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

February 26, 2015

Previous World Worry was Overpopulation, Now a Global Concern is Underpopulation

February 14 , 2015, Deseret News

English demographer Thomas Robert Malthus, who died more than 150 years go, proposed that ever increasing numbers of humans would produce unsustainable overpopulation and massive scarcity of food and other natural resources.

In fact, evidence now suggests that underpopulation, not overpopulation, is a critical problem facing the nations of today's world.

The Wall Street Journal writes: "Declining population growth (in the developed world).......... will reduce by 40% the rate of growth for the world's 20 largest economies."

Other media outlets have taken notice, too. CNN cites Japan's acute baby shortage as a current example of underpopulation. Russia has gone so far as to offer women cash incentives to have more children.

As the world population ages, retirees rely on younger workers to support a system that is increasingly top-heavy, with more people taking out than putting in. Here in the United States, our entitlement programs for the elderly are mathematically unsustainable, largely due to these demographic realities.

At the same time, all doomsday predictions risk looking as ridiculous as Malthus' does in hindsight. Human ingenuity prevented Malthus' famines that never materialized. Rather than panic, it's time to recognize the problem and find practical ways to solve it. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Another author who fails to look carefully at resource depletion. Oil and gas are two of the important ones: the easy-to-reach high-quality sweet crude is gone, leaving the difficult-to-extract tar sands, oil in deep or stormy waters, or oil and gas that must be extracted by fracking. This expensive oil is dragging our economy down and raising the price of food.

While oil was still cheap, our baby boomers prospered, using fuel like there was no tomorrow. Many of them still enjoy comfortable houses and have yet the need for young people to support them.

Yes, Malthus' prediction failed in the long run, but he predicted famines in his lifetime, and there were famines long after he died, including the Irish potato famine and China's great famine in the 1970s. Then came the Green Revolution which its inventor said would last 30 years. So it has been 30 years and not much technology is in sight, and every year, the increase in the world's crop yields gets smaller while the world's population outpaces it.

Deforestation Causing São Paulo Drought

February 05, 2015, Geographical   By: Chris Fitch

The past twelve months has seen Brazil being hit harder and harder by the effects of drought, as first São Paulo, then other regions of the country, struggle to cope with not only dwindling supplies of water but an immense demand as well. Water rationing, power cuts, and crop slumps have ensued.

Authorities have come under fire for their failure to upgrade and maintain the necessary infrastructure to stop water being stolen or wasted in transit. There is also the exacerbation of Brazil's general water problems caused by population concentration around the coasts.

‘The Amazon rainforest takes water from the trees, rivers and soil and turns it into clouds known as ‘flying rivers', says Richard George, of Greenpeace UK. ‘These transport water vapour from the centre of Brazil to fall as rain on coastal areas. But as the forest has been destroyed, the flying rivers are disappearing.'

The scale of transformation which would accompany the disappearance of the Amazon's flying rivers is outlined in a recent report by Professor Antonio Nobre, researcher at Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) and at the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA).

The greatest impact from current trends in deforestation to Brazil and surrounding South America, Mr. Nobre says, is the drought: as moisture - no longer trapped by rainforest vegetation - rapidly evaporates, leading to what is described as the ‘savannisation' of the Amazon basin. Even though only 19% of the rainforest has been cut down, some of the consequences of total deforestation have already been reached; current computer models appear to underestimate the negative consequences of the situation.

Richard George of Greenpeace UK adds that Brazil's powerful agribusiness lobby will demand the right to clear even more forest to make up for the declining yields caused by prolonged drought, making an already dire situation worse.

Nobre's report concludes with a five-point plan to prevent further destruction to the Amazon; spreading rainforest education, ending deforestation, ending fire-clearing techniques, encouraging rainforest regeneration, and forcing world leaders to act to prevent potential crisis. doclink

A Physicist Solves the City

December 07, 2010   By: Jonah Lehrer

Geoffrey West is a theoretical physicist in search of fundamental laws who likes to compare his work to that of Kepler, Galileo and Newton. He now studies cities since urban population growth is the great theme of modern life, one that's unfolding all across the world.

West and Luis Bettencourt, another theoretical physicist looked at a huge array of variables, from the total amount of electrical wire in Frankfurt to the number of college graduates in Bois and discovered that all of these urban variables could be described by a few exquisitely simple equations.

For example, if they know the population of a metropolitan area in a given country, they can estimate, with approximately 85% accuracy, its average income and the dimensions of its sewer system.

