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

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

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

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Mother Caring for 7 Billion doc

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

Population & Sustainability News Digest

August 25, 2014

At Niger's School for Husbands, the Lesson is 'Space Your Children'

August 13, 2014, NPR National Public Radio   By: Marc Silver

Niger is a country that depends on agriculture, but since much of it is a desert, it has only a limited amount of land that can be farmed. This is a problem for a country that has the world's highest birthrate -- more than seven children per woman on average. It's current population will double in 20 years at that rate.

The United Nations Population Fund began the school for husbands program in 2011 to help bring down the birth rate. In different communities, men meet twice a month, under a tree or in an open-air classroom, to talk about maternal health and contraception.

In this society you have to convince the men that it's OK because that's how the decision is going to get made.

Contraception is fairly controversial in Niger so much of the time they talk about child spacing. In Niger, you're a big man if you have a big family, yet this is becoming a huge problem. Even the president talked about it being shameful this month for people to have 20 kids if they're not able to feed them.

The government is going to make contraception available in all the health clinics and get the word out that not only is it OK for women to use contraception but that they should be using contraception. Male condoms, female condoms, IUDs, injections, the pill will be available. In fact they are now available.

Younger men are expecting a smaller family than previous generations. So that change is happening.

There is also a push to have women get married later, not at 12 or 13 or 14 but in their late teens, early 20s. That shortens the period when they would be having children. In one case a girl went to court to stop her family from forcing her to marry her uncle in Nigeria. Ultimately, she was successful.

Infant mortality is going down, so kids are surviving longer. But people don't yet understand that they don't need to have as many kids because most of the kids are now going to survive to adulthood. doclink

U.S.: MTV Public Policy: How 16 and Pregnant Reduced Teen Motherhood

August 14 , 2014, Business Week   By: John Tozzi

In 2008 the rate of unwed births was the highest ever recorded. After 2008 births to unmarried women declined each year, according to new data from the CDC.

The steepest declines in childbearing have been recorded among unmarried black and Hispanic women, narrowing the gap with whites. And children born out of wedlock are increasingly born to partners who share a home.

While most of the declines from 1990 to 2008 could be attributed to better access to effective contraceptives, said Melissa Kearney, an economics professor at the University of Maryland, she credits MTV's reality show 16 and Pregnant and its spinoffs for the sharp drop in births in the years after 2008.

Kearney's and Phillip Levine's research showed how the narratives of hard lives of young mothers prompted Google searches and tweets about birth control or abortion and accounted for as much as one-third of the overall drop in teen births in the year and a half after its debut. High unemployment also contributed to the decline.

According to Kearney's research, a hit TV show dwarfs the influence of pretty much all the public policy that could affect teen birth rates. Changes to welfare, Medicaid coverage for contraception, sex ed or abstinence curriculums, access to abortion -- all play "a very, very small role in affecting aggregate rates" of unmarried births".

The CDC's data also shows decreases in unmarried births since 2007 for women of every age group younger than 35.

Since the 1990s, women have been delaying childbirth as they see greater economic opportunity -- better access to education and higher-paying jobs, Kearney says.

Teens, in particular, are staying childless by using contraception and having less sex. "The reductions in teen birth rates in particular are not driven by an increased reliance on abortion," Kearney says.

However, in populations with the least economic opportunities, "The proportion of births .. that are outside of marriage remains staggeringly high," Kearney says. doclink

Iran Bans Permanent Contraception to Boost Population Growth

Parliament prohibits vasectomies and other lasting birth control measures after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calls for more babies
August 11, 2014, Mail and Guardian

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called for more babies to be born and.parliament has voted to ban permanent forms of contraception. Khamenei's decree in May called for the ban in order to "strengthen national identity" and counter "undesirable aspects of western lifestyles".

The bill also bans the advertising of birth control in a country where condoms had been widely available and family planning considered entirely normal.

Reformists see the law as part of a drive by conservatives to keep Iran's highly educated female population in traditional roles as wives and mothers. Health advocates fear an increase in illegal abortions. Abortion is legal in Iran if the mother is in danger or if the foetus is diagnosed with certain defects.

In the 1980s, Iran offered incentives to encourage families to have more children, but that was reversed in the late 1980s, amid concerns that the rapid population growth could hobble the economy and drain resources. Subsequently the birth rate fell to 1.6 children per woman. It is projected that, at that rate, the population of more than 75 million would fall to 31 million by 2094, and 47% of Iranians would be above the age of 60. doclink

Niger: Population Explosion

Runaway birth rates are a disaster
August 16 , 2014, Economist

A woman in southern Niger has 8 children, 3 of them triplets and her babies scream for food. "If they cry and I have nothing to give them, then I must let them cry," she says, her children suffering from malnutrition, lacking the energy to shake the flies from their faces. It is a common picture in west Africa's largest country.

The UN's Human Development Index places Niger at the bottom of the list in terms of poverty. Most inhabitants grow subsistence crops on small plots of dusty, infertile land. An estimated 2.5 million people out of a total of 17 million have no secure source of food. In 2012, harvests failed and almost a quarter of Niger's population was said to be going hungry.

This problem is compounded by high fertility rates. Niger has an average of 7.6 children per woman - the highest in the world. Poverty, ignorance and poor access to contraception are contributing factors, in addition to cultural factors. Many men are polygamous, and local doctors note that the wives often try to prove their value by outdoing each other in child births. Niger's population will more than triple between now and 2050.

Modern contraceptive use went up from 5% to 12% from 2005 to 2012 but this rate is still dismally low by global standards. About 50% of women of child-bearing age use modern contraceptives in Rwanda and Zimbabwe.

Foreign-funded health centres promote long-term options like contraceptive implants. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) runs a "school for husbands" which teaches men, who traditionally tended to obstruct women seeking birth control, about family planning. The schools hope to dispel wild rumours about contraception.

Only a tiny proportion of the government's budget is devoted to family planning. Only about 25% of women express any desire to space out their births. It has been over 20 years since Niger identified population control as a priority in the fight against poverty, yet birth rates are still rising. doclink

Gangplank to a Warm Future

July 28 , 2014, New York Times   By: Anthony R. Ingraffea

The author, Anthony R. Ingraffea, who is a oil and gas engineer who helped develop shale fracking techniques for the Energy Department, assures us that gas is not "clean." Because of leaks of methane, the main component of natural gas, the gas extracted from shale deposits is not a "bridge" to a renewable energy future --l it's a gangplank to more warming and away from clean energy investments.

While methane doesn't last nearly as long as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, one pound of it traps as much heat as at least 72 pounds of carbon dioxide in a 20 year period. Even after a century, it is at least 25 times as powerful as carbon dioxide.

A 2011 study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research concluded that unless leaks can be kept below 2%, gas lacks any climate advantage over coal. The gas and oil industries have been trying to solve the leakage problem for decades.

In addition, drafts of an Energy Department study suggest that there are huge problems finding enough water for fracturing future wells.

We have renewable wind, water, solar and energy-efficiency technology options now. We can scale these quickly and affordably, creating economic growth, jobs and a truly clean energy future to address climate change. Political will is the missing ingredient. Meaningful carbon reduction is impossible so long as the fossil fuel industry is allowed so much influence over our energy policies and regulatory agencies. Policy makers need to listen to the voices of independent scientists while there is still time. doclink

IMF's Blunt Message to Nations: Raise Fossil-Fuel Taxes to Fight Climate Change

Many energy prices in many countries are wrong. They are set at levels that do not reflect environmental damage, notably global warming
August 01 , 2014   By: John H. Cushman Jr.

Countries all over the world, including the United States, should be collecting much higher pollution taxes on fossil fuels -- stiff enough to reflect the long-term cost of global warming's damage, the International Monetary Fund said in a new study.

