The consequnces of overpopulation could be catastrophic, and resources are already being seriously depleted, but if we spend more money on the various and already successful programs for education and voluntary family planning, we have a good chance to soften the damage.
Our Origins Are Our Destiny Bob Walker of Population Institute discusses the origins of population growth and its implications for the future, covering social change, scarcity, and environmentalism along the way.
Population Media Center: Power of Stories Population Media Center (PMC) works worldwide using entertainment-education for social change. PMCs programs encourage positive behavior change among the audience.
Warren Buffett: We Only Have One Planet Terre Blair interviewing an extraordinary group of leaders to find solutions to some of the most urgent challenges facing humanity: global climate change, financial mayhem, nuclear attacks, cyber threats, political paralysis (and population). Here is an excerpt with Warren Buffett, Ted Turner, the Dalai Lama and Thomas Friedman.
When Abortion was Illegal: Untold Stories (1992) This Academy Award-nominated film features compelling first person accounts which reveal the physical, legal, and emotional consequences during the era when abortion was a criminal act.
Saving Lives by Saving Trees to the rainforest and to the villagers who lived within it. Today, the clinic she founded provides affordable healthcare for the communities of Gunung Palung, and has not just improved the lives of residents, but also introduced alternative income sources and dramatically reduced illegal logging of the rainforest.
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Note: not all articles align with WOA!s position
The Next Cape Town If current patterns of consumption continue unabated, two-thirds of the world's population will be facing water shortages as a daily reality by 2025. In the United States, the largest reservoir in the country-Lake Mead-lost more than half of its water from 2000 to 2015.
Harnessing Ghana's Demographic Dividend Ghana's fertility rate has declined from 6.4 % in the 1980s to 4.2 in 2014. Also, the country's dependency population for example, children below the age of 15 years, has reduced from 46 % in the 1970s to 38.3 % in 2010. Meanwhile, the economic active population, those between 15 years to 64 years, has grown from 49 % in 1970 to 57 % in 2010.
Women Using Contraceptives Promiscuous, Say 47 Percent Andhra Pradesh Men Andhra Pradesh (47.2 %) topped the list of States where men equate so-called 'promiscuity' with usage of contraceptives. A whopping 40.5 % men surveyed in Telangana - between 15 to 49 age group - think women using contraception become 'promiscuous'. Nationally, the figure stands at 20.2 %.
Texas Population Grew by More Than 1,200 People Per Day in One Year The estimated population for Texas as of July 1, 2017, was 28,304,596. Texas had the highest population growth of any state during the reported time period, with a growth of 442,000 people, which equals out to approximately 1,211 people per day.
Vermont Eyes Plan to Boost Its Population Every day there are six fewer workers in Vermont, three fewer schoolchildren and one child born addicted to opiates. Vermont's goal is about 2,200 new workers a year.
Condom Use Among Unmarried Women Rises 6-fold in a Decade The maximum use of condoms among unmarried women was seen in the 20-24 years age group. 3 out of 8 men believe contraception was "women's business", and not their's. A large number of women still use "traditional" contraceptive methods, which included following the menstrual rhythm or withdrawal.
Criticisms of Population Concern - and Why They're Wrong Today's 7.6bn and the 2bn more expected by 2050 must feed themselves from soils with less than 60 more harvests to give, decimated fish stocks, a finite supply of fresh water and the risk of a collapse of insect pollinators and of millions of square miles of land made unproductive by climate change. There are 200 million women in some of the world's poorest countries who have an unmet need for contraception.
A Proposal for a United Nations Framework Convention on Population Growth
Recently, an international assembly of scientists from 184 countries endorsed an article published in the journal Bioscience entitled “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice”. As the warning states, “We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats. By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperilled biosphere.”
From Cape Town to Kabul: Taps Run Dry in Crisis Cities Drought-stricken Cape Town could run out of water as soon as April. Water scarcity already affects more than 40 % of the world's population and is expected to rise due to global warming, with one in four people projected to face chronic or recurring shortages by 2050.
Cheetah Conservation Fund Joins the Population & Sustainability Network Over the last 100 years the global cheetah population has decreased by around 90%, so that today there are only around 7,000 adult and adolescent cheetahs remaining in the wild.
In Northern Uganda, Male Mentors Spread the Word on Family Planning Until 2006, the residents of northern Uganda had lived through 20 years of active conflict between the government and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group. The fighting internally displaced approximately 1.8 million people. An estimated 66,000 children and young adults were abducted during that period. 39 % of currently married women in the region have an unmet need for family planning, compared to the national average of 28 %.
Landmark Law Removes Barriers to Contraception in Md In Maryland, about 58 % of all pregnancies are unintended. The IUD is more than 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy and is a key contraceptive method in helping many women plan their lives.
Melinda Gates Battles to Promote Contraception in Burkina Faso By 2050, Africa's population is projected to double to 2.5 billion. By 2100, the UN estimates it could easily top 4 billion. The fertility rate in Burkina Faso was 5.71 children per woman in 2017. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a multi-billion dollar charity and one of the most powerful in the world, has earmarked $10 million for contraceptive programs in Burkina Faso.
Singapore: Demographic Time Bomb Looms Large on Fast Aging Population Lesser population growth in Singapore could result in fall of countries per capita gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.5 % points per year until 2060. There will be 91 elderly citizens for every 100 working-age Singaporeans by 2080.
Growing Populations, Climate Change Leave Cities on a Fast Track to Water Deficits Currently about 54 % of the world's population lives in cities-which is "likely to grow to between 60 % and 92 %" over the next 80 years. Water demand in cities is estimated to increase by about 80 % by 2050. Due largely to climate change impacts on water supplies and trends of turning natural areas to urban, they estimate 27 % of the 416 cities that rely on surface water will have a water deficit three decades from now.
Women's Rights Issues Are Climate Change Issues It took 200,000 years for the human population to reach 2 billion in 1940 but only 75 years afterward for it to nearly triple to 7.6 billion people. Estimates indicate that more than 200 million women want to prevent or delay pregnancy but aren't using effective contraception. If girls in the developing world all received secondary education, we would see a 42 % decline in the fertility rate.
Imams Support Family Planning in Senegal Senegal is over 90% Muslim and has a fertility rate of 4.8, nearly double the global average. Since 2011, the number of married Senegalese women using modern contraceptives has doubled from 12 % to about 23 %.
Criticisms of Population Concern - and Why They're Wrong Today's 7.6bn and the 2bn more expected by 2050 must feed themselves from soils with less than 60 more harvests to give, decimated fish stocks, a finite supply of fresh water facing even greater demands upon it and, most frighteningly, the risk of a collapse of insect pollinators and of millions of square miles of land made unproductive by climate change.
What "demographic Decline"? American Women Are Having Plenty of Babies Some 86 % of women ages 40 to 44 are mothers, compared with 80 % in 2006. Overall, women have 2.07 children during their lives on average - up from 1.86 in 2006, the lowest number on record. More than half of never-married women in their 40s are mothers, up from 31 % two decades ago.
Baby Bonus Delivers Solution to Japan's Population Crisis In 2005, the average number of children born to women in Nagi was 1.41, lower than Japan's current national rate of 1.44. By 2014, this had doubled to 2.81, thanks to a decade of rewarding families for reproducing. Japan's population reached a peak of 128.1 million, in 2008 - today, there are a million fewer people.
Abortion: Do You Really Know the Global Gag Rule? The Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana saw 50 % more women come to their clinics for postabortion care the year after the Global Gag Rule was reinstated by the Bush administration. International Planned Parenthood Federation alone reports it will lose about $100 million in funding over the next four years from the U.S. government as a result of their unwillingness to be bound by Global Gag Rule.
Down to Business: Drought-hit Kenyan Women Trade Their Way Out of Poverty The BOMA Project has reported positive results in the communities where it works in Marsabit County and Samburu East, with about 15,700 women enrolled in its programme since 2008. In 2016, 99 % of BOMA businesses were still open. Members experienced a 147 % increase in their income, and a 1,400 % increase in their savings, alongside a 63 % drop in children going to bed hungry.