"What we found are the constants that describe every city," says West. "I can take these laws and make precise predictions about the number of violent crimes and the surface area of roads in a city in Japan with 200,000 people. I don't know anything about this city or even where it is or its history, but I can tell you all about it."

Instead of looking at geography and history, West tries to understand a city's deep structure, its defining patterns, which will show us whether a metropolis will flourish or fall apart. We can't make our cities work better until we know how they work. And, West says, he knows how they work.

West saw the metropolis as a sprawling organism, similarly defined by its infrastructure. He and Bettencourt concluded that cities looked a lot like elephants and when a city doubles in size, it requires an increase in resources of only 85%. This means that modern cities are the real centers of sustainability. As a result, West argues, creating a more sustainable society will require our big cities to get even bigger. We need more megalopolises.

At first West and Bettencourt failed to pay attention to how urban areas and organisms are "totally different." People don't migrate to urban centers to save money on their utilities; they go there because cities facilitate human interactions, as people crammed into a few square miles exchange ideas and start collaborations.

Jane Jacobs, author and fierce advocate for the preservation of small-scale neighborhoods, like Greenwich Village and the North End in Boston says the value of such urban areas, she said, is that they facilitate the free flow of information between city dwellers. She saw the city not as a mass of buildings but rather as a vessel of empty spaces, in which people interacted with other people. The city wasn't a skyline -- it was a dance.

Bettencourt and West found that whenever a city doubles in size, every measure of economic activity, from construction spending to the amount of bank deposits, increases by approximately 15% per capita. While Jacobs could only speculate on the value of our urban interactions, West insists that he has found a way to “scientifically confirm" her conjectures.

West illustrates the same concept by describing the Santa Fe Institute, an interdisciplinary research organization, where he and Bettencourt work. The institute itself is a sprawl of common areas, old couches and tiny offices; the coffee room is always the most crowded place. “S.F.I. is all about the chance encounters," West says. “There are few planned meetings, just lots of unplanned conversations. It's like a little city that way."

However in recent decades, many of the fastest-growing cities in America, like Phoenix and Riverside, Calif., have traded away public spaces for affordable single-family homes. Some of these fast-growing cities appear like tumors on the landscape, West reminds us. “They have these extreme levels of growth, but it's not sustainable growth."

When Bettencourt and West analyzed the negative variables of urban life, like crime and disease, they discovered that the exact same mathematical equation applied. After a city doubles in size, it also experiences a 15% per capita increase in violent crimes, traffic and AIDS cases.

West and Bettencourt refer to this phenomenon as “superlinear scaling," which is a fancy way of describing the increased output of people living in big cities. West illustrates the problem by translating human life into watts. A hunter-gatherer in the Amazon needs about 250 watts to carry on. But a city dweller needs about 11,000 watts to live. He goes on to say that the urban lifestyle is unsustainable.

The historian Lewis Mumford described the rise of the megalopolis as “the last stage in the classical cycle of civilization." In his more pessimistic moods, West knows that nothing can trend upward forever. In fact, West sees human history as defined by this constant tension between expansion and scarcity.

After a resource is exhausted, we are forced to exploit a new resource, if only to sustain our superlinear growth. West cites a long list of breakthroughs to illustrate this historical pattern, from the discovery of the steam engine to the invention of the Internet.

But the escape is only temporary, as every innovation eventually leads to new shortages. We clear-cut forests, and so we turn to oil; once we exhaust our fossil-fuel reserves, we'll start driving electric cars, at least until we run out of lithium. This helps explain why West describes cities as the only solution to the problem of cities. Although urbanization has generated a seemingly impossible amount of economic growth, it has also inspired the innovations that allow the growth to continue.

There is a serious complication to this triumphant narrative of cliff edges and creativity, however. While there used to get a big revolution every few thousand years, now it takes about 15 years between big innovations. What this means is that, for the first time ever, people are living through multiple revolutions.


. . . more doclink

Get Angry and Get Loud: Improving Access to Health Care for the Latino Community

February 17 , 2015, Huffington Post   By: Vanessa Gonzalez-Plumhoff

Ms. Gonzalez-Plumhoff is the recipient of the 2015 Latino Trendsetter Award for work done at Planned Parenthood, on behalf of the Latino community.

"I saw many of my classmates getting pregnant. I knew that I wasn't ready for a child, so in an effort to take control of my sexual health, I decided to go to our town's local clinic, which was not a Planned Parenthood health center, to get my first Pap test and to go on birth control. At the health center, they made me feel immediately judged and humiliated and, given how small my town was, word got around quickly, and I felt a growing sense of violation that something so personal was now a topic of high school gossip," she said

She experienced similar humiliation as a social worker, this time directed at an immigrant community in Arizona. She imagines the struggles they must have gone through, and vows to do her best to eliminate this insult to humanity.