Not only should countries collect taxes to take into account the future global costs of climate damage that carbon dioxide emissions are expected to cause, but they should also collect taxes to discourage burning fossil fuels because of the more localized smog and soot that make people sick. In addition, they should collect taxes on motor vehicle fuels to help pay for roadway wear and tear, crashes and the like.

The agency estimated that its recommended tax levels would reduce global carbon emissions by 23%, cut fossil fuel related deaths around the world by 63%, and raise average national revenues by 2.6% of gross domestic product (GDP). doclink

Without a Trace

The Sixth Extinction,’ by Elizabeth Kolbert
February 10, 2014, New York Times   By: Al Gore

Science writer Elizabeth Kolbert has come out with a powerful new book, "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History," in which she reports from the front lines of the violent collision between civilization and our planet's ecosystem: the Andes, the Amazon rain forest, the Great Barrier Reef. She explores the current spasm of plant and animal loss that threatens to eliminate 20 to 50% of all living species on earth within this century.

Many today find it inconceivable that we could possibly be responsible for destroying the integrity of our planet's ecology. For example, we continue to use the world's atmosphere as an open sewer for the daily dumping of more than 90 million tons of gaseous waste. If trends continue, the global temperature will keep rising, triggering "world-altering events," Kolbert writes.

Our oceans, a crucial food source for billions, have become not only warmer but also more acidic than they have been in millions of years. Coral reefs might be the first entire ecosystem to go extinct in the modern era, as Kobert points out.

The last mass extinction occured some 66 million years ago when a six-mile-wide asteroid is thought to have collided with earth, wiping out the dinosaurs. Marine ecosystems essentially collapsed, and about 75% of all plant and animal species disappeared.

E. O. Wilson says the present extinction rate in the tropics is “on the order of 10,000 times greater than the naturally occurring background extinction rate" and will reduce biological diversity to its lowest level since the last great extinction.

Kolbert makes an irrefutable case that what we are doing to cause a sixth mass extinction is clearly wrong. And she makes it clear that doing what is right means accelerating our transition to a more sustainable world. doclink

Want to Change the World? Read This First

June 16, 2014   By: Richard Heinberg

Marvin Harris's magnum opus was the book Cultural Materialism: The Struggle for a Science of Culture (1979). The kernel of Harris's theoretical contribution can be summarized rather briefly.

All human societies consist of three interrelated spheres: first, the infrastructure, which comprises a society's relations to its environment, including its modes of production and reproduction -- think of this primarily as its ways of getting food, energy, and materials; second, the structure, which comprises a society's economic, political, and social relations; and third, the superstructure, which consists of a society's symbolic and ideational aspects, including its religions, arts, rituals, sports and games, and science. Inevitably, these three spheres overlap, but they are also distinct, and it is literally impossible to find a human society that does not feature all three in some permutation.

The structure and superstructure of societies are always conflicted with one another to one degree or another. Battles over distribution of wealth and over ideas are perennial, but truly radical societal change tends to be associated with shifts of infrastructure, such as the Agricultural Revolution 10,000 years ago, and the fossil-fueled Industrial Revolution 200 years ago. In both cases, population levels grew, political and economic relations evolved, and ideas about the world mutated profoundly.

Oil has given us the ability to dramatically increase the rate at which we extract and transform Earth's bounty (via mining machinery, tractors, and powered fishing boats), as well as the ability to transport people and materials at high speed and at little cost. It and the other fossil fuels have also served as feedstocks for greatly expanded chemicals and pharmaceuticals industries, and have enabled a dramatic intensification of agricultural production while reducing the need for field labor. The results of fossil-fueling our infrastructure have included rapid population growth, the ballooning of the middle class, unprecedented levels of urbanization, and the construction of a consumer economy.

Our own society is on the cusp of an enormous infrastructural transformation. Our still-new infrastructural regime based on fossil fuels is already showing signs of winding down. Carbon dioxide, produced in the burning of fossil fuels, is creating a greenhouse effect that is warming the planet. The consequences will be somewhere between severe and cataclysmic. If we continue burning fossil fuels, we're more likely to see a cataclysmic result, which could make continuation of industrial agriculture, and perhaps civilization itself, problematic. We can dramatically curtail fossil fuel consumption to avert catastrophic climate change. Either way, however, our current infrastructure will be a casualty.

Also, once useful fossil energy supply rates begin to falter, this could trigger an unwinding of the global financial system as well as international conflict.

Do you want to change the world? More power to you. Start by identifying your core values—fairness, peace, stability, beauty, resilience, whatever. That's up to you. Figure out what ideas, projects, proposals, or policies further those values, but also fit with the infrastructure that's almost certainly headed our way. Then get to work. There's plenty to do, and lots at stake. doclink

Canada: Ecological Footprint Instrumental in Supreme Court's Ruling

July 18, 2014, Global Footprint Network

In a first for the Ecological Footprint and a native group in Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada supported the Tsilhqot'in Nation's title over 1,900 square kilometers in British Columbia as part of a landmark decision announced in June.

The historic ruling came about a decade after Tsilhqot'in Nation's lawyers called Global Footprint Network to provide an expert study for the case, which centered on clear-cut logging permits granted by the British Columbia government without consulting the native community living on the affected land.

Global Footprint Network's research findings converged to the conclusion that the claimed area had the capacity to support between 100 and 1,000 people - in other words, that this entire area was needed to meet the needs of the smallish nation - given their traditional hunter gatherer lifestyle. Their Footprint was both wide and light, meaning that it required a wide area given the small volume of natural resources harvested per hectare

At the end of the day, First Nations currently fighting legal battles against various major projects that risk to encroach on their lands and disrupt their natural ecosystems (see Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline proposal and the Kinder-Morgan proposal) are standing on stronger legal grounds than ever before in their history. The B.C. and federal government are currently negotiating some 100 land claims by native groups across Canada.

More ... doclink

New Video: Funding Female Farmers for a Less Hungry World

August 8, 2014

Women are the backbone of farming. Across the planet, women and girl farmers play a big role in changing the food system and creating a well-nourished world. In fact, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), approximately 43 percent of all farmers in the developing world are women. In poor and rich nations alike, they are taking on more defined roles in food and agriculture.

More . . . doclink

Birth Control Methods

July 2014, Bedsider

Visit this interactive website to learn about the various forms of birth control. Which ones are the most effective? Which are hormone free? And other questions are answered. doclink

Earth Overshoot Day

August 19 , 2014, Global Footprint Network

August 19th was Earth Overshoot Day. It is the approximate date that humanity's annual demand on nature exceeds what the Earth can renew this year. In less than 8 months, we have demanded an amount of ecological resources and services equivalent to what Earth can regenerate for all of 2014.

Ecological deficit spending is made possible by depleting stocks of fish, trees and other resources, and accumulating waste such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and oceans. It would take more than 1.5 Earths to provide the biocapacity needed to support humanity's current Ecological Footprint.

It is possible to turn the tide. Global Footprint Network and its partners are supporting governments, financial institutions, and other organizations around the globe in making decisions aligned with ecological reality.

More. See how many Chinas it takes to support China. How many United States to support the United States, etc. doclink

The Cure for Global Warming Lies in the Karoo

August 16, 2014   By: J. H. Reynolds

The buzzword of the day is Global Warming. Most people are concerned and remedies and cures vary as wide as the earth itself. 99% of the cures have one thing in common though. They all attempt to address the symptoms rather than the cause of the problem.

If the world really wants to combat global warming they might learn from the experience of the inhabitants of the semi desert Great Karoo in South Africa. What is happening on a global scale in the world almost exactly matches the scenario people in the Great Karoo faced some fifty and more years ago.