'My Daughter Demands More': the Men Fighting Child Marriage in Lebanon 15 million girls under the age of 18 are married every year worldwide. In Lebanon, 6 % of girls are married by the time they reach 18. Among Lebanon's registered Syrian refugee population of just under 1 million, 41% of Syrian women aged between 20 and 24 were married before 18.
The U.S. Fertility Rate is Down, Yet More Women Are Mothers Today, 86 % of women ages 40 to 44 - near the end of their reproductive years - are mothers, up from 80 percent in 2006. Today, 55% of never-married women ages 40 to 44 have at least one child, up from 31 % two decades ago. Mothers with college degrees are most likely to keep working: 78 % of those with children under 18 are in the labor force. The general fertility rate in the United States is at a record low, and the total fertility rate in the United States is down to 1.84 births per woman.
24-hour Solar Energy: Molten Salt Makes it Possible, and Prices Are Falling Fast The cost of a kilowatt-hour of electricity from a utility-scale solar farm, averaged over the life of the facility, has plunged from 28 cents in 2010 to under 6 cents.
Cape Town Could Become the First Major City to Run Out of Water in Three Months Unless the city adopts widespread rationing, the government says, the taps "will be turned off" on April 22, 2018, because there will be no more water to deliver. The city is asking residents to restrict their water use to 87 liters per person per day. That's roughly the equivalent of a four-minute shower using a regular shower head, or an eight-minute shower using a low-flow shower head.
How Abortion is Portrayed on TV and in Movies Actually Matters So Much Emergency contraception, which is often called the "morning after pill," can be taken within 72 hours of having sex and works by preventing an egg from being released, so that it never even meets sperm and a pregnancy can't even occur.
Protecting Fragile Progress in Family Planning According to FP2020's progress report, 309.3 million women and girls in the world's poorest countries use a modern method of contraception, as of July 2017. That means 38.8 million more women and girls are using contraception now than in 2012, the year of FP2020's launch. Between July 2016 and July 2017, use of family planning averted 26 million unsafe abortions, prevented 84 million unintended pregnancies, and avoided 125,000 maternal deaths.
Tanzania Slammed for Arresting Pregnant Schoolgirls Tanzania has one of the highest adolescent pregnancy rates in the world, with widespread sexual violence and many girls exchanging sex for school fees, food and shelter. Tandahimba's district commissioner Sebastian Waryuba last month ordered the arrests of 55 other girls who gave birth over the past two years and their parents.
Iowa is Becoming a Contraceptive Desert Last legislative session, the GOP-controlled Iowa Legislature forced the state to forfeit federal family planning money dedicated to, among other things, helping to cover the cost of birth control for uninsured women. The result: Planned Parenthood has closed clinics in Bettendorf, Burlington, Keokuk and Sioux City, which collectively served about 15,000 patients. In 2010, 23,000 Iowa residents experienced an unintended pregnancy. Those pregnancies cost the state and federal governments about $176 million.
Policy Trends in the States, 2017 States continued their assault on abortion in 2017, with 19 states adopting 63 new restrictions on abortion rights and access. During the year, 21 states adopted 58 new proactive measures, a sharp increase from the 28 enacted in 2016.
Venezuela Pill Shortage Triggers Rise in Teenage Pregnancies The price of condoms in Venezuela has gone up 200%. Recent research suggests that three-quarters of Venezuelans lost weight in the past year, an average of 9kg (20lb). There are no official statistics but paediatrician Dr Huniades Urbina Medina, the president of the Venezuelan Society of Childcare and Paediatrics, says that of the births he attends, the vast majority are now unplanned.
Strengthening Conservation Through Stories
Population Media Center's (PMC) entertaining stories bring conservation storylines into people's homes and communities. This video highlights some of our work -- protecting species, planting trees, and entertaining huge audiences.
Malawi's Fearsome Chief, Terminator of Child Marriages A 2012 United Nations survey found that more than half of Malawi's girls were married before the age of 18. It ranked Malawi 8th out of 20 countries thought to have the highest child-marriage rates in the world. Malawi is considered as one of the world's poorest places, ranking 160th out of 182 nations.
Reducing the Barriers to Family Planning Globally, more women who want to avoid pregnancy are using an effective contraceptive method. The number who weren't using modern contraception was estimated to be 225 million in 2014 but is 214 million now. In 2008 in the USA, 51 % of pregnancies were unintended. Now, it's just 45 %.
From Polio To Poverty To Sex Ed: 9 Predictions For 2018 Over half of the world's 7.3 billion people lack access to essential health services, like prenatal care, vaccines and treatment for high blood pressure.
How TV is Tackling Abortion and Pregnancy in Trump's America
Given the daily deluge of political attacks on women’s rights and the female body, it’s no surprise that stories of women choosing to keep or terminate their pregnancies are being elevated on TV. In the last few years, we've seen more diverse portrayals of abortion and pregnancy, from shows like Jane the Virgin to Alias Grace. In America, abortion is still—at best—considered taboo, but reproductive rights are gaining more visibility thanks to creators offering real-life scenarios on screen .
Of course, a woman's right to choose has popped up on television for decades, like on Maude as early as 1972. But these storylines have always come few and far between and are often displayed as shocking, haunting moments. Today, more female creators are showing these narratives in nuanced ways, which feels like a response to the current administration's crusade against reproductive rights.
Downsizing is an Audacious but Uneven Sci-fi Fable About an Impending Environmental Apocalypse
The premise of Downsizing is a great one: Scientists in Norway come up with the technology to reduce humans safely and efficiently down to about the size of your thumb. Small people, the thinking goes, generate less waste, consume fewer resources, and take up less space than their full-sized counterparts. On an overpopulated planet that’s becoming overrun with waste, more and more expensive, and gradually less inhabitable, downsizing could be what saves everyone.
The unintended consequences will quickly present themselves to the average viewer: What happens if everyone shrinks down in a world that is still very much full-sized? Doesn’t a world overrun by, say, regular-sized house pets become Jurassic Park? Wouldn’t the economic benefits eventually disappear?
Abortion Law Could Block Thousands of Women in Arkansas From Safe Procedure, Planned Parenthood Says Planned Parenthood asked the Supreme Court to assess the constitutionality of Act 577, a law that requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges to a local hospital in order to offer patients even a non-surgical abortion procedure that allows women to end a pregnancy with two pills.
What Will it Really Take to Avoid Collapse? In 2016, the hottest year on record, when the Paris agreement was signed and presidential candidates held widely differing opinions on climate change, the entire year's climate coverage by all network news services in the U.S. amounted to less than an hour: a paltry 50 minutes, representing a 66 percent drop from the previous year. Well-developed plans to avert climate breakdown include a state-by-state and nation-by-nation pathway to reach 100% renewable energy by 2050.
Poland Tells Young People to 'breed Like Rabbits' to Solve Declining Population, Rejecting Mass Migration Poland has seen its fertility rate fall from three children per woman in 1960 to 1.3 in 2015, according to World Bank figures. In the United Kingdom, 75 % of population growth is down to immigration, with mothers born abroad being responsible for 28 % of births in 2016 in England and Wales.
Half of Young People Do Not Use Condoms for Sex with New Partner - Poll Almost half of sexually active young people do not use a condom when sleeping with someone for the first time, and more than one-third of young people think carrying protection is a sign someone is promiscuous. Despite the high rates of sexually transmitted infections among young people, 58% said the main reason for using condoms was to avoid pregnancy, compared with 29% for avoiding infections.
Healthy Women, Healthy Families: Saving Money and Lives with Faith-based Family Planning 225 million women worldwide who want to space or prevent pregnancy do not have the means to do so, and therefore face an increased risk of health complications, poverty, and even death. In Nepal, ADRA's educational outreach boosted the number of married men who use modern contraception by 12.9 %. Every year, 16 million girls around the world aged 15-19 and 1 million girls under the age of 15 give birth.
Tens of Thousands of Households Will Have to Give Up Car as Zero-growth Policy Kicks in With zero growth, my own conservative estimate is that more than 100,000 families who had a car in 2013 will no longer have one by 2023. With Singapore's resident population continuing to grow, the near-term car ownership figure could be nearer 25 per cent, and in the long term, 20 per cent.