Her humiliation has turned to anger and then to action, which revolves around ensuring that men and women from all walks of life are entitled to "nonjudgemental" sexual and reproductive health care.

She speaks for millions of other Latinas who wish to control their bodies and lauds the reduction of teen pregnancies as realized by the hard efforts of "so many Latinos in the Affordable Care Act."

"The fact that we would allow policies to be in place that restrict access to health care for certain communities over others is downright insulting. And it's about time that we all -- whether we are Latino or not -- got angry and got loud about it.," she said.

Ms Gonzalez-Plumhoff cites Planned Parenthood's Raíz program, a grassroots training program in the five states with the highest Latino populations, working to improve access to universal health care, and warns us that this is a lifelong fight. doclink

Hard-Working Nurses Go the Extra Mile to Bring Women Choice in Kenya

February 19 , 2015, Marie Stopes

Marie Stopes International nurse Grace Okeyo tours rural Kenya, advising people steeped in superstition that family planing is not the devil so many make it to be.

"The cultural belief in rural Kenya is that you should not have contraception until you have had your first child, which can mean being as young as 13 or 14. At this age, the risk of dying during pregnancy or childbirth is extremely high and once girls have had a baby they are unable to continue with their education," she said.

"We need to give girls the information that they need to understand about sexual activity and its risks, and make sure that they can get a family planning method if they want to avoid getting pregnant," she said.

One of the biggest challenges is the involvement of men, who play a huge part in decision-making in Kenya when it comes to contraception. "When you get a man and woman making a choice together on what is best for them - that is where you know that family planning will be a life-long choice." But "until there is more social and cultural change, we have to fit in around women and their requests for secrecy." That often means helping women to push the boundaries and be courageous. doclink

Republicans' Curious Ideas About Contraception

February 16 , 2015, Huffington Post   By: Laura Stepp

Much of the Republican opposition to making contraception easily available and affordable relates to family planning clinics providing abortions. For example, Title X Family Planning provides contraception to low-income and uninsured women, but since the payments often go to Planned Parenthood, some Republicans want to kill the whole program.

Surveys of U.S. women show that half of all pregnancies (more than 3 million annually) are unplanned, and most abortions follow unplanned pregnancies. So making birth control less affordable and accessible results in more abortions, more children born into financially strapped families, and high welfare and health care costs, which lawmakers would like to avoid. Title X has suffered millions of dollars' worth of cuts since 2010. Consequently, the number of people served by Title X in 2013 was down by over 600,000 from the 5.2 million served in 2010.

Oklahoma, a state that makes it difficult to obtain contraception and family planning services, has the second-highest teen pregnancy rate. State Rep. Dr. Doug Cox has practiced medicine there. Last April he criticized his party's stance on reproductive rights in Rolling Stone magazine. He said: "Abortion is one thing, but when you start talking about limiting contraceptives, that's going too far. If you truly oppose abortions, you should do everything in your power to prevent unwanted pregnancy - from abstinence, to condoms, to birth control pills, all the way to the IUDs and morning-after pills...." He also opposed a proposed bill making it more difficult for teenagers under 17 to obtain the morning-after pill. A 14-year-old boy can go to the truck stop and buy all the condoms he wants. He can control his destiny. This bill takes the ability to control their destiny away from women.

99% of sexually active U.S. women, and 98% percent of Catholic women, have used birth control at some point in their lives. A Gallup poll found that 88% of Republican adults and 93% of Democrats say that using birth control is morally acceptable. The issue is not whether birth control should be available; it is how accessible the newest and most effective methods are, how much they should cost and, who should pay for them.

Many polls indicate that ordinary citizens appear more open to contraception than the lawmakers who claim to represent them. A survey by the Public Religion Research Institute showed that 8 in 10 Americans - including some Tea Party Republicans - favored expanding access to birth control for women who cannot afford it. doclink

Displaced Children in South Sudan Continue to Learn

Mobile technology lets young readers continue with lessons
February 15 , 2015, USAID

Since the conflict began in South Sudan in December 2013, nearly 1,200 schools in the most conflict-affected states have closed. An additional 400,000 children and adolescents have dropped out due to the crisis, and some 90 schools are occupied by fighting forces or internally displaced persons.

The children of Matok have been able to continue learning with a simple and mobile USAID literacy program called All Children Reading.