Before human intervention large herds of game traversed the Great Karoo unrestrained. They trekked after available grazing, over many thousands of square kilometers. Although very sparse, edible vegetation emerged after isolated thundershowers, got grazed (utilized) and when herds moved on plants got time to revitalize and repopulate as nature intended.

Modern man had no influence in these vast spaces and the few Bushmen who also roamed the plains fitted in with nature. When the region became inhabited by westerners in numbers the vast herds of game were hunted down and eventually replaced by livestock that had to be controlled by fences and thus diehards who braved the harsh land established farming enterprises.

Farmsteads and towns emerged and with the addition of roads, rail and other means of communication the land became hospitable and the population increased as in the rest of the world. Pressure on land increased and unintentional over exploitation was the result. Even though being a very harsh semi desert environment, it is extremely vulnerable and soon overpopulation symptoms manifested, vegetation degeneration, good edible plants being replaced by thorny and sometimes poisonous plants, lots of bare patches in vegetation leading to soil erosion by wind and water.

Poor plant coverage led to less detainment of the little rain there was, resulting in more frequent droughts, dust storms, habitat depletion, and a general downward spiral of everything dependent on nature. In other words, nature fought back.

And exactly as with global warming today, the inhabitants addressed the symptoms instead of the cause. A sympathetic government gave subsidies to combat soil erosion spending thousands on building dams and erosion schemes to curb uncontained water runoff, ploughing bare patches to introduce new plant populations, and even trucking in extra food to sustain the inflated stock herds. Fortunately the very people who caused the problem over several generations eventually had the wisdom to address the problem instead of the symptoms. A scientific formula was developed to calculate the so-called carrying capacity of almost the entire region resulting in large reductions in stock numbers utilizing available vegetation in symbioses with nature as well as a significant reduction in inhabited farms.

Many hundreds of abandoned farmhouses are proof of this. In small rural towns large school buildings and churches bares testimony to times when too many people tried to forge a living off land obviously not capable of sustaining the numbers.

It must be added that in addition to nature that rebelled against the exploitation, financial reality named capitalism, also played its part in thinning population numbers in that no artificial economic activity of too many people were sustainable. Unfortunately an ignorant government today again ignores the realities of nature and forces great numbers of people on land not capable of sustaining them.

The lesson to be learned from the ‘timid' people cultivating the semi desert region of the Karoo is that the leaders and the scientists of the world can try to address global warming (the symptom) as much as they like, unless the real problem of overpopulation of the planet is addressed any ‘green solution' will only delay the inevitable.

Also learn from these people that the ‘evil' capitalistic system may be the only way to really make an impact on the problem. For this to happen people must accept that the rich of the world will have to buy the only commodity the poor of the world has to sell, namely the excessive multiplication of people numbers. Even though the rich of the world has a far greater ecological footprint than poor nations, the fact remains: If we could half the amount of inhabitants on earth and keep it there, global warming would cease to be a threat. In addition this would go a long way to alleviate poverty in the world. If only the "leaders of the world" would really "lead" the world. doclink

These 10 Seconds Show Just How Big of a Problem Drought Has Become in California

August 15, 2014, Los Angeles Times   By: Kyle Kim

Go here and scroll 2/3 down to see a cool animated gif showing how fast the drought has progressed in California. doclink

These 10 Seconds Show Just How Big of a Problem Drought Has Become in California

August 8, 2014, Los Angeles Times   By: Kyle Kim

Click the link in the headline and scroll down about 2/3 of the way down to see the cool animated gif of California's drought history since 2011. doclink

UNICEF Report: Africa's Population Could Hit 4 Billion By 2100

August 15, 2014, Texas Public Radio

A recent Generation 2030 Africa report from UNICEF estimated that "almost 2 billion babies will be born in Africa in the next 35 years. Over the same period Africa's under-18 population will increase by two thirds, reaching almost 1 billion by mid-century; and close to half of the world population of children will be African by the end of the 21st century."

The report also said that, after previously estimating that "one in every three children in the world living in Africa by 2050" UNICEF now estimated that "by mid-century the continent will be home to around 41 per cent of all of the world's births, 40 per cent of all global under-fives, and 37 per cent of all children (under-18s)."

More from the report:

* Africa's "current population is five times its size in 1950. And the continent's rapid population expansion is set to continue, with its inhabitants doubling from 1.2 billion to 2.4 billion between 2015 and 2050, and eventually reaching 4.2 billion by 2100. Forty percent of the the world's population will live in Africa by 2100.

* The future of humanity is increasingly African. More than half the projected 2.2 billion rise in the world population in 2015-2050 is expected to take place in Africa, even though the continent's population growth rate will slow. On current trends, within 35 years, 1 in every 4 people will be African, rising to 4 in 10 people by the end of the century. Back in 1950, only 9 among 100 of the world's number of inhabitants were African.

• With its inhabitants set to soar, Africa will become increasingly crowded, with its population density projected to increase from 8 persons per square kilometre in 1950 to 39 in 2015 and to about 80 by mid-century.

* Special attention is required for Nigeria, which is the country with the largest increase in absolute numbers of both births and child population.

* The continent could reap the vast potential economic benefits experienced previously in other regions and countries from its changing age structure, with lower dependency ratios and an expanded labour force. But reaping the demographic dividend will heavily depend on investing now in human capital. Supporting Africa's poor families to do this for their children will be paramount if Africa is to take full advantage of its demographic transition in the coming decades.

• However, unless investment in the continent's children is prioritized, the sheer burden of population expansion has the potential to undermine attempts to eradicate poverty through economic growth, and worse, could result in rising poverty and marginalization of many if economic growth were to falter. Without equitable investment in children, prioritizing the poorest and most disadvantaged in the coming decades, Africa also risks repeating the mistakes of other continents and experiencing ever-widening disparities among its children even as its economy prospers, with negative implications for human rights, employment, sustained growth and political stability.

After the report was released, NPR's Melissa Block interviewed David Anthony, chief of the policy advisory unit for UNICEF and lead author of a UNICEF report on population growth projections in Africa.

Fertility rates are declining in Africa; however, the number of women having babies has grown tremendously - and is expected to more than double in the next 35 years. This will result in increasing numbers of births, according to Anthony. Also child mortality has slowed.

Anthony told Melissa Block that unsustainability is not an issue because Africa has a lower population density than many other regions, giving it growing room. It depends much more on how the transition is handled and how Africa invests in its youth. doclink

Karen Gaia says: as has been shown by the examples of many other countries, population density is not a good indicator of sustainability. There are many places in Africa that are not suitable to grow food.

One of the big problems is that the rich countries are already grabbing any land in Africa that may be available to feed their own people. I wouldn't trust any offers of western style agricultural development.

As Joe Bish of Population Media Center points out: Perhaps it should have been "mentioned that the 4+ billion person Africa project by the UN's medium variant is equal to sending every single person currently living in Europe, North America, Latin America, South America, Oceania and.... and... oh yes, India -- sending all those people to join the current African population. I am sure this would do wonders for the African environment and already reeling wildlife"

States Help New Mothers Get Birth Control Through Medicaid : Shots - Health News

July 23, 2014   By: Dana Farrington

New York has just joined five other states in making it easier for women to have access to the kind of family planning options she was seeking without worrying about the price tag. New York has changed its Medicaid reimbursement rules.

This will help the woman in this scenario: she is about to give birth to her second child, and she's not looking to have a third anytime soon. She's planning on breast-feeding so she doesn't want to take birth control pills which conflict with breast feeding. And condoms aren't as error-proof as she'd like. There are a couple of alternatives that are safe, effective and could work for years. She'll need a doctor to get those. But her Medicaid plan won't pay for contraception if she tries to get it while she's still at the hospital.