Population Growth Rate Threatens Water Security: Aziz An estimated annual population growth rate of 2.4 % is set to outstrip the supply of fresh water in Pakistan, already classified as a water scarce nation, if current levels of consumption continue. Per capita water availability in Pakistan has declined to 1,000 cubic meters per capita from 5,000 cubic meters at the time of its independence.
Don't Listen to the New York Times-birth Control Isn't Dangerous In the United States, about 800 women each year die from complications of pregnancy and childbearing (that is one pregnant woman in 5780), and tens of thousands are left with short-term or permanent health impacts.
Faith and Planning in the Sahel: Tensions and Cooperation Sahel has the world's highest fertility rates and fastest growing population, with an average of 5.5 children per woman. Use of modern contraceptives is low and about 25 % of married women age 15-49 would like to space or limit births but are not using modern contraceptive methods, often because family planning services are not available.
Iran in Transition: the Implications of the Islamic Republic's Changing Demographics Despite the Iranian government's latest attempts to encourage higher fertility, recent analysis of the country's 2016 census suggests that Iran's total fertility rate remains near two children per woman. Some Iranian officials estimate that 150,000 educated Iranians emigrate abroad annually, costing the country over $150 billion per year.
Health Professionals Urged to Educate Prospective Family Planning Clients Mrs Wasila Taibu, the Regional Family Planning Coordinator, said the region was not doing well in FP acceptance as from January to June this year, the region achieved 34.5 % of acceptance rate as compared to 36 % last year. She attributed the non-acceptance and decline to misconceptions of the public about FP, saying many people believe that once they start practicing FP, they would not be able to have children.
Refugees in Uganda Being Sensitized on Family Planning An average of 4,000 refugees have crossed the borders from South Sudan into Uganda. 51% of South Sudanese refugees are in Uganda and they now total over 1 million of whom 82% of them are women and children, 61% under the age of 18.
Kids Aren't Enough: the Consequences of a Shrinking Population The latest official estimate-taken from two-year-old data-puts the U.S. fertility rate at 1.84. In 2014, a whopping 40 % of mothers nearing the end of their childbearing years say they have fewer kids than they would have liked.
Kenya: Creating Jobs in Times of Population Growth At the current job creation rate, Kenya would have more than 700,000 young people every year without employment. Kenya is headed for a population that can't be lower than 116 million in 2090.
Integrating Population, Health and Environment for Sustainable Development in Kenya
“Integrating Population, Health, and Environment for Sustainable Development in Kenya” is a new ENGAGE presentation that serves as an advocacy tool to promote integrated population, health, and environment (PHE) approaches, and the value of family planning/reproductive health (FP/RH) investments by decisionmakers in health and nonhealth sectors, such as natural resource management and conservation.
World Demographics Are Changing Profoundly: What Does it Mean for the 21st Century? The world's population of 7.6 billion is growing at 1.1 percent annually, or approximately 83 million people. World population is projected to reach 8 billion by 2023, 9 billion by 2037, 10 billion by 2055 and 11 billion by 2087. Nearly all of the world's annual population growth -- about 96 % -- is taking place in developing countries.
Jakarta is Sinking So Fast, it Could End Up Underwater Jakarta is sinking faster than any other big city on the planet, faster, even, than climate change is causing the sea to rise. About 40 % of Jakarta now lies below sea level.
The Paradox of Paul Ryan’s Request for Americans to Have More Babies In nearly half of the US, childcare can cost more than college, and with no government option to take care of their young children, nearly 60% of parents say they can't find reliable, affordable childcare near their house. The average cost of raising a child has risen to over $300,000 -without accounting for college costs.
A Different Dimension of Loss: Inside the Great Insect Die-off In 2015, a team of American and Mexican scientists argued that animal species are going extinct "up to 100 times" faster than they would without us - a pace of disappearance on a par with the extinction that took out the dinosaurs. A troubling new report from Germany has shown a 75% plunge in insect populations since 1989.
Nigerian Govt Laments Population Growth Rate, Says Amenities Might Be Insufficient Experts has also warned that by 2040, Nigeria's population growth would be four times ,without commensurate facilities and employment to sustain it.
Why You Shouldn't Obsess About "overpopulation" Even if US population stopped growing at around 325 million people in 2017 and flatlined out, it would produce at best a marginal change in global emissions. On the other hand, even if US population rises over 500 million people, the impact on the world is barely noticeable. Meanwhile, lowering US carbon intensity by about a third, to around the level of manufacturing-superpower Germany today, has a bigger effect than preventing 100 million Americans from existing.
Just as buried fossil fuels are filled with carbon from ancient plant and animal life, so too are living trees and vegetation on Earth's surface today. Razing forests or plowing grasslands puts carbon in the atmosphere just like burning fossil fuels does.
Karl-Heinz Erb, the lead study author and a researcher with the Institute of Social Ecology in Austria, and his colleagues estimated that 450 billion tons of carbon - a massive amount - is contained in Earth's current vegetation. If it were to somehow arrive in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, it would amount to over a trillion tons of the gas.
They also found that, if humans somehow entirely ceased all uses of land and allowed it to return to its natural state, the Earth's vegetation would contain 916 billion tons of carbon. This would infer that current human use of land is responsible for roughly halving the potential storage of carbon by that land.
The research was published in the journal Nature by Erb and 12 colleagues from institutions in Austria, Germany, Portugal, Sweden and the Netherlands.
Deforestation accounted for about half of the loss of potential vegetation. The other half is attributed to the combination of large-scale grazing and other uses of grasslands and forest "management." With the latter, the forests as a whole don't disappear. They were just highly thinned out.
The findings are in line with the thesis of University of Virginia professor William Ruddiman, that humans have been changing the surface of the planet and putting greenhouse gases in the atmosphere through land use for millennia.
"Our finding is in line with the statement that the impact of humans on the climate was quite considerable also before the industrial times," Erb said.
The research showed that so-called degraded land - not fully deforested but not "natural” or whole, either - must be restored. Tom Lovejoy, an ecologist at George Mason University who was not involved in the work, said "That means the restoration agenda is even more important than previously thought and highlights the enormous amount of degraded land in the world.”
Phil Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center said: "Scenarios that limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees require not only rapid cessation of greenhouse gas emissions but also removal of somewhere between about 100 and 300 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere.” ... "This paper suggests that restoring vegetation around the world could in principle achieve that,” Duffy continued, noting that if all the potential vegetation were restored it would offset some 50 years of global carbon emissions.
Erb was skeptical about the strategy called Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage, or BECCS, which it was claimed to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Poor Women Are Vulnerable as GOP Turns Up the HeatJanuary 19, 2018, Who.What.Why By: Kirsty Vitarelli
Anti-abortion activists, emboldened by conservatives controlling the White House and Congress, and courts stacked with like-minded judges, are setting their sights on a new target: The elimination of federal funding for family planning services.
For 45 years, the "pro-life" movement has gathered in Washington around the anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision to protest the legalization of most abortions in the US.
Recently the Trump administration announced that it was strengthening protections for medical providers whose religious beliefs prompt them to refuse to perform abortions or to offer other contraceptive services.
Title X, a provision in the Public Health Service Act of 1970 - is federal grant legislation that secures federal funding for family planning services. It is the only grant legislation approved annually, and is constantly under threat of defunding because of this status. Of the 38 million American women who use contraception, over half - 20 million - rely on publicly funded contraceptive care.
"Without contraceptive coverage, many women would need to pay more than $1,000 out of pocket to start using a highly effective method such as a intrauterine devices (IUDs), a contraceptive implant or sterilization; that would amount to nearly one month's salary for a woman working full-time at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour," reports the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization. Other forms of contraception are less costly - as low as $9 a month from Target and Walmart. But, with the exception of emergency contraception, birth control pills require a doctor's prescription, an associated visit and insurance costs.
The theory supporting threats to Title X is that life begins at the moment egg and sperm meet, which increasing numbers of anti-abortion advocates and lawmakers embrace. They equate highly effective, long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) like IUDs and contraceptive implants with abortion itself, believing these methods would dislodge a fertilized egg - a view which is not scientifically accurate.
IUDs and implants primarily prevent fertilization, not implantation - there is no zygote, so there is nothing to abort. However, buoyed by the Supreme Court's ruling upholding Hobby Lobby's religious right to deny access to LARCs, and President Trump's seeming eagerness to please his base, anti-abortion advocates are seeking to promote their ideology in a number of ways, including going after Title X funding.