Before the conflict began, the children were introduced to reading in their mother tongue, Dinka Cham, using digital audio players provided by ACROSS, a South Sudanese NGO that implements the literacy program.

When ACROSS staff member John Chol visited them in May 2014, the children welcomed him with songs they had learned from the lessons. ACROSS conducted a simple survey that indicated the children could read their mother-tongue alphabet, short words and simple sentences.

USAID launched the All Children Reading program in 2011 as part of a Grand Challenge for Development to improve literacy rates among children in developing countries. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Education is one of the contributors to a lower fertility rate.

The Steep Human Cost of the Christian Right's Hostility Toward Science

Opposition to basic contraception leaves families vulnerable to unwanted pregnancies and costs taxpayers millions
February 20, 2015   By: Valerie Tarico, Alternet

In Colorado, a pilot program in Colorado which gave teens long acting contraceptives -- IUD's and implants; and which consequently resulted in a 40% drop teen births, along with a drop in abortions if threatened by some Colorado Republicans who are trying to kill it. The program saved the state $42.5 million a single year, over five times what it cost. These Republicans insist, wrongly, that IUD's work by killing embryos, which they believe are sacred.

When women are able to delay, space, and limit childbearing, research has discovered the many benefits: healthier moms and babies, less infant mortality and special needs, more family prosperity, higher education, less domestic conflict and abuse, lower crime rates. Women (and men) become more productive, creating a virtuous economic cycle. Public budgets become easier to balance, and more revenues can be invested into infrastructure instead of basic needs.

Half of U.S. pregnancies are unintended, with over a third of those ending in abortion. For single women under the age of 30, 70% of pregnancies are unintended. For teens it is more than 80%. Most of the problem is that many forms of birth control are prone to human error. 1 out of 11 couples relying on the Pill will end up with a surprise pregnancy, in any given year. For those using condoms alone, this rises to 1 out of 6!

With todays IUD's and implants the pregnancy rate is below 1 in 500 -- about the same level of protection as a tubal sterilization. When they are removed a prompt return to normal fertility is achieved.

Advocates for children like the American Academy of Pediatrics, and advocates for healthy families like the California Family Health Council and CDC are eager to see these top tier birth control methods become the new normal.

People who care about flourishing families, including those who see themselves compassionate conservatives, should be doing everything in their power to help facilitate a transition to these new technologies. These tools should be available to young and poor women, who (along with their children) are most likely to be harmed by an unexpected pregnancy.

But opponents to modern contraception -- led by conservative Catholics -- are wrongly claiming that contraceptives are like "having an abortion mill in your body." They further insist that each embryo is precious and merits the protections of "personhood." Fetal-rights advocates have repeatedly tried to pass legislation in Colorado that gives legal standing to fertilized eggs and later embryonic stages of life.

Pregnancy can be stopped at four points: 1. preventing the production of gametes (eggs and sperm), 2. blocking fertilization (conception), 3. preventing implantation of a fertilized egg, or 4. aborting an implanted pregnancy. Modern IUD's are designed to prevent fertilization:

A copper IUD is nonhormonal, and releases copper ions that interfere with sperm motility. The presence of copper may also change the surface of the egg so that it is less easily penetrated by a sperm. In addition, inflammatory cells evoked in the uterine cavity in response to the IUD kill sperm before they can ascend to the fallopian tubes, where fertilization occurs.

A hormonal IUD releases a mostly local dose of Levonorgestrel, a hormone in many birth control pills. It causes the mucus at the opening to the cervix to thicken so that sperm can't get through. Thus, this IUD can be considered a barrier contraceptive, like a cervical cap.

But on rare occasions, a sperm might swim past that mucus plug or -- despite the spermicidal effects of copper -- swim up the fallopian tube. Then the sperm and egg could unite. Then the IUD could interfere with implantation. Since fertilization with an IUD is rare, a fertilized egg failing to implant and flushing out is equally rare.

Now here is the twist: When a sexually active woman is not using contraception, her body has a 60-80% chance of flushing out a fertilized egg before she even knows she has conceived. In other words: women who are using contraceptives to prevent pregnancy kill fewer embryos (blastocyst) than women who are trying to get pregnant, and the more effective the contraception is, the fewer embryos (blastocyst) die. Note: a fertilized egg becomes a blastocyst, which is a ball of cells during the an early stage of human development. It is not an embryo until after implantation in the uterus.

Reproduction is like a big funnel: more eggs and sperm get produced than will ever meet. More eggs get fertilized than will ever implant. More fertilized eggs implant than will be carried to term by a female body. Genetic recombination is a highly imperfect process, and nature compensates by rejecting most fertilized eggs.