Medicaid will not reimburse the doctor for delivering a baby and giving a woman an IUD in the same visit. A mom could wait six weeks for a postpartum appointment to get an IUD from Medicaid. But women are much less likely to get contraception at that point

IUDs and implants are not popular with women in the U.S., despite being birth control. With the Affordable Care Act, new insurance plans should fully cover these methods, though there are exceptions.

An IUD is a T-shaped piece of plastic that is put inside the uterus by a health care provider. One type of IUD releases hormones to prevent fertilization and another uses copper to fight off sperm. The kind with hormones can stay put for 3 to 5 years; the one with copper lasts for about 10.

The hormonal implant is a flexible rod about the size of a match that goes just under the skin in the upper arm. It also uses hormones to prevent pregnancy. It works for three years.

If a woman decides she wants to have a baby, she can have a doctor take out the IUD or the implant at any time. doclink

Satanists Demand Religious Exemption From Abortion Restrictions, Cite Hobby Lobby Ruling

July 28, 2014, Think Progress   By: Tara Culp-Ressler

Much debate has been made over the recent Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court' allowed some for-profit companies to claim a religious exemption to Obamacare's contraception mandate.

An interesting point of is held by the Satanic Temple, a faith community that describes itself as facilitating "the communication and mobilization of politically aware Satanists, secularists, and advocates for individual liberty".

The Satanic Temple has launched a new campaign seeking a religious exemption to certain anti-abortion laws that attempt to dissuade women from ending a pregnancy.

The group says they have deeply held beliefs about bodily autonomy and scientific accuracy, and those beliefs are violated by state-level "informed consent" laws that rely on misleading information about abortion risks.

“Because of the respect the Court has given to religious beliefs, and the fact that our our beliefs are based on best available knowledge, we expect that our belief in the illegitimacy of state­ mandated ‘informational' material is enough to exempt us, and those who hold our beliefs, from having to receive them," said a spokesperson for the organization.

The Satanic Temple first made national headlines when members rallied in support of Florida Gov. Rick Scott for approving a bill that allows prayer in public schools, saying they're glad the new policy will allow children to pray to Satan.

“Informed consent" laws, which typically require women to receive biased counseling before being allowed to proceed with an abortion procedure, are now in place in 35 states. Many of those laws require doctors to tell their patients misleading information about abortion's potential link to mental health issues and breast cancer. Some of them put words directly in doctors' mouths, forcing them to refer to the fetus as an “whole, separate, unique, living human being."

All women who share their belief in medical accuracy are encouraging to seek their own exemption from these laws, even if they don't personally identify as Satanists. “Right to Accurate Medical Information" t-shirts are available for purchase. doclink

Most Catholics Reject Teachings on Birth Control Sex Says Vatican

The Vatican blamed its own priests for much of the problem
June 26, 2014, Toronto Star   By: Nicole Winfield

In June this year, the Vatican conceded that most Catholics reject its teachings on sex and contraception as intrusive and irrelevant. This October a debate will be opened on the topic of marriage, sexuality, abortion, and divorce, but core church doctrine isn't expected to change.

The Vatican sent out a 39-point questionnaire seeking input from ordinary Catholics around the world about their understanding of, and adherence to, the church's teaching on sexuality, homosexuality, contraception, marriage and divorce. Thousands of ordinary Catholics, clergy and academics responded.

A working document for the October synod discussions said "A vast majority" of responses stressed that "the moral evaluation of the different methods of birth control is commonly perceived today as an intrusion in the intimate life of the couple and an encroachment on the autonomy of conscience."

“Many responses recommend that for many Catholics the concept of ‘responsible parenthood' encompasses the shared responsibility in conscience to choose the most appropriate method of birth control."

Pope Francis is seeking to redirect his ministers to offer families, and even gays in civil unions, a “new language" that is welcoming and responds to their needs.

The document laments that the media and its own priests have failed to communicate the “positive" aspects of the Vatican's key document banning artificial contraception, the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae. And it stresses that what is needed is better pastoral outreach and a “new language" to communicate the complete vision of marriage and family life that the church espouses.

“Some observations inferred that the clergy sometimes feel so unsuited and ill-prepared to treat issues regarding sexuality, fertility and procreation that they often choose to remain silent," the document said.

The document also acknowledged that the church had a credibility problem. “Responses from almost every part of the world frequently refer to the sexual scandals within the church (pedophilia in particular)," it said. “Sex scandals significantly weaken the church's moral credibility." doclink

Ancient Baby Boom Holds a Lesson in Over-population

June 30, 2014, Science Daily   By: Eric Sorensen

Washington State University researchers have found that, from 500 to 1300 A.D., southwestern Native Americans experienced a centuries-long baby boom due to success in farming and food storage. Birth rates likely 'exceeded the highest in the world today,' the researchers write.

The study looks at a century's worth of data on thousands of human remains found at hundreds of sites across the Four Corners region of the Southwest. The stone tools found there reflect an agricultural transition from cutting meat to pounding grain.

Maize, also know as corn, was grown in the region as early as 2000 B.C. But, probably because of low productivity, the population took awhile to realize the benefits, said co-author Tim Kohler, WSU Regents professor of anthropology. However by 400 B.C., the crop provided 80% of the region's calories. Crude birth rates consequently rose, mounting steadily until about 500 A.D.

Around 900 A.D., populations remained high but birth rates began to fluctuate. Then in the mid-1100s one of the largest known droughts in the Southwest occurred. The region likely hit its carrying capacity, with continued population growth and limited resources similar to what Thomas Malthus predicted for the industrial world in 1798.

By 1280 all the farmers had left but birth rates remained high, possibly because of the high amount of conflict. "Why not limit growth?," Kohler said. "Maybe groups needed to be big to protect their villages and fields."

"It was a trap," said Kohler. "A Malthusian trap but also a violence trap." doclink

Karen Gaia said: Malthus never predicted cataclysmic worldwide famine. He predicted regional periodic famine.

Invest in Adolescents and Young People

August 2014, Women Deliver

doclink

U.S.: Be Bold Road Trip - United for Abortion Coverage

August 02, 2014, All Above All

Crossing the country, young people, people of color, and others are standing up against the avalanche of attempts to disenfranchise them, take away abortion coverage and interfere with their personal decision-making.

At each stop, participants will rally with local and national leaders as they learn more about the issues, sign a wall of support, snap selfies, and hear abortion stories that bring the issues to life

The Be Bold Road Trip will finish on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, in mid-September, to commemorate the anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, which has withheld coverage for abortion services from women insured through the Medicaid program since 1976.

The Be Bold Road Trip will travel 10,000 miles to visit 12 cities for one purpose: to end bans on abortion coverage for low-income women.

The mission of the Be Bold Road Trip is critical to the work of reproductive justice organizations such as The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, which says: "Many of our hermanas are denied access to abortion care each year, simply based on their income. We believe that every woman, no matter how much she makes, should be able to get safe and affordable abortion care when she needs it." doclink

Sea Level Rise Causing Huge Increases in “Nuisance Flooding”

Roads that were once under water every 3 years are now under every 3 months.
July 30, 2014, Ars Technica   By: John Timmer

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has compiled data on what it calls "nuisance floods," cases where coastal communities have to deal with flooding as a result of high tides or minor storms.

Over the last 50 years, instances of these floods along the East Coast have gone up by anywhere from 300 to 900%. But there are minor flooding events that are much more common, such as high tides that cause roads and properties to be submerged by salt water. Although these nuisance floods don't cause widespread chaos, they do make areas inaccessible and cause damage to infrastructure that wasn't designed to deal with salt water. These events are often common at certain times of the year or become more common in cycles, as normal high tides interact with changes in the ocean circulation or events like El Niños.