Title X in the beginning was championed by both sides of the House - its main sponsor was George H.W. Bush and was signed into law by President Nixon." The idea was that women and couples - regardless of their employment or insurance status - should have the opportunity to plan whether and when they would start a family.
However during Ronald Reagan's presidency, there was more anti-abortion ideology involved in the politics and policies of family planning.
Three-quarters of all women in the US who underwent abortions in 2014 were either living in poverty or had low incomes of roughly between $11,000 and $22,000. If federal funding is removed, these low-income households would suffer the most, physically and financially.
An amendment to the recent tax bill fostered the idea that personhood begins at conception by proposing that unborn children could be beneficiaries of college savings plans. The language was cut before the tax bill passed.
House appropriators agreed to defund Title X entirely, eliminating the program - $286 million - from the 2018 budget, but Senate appropriators did not cut the program from their spending bill.
Trump has appointed prominent anti-contraception advocates to his Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in an attempt to keep a promise to his evangelical followers. Valerie Huber, an advocate of abstinence over contraception will continue the push to defund Title X.
A rider in the House Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies spending bill would block Planned Parenthood from any federal money in 2018, and effectively "end the nation's family planning program.”
President Trump signed a law last spring allowing states to withhold federal money from organizations that offer abortion services. Many of these organizations also provide important contraceptive services to the poorest in society, services which would also be threatened.
60% of Americans believe abortion should remain legal. Some physicians remember the time before Roe v. Wade and worry that overturning it would slide the country back to the days when more than 200 women a year died from septic shock due to "back alley” abortions, or became infertile after suffering permanent injury inflicted by barbaric tools.
45% of pregnancies in the US are unintended, and about 4 in 10 of those end in abortion, according to Guttmacher. Three-quarters of all women in the US who underwent abortions in 2014 were either living in poverty or had low incomes of roughly between $11,000 and $22,000. If federal funding is removed, these low-income households would suffer the most, physically and financially.
Title X funding is intact - for now. But "the Trump administration in its first year and Congress under its current leadership have very openly hostile views and agendas against reproductive health and rights.
The birthrate in China fell last year even though the country has changed its One Child policy to allow two children. Reasons given for the low birth rate were the trend toward later marriage, the desire for smaller families and concerns about the high cost of raising children.
With almost 1.4 billion people, China has the world's largest population but it is aging fast even before reaching its expected peak of 1.45 billion in 2029.
China's policy was changed in 2015 in an attempt to increase the size of the younger working population that will eventually have to support their elders. The number of births rose nearly 8% in 2016, with nearly half of the babies born to couples who already had a child. But that appears to have been a one-time increase.
Experts have recommended the country increase its retirement age to address an expected labor shortage and declining economic vitality.
One woman, a housewife in Beijing, pointed out that the burden of looking after aging parents is one reason not to have a second child. "They helped us look after one child, but we would have to babysit the second one ourselves."
"Until the young one is 2, mother won't be able to work which means a big loss of income that we're not prepared for," another person said.
China enacted its one-child policy in 1979, enforced with fines and in some cases state-mandated abortions.
A new study warns if the degradation rate continues, all wilderness areas will be at risk over the next 50 yearsDecember 20, 2017, Guardian By: Susan Chenery
Ten percent of the earth's wilderness has been lost due to human pressure, according to a mapping study by the University of Queensland. .. 52% of the earth's ecosystems have seen a major degradation since the beginning of human history, while the remaining 48% is being increasingly eroded. Since the 1992 Rio convention on biological diversity, three million square kilometres of wilderness have been lost.
James Watson, senior author on the study and director of science at the Wildlife Conservation Society stated: "If this rate continues, we will have lost all wilderness within the next 50 years." He said there is no scientific evidence that degraded eco-systems could ever return to their original condition.
The water cycle (the ability of the area to create rain), biodiversity (loss of wildlife habitat), the nitrogen cycle and pollination are being degraded. Logging, oil and gas exploration, mining, roads and agriculture are the culprits.
These pristine wild places exist in the deserts of Central Australia; the Amazon rainforest in South America; Africa; the Tibetan plateau in central Asia; and the boreal forests of Canada and Russia.
PhD student James Allan, who also worked on the study said: The moment you put a road in, you get people moving in to farm, hunt, and it undermines the wilderness. The risk is that a lot of these systems could collapse. The Amazon is the best example of where you need the whole forest, or a huge portion of the forest, protected for the hydrological cycle to function." One third of the Amazon wilderness region has been lost since 1992.
The UQ study found that conservation efforts are being rapidly outpaced by the acceleration of the decline, thanks to massive global population growth and the associated economic growth that demands ever-increasing natural resources.
The problem is profound. "Intact functioning ecosystems" says Watson, "are critical not only for biodiversity but for the huge amounts of carbon they store and sequester. They provide a direct defence against climate-related hazards like storms, floods, fires and cyclones. They are the most resilient and effective defence against ongoing climate change.”
Loss of wilderness also affects Indigenous communities . "You have got people living in the Amazon, Congo and New Guinea who have been there for thousands of years subsisting through hunting - just sustainable use of the resources,” says Allan.
In 2016, Watson and his team released maps of the global human footprint, using eight data layersof roads, agriculture, grazing land, human population density, urbanisation and navigable waterways.
"The environment footprint of humanity is truly massive,” Watson wrote of his findings in Time. "No other species has ever come close to us in terms of consuming so much of the world's energy, resources and land area. In this Anthropocene era, where the human footprint is now altering many of the Earth systems processes, wilderness areas serve as natural observatories where we can study the ecological and evolutionary impacts of global change.”
Postabortion Contraceptive Counseling Can Help Individuals Prevent Future Unintended PregnanciesJanuary 11, 2018, Guttmacher Institute
The Guttmacher Institute conducted a survey of U.S. abortion patients in 2014, which showed that 51% (half) of those surveyed reported that they had used a contraceptive method in the month they became pregnant. This was a slight decrease from 54% of abortion patients in 2000. The methods most commonly used by abortion patients in 2014 were condoms (24% of patients) and the pill (13%).
"Contraceptive methods are highly effective at preventing unintended pregnancies, but no method -- and no user -- is perfect," says Rachel Jones, author of the analysis. "Abortion patients should have access to the full range of contraceptive counseling and services to support them in preventing future unintended pregnancies."
The share of abortion patients relying on condoms decreased from 28% to 24% between 2000 and 2014, but there was a small but significant increase -- 7% to 9% -- in the share of patients who relied on withdrawal. Use of long-acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) methods among abortion patients increased from 0.1% in 2000 to 1% in 2014. It is also possible that some abortion patients became pregnant shortly after they stopped using LARCs or other contraceptive methods.
In 2014, about 37.8 million U.S. women aged 15-44 were using a contraceptive method. But only 471,000 abortions were provided to patients who reported they were using contraception in the month they became pregnant. Between 2000 and 2014, the overall number of abortions in the United States declined significantly, and available evidence suggests that improvements in contraceptive use contributed to the abortion decline.
Contraception has been found to be effective at pregnancy prevention and it has numerous health, social and economic benefits. Abortion patients who were not using contraception at the time they became pregnant may benefit from receiving information during postabortion counseling about their risk of pregnancy, and about the full range of contraceptive options available to them and how to use those methods consistently and correctly.
Humanity has 30 years to find out.January 22, 2018, Atlantic Monthly By: Charles C. Mann
In 1970 about one out of every four people was undernourished. Today the proportion has fallen to roughly one out of 10. In those four-plus decades, the global average life span has risen by more than 11 years. Hundreds of millions of people in Asia, Latin America, and Africa have lifted themselves from destitution into something like the middle class. But millions upon millions are not prosperous. No one knows whether the rise can continue, or whether our current affluence can be sustained.
The world is expected to rise from about 7.6 billion inhabitants today to 10 billion by about 2050. Then population is expected to begin to level off. On average, each couple will have just enough children to replace themselves. In the meantime, economists say, the world's development should continue, however unevenly. The implication is that a sizable percentage of the world's 10 billion people will be middle-class.