In some animals, the mother's body aborts or reabsorbs an embryo if her stress level is too high or her protein level is too low. Human bodies have the ability to decrease fertility and produce a spontaneous abortion under bad circumstances. This process is also imperfect. Perfectly healthy embryos flush out, while some with birth defects -- even horrible defects -- get through.

Since spontaneous abortion is a natural and common part of human reproduction -- one could say that every fertile woman has an abortion mill in her body. Because IUDs and implants are most effective at preventing fertilization, a woman who believes that embryonic life is precious, should use the most effective contraceptive available.

Given these realities, Colorado politicians who undermine access to state of the art contraceptives are neither minimizing embryonic death nor promoting family values. Their upside-down priorities illustrate how unquestionable, ideology-based beliefs coupled with motivated reasoning can lead even decent people to violate their own values, while still believing they are doing the right thing.

When women are forced to rely on less effective family planning methods, more spontaneous and therapeutic abortions result. So do more ill-timed and unhealthy births. More unhealthy infants suffer and die. A greater percent of children are born to single moms or unstable partnerships. Family conflict increases. More children suffer abuse or struggle with developmental disabilities. More families get mired in poverty. More youth engage in risky behavior, including early childbearing. Public costs associated with teen pregnancy, maternal health, special education, poverty and criminal justice swell. State budgets become more difficult to balance.

Colorado Representative Don Coram, fiscally conservative and opposed to abortion, co-sponsored a bill that would expand IUD access among low income women. “If you are against abortions and you are a fiscal conservative, you better take a long hard look at this bill because that accomplishes both of those," he said. Research with 10,000 women in St. Louis provides further confirmation that he is right. doclink

Provide Family Planning in Congo

February 21 , 2015   By: Richard Grossman MD

The London Summit on Family Planning was the start of something big. If kept, an array of promises made at the groundbreaking July 11 2012 event could have a major impact on the lives of women and girls for years to come ... Susan A. Cohen, Guttmacher Institute

In a prior article I wrote about how it was possible for one doctor to perform hundreds of tubal ligations in one day—but probably not honor the rights of the patients. The next column was about putting human and reproductive rights first and foremost. Today's column focuses on one country where FP2020 is making amazing improvements in the lives of women and children.

FP2020 is the nickname of the ambitious program started in 2012 at the London Summit on Family Planning. Its goal is to reach 120 million women of the 225 million who are unable to access modern contraception, but wish to regulate their fertility. These are women in developing countries who currently have little or no access to reproductive health care. Typically they have high fertility rates and high rates of child deaths, illegal abortion and maternal mortality. Often these women are the poorest of the poor, have little schooling and are subservient to men. Many of these women live grim lives.

A very high percentage of people in wealthy countries already use family planning (FP); indeed, that is part of how we became wealthy. It is time to share that knowledge and technology with our less fortunate brothers and sisters. Unfortunately where access to FP is limited, infrastructure is also challenging—transportation, sanitation and communication are often poor. Reaching these people will be difficult.

Providing full reproductive health care for every woman in the world who does not currently have access to those services would cost a whopping 40 billion dollars annually—about the same amount as the US military spends in a month. The lives saved by such an investment would make that money very well spent, however. Reaching all people in developing countries with FP and with maternal and newborn care would prevent 79,000 maternal deaths, 26 million abortions and 21 million unplanned births each year.

The cost of providing just FP services for these people would be about nine billion dollars a year. Because moms will be healthier, improved birth spacing alone would prevent over a million infant deaths globally each year!

Funding is a major challenge for FP2020. The programs are jointly supported by developing countries and by donor (wealthy) countries. In addition, generous funding has come from foundations; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a major source of financial support as well as being a prime mover. Assistance also comes from the UN and the US Agency for International Development, among many other organizations.

One of the FP2020 programs is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This beleaguered country has had a miserable history of colonialism, dictators and civil war. Average income there is less than two dollars per day. Only 53 % women are literate, and only one in twenty married women uses a modern method of contraception. Indeed, a 1933 law makes contraception illegal! The average woman bears over 6 children in her lifetime and the country will double in population every 23 years—exacerbating many of its economic and political problems.

Despite these challenges, FP2020 is seeing successes in DRCongo. One project was to map existing FP resources, using a sophisticated system of data collection with cell phones. They now know where there are trained FP personnel and which pharmacies have pills or injectable birth control. Fortunately, all sites offer condoms.