The rates of nuisance floods have increased by 925%. New Jersey and Pennsylvania had rate increases in the 600s, while the nation's capital and San Francisco each saw the frequency rise by about 370%.

Regardless of the location, these nuisance floods will become increasingly significant, and sea level rise has a non-linear effect on their frequency. The reason for this is that the height of high tides is very variable, influenced by things like weather, orbital mechanics, and so on. But that variation is strongly grounded to a mean tide level. doclink

North American Waterfowl Are Newest Casualty of California's Drought

July 30, 2014   By: Matt Weise

As a result of the California drought, millions of migrating birds will be crowded into less habitat, significantly increasing the odds of botulism outbreaks, which spread rapidly and can kill thousands of birds in a matter of days. Officials also are concerned the drought could cause food shortages.

Already, at least 1,700 waterfowl have died at Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge near the Oregon border.

"We've got this perfect storm, if you will. And it's not going to be pretty," Mark Biddlecomb, Western region director of Ducks Unlimited said. "I think we're looking at the probability of a food shortage in addition to a disease outbreak. If they don't go back in excellent condition, they're not going to be breeding like they would normally, and that will affect the entire flyway from the boreal forests of Canada all the way down to Mexico, frankly." doclink

Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Other Cities Headed for Imminent Water Supply Collapse; Wave of Drought Refugees Now Inevitable

June 29, 2014, Natural News   By: Mike Adams

The 600,000 people of Las Vegas, Nevada depends almost universally on one lake - Lake Mead - for their water. That lake has dropped by 50%. Created in 1936, when the Las Vegas population was very tiny, Lake Mead has in recent years dropped by 50% and is receding with alarming speed. It is expected to be "bone dry" in less than 20 years.

Rob Mrowka, a scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, says: "Truth be told, much of the Western USA is in the same dire situation as Las Vegas. Cities like Los Angeles were founded in the desert, then artificially supplied with water that's literally pumped over a mountain. If those pumps are halted for any reason, Las Vegas immediately reverts to a desert, and the city becomes a death trap for its millions of residents who rapidly discover they are living in a desert." doclink

Bangladesh: Food Security: the Challenge of a Growing Population

June 29, 2014   By: Mahabub Hossain

Bangladesh's progress in reducing population growth, from 3% at independence to about 1.2% now, is laudable. But there are indications that the progress made in fertility reduction has slowed down in recent years. In Chittagong and Sylhet divisions, the total fertility rate is still higher than three, while the national average is 2.3, and it is less than two in Khulna Division.

Each year rice production has to increase by 0.4 million tons to meet the need for staple food for a population that is increasing by 1.8 million every year.

With global warming and climate change, another one-sixth of the land may be submerged with brackish water over the next 40 years due to rising sea levels with adverse impact on soil salinity.

The good news is that, with economic progress people now have capacity to access a diversified diet with intake of less rice and more quality food. The per capita consumption of rice has been declining by almost 1.5 kg per person per year. Japan and South Korea had the same experience during their process of economic development.

However there is the problem of accelerating the growth in the production of non-rice foods, such as pulses, oils, fish and animal products.

Recently women's involvement in agriculture has been growing. Women's labour is an additional resource that can contribute to a substantial increase in the production of quality food. Women are already heavily engaged in homestead-based vegetable and fruit gardening, and subsistence-based poultry and livestock farming. doclink

Karen Gaia says: even if women work in agriculture, will there be enough land to grow the food?

Sea Level Rise Cuts Across Political Divide in Norfolk, Virginia

July 02, 2014, World Resources Institute - WRI   By: Christina Deconcini and C. Forbes Tompkins

The impact of sea-level rise cut across political divides at the "Rising to the Challenge" conference in Norfolk, Virginia, earlier this week. Members of Congress and Virginia mayors from both political parties joined military and state and local officials to discuss the challenges sea level rise presents to the Hampton Roads area, as well as how to promote federal, state and local action.

Coastal communities in southeast Virginia are at the front lines of sea-level rise. Sinking land and rising seas have combined to produce the fastest rates of sea-level rise along the U.S. East Coast for the Hampton Roads region, which is comprised of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Hampton, and 14 other localities in Southeast Virginia. Sea levels have risen more than 14 inches since 1930.

Sea-level rise also threatens the region's numerous major military facilities, including Naval Base Norfolk, the world's largest naval base and the most vulnerable such base to rising seas, according to Rear Admiral Kevin Slates.

"This is a matter of national security," said the National Security Council's Hill. "It's a mission-readiness issue."

When pressed by panelists on how much sea-level rise the area will confront in the future, Rear Admiral John White explained that we can prevent the worst consequences if we address the root of climate change and “stop putting CO2 in the atmosphere." doclink

Is the Anthropocene a World of Hope Or a World of Hurt?

July 08, 2014, Grist   By: Nathanael Johnson

Anthropocene is a term denoting a new geologic epoch, dominated by human influence. Ethicist Clive Hamilton and the journalist Andrew Revkin, attended a seminar in Washington, D.C., on the Anthropocene. Hamilton was astonished and irritated that some of the participants seemed optimistic, even excited, about the advent of the Anthropocene. He had just written a book, Requiem for a Species, arguing that people squirm away from the bleak reality of climate change.

In a subsequent interview, Clive Hamilton (CH) said, "The only reasonable conclusion is that the world is in for a very bad time indeed."

Andrew Revkin (AR) agreed that the projections are grim. I've never said that this is a good moment in the history of the planet. What I've been trying to say, sometimes perhaps not specifically enough, is that it's possible to have a good trajectory in a turbulent time. You do the best you can, but you have to be realistic about what's possible given what we know about our species." ... "A third of us have had our fossil-fuel party and a third have not even begun. The primacy of energy access in most of the places in the world trumps long-term concerns about what we are going to do about greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere."

CH agrees but says: "In your view things can be good, where I said things can be better than they are otherwise going to be. But I cannot see how, in a world warmed by four degrees, anything can be described as good. So the question is, are we headed for four degrees or not. You have a kind of "oh shit" moment at some point. And you realize the way one used to think about how we could get out of this, how we could somehow muddle through, really won't do any more."

AR: "No one had any idea we were going to have a natural gas revolution and, for better or worse, here it is, reshaping global energy policies." .. "Things could end up worse than we thought, but they could also be better than a lot of scientists think."

CH: "I think when you have a bunch of environmentalists saying "we are optimistic, we think humans can solve this with technology, we are working with businesses to help come up with the solutions," it detracts from the urgency. That whole approach fails to grasp the seriousness of the situation." It stops governments from imposing policies that will facilitate the transition to the low-carbon future.

AR: "Is this a problem of big companies, or a problem of our attachment to cheap fossil energy?" .. "Ban Ki-moon has made the case beautifully for sustainable energy for all. It's just as much a moral imperative for people to have access to energy as it is for us to cut concentrations of greenhouse gases."

CH: "I don't accept this idea that we consumers in the West are irrevocably attached to cheap energy." .. "Some countries in Europe have less than half — a third — of our emissions per person." And countries like Germany have policies that cut emissions. "I think Western consumers can quite easily be weaned off high-polluting energy sources. The more that is done, the easier it is to free up the carbon budget for poor people who desperately need access to energy."

CH We can look at it with open eyes, and allow it to blast away all our utopian imaginings, and say, well, we are in really deep trouble, and it's extremely unlikely that we are going to get out of it unscathed."

AR: "There are paths that take us through that without a crash." ... "Population analyses that show many trajectories. Some are soft-landing trajectories around the year 2300 with 3 billion prosperous people on our planet, not through mass death, but just demographic transitions. I guarantee you that world would be able to deal with the rise in sea levels better than a world of 10 or 12 billion struggling people."