By 2050 we will have ten billion mouths and three billion more middle-class appetites. How can we provide for everyone without making the planet uninhabitable?
In search of the answer we look at the contrasting viewpoints of two individuals largely responsible for the creation of the basic intellectual blueprints that institutions around the world use today for understanding our environmental dilemmas.
William Vogt, born in 1902, laid out the basic ideas for the modern environmental movement. He believed that, unless humankind drastically reduces consumption and limits population, it will ravage global ecosystems. Affluence is not our greatest achievement but our biggest problem. If we continue taking more than the Earth can give, he said, the unavoidable result will be devastation on a global scale.
Borlaug, born 12 years after Vogt, believed that science and technology, properly applied, will let us produce a way out of our predicament. He was the best-known figure in the research that in the 1960s created the Green Revolution, the combination of high-yielding crop varieties and agronomic techniques that increased grain harvests around the world, helping to avert tens of millions of deaths from hunger. Only by getting richer and more knowledgeable can humankind create the science that will resolve our environmental dilemmas, he claimed.
Borlaug's solution was to find a way to increase per-acre yields. Vogt's solution was to use ecological knowledge to get smaller. He recommended that we "eat lower on the food chain," to lighten the burden on Earth's ecosystems. Vogt's predecessor, Robert Malthus, predicted that societies would inevitably run out of food because they would always have too many children. Vogt said that we may be able to grow enough food, but at the cost of wrecking the world's ecosystems.
Followers of Borlaug view Vogt's emphasis on cutting back as intellectually dishonest, indifferent to the poor, even racist. Following Vogt, they say, is a path toward regression, narrowness, poverty, and hunger -- toward a world where billions live in misery despite the scientific knowledge that could free them. Followers of Vogt sneer that the Borlaug's faith in human resourcefulness is unthinking, ignorant, even driven by greed (because refusing to push beyond ecological limits will cut into corporate profits). High-intensity, industrial farming may pay off in the short run, but in the long run will make the day of ecological reckoning hit harder. The ruination of soil and water by heedless overuse will lead to environmental collapse, which will in turn create worldwide social convulsion.
In 1948 Vogt published Road to Survival, the first modern we're-all-going-to-hell book. He introduced concepts such as carrying capacity -- also known as "ecological limits," or "planetary boundaries" -- which posits that every ecosystem has a limit to what it can produce. As human numbers increase, our demands for food will exceed the Earth's carrying capacity. The results will be catastrophic: erosion, desertification, soil exhaustion, species extinction, and water contamination that will, sooner or later, lead to massive famines. His ideas were embraced by writers like Rachel Carson (author of Silent Spring) and Paul Ehrlich (The Population Bomb).
In the mid-'50s Borlaug created a wheat that produced 10 times as much grain than before, beginning what was call 'The Green Revolution.' In Asia, before Borlaug's new, high-yielding rice varieties were introduced in the 1960s, at least half of Asia lived in hunger and want; farm yields in many places were stagnant or falling. The new high-yielding rice varieties nearly tripled rice harvests. Even though the continent's population has soared, Asian men, women, and children consume an average of 30% more calories than when the high yield rice was introduced.
However, as Vogt had predicted, the enormous jump in productivity led to enormous environmental damage: drained aquifers, fertilizer runoff, aquatic dead zones, and degraded and waterlogged soils. Worse in a human sense, the rapid increase in productivity made rural land more valuable. Suddenly it was worth stealing -- and rural elites in many places did just that, throwing poor farmers off their land.
Also the Green Revolution would merely postpone the hunger crisis; it was a one-time lucky break, rather than a permanent solution. And our rising numbers and wealth mean that our harvests will have to jump again -- a second Green Revolution would be needed.
Even though the global population in 2050 will be just 25% higher than it is now, farmers will have to boost food output by 50% to 100%, due to increased affluence (eating animal products). Growing feed for animals requires much more land, water, and energy than producing food simply by growing and eating plants.
Farmers can't plant much more land, because almost every accessible acre of arable soil is already in use. Nor can the use of fertilizer be increased; it is already being overused everywhere except some parts of Africa, and the runoff is polluting rivers, lakes, and oceans. Irrigation, too, cannot be greatly expanded-most land that can be irrigated already is.
Part of the Green Revolution's success was due to the discovery of a method to produce fertilizer from nitrogen. A little more than 1% of the world's industrial energy is devoted to it. "That 1 percent," the futurist Ramez Naam has noted, "roughly doubles the amount of food the world can grow." The environmental scientist Vaclav Smil has estimated that nitrogen fertilizer from the Haber-Bosch process accounts for "the prevailing diets of nearly 45% of the world's population."
But this innovation also damaged the environment. The 40% of the fertilizer applied in the past 60 years that was not absorbed by plants was washed away into rivers or seeped into the air in the form of nitrous oxides. In the water it boosted the growth of algae, weeds, and other aquatic organisms. When these die, they fall to the floor of the river, lake, or ocean, where microbes consume their remains. The respiration of these microbes drains oxygen from the lower depths, killing off most other life. Nitrogen draining off farms along the Mississippi end up in the Gulf of Mexico every summer, creating an oxygen desert. In 2016 the dead zone covered almost 7,000 square miles. Another dead zone of 23,000 square miles was mapped in the Bay of Bengal, off the east coast of India in 2017.
Nitrous oxide from fertilizers is a major cause of pollution. High in the stratosphere, it combines with and neutralizes the planet's ozone, which guards life on the surface by blocking cancer-causing ultraviolet rays.
A landmark 2011 study from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concluded that up to a third of the world's cropland is degraded.
Our story now goes back to the 1940s. Albert Howard and his wife, Gabrielle, bred new varieties of wheat and tobacco in India, developed novel types of plows, and testing the results of providing oxen with a superhealthy diet. By 1943, they were convinced that soil was not simply a base for chemical additives. It was an intricate living system that required a wildly complex mix of nutrients in plant and animal waste: harvest leftovers, manure. Their idea of returning to the soil of all available vegetable, animal, and human wastes became the founding document of the organic movement.
After 1943 scientists discovered that plants need nitrogen chiefly to make a protein called rubisco, an enzyme needed to make roots, stems, leaves, and seeds. Rubisco is an enzyme that takes carbon dioxide from the air, and uses it in the process of photosynthesis.
Rubisco is an inept, inefficient enzyme, so plants make a lot of it to do the job. This requires a lot of nitrogen to do so. However, nature has produced a work-around: C4 photosynthesis. C4 is a four-carbon molecule that turbocharges plant growth. This involves a special adaptation of leaf anatomy.
When carbon dioxide comes into a C4 leaf, it is initially grabbed not by rubisco but by a different enzyme that uses it to form a compound that is then pumped into special, rubisco-filled cells deep in the leaf. These cells have almost no oxygen, so rubisco can't bumblingly grab the wrong molecule. The end result is exactly the same sugars, starches, and cellulose that ordinary photosynthesis produces, except much faster. C4 plants need less water and fertilizer than ordinary plants, because they don't waste water on rubisco's mistakes.
C4 photosynthesis has been found in more than 60 plants. Corn, tumbleweed, crabgrass, sugarcane, and Bermuda grass -- all of these very different plants evolved C4 photosynthesis.
Scientists from around the world are trying to convert rice into a C4 plant-- one that would grow faster, require less water and fertilizer, and produce more grain. Rice is the world's most important foodstuff, the staple crop for more than half the global population. An estimated 40% increase rice production is needed to satisfy increasing population numbers and increasing affluence. Meanwhile, the land available to plant rice is shrinking as cities expand into the countryside, thirsty people drain rivers, farmers switch to more-profitable crops, and climate change creates deserts from farmland.
The C4 Rice Consortium is a genetic-engineering project funded largely by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This genetic engineering is NOT like Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybean, which contains a snippet of DNA from a bacterium that was found in a Louisiana waste pond. That snippet makes the plant assemble a chemical compound in its leaves and stems that blocks the effects of Roundup, Monsanto's widely used herbicide. The foreign gene lets farmers spray Roundup on their soy fields, killing weeds but leaving the crop unharmed.