Women in DRCongo have been relying on traditional methods of FP for years, with too many unintended pregnancies—more than a million in 2013. Contraceptive implants (such as Nexplanon®) were introduced in 2014 with great success. So far, the program has recruited almost 200,000 new users of modern contraception.

What FP2020 has meant to women in DRCongo is telling. More than 300,000 unintended pregnancies were averted in 2013. Calculations suggest that 1481 women's lives were saved, and 76,000 unsafe abortions were prevented by the use of modern contraception.

FP2020 offers hope for the future, especially for people in countries such as DRCongo. I am optimistic that FP2020 can help women and families lead healthier and happier lives and will be a model for the future of family planning. And I expect it and future programs will be built on respect for the people that they serve. doclink

Humanity's Perfect Storm

August 2011, Facebook

A Facebook album full of informative climate change images. doclink

These Amazing New Contraceptives Could Be the Future of Birth Control

February 06 , 2015, VOX Media   By: Megan Thielking

Due in part to high failure rates (18%), only 20% of couples choose condoms. Scientists continue working to develop better options. The pill is still the most commonly used contraceptive in the US, but since women must remember to take the pill every day, it has a 9% failure rate. Potential side effects include nausea, mood swings, and possible stroke. For these reasons, there's a push to develop new, long-acting reversible contraceptives, says Dr. Michael Thomas, OB/GYN at the University of Cincinnati's Center for Reproductive Health.

Longer acting options include a hormonal patch called Ortho Evra that must be changed every week, and the NuvaRing hormone-releasing uterine ring that must be changed every three weeks. Contraceptive implants are thin plastic devices inserted under the skin on the upper arm. Current versions release hormones for up to three years. Still, removing them requires a trip to the doctor. A T-shaped intrauterine device (IUD) under study may work for up to 12 years, but removing an IUD still requires a trip to the doctor.

Working with the Gates Foundation, MicroCHIPS Biotech is developing an implant that will last up to 16 years, which women can to turn it off by remote control. Human trails should start next year. The same microchip technology has been tested successfully in women with osteoporosis, so MicroCHIPS Biotech believes the implant could be on the market by 2018.

Over the longer term (at least 10 years), the NIH is partnering with researchers to develop a lower-dose version of emergency contraception Ella, which would work like "the pill" if taken daily. The estrogen-free pill would reduce side effects and be more effective for certain women, particularly obese women who have higher failure rates using estrogen-based contraception.

Northwestern University says that, like condoms, new vaginal rings could prevent sexually-transmitted infections. Two-in-one options under study include a contraceptive similar to the current Nuvaring, which is placed in the vagina. It uses hormones to prevent pregnancy and also releases an antiretroviral drug to inhibit HIV and herpes.

Men use about one-third of all contraception. Aside from condoms, some men rely on vasectomies that can only be reversed via surgery. In coming years men will have more reversible birth control options. In the 1950s, scientists tested on prisoners a form of male birth control that weakened the sperm. It worked until it was tested outside of the prisons, where interactions with alcohol caused vomiting, profuse sweating, and headaches. Over 60 years later, scientists are still trying. Dr. John Amory of the University of Washington is now testing molecules to gum up an enzyme that facilitates sperm maturation. If this works, they will approach the FDA within the next few years to start clinical trials.

RISUG stands for reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance. Trials in India showed the procedure to be 100% effective. A doctor injects the vas deferens with a gel that makes the sperm unable to travel. The procedure lasts for years and can be reversed at any point with another injection. A U.S. company used the same concept to create Vasalgel. It is now in animal testing, still years from approval.

The NIH, in partnerships with the University of Washington and UCLA, is researching gels currently used for hormone-replacement therapy in men with low testosterone. The gels stop sperm production with hormones — much like "the pill" works for women. The challenge is to manage sperm production without reducing testosterone levels for the rest of the body. Each day men apply a progestin hormone gel on the abdomen and a testosterone gel on the arm. The progestin gel halts sperm production by blocking the supply of testosterone in the testes. Then, a testosterone gel applied to the arm reintroduces the hormone to the blood, which allows it to stimulate libido and enable ejaculation. Diana Blithe, Program Director at the NIH's Contraceptive Discovery and Development Branch said that in human trials, "It works if they use it every day, and even pretty well if they miss a day," The gels will be combined into a single, easier-to-use formula. Blithe anticipates at least a 10 year wait before the product is available. doclink

Unplanned Births Associated with Less Prenatal Care and Worse Infant Health, Compared with Planned Births

Greater Attention Needed on Consequences of Unplanned Childbearing
January 16, 2015, Guttmacher Institute   By: Kathryn Kost and Laura Lindberg

A study by Kathryn Kost and Laura Lindberg examines the associations between U.S. mothers' pregnancy intentions, their pregnancy-related health behaviors, and their infants' health at birth. Compared to planned birth mothers, unplanned birth mothers are less likely to recognize their pregnancy early and less likely to receive early prenatal care or to breast-feed; so they are more likely to have low-birth-weight babies. "About 40% of the annual four million U.S. births result from an unintended pregnancy," says study author Kathryn Kost . "Enabling women to prevent an unintended pregnancy is a way to improve the health of children."