Follow the link in the headline for the entire article. doclink

Invertebrate Numbers Nearly Halve as Human Population Doubles

July 24 , 2014, Phys.org

Invertebrate numbers have dropped by 45% on average over 35 years - the same period in which the human population doubled, according to a study published in Science and led by UCL, Stanford and UCSB.

The decrease in invertebrate numbers is due to two main factors - habitat loss and climate disruption on a global scale.

In the UK alone, scientists noted the areas inhabited by common insects such as beetles, butterflies, bees and wasps saw a 30-60% decline over the last 40 years.

Invertebrates are important for our daily lives. For example insect pollination is required for 75% of all the world's food crops and is estimated to be worth approximately 10% of the economic value of the world's entire food supply. Globally, pollinators appear to be strongly declining in both abundance and diversity.

Native predators perform the useful service of pest control, valued in the US at an estimated $4.5 billion annually.

Insects and vertebrates (birds, for example) are important for cycling nutrients and moving them over long distances, without which the integrity of other ecosystem functions such as plant productivity could be compromised.

Declines in amphibian populations has led to increased algae and the biomass of waste matter, which in turn reduces nitrogen uptake, degrading the water quality.

The the impact the continuing loss of animals, including invertebrates, has on the spread of human disease needs to be better understood as a priority. doclink

Control Population Growth Cure Poverty

July 30 , 2014

While Uganda's poverty rate has decreased, the actual number of people in poverty, particularly with the huge projections of population growth the country is experiencing, will mean a tsunami of people that will overwhelm all the gains.

In 2000, the poverty rate was 33.8% or about 7,500,000 million Ugandans were living below the poverty line. In 2009, the poverty rate dropped to 24.5% with a but with more people, and the total number living below the poverty line was unchanged.

The middle class might be growing and others prospering. But, in education, healthcare, and jobs, Uganda can barely provide them now. Youth unemployment is at 70% or more, and rising.

If Uganda does not stem population growth, it cannot stop the growing tide of people living - and suffering and dying - in poverty.

"Poverty is the worst kind of violence," Gandhi said. doclink

Karen Gaia says: when the author says 'population control' I hope he means voluntary family planning. There are many proven ways to get fertility rates down without coersion, shaming, lying, propaganda, targets, incentives, or disincentives.

SWERUS-C3: First Observations of Methane Release From Arctic Ocean Hydrates

Just a week into the sampling program and SWERUS-C3 scientists have discovered vast methane plumes escaping from the seafloor of the Laptev continental slope. These early glimpses of what may be in store for a warming Arctic Ocean could help scientists project the future releases of the strong greenhouse gas methane from the Arctic Ocean
July 25 , 2014, SWERUS-C3

Note:SWERUS-C3 is a Swedish, Russian and US program investigating climate-cryosphere-carbon interactions in the Arctic Ocean.

Expdetion Chief Scientist Örjan Gustafsson (ITM Stockholm University) writes: "While there has been much speculation about the vulnerability of regular marine hydrates along the continental slopes of the Arctic rim, very few actual observations of methane releases due to collapsing marine hydrates on the Arctic slope have been made." He thinks that the mechanism behind the presence of methane seeps at these depths may have something to do with the "tongue" of relatively warm Atlantic water, presumably recently intruding across the Arctic Ocean at 200-600 m depths."

As this warm Atlantic water, the last remnants of the Gulf Stream, propagates eastward along the upper slope of the East Siberian margin, it may lead to destabilization of methane hydrates on the upper portion of the slope.

SWERUS-C3 scientists could determine the depth from which methane plumes were bubbling up and detect gas seeps in the water column. " Additional observations include the discovery of over 100 new methane seep sites in the shallower waters of the Laptev shelf (at 60-70m depth), a likely consequence of the thawing subsea permafrost. doclink

Karen Gaia says: "the comparative impact of CH4 on climate change is over 20 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period." See http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/gases/ch4.html

Killed by Stork

Family planning is vital for Pakistan's security
June 25, 2014, Newsweek Pakistan   By: Roshaneh Zafar

In 1978 Thomas Malthus predicted that the world population was bound to outstrip food production, leading to a state of "natural distress." To strike a balance between global natural resources and population, Malthus proposed family planning through "moral restraint," that is, rallying men to delay marrying until later. Malthus has been proven right on the significance of family planning, which is today inextricably linked with economic and security challenges in developing countries, like terror-stricken Pakistan.

The 2009 Failed States Index by the Fund for Peace showed that "failed" states had a total fertility rate -- the number of children per woman -- at five, while the global average was 2.6 at that time. The 2013 Failed States Index, where Pakistan is No. 13, connects the risk of radicalization to the lack of economic opportunities and unemployment. When states are unable to afford the basics for their people (schooling, nutrition, health care, etc.) the denudation of the state is hastened by the employment of its people for radical causes. It's also now evident that having more children results in more, not less, poverty.

The 18th Amendment to the Constitution keeps Pakistan from pursuing a cohesive national program for family planning. The amendment laudably recognized the socioeconomic rights of Pakistani citizens, including the right to an education, as a basic human right. However, it also devolved many previously federally-held responsibilities—including population planning and management—to the provinces.

Pakistan's children-per-woman figure has gone down from 6.7 in 1970-1975 to the present-day 3.3. In comparison, Bangladesh has gone from from 6.2 in 1970-1975 to 2.5 today.

On the bright side, the 2013 Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey shows that almost all married women and 95% of married men were aware of at least one modern family-planning method, and that between 20 to 25% of married women wanted to wait before having another child or even to limit the number of children. doclink

The Disaster We've Wrought on the World's Oceans May Be Irrevocable

July 02, 2014, Newsweek   By: Alex Renton

Rising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are causing global temperatures to rise, which is leading to the melting of the polar ice caps, which in turn has resulted in rising sea levels and a host of ecological issues.

On the fish counters of Barcelona's central market, thousands of sea creatures making up dozens of species are on display. But by the end of this century, many of these animals may be history due to man's reckless abuse of the planet. The oceans are taking up the greenhouse gases that we dump into the air, which turns the waters deadly to its inhabitants.

Many species on the market's fish counters are also on one or more European "at-risk" lists: under threat because of overfishing or changes in the chain of foods that supply them, or from the bigger threat of the changing ocean biogeochemistry. Bivalves such as clams, oysters and mussels use calcium carbonate to make their shells. However, in as little as 20 years they will be very different and, in some parts of the world, entirely gone.

Other sea creatures with shells don't make their shells the same way but the acidification appears to harm the working of the gills and change the behavior of the crustaceans when they are very young.

This acidification is the fastest change in the ocean's chemistry in 300 million years, according to scientists.

A significant amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes from the burning of carbon fuels. Carbon dioxide is absorbed by seawater, lowering the pH level and increasing its acidity. "In preindustrial times the ocean's pH was 8.2. It has already gone down to 8.1," says Carles Pelejero, a scientist working in Barcelona. “Depending on what we do, it will reach an average of 7.8 or 7.7 by 2100. It hasn't been that low for 55 million years."

The ocean is a key food supply for more than 3 billion of us.

Along the coasts and out in the deep, huge “dead zones" have been multiplying. They are the emptiest places on the planet, where there's little oxygen and sometimes no life at all, almost entirely restricted to some unicellular organisms like bacteria. Vast blooms of algae—organisms that thrive in more acid (and less alkaline) seawater and are fed by pollution—have already rendered parts of the Baltic Sea pretty much dead. A third of the marine life in that sea, which once fed all of Northern Europe,

What worries Pelejero most is the rapidity of today's changes. The same shifts that happened over the course of a few thousand years during the PETM (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum) are now due to happen over just a few centuries, counting from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the widespread use of fossil fuels.