The C4 Rice Consortium scientists are trying to refashion photosynthesis, one of the most fundamental processes of life. Because C4 has evolved in so many different species, scientists believe that most plants must have precursor C4 genes. The hope is that rice is one of these, and that the consortium can identify and awaken its dormant C4 genes-following a path evolution has taken many times before. No company will profit from the result; the International Rice Research Institute, where much of the research takes place, will give away seeds for the modified grain, as it did with Green Revolution rice.
In addition to C4 rice, other projects are attempting self-fertilizing maize, wheat that can grow in salt water, and enhanced soil-microbial ecosystems.
All attempts to compare organic farming with new technology has shown that organic farms yield fewer calories per acre than techonology-enhanced farms -- sometimes by a little, sometimes by quite a lot.
But evaluating farm systems wholly in terms of calories per acre is folly. It doesn't include the sort of costs identified by Vogt: fertilizer runoff, watershed degradation, soil erosion and compaction, and pesticide and antibiotic overuse. It doesn't account for the destruction of rural communities. It doesn't consider whether the food is tasty and nutritious.
Organic farmers have their own innovations: planting perennials that come back summer after summer, for as long as a decade. Perennial grasses build up root systems that reach deep into the ground, they hold on to soil better and are less dependent on surface rainwater and nutrients than annual grasses. Many of them are also more disease-resistant. Perennials emerge from the soil earlier in the spring and keep photosynthesizing longer in the fall, they have a longer growing season. They produce food year after year with much less plowing-caused erosion. They could be just as productive as Green Revolution-style grain, but without ruining land, sucking up scarce water, or requiring heavy doses of polluting, energy-intensive fertilizer.
A perennial cousin to bread wheat, wheatgrass was introduced to the Western Hemisphere from Asia in the 1930s as fodder for farm animals. This wheatgrass has been crossbred among the best performers in an attempt to make a commercially viable perennial. The Land Institute, a nonprofit agricultural-research center dedicated to replacing conventional agriculture with processes akin to those that occur in natural ecosystems has been developing wheatgrass since 2002. Its new variety of intermediate wheatgrass is named Kernza. The Land Institute hopes to have field-ready, bread-worthy wheatgrass with kernels that are twice their current size (if still half the size of wheat's) in the 2020s, though nothing is guaranteed.
Other attempts to feed people are being made: creating a hybrid of bread wheat and wheatgrass; focus on tubers and trees, both of which are generally more productive than cereals. The point is to have multiple ways to meet tomorrow's needs.
And then there is to consider the kind of society tied to each of these two ideologies: The Borlaugians (followers of Borlaug) ideal for society is that the drudgery of agriculture should be eased and reduced as much as possible to maximize individual liberty. National governments (except for China) have directed labor away from agriculture. The goal was to consolidate and mechanize farms, which would increase harvests and reduce costs, especially for labor. Farmworkers, no longer needed, would move to the cities, where they could get better-paying jobs in factories. Both the remaining farm owners and the factory workers would earn more, the former by growing more and better crops, the latter by obtaining better-paying jobs in industry. The nation as a whole would benefit: increased exports from industry and agriculture, cheaper food in the cities, a plentiful labor supply.
There were downsides: Cities in developing nations acquired entire slums full of displaced families. And in many areas, including most of the developed world, the countryside was emptied -- exactly what Borlaugians intended, as part of the goal of freeing agriculture workers to pursue their dreams.
To Vogtians, agriculture is about maintaining a set of communities, ecological and human, that have cradled life since the first agricultural revolution, 10,000-plus years ago. It can be drudgery, but it is also work that reinforces the human connection to the Earth.
Pro-life proponents claim that human life begins at conception, which could lead to the conclusion that abortion is murder. However, 'life' is a quality that plants, bacteria, dogs, termites, humans, and other living entities have. Life is described as "A distinctive characteristic of a living organism from dead organism or non-living thing, as specifically distinguished by the capacity to grow, metabolize, respond (to stimuli), adapt, and reproduce." .. Biology Online Dictionary https://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Life
The Catholic Church uses ensoulment as a criteria to determine if a fetus is worthy of protection from abortion. The determination of when this ensoulment occurs during the development stages of a human -- from conception to birth -- has changed over the last several centuries.
Catholics claim they have been anti-abortion pretty much forever. While it is true that they considered it was a sin, they did not always treat it as the crime of murder.
From the time of Aristotle and up until the 19th century, Catholics based their timing of ensoulment in the human zygote on the embryology of Aristotle.
Aristotle's On the Generation of Animals was produced in the latter part of the fourth century B.C. It was the first work to provide a comprehensive theory of how generation works and the first scientific work on embryology. https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/generation-animals-aristotle
Chapter 3 of Book II defines the degree of "aliveness" at various stages of embryological development. This is the section in which Aristotle discusses three different types of human souls: a nutritive soul, imbued from the very beginning; a sensitive soul, imbued later; and finally the intellective soul, imbued forty days after conception for a male embryo and eighty days for a female embryo. The nutritive soul, also called the vegetative soul, is the essence possessed by all living things , including plants, and can be considered the lowest level of soul. The sensitive soul is what separates plants from animals, and provides animals the ability to move and to interact with the world around them. The intellective soul is what separates humans from all other animals, and allows humans to think and reason.
Until the late 19th century, most popes and Catholic's alike did not believe that the soul was infused at conception. Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585) said that an embryo wasn't human until it was 40 days old and therefore was not homicide to kill an embryo less than 40 days from conception. His successor, Sixtus V, disagreed completely. Sixtus V's successor, Gregory XIV (1590-1591), said to pretend that Sixtus V's were never issued. For centuries Catholic leaders varied in their beliefs on if the soul was infused at conception or not, and if abortion was allowed, especially when it threatened the husband's marriage/honor and/or the women's life.
An article which claims to prove that ensoulment occurs at conception is at http://catholicism.org/ensoulment-theories-and-the-abortion-debate.html . Its claim is based on modern understanding of the development of the human from conception to birth, but it did not seem it very convincing. "Having all the necessary genetic information and immanent activity heading towards full maturation, the full development of the human body is already in dynamic process; therefore, the human soul must be there."
Doesn't this same argument apply to the egg and the sperm before they unite? After all, they are the two essential parts of a human 'person'.
But once an egg is fertilized, the pregnancy has a 31% chance of ending in a miscarriage. Often this happens even before woman knows she is pregnant. http://www.nytimes.com/1988/07/27/us/study-finds-31-rate-of-miscarriage.html . Does this sound like "heading for full maturation"?
Up to 70% of first-trimester miscarriages are caused by chromosomal anomalies. Examples inclulde blighted ovum: where no embryo forms; intrauterine fetal demise: where an embryo forms but stops developing and dies before any symptoms of pregnancy loss occur; and molar pregnancy: where both sets of chromosomes come from the father - there is usually no fetal development. These do not sound like "heading for full maturation".
Is the notion that ensoulment occurs at conception believable when there are so many miscarriages? The potential to become human does not exist for these products of conception.
Every woman should have the right to do what they want with their body. About 30% of women will have had at least one abortion in their life if current abortion rates continue.
Why should the religious beliefs of a patriarchal church outweigh the beliefs of women that they have the right to terminate a pregnancy they don't want or that would be a threat to their life, or that would interfere with the well-being of her family?
Prior to 1973, abortion was legal in some of the 50 states of the U.S., usually with restrictions. In 1973, the United States Supreme Court, in its Roe v. Wade decision, ruled that a woman has a right to an abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy. However, the states are still allowed to regulate abortion during the second trimester and prohibit it during the third trimester. Since that time, abortion has become one of the most controversial and divisive issues within society.
Pro-life activists represent one extreme of opinion. They believe life begins at the instant of conception. Therefore, abortion is murder and is prohibited by the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:13). They strongly support laws banning all or almost all abortions.
Abortion is never mentioned in the Bible, despite the fact that it has been practiced since ancient times by a variety of means. However, a number of Bible passages have been cited as evidence that a fetus is truly a living human being and deserves the same protection. They may well state some general principles that are relevant, but none of them were originally intended as statements about abortion.
The following three passages and others are sometimes cited as evidence that abortion is wrong. However, when read in context, it seems clear that was not the intended message.
Luke Chapter 1 tells about God's intervention in the miraculous births of Jesus and John the Baptist.
(NIV, Luke 1:39-44) At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah's home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.