Data for the study come from National Center for Health Statistics surveys "National Surveys of Family Growth" conducted in the 2002 and 2006-2010. Unintended live-birth pregnancies were divided into three categories:

- Mistimed (by less than two years)

- Greatly mistimed (by more than two years), and

- Unwanted.

The authors found that for each type of unplanned birth, mothers were significantly younger, less likely to be married and more likely to be cohabiting, and more likely to have the delivery paid by Medicaid. Births to black mothers had poorer outcomes than those to white mothers, and greatly mistimed or unwanted births were more likely than planned births to be among mothers who had not graduated from high school.

Since greatly mistimed and unwanted births bring considerable disadvantages, the authors recommend additional research to explore the characteristics, circumstances, constraints and hardships of mothers having unwanted and mistimed births. They also want public policy to provide the services and support women and men need to choose the time and circumstances in which they bear a child and avoid unintended pregnancies. doclink

Publicly Funded Family Planning Yields Numerous Positive Health Outcomes While Saving Taxpayer Dollars

Three New Resources Make the Case for Investing in These Services
January 16 , 2015, Guttmacher Institute

In "Beyond Preventing Unplanned Pregnancy: The Broader Benefits of Publicly Funded Family Planning Services," the Guttmacher Institute's Senior Public Policy Associate Adam Sonfield provides research findings which prove that, by reducing unintended pregnancies, abortions, disease, and pre-term or low-birth-weight births, public investment in family planning can save taxpayers billions of dollars. In October, the Institute reported on the following benefits of services provided by publicly funded family planning centers in 2010 -- the most recent year for which comprehensive data are available:

• Contraceptive care helped women avert 2.2 million unintended pregnancies, 1.1 million unplanned births, 761,000 abortions and 164,000 preterm or low-birth-weight births.

• STI testing averted 99,000 chlamydia infections, 16,000 gonorrhea infections, 410 HIV infections, 1,100 ectopic pregnancies and 2,200 cases of infertility.

• Pap and HPV testing and HPV vaccination prevented 3,700 cases of cervical cancer and 2,100 cervical cancer deaths.

Congress and the President should not ignore these benefits when they set their priorities for the next two years. All told, the net public savings was $13.6 billion, or $7.09 saved for every public dollar spent. Congress must protect the Title X national family planning program and the national network of safety-net family planning centers while protecting and expanding Medicaid coverage of family planning; and breaking down barriers that deny people services

A series of fact sheets titled Facts on Publicly Funded Family Planning Services covers each state and the District of Columbia. They provide state-level policymakers, advocates, and providers with data and graphics showing the need for publicly funded family planning; the services provided by safety-net family planning centers, including those funded by Title X; the range of health benefits accrued from these services; and the costs and public savings associated with their provision.

The Institute also offers Health Benefits and Cost Savings of Publicly Funded Family Planning. This tool enables family planning centers and other end users to estimate the impact of and cost-savings resulting from publicly funded family planning services in their state or service area. It estimates by state the number of contraceptive clients served and the number of STI and cervical cancer screening tests. This data can help family planning providers looking to contract with Medicaid and private health plans, and advocates and policymakers looking to defend and expand public investment in family planning services.

The full analysis, "Return on Investment: A Fuller Assessment of the Benefits and Cost Savings of the US Publicly Funded Family Planning Program," by Jennifer J. Frost, Adam Sonfield, Mia R. Zolna and Lawrence B. Finer, is currently available online and appears in the December 2014 issue of The Milbank Quarterly. doclink

Demographic Challenges of the Sahel

January 16, 2015   By: John F. May, Jean-pierre Guengant, and Thomas R. Brooke

Sub-Saharan Africa's population will more than double in the next 36 years, resulting in consequences for food production, prospects for socioeconomic development, as well as for the political stability of many countries. The Sahel, in particular, will face the most extreme challenges, compounded by the threat of the Al-Qaeda.