One ray of hope is that the Obama administration announced a series of measures aimed to conserve the ocean as a key food supply. These included more ocean sanctuaries to curtail overfishing, and new funds to research ocean biochemistry, including acidification. doclink

The Impossibility of Growth Demands a New Economic System

Why collapse and salvation are hard to distinguish from each other.
May 28, 2014   By: George Monbiot

According to Jeremy Grantha's calculations, if one cubic meter grew by a compounded 4.5% since 3030 BC, it would now occupy 2.5 billion billion solar systems. The point is that our target of 4.5% growth is unsustainable, especially if you begin with today's very large world GDP. Yet the economic model in today calls for continuous compound growth in the range of 4.5% throughout the world. That would be enough to support population growth and allow most people to live a little better each year. Considering this, we can quickly reach the paradoxical conclusion that we have based our economic model on a doomed formula. To fail is bad, but to succeed is to destroy ourselves. That is the bind we face. Ignore if you must climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil; even if all these issues were miraculously to vanish, simple math shows that endless compound growth is impossible.

Before we began using fossil fuels, every industrial growth spurt collapsed. But coal, oil, etc. broke this cycle and enabled - for a few hundred years - the phenomenon we now call sustained growth. Neither capitalism nor communism were responsible; they were mere ideological subplots. It was coal, followed by oil and gas - a carbon-fueled expansion. Now, as the most accessible reserves have been exhausted, we must ransack the hidden corners of the planet to sustain the momentum. We go on extracting fossil fuels and perusing our doomed growth strategy without considering where is headed. The scouring of the planet has just begun. As the global economy continues expanding, we will seek out every resource deposit, extract and disperse its treasure, and reduce that place to a potentially hazardous cleanup site.

Iron ore production increased 180% in ten years. Even paper consumption is at a record high level and still growing. If, in the digital age, we don't reduce paper consumption, what hope is there for using less fuels and other commodities?

The super-rich set the pace by consuming far more than they can use. Are their yachts and houses getting smaller? To supply this wasteful demand, we race to extract ever more of our non-replenishable resources.

As the philosopher Michael Rowan points out, continuing compound growth means that if last year's predicted global growth rate for 2014 (3.1%) is sustained, even if miraculously we were to reduce the consumption of raw materials by 90%, we delay the inevitable by just 75 years. The unavoidable failure of building a society on endless growth and the resulting destruction of the Earth's living systems are the overwhelming, yet rarely mentioned, facts of our existence.

The topic is guaranteed to alienate your friends and neighbors. People would rather focus on the standard middle class conversation topics: recipes, renovations and resorts. Talk of the obvious outcome of basic arithmetic is brushed aside, while the impossible proposition by which we live is regarded as so sane and normal and unremarkable that it isn't worthy of mention. You can measure the depth of this problem by our inability even to discuss it. doclink

Why Pope Francis is Wrong About My Child-Free Life

The pope may pooh-pooh the decision to remain childless, but the world needs more people who choose pets over kids.
June 06, 2014, Daily Beast   By: Amanda Marcotte

Pope Francis recently said: "This culture of well-being from 10 years ago convinced us: It's better not to have children! It's better! You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be care-free." ... "Maybe it is better, more convenient, to have a little dog, two cats; and the love goes to the two cats and the little dog."

“Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness."

The author's first instinct was to think, “If you think having children is so important, then why don't you go first?" But the question of whether or not having kids makes marriages happier or not is one that has been looked at again and again. Childless couples have happier marriages, on average.

Studies show that a marriage starts to decline rapidly when you have your first baby, goes up and down with the stresses of child-rearing, but it stays relatively low, only rising again after the kids move out of the house.

After surveying people ages 50 to 84, researchers found no difference in the loneliness rates of people with children and people without children. Relying on a phone call a week from your kids is hardly a panacea for loneliness. Non-lonely seniors are usually the ones with plenty of friends, and being able to make friends isn't dependent on your status as a parent or not.

Parents do tend to rate their work as highly rewarding. For those who want it, trading off daily happiness for the sense of satisfaction that comes from raising a child is usually worth it. And if having a child is the right choice for you, there's no reason to have your friends validate it by having kids of their own, regardless of what's best for them.

The pope should have been considerate of those who want very badly to be parents but, because of infertility, aren't able to. Hearing the pope claim that childless couples are doomed to misery, loneliness and broken marriages could cause them a lot of needless dread and heartache.

Society would benefit strongly if more people felt that childlessness was a legitimate life option.

Children don't benefit from being raised by parents who went into parenthood ambivalent about the whole endeavor and feeling like they had to do it for no other reason but to conform to social expectations (or the pope's scolding).

What the planet probably needs now is more people picking the childless lifestyle. The low estimate for expected population levels by 2050 is 9.3 billion and may be as high as 11 billion. “Under either forecast, scientists say, living conditions are likely to be bleak for much of humanity," writes Kenneth Weiss.

And if you're feeling like being one of those “carefree" people whose “love goes to the two cats and the little dog," don't let Pope Francis make you feel bad. The world needs more people like you. doclink

How Bangladesh's Female Health Workers Boosted Family Planning

Contraception delivered through female community health workers has helped to reduce birthrates and infant mortality
June 06 , 2014, Guardian   By: Kenneth R Weiss

This interesting article is somewhat long but worth reading in its entirety (by clicking on the link in the headline), so here is the gist of it:

Bangladesh established Matlab -- an experimental village -- in the 1960s and there trained a cadre of female community health workers who have been carefully maintaining one of the longest-running and most detailed health and population data sets in the developing world.

These health care workers make house calls to administer child and maternal health and are widely credited for demonstrating how poor Muslim women with little or no formal education can plan their families.

Ubaidur Rob, the non-profit Population Council's Bangladesh director said "Women were employed as field workers in the 1970s, when fertility was very high and female employment was virtually zero. This is where change began."

In the mid-70s researchers divided 149 villages into two groups. One half participated in the Matlab centre's maternal and child healthcare initiatives, including home delivery of modern contraceptives, while the other had access only to government services.

At that time, contraception was denounced by Islamic clerics. Dr Mohammad Yunus, who ran the Matlab centre for nearly 40 years said that what worked "was a comprehensive doorstep service with trained female health workers making regular follow-up visits to help mothers pick a method of contraception that was best for them, treat side-effects and provide basic maternal and child healthcare."

In the Matlab half, married women were more likely to use contraceptives and, over time, had an average of 1.5 fewer children than their counterparts in the comparison area. Their children were healthier, fewer women died of pregnancy-related causes, and child mortality fell. Parents accumulated more farmland, built more valuable homes and gained access to running water. Their children stayed in school longer, and women enjoyed higher incomes.

By the early 80s, when other areas using the Matlab approach had experienced a similar increase in contraceptive use, the government trained tens of thousands of female health workers using the Matlab model.

Since then, average birthrates have fallen from six children a woman to slightly more than two; projections for Bangladesh's population in 2050 (currently 160 million) have dropped from 265 million (forecast in 2000) to 200 million, and stabilizing soon after. Also Bangladesh has become one of the first impoverished countries to meet the UN millennium development goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds. doclink

Karen Gaia says: one of the things that helped this program work was that new mothers were asked to come back after the baby was born, and during that visit, were asked if they wanted to have another baby soon. If the mother said 'No', the health care worker was prepared to give here one of an assortment of contraceptives.

Exhaustion of Cheap Mineral Resources is Terraforming Earth - Scientific Report

Soaring costs of resource extraction require transition to post-industrial 'circular economy' to avoid collapse
June 04 , 2014, Mail and Guardian   By: Nafeez Ahmed

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

The peer-reviewed study is the 33rd Report to the Club of Rome and includes specialist contributions from fifteen senior scientists and experts across the fields of geology, agriculture, energy, physics, economics, geography, transport, ecology, industrial ecology, and biology.