Jeremiah Chapter 1 is about Jeremiah's call as a prophet.
(NAS, Jeremiah 1:4-5) Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."
Job Chapter 10 is Job's plea to God to relieve his unfair suffering.
(NIV, Job 10:2, 8-9) I will say to God: ... "Your hands shaped me and made me. Will you now turn and destroy me? Remember that you molded me like clay. Will you now turn me to dust again?
The passage below from Genesis Chapter seems to suggest that a person is not living until he or she takes a first breath after birth. Life is equated with breath throughout the Bible.
(NIV, Genesis 2:7) The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
However, Genesis Chapter 2 is actually about God's creation of mankind as special and spiritually-aware beings.
The passage below seems to say that causing death to a fetus is not as serious a crime as causing death to a person, but it is actually just part of a long section specifying the punishments for various crimes.
And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no further injury, he shall surely be fined as the woman's husband may demand of him; and he shall pay as the judges decide. "But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, (NAS, Exodus 21:22-24)
However, the belief that life begins at conception does not have clear support from medical science, the Bible, religious tradition or legal tradition.
Abortion, infanticide and child abandonment were permitted under Roman law at the time of Jesus.
Some early Church fathers (e.g., Tertullian) wrote against abortion, and it has been considered sinful throughout Church history. However, early Christians apparently did not view abortion as murder until well beyond conception. In the thirteenth century, Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote that a soul enters the body at 40 days after conception for males and 80 days for females. That became church doctrine for many centuries, and abortion before that time of ensoulment was not considered a mortal sin. The belief that life begins at conception apparently has its origins in an 1869 decree by Pope Pius IX that abortion at any point in pregnancy was cause for excommunication.
English common law apparently tolerated abortion until "quickening," the first detectable fetal movements, around the fifth month. Similarly, abortion was largely unregulated in the U.S. until the mid 1800s. Laws against abortion were passed around 1900, but the primary reasons had to do with the injuries and deaths resulting from unskilled abortions and a struggle between opposing factions for control of medical practice.
Polls typically show that about 28% of people in the U.S. say abortion should be legal in all circumstances. Another 17% say abortion should be illegal in all circumstances. A majority, 54%, favor legal abortion in some circumstances. The Roman Catholic Church is strongly associated with the movement to outlaw abortion, but the polls actually show that the views of Catholics on this issue do not differ from the rest of the population.
Many people have deep and serious doubts about the morality of abortion. At the same time, they believe abortion may be the lesser of evils in some cases. Situations thought to justify abortion include, with varying degrees of acceptance, danger to the mother's life, defective fetus, rape, incest, teen pregnancy, risk to the mother's physical or emotional health, unstable family situations, mental retardation of the mother, etc.
Before the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion throughout the U.S., many women living in areas where abortion was not allowed simply traveled to states or countries where abortion was legal to terminate their pregnancies. Those who could not afford that option often sought out someone to perform the procedure illegally. Some sympathetic doctors were willing to help. But many illegal abortions were performed by unqualified practitioners, and many women suffered exploitation, sexual abuse, injury, infection, sterility and even death at the hands of these "back alley" practitioners. Despite some claims to the contrary, the mainstream of medical opinion is that legal abortions are very safe, with less risk to a woman's physical and mental health than continuing a pregnancy.
Some politicians exploit the abortion issue for political gain by inflaming people's passions and fears. A very small number of activists have harassed and deceived women seeking abortions, illegally blockaded clinics, harassed doctors and committed acts of violence, including murder. Such actions are clearly against Bible teachings and are not condoned by mainstream Christian denominations. However, the actions of a few have created an unfavorable view of the pro-life movement in the minds of many.
There is no general agreement among Christians, Christian theologians or Christian churches about what situations could make terminating a pregnancy the right and moral choice. However, most would agree that it is not a step to be taken if satisfactory alternatives are available. A woman or couple faced with the choice is left with medical counseling, pastoral counseling, advice of family and friends, and prayer to help with the decision.
The strong emotions surrounding the abortion issue may lead those on both sides of the issue into the sin of self-righteousness. But Jesus and other New Testament leaders taught by word and example not to condemn or shun or discriminate against those we consider to be "sinners" (Matthew 7:1-2, 9:10-13, Luke 7:36-48, 18:9-14, John 8:1-11).
A number of churches, including United Church of Christ, Episcopal, Presbyterian (USA) and United Methodist, do not approve of abortion as a means of birth control. However, they support the right of a woman to obtain an abortion, if she deems that is the best choice in her circumstances, and they favor keeping abortion legal. Other churches, including Roman Catholic and Southern Baptist, oppose all abortions and favor making abortion illegal.
The Roman Catholic says: 2270. Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.
2271. Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law. ... From Catechism of the Catholic Church, (c) 1994, United States Catholic Conference, Inc., http://www.nccbuscc.org/catechism/text/index.htm
Southern Baptist: Procreation is a gift from God, a precious trust reserved for marriage. At the moment of conception, a new being enters the universe, a human being, a being created in God's image. This human being deserves our protection, whatever the circumstances of conception. From Position Statements, Copyright (c) 1999 - 2001, Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, http://sbc.net/default.asp?url=position-statements.html
United Methodist: The beginning of life and the ending of life are the God-given boundaries of human existence. While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born. Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion. But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother, for whom devastating damage may result from an unacceptable pregnancy. In continuity with past Christian teaching, we recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures. We cannot affirm abortion as an acceptable means of birth control, and we unconditionally reject it as a means of gender selection. We oppose the use of late-term abortion known as dilation and extraction (partial-birth abortion) and call for the end of this practice except when the physical life of the mother is in danger and no other medical procedure is available, or in the case of severe fetal anomalies incompatible with life.
Overfishing, development and pollution have all contributed to the reef's decline, but climate change is its biggest threat. UN targets must be met to stop ocean acidificationDecember 27, 2017, Guardian By: John Vidal
Along the eastern coast of Florida stretches a coral reef system hundreds of miles long - the third largest in the world. Nearly 1,400 species of plants and animals and 500 species of fish have been recorded there.
But scientists compared the latest satellite images with precisely drawn 250-year-old British admiralty charts and found nearly half the reef was missing. Only sea grasses and mud were left. Except for the missing pieces, the charts and the images were nearly identical.
Extreme rainfall and heatwaves were partly responsible, but much of it was due to the impact of humankind.
During those 250 years, fishing off the Florida Keys intensified, causeways and cities were built, pollution increased and the flow of freshwater, sediments and nutrients from the land all changed. A combination of all these factors probably killed off half the corals.
These human activities are occurring in other places where there are reefs, and the impact is now accelerating across reefs around the world as natural and new anthropogenic threats emerge and combine with deadly effect.
It only takes a rise of 1C for a few weeks or extreme rainfall for corals to begin to die. In the past 20 years, extreme weather linked to El Niño events and climate change has hit the world's shallow reefs hard.
Abnormally warm water caused the world's first recorded widespread coral bleaching in 1998. Stretches of the Great Barrier Reef off Australia, and other reefs off Madagascar, Belize and the Maldives, were left white and seemingly dead.
Even though corals recover and survive if conditions return to normal, widespread bleaching and other events have occurred nearly every year, leaving many of the world's reefs stressed and vulnerable to disease.
From 2008-11, extreme summer temperatures led to major flooding and pollution in Australia which badly damaged the Great Barrier Reef.
2013 saw sea temperatures rise again and the longest global coral bleaching event on record began in 2014 with another exceptionally strong El Niño. The 2016 and 2017 mass-bleaching events may now have affected nearly two-thirds of the world's shallow reefs.
In addition to bleaching, local pollution, overfishing, loss of oxygen and excess nutrient runoff have increased, and now growing acidification of the oceans is a real danger.
In the 1980s overfishing peaked in tropical and subtropical seas, impacting the near pristine Pacific and Indian ocean reefs. Shark fishing and the use of cyanide and explosives to supply fish to Hong Kong, Singapore, and mainland China has wiped out whole fish populations. Fishing gear dragged along the ocean floor has crushed corals, dynamite has shattered colonies and cyanide has killed hosts of living creatures.
The world's reefs may only cover 2% of the ocean floor but they are thought to be home to up to a quarter of the world's 500,000 known species living in the oceans.