The Sahel is a semiarid region with an average rainfall between 12 to 20 inches per year. 10 countries that make up the Sahel region -- Burkina Faso, Chad, Eritrea, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Sudan.

Fertility rates: Burkina Faso 5.9, Chad 6.6, Eritrea 4.7, The Gambia 5.6, Guinea-Bissau 5.0, Mali 6.1 Mauritania 4.1, Niger 7.6, Senegal 5.3, Sudan 5.2. Note: Sudan does not include South Sudan.

GDP per capita ranges from US$900 to less than US$3,000 per capita, with the only significant income coming from natural resources like oil and minerals. The World Bank lists half of the nations of the Sahel as fragile states.

Annual demographic growth rates range from 2.5% to nearly 4%. This growth has occurred because of commendable rapid decreases in infant and child mortality but lagging decreases in fertility. The region's population might increase from almost 135 million today to 330 million by 2050 and close to 670 million in 2100.

The number of youth -- those younger than 20 -- will double by 2050. Niger will have the highest youth dependency ratio. In 2050, Niger will have 132 people younger than 20 for every 100 people ages 20 to 64. The demographic dividend that could be gained from a larger workforce (when relatively more working adults support relatively fewer dependents) appears to be decades away for the majority of the countries of the Sahel.

Climate scientists claim that the temperature of the Sahel will increase by 3 to 5 degrees Celsius by 2050 and possibly 8 degrees Celsius by 2100. Rainfall will decrease and become more erratic. Agricultural production will decrease from anywhere between 13% in Burkina Faso to almost 50% in Sudan. Other sectors will also face challenges in the next decades: It is unlikely that basic educational and health care infrastructure will be able to meet the rapidly increasing numbers of youth, nor will the formal sector of the economy be able to create enough jobs for upcoming generations.

Progress in the Sahel can be achieved through five main initiatives:

Accelerating the demographic transition. Strengthening existing infrastructure. Building human capital (education and health). Improving governance. Creating jobs.

First, determined action must be taken to slow rapid population growth. Improving female education has been one of the most significant factors associated with decreased fertility, but educating the majority of girls in the Sahel will take time. Populations must also be informed of the benefits of smaller family size, access to contraceptives must be improved, and the legal age of marriage must be raised.


. . . more doclink

Climate and Population Are Linked — But Maybe Not the Way You Thought

January 24, 2015, Grist   By: Robert Engelman and Alexander Ochs

When individuals and couples use modern contraception to plan childbearing according to a schedule that suits them, they tend to have fewer children than they would otherwise. When this aspect of family planning is multiplied hundreds of millions of times, who would disagree that it would lessen the severity of human-caused climate change and boost societies' capacity to adapt to it?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently noted that population and economic growth "continue to be the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion."

Population growth might be slowed as a side effect of efforts that have multiple other benefits — such as education, empowerment of women, and the provision of reproductive health services including safe and effective contraception. And there's reason to believe that slower population growth also makes societies more resilient to the impacts of climate change already upon us or on the way.

In a statement released by the Population Reference Bureau and Worldwatch Institute in December said "chieving universal access to family planning throughout the world would result in fewer unintended pregnancies, improve the health and well-being of women and their families, and slow population growth — all benefits to climate-compatible development," the group concluded. "We recommend including improved access to family planning among the comprehensive and synergistic efforts to achieve development compatible with addressing climate change."

The group -- mostly comprised of women -- based its work on the shared principle that both climate-compatible development and individual decision making on childbearing are human rights. This careful statement should make it easier for others, including climate negotiators, to consider the importance of making sure that everyone who wants to postpone pregnancy is able to do so.

The statement recommended raising public and policymaker support for more-generous financing for directly addressing climate change and for expanding access to family planning. Other opportunities include fostering dialogue across the communities working on climate and reproductive health, and integrating family planning into national plans for climate-compatible development.

Critical to all of these opportunities is building awareness of the significant proportion of pregnancies worldwide that are unintended. This amounts to two out five pregnancies in developing countries and an even higher number in developed countries, according to a recent Guttmacher Institute report.

Family planning has already slowed population growth significantly in the last four decades -- and, as a consequence, it undoubtedly has also slowed the growth in greenhouse gas emissions. doclink

A Natural Argument for the Birth Control Pill

February 02, 2015, Los Angeles Times   By: Malcolm Potts

Pope Francis talked about "responsible parenthood" after his trip to the Philippines, saying Catholics do not need to breed "like rabbits."

With rabbits intercourse occurs only when the female is ovulating. In humans ovulation is concealed and not associated with any physical or