Much of the report's focus is on the concept of Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROEI), which measures the amount of energy needed to extract resources. "We are not running out of any mineral," the report says; however "extraction is becoming more and more difficult as the easy ores are depleted. More energy is needed to maintain past production rates, and even more is needed to increase them."

Consequently, "The production of many mineral commodities appears to be on the verge of decline… we may be going through a century-long cycle that will lead to the disappearance of mining as we know it."

The world has shifted to more difficult to extract fossil fuel resources, in the form of unconventional forms of oil and gas, which have much lower levels of EROEI than conventional oil.

Fracking production may rise "rapidly to a peak", but then often declining by 80-95% within three years. "Several thousand wells" are often needed for a single shale play to provide "a return on investment."

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

Using the EROEI analysis, the report found that world coal production will peak by 2050 latest, and could peak as early as 2020. Rising domestic demand from China and India could generate higher prices and shortages in the near future: "Therefore, there is definitely no scope for substituting for oil and gas with coal."

The report also found that current uranium production from mines is already insufficient to fuel existing nuclear reactors, a gap being filled by recovery of uranium military stockpiles and old nuclear warheads. A worldwide expansion of nuclear power would be unsustainable due to "gigantic investments" needed.

Of the large quantities of uranium in the Earth's crust, only a "limited numbers of deposits" are "concentrated enough to be profitably mined." Mining less concentrated deposits would require "far more energy than the mined uranium could ultimately produce."

The same problems will occur with the extraction of uranium from seawater.

The report also shows that chromium, molybdenum, tungsten, nickel, platinum-palladium, copper, zinc, cadmium, titanium, and tin will face peak production followed by declines within this century.

As for copper, although production has grown exponentially, the grade of the minerals mined is steadily declining, lifting mining costs. 'Peak copper' is likely to hit by 2040, but could even occur within the next decade.

Production of lithium, presently used for batteries electric cars, would not meet the demand of large-scale electrification of transport infrastructure and vehicles. Sustainable lithium production requires 80-100% recycling - currently this stands at less than 1%.

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

In the Club of Rome study, physicist Patrick Dery says that several major regions of rock phosphate production - such as the island of Nauru and the US, which is the world's second largest producer - are post-peak and now declining, with global phosphorous supplies potentially becoming insufficient to meet agricultural demand within 30-40 years. The problem can potentially be solved as phosphorous can be recycled.

A FAO agronomist Toufic El Asmar, said that the decline in land productivity is accelerating due to industrial agricultural methods, which are degrading the soil by as much as 50% in some areas.

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

Karen Gaia says: EROEI above is the same as EROI below:

Virginity Pledges Don't Work — Unless You're Super Religious

Surprise! Morality-based abstinence education only works for people with those beliefs (and it harms everyone else)
July 16, 2014, Salon   By: Jenny Kutner

A study published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies found that virginity pledges don't work, unless signers are truly and deeply religious, virginity pledges don't work, and even if signers are deeply religious, abstinence pledges are likely to delay sexual activity a few years -- but usually not until marriage.

The study also found virginity pledges pose serious risks to young adults who go back on their word.

The study of 1,380 college students aged 18-24 asked participants whether they had previously signed a virginity pledge, their virginity status and how many past or present intercourse and oral sex partners they had, and also how religion or spirituality influence their daily lives, how often they seek spiritual comfort and how frequently they participate in religious events.

About 25% of respondents had previously made a virginity agreement; however 65% of signers were no longer virgins and 77% had engaged in oral sex at the time of the study.

Unfortunately most abstinence pledges take the place of comprehensive, medically accurate sex education; consequently young people who decide not to remain abstinent often do so with little to no knowledge of healthy sexuality. The study reports that sexually active signers tended to have oral sex with a greater number of partners (likely in an effort to "preserve their virginity"), putting them at risk for various diseases and complications. Abstinence-only sex ed does not teach students what they all need to know.

The study concludes that state and federal dollars are still funding inadequate, evangelical sex education and that we should reconsider the policy implications of this dangerous entanglement, as their efficacy findings make it "questionable" whether the government should be funneling money into something so overwhelmingly ineffective. doclink

Birth Control Saves Money. Lots of It.

July 09 , 2014, VOX Media   By: Ezra Klein

A simple fact about contraception seems to get lost in much of the coverage: A study of Medicaid found that contraceptive services saved $4.26 for every dollar invested.

Insurers pay $18,329 for the average vaginal delivery and $27,866 for the average C-section (prices for the uninsured are much higher: $30,000-$50,000). Nearly half of these pregnancies are unplanned — and direct costs from unintended pregnancies total more than $5 billion annually. On the other hand, contraception costs $100-$600 annually and cuts the risk of unplanned pregnancies to nearly nothing. Estimates of the savings vary: $6,000-$10,000 per person for every two years on contraception; another: $13,000 over five years of contraceptive coverage.

These estimates don't count how much more money a women made over her lifetime because her education or her career wasn't interrupted by an unplanned pregnancy. And they don't count, of course, the emotional benefits of being able to plan when to start a family.

A program in Colorado provided free contraceptive services to low-income women and teens resulting to a drop in teen births falling of 40%. Governor John Hickenlooper said the program saved Colorado millions of dollars and helped thousands of young Colorado women continue their education,.

A National Business Group on Health study in 2000 showed that employers who didn't offer contraceptive coverage spent 15-17% more because of the costs of pregnancy and reduced productivity. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I read somewhere that it costs around $200,000, on average, to raise a child.

Booming Populations, Rising Economies, Threatened Biodiversity: the Tropics Will Never Be the Same

July 07 , 2014, Mongabay.com   By: Jeremy Hance

The tropics cover around 40% of the world's surface. A 400-plus page report on the tropics, compiled by 12 institutions, found incredible population growth, rising economic importance, clashes over land-use, imperiled biodiversity, and worsening impacts of climate change.

The tropics are home to about 40% of the world's population, but house 55% of children under five. Within 40 years, it is expected that more than half the world's population will be in the tropics and a staggering 67% of its young children. According to the report, the region is expected to add another 3 billion people (or 42% of the world's population today) by the end of the century.

"Because most of the world's children will live in the Tropics by 2050, we must rethink the world's priorities on aid, development, research and education," author Sandra Harding, Vice-Chancellor and President of James Cook University said. For example, it is estimated that around 467 million people in the tropics lived in slums as of 2001, representing 46% of the region's urban population.

A booming population means increased demand for food, water, and other natural resources internally, even while many of these resources are already exported abroad to temperate regions.

Tropical economies are growing 20% more rapidly than in temperate regions, yet the tropics is still home to two-thirds of the world's population living in extreme poverty.

There is also good news according to the report: "The prevalence of undernourishment in the tropics has declined by one-third over the past two decades." And life expectancy is on the rise while maternal and child mortality has been slashed. Such changes could.

Unfortunately people in the tropics face especially challenging diseases rarely found in temperate regions such as dengue fever and malaria. And local people and indigenous groups are struggling to maintain control over their traditional lands as corporations -- often foreign -- seek out more land to grow crops, raise livestock, or extract commodities such as timber, fossil fuels, and minerals. Land-grabbing, as it is known, has become a significant political issue in places like Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, Kenya, and Cameroon.

At the same time, conservationists and environmentalists are fighting to preserve rainforests, coral reefs, and other vital ecosystems from destruction. Approximately 80% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity and more than 95% of its mangrove and coral reef-based biodiversity are in the tropics. doclink

16 and Pregnant: Bedsider Birth Control Campaign

The cast opens up about using birth control
July 22, 2014, MTV

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