Reefs are now recognised as essential to the whole marine ecosystem. Fish spawn and grow around coral, which in turn helps to regulate carbon dioxide levels in the oceans and protects coastal areas from erosion.
Reefs are also important economically. Tourism and fishing on the Great Barrier Reef is estimated to be worth at least $6.4bn Australian dollars (£3.7 billion) a year. Together, the world's coral reefs have been valued at $1 trillion a year.
Protected reserves are urgently needed and fishing must be controlled and policed. Farmers, cities and mining companies must reduce their pollution and prevent the runoff of sediment and nutrients into the seas.
Today we have an oil glut, produced at a very high cost. However, there is also a huge disparity of wealth.
Most consumers cannot really afford high-priced oil products. If consumers could not afford $100+ prices back in 2013, how would it be possible for oil prices to rise to something like $97 per barrel by the end of 2018?
We cannot expect oil prices to rise to the level they did in July 2008, without recession causing oil prices to crash back down.
But low-priced oil products are bad for producers (because they produced it at such high cost).
Equity markets rallied amidst a volatility void in the lead-up to the Great Recession. Markets would make new all-time highs in late 2007 before collapsing in 2008, marking the worst annual returns (-37%) since the infamous 1937 correction.
The S&P 500 rose in 22 of 23 months between April 1935 and February 1937, in response to government spending aimed at jumpstarting the economy. By late 1937, the economy was again back in recession.
After having trillions of dollars spent on them, wind and solar make up only a tiny (1%) share of world energy supply, according to the International Energy Agency. Wind and solar are great disappointments, when total costs, including the cost of mitigating intermittency on the grid, are considered. They do not appear to be solutions on any major scale.
The world economy badly needs rising energy consumption per capita. Plans to raise interest rates and sell QE securities, when the economy is already "at the edge," are playing with fire. If we are to keep the world economy operating, large quantities of additional energy supplies need to be found at very low cost. It is hard to be optimistic about this happening. High-cost energy supplies are worthless when it comes to operating the economy because they are unaffordable.
At the dawn of agriculture, just ten thousand years ago, human beings accounted for less than 1% of the total mammalian biomass on the planet. Today, human beings account for about 32 - 35%of the total biomass of mammals. So, humans have gone from less than 1% of the total biomass to over 98.5% of an increased biomass.
The atmosphere is literally changing the food we eat, for the worse. And almost nobody is paying attention.September 13, 2017, Politico By: Helena Bottemiller Evich
Irakli Loladze, a mathematician with an interest in biology, discovered in 1998 that zooplankton -- microscopic animals that float in the world's oceans and lakes -- were getting less nutrients when the algae that they were feeding on got more lot, even though the additional light caused the algae to grow more. In other words, the zooplankton had plenty to eat, but their food was less nutritious, and so they were starving.
Loladze used his math training to help measure and explain the algae-zooplankton dynamic and published a paper in 2000. But he soon discovered that the application of his model was wider than he imagined, and he started to think about human nutrition.
The problem with crops, isn't that crops are suddenly getting more light: It's that for years, they've been getting more carbon dioxide. Plants rely on both light and carbon dioxide to grow. If shining more light results in faster-growing, less nutritious algae -- junk-food algae whose ratio of sugar to nutrients was out of whack -- then it seemed logical to assume that ramping up carbon dioxide might do the same.
For the next 17 years Loladze scoured the scientific literature for any studies and data he could find. He found that "Every leaf and every grass blade on earth makes more and more sugars as CO2 levels keep rising." ... "We are witnessing the greatest injection of carbohydrates into the biosphere in human history -- injection that dilutes other nutrients in our food supply."
In agricultural research it's been understood for some time that many of our most important foods have been getting less nutritious. Measurements of fruits and vegetables show that their minerals, vitamin and protein content has measurably dropped over the past 50 to 70 years.
We've been breeding and choosing crops for higher yields, rather than nutrition, and higher-yielding crops tend to be less nutrient-packed.
In 2004, a landmark study of fruits and vegetables found that everything from protein to calcium, iron and vitamin C had declined significantly across most garden crops since 1950.
The researchers concluded this could mostly be explained by the varieties we were choosing to grow.
Before the industrial revolution, the earth's atmosphere had about 280 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Last year, the planet crossed over the 400 parts per million threshold; scientists predict we will likely reach 550 parts per million within the next half-century -- essentially twice the amount that was in the air when Americans started farming with tractors.
Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican who chairs the House Committee on Science, recently argued that people shouldn't be so worried about rising CO2 levels because it's good for plants, and what's good for plants is good for us.
An experiment in which researchers create large open-air structures that blow CO2 onto the plants in a given area has shown scientists that plants change in important ways when they're grown at elevated CO2 levels. Within the category of plants known as "C3" -- which includes approximately 95% of plant species on earth, including ones we eat like wheat, rice, barley and potatoes -- elevated CO2 has been shown to drive down important minerals like calcium, potassium, zinc and iron. The data we have show these important minerals drop by 8%, on average. The same conditions have been shown to drive down the protein content of the same crops, with wheat and rice dropping 6% and 8%, respectively.
Now new studies are coming out that attempt to estimate what these shifts could mean for the global population. Plants are a crucial source of protein for people in the developing world, and by 2050, they estimate, 150 million people could be put at risk of protein deficiency, particularly in countries like India and Bangladesh. Researchers found a loss of zinc, which is particularly essential for maternal and infant health, could put 138 million people at risk. They also estimated that more than 1 billion mothers and 354 million children live in countries where dietary iron is projected to drop significantly, which could exacerbate the already widespread public health problem of anemia.
Recently Lewis Ziska, a plant physiologist at the Agricultural Research Service (USDA) headquarters in Beltsville, Maryland, decided to look at golden rod, a wildflower considered an important source of protein for bees as they head into the harshness of winter.
Since goldenrod is wild and humans haven't bred it into new strains, it hasn't changed over time as much as, say, corn or wheat. And the Smithsonian Institution also happens to have hundreds of samples of goldenrod, dating back to 1842, in its massive historical archive -- which gave Ziska and his colleagues a chance to figure out how one plant has changed over time.
They found that the protein content of goldenrod pollen has declined by a third since the industrial revolution -- and the change closely tracks with the rise in CO2. Scientists have been trying to figure out why bee populations around the world have been in decline, which threatens many crops that rely on bees for pollination. Ziska's paper suggested that a decline in protein prior to winter could be an additional factor making it hard for bees to survive other stressors.
In 2014, Samuel Myers, a doctor turned climate researcher at Harvard University who leads the Planetary Health Alliance, a new global effort to connect the dots between climate science and human health published a large, data-rich study in the journal Nature that looked at key crops grown at several sites in Japan, Australia and the United States that also found rising CO2 led to a drop in protein, iron and zinc.
Also in 2014, Loladze published his own paper, the result of more than 15 years of gathering data on the same subject. It was the largest study in the world on rising CO2 and its impact on plant nutrients. He had found that his 2002 theory -- or, rather, the strong suspicion he had articulated back then -- appeared to be borne out. Across nearly 130 varieties of plants and more than 15,000 samples collected from experiments over the past three decades, the overall concentration of minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and iron had dropped by 8% on average. The ratio of carbohydrates to minerals was going up. The plants, like the algae, were becoming junk food.
What that means for humans -- *whose main food intake is plants -- is only just starting to be investigated. Researchers who dive into it will have to surmount obstacles like its low profile and slow pace, and a political environment where the word "climate” is enough to derail a funding conversation. It will also require entirely new bridges to be built in the world of science -- a problem that Loladze himself wryly acknowledges in his own research. When his paper was finally published in 2014, Loladze listed his grant rejections in the acknowledgements.
A new study renews fears that oil palm plantations could drive the legendary cats extinctDecember 10, 2017, National Geographic magazine By: Stephen Leahy
Despite successful anti-poaching efforts, the Sumatran tiger population has declined about 17% since 2000, to just 600 animals left in the wild. Between 2000 and 2012, some 17% of prime tiger habitat was torn down, mainly for oil palm plantations, which covers nearly 30 million acres of the country. Sixty years ago Sumatra likely had a dozen of these secure source populations across the island. Today there are just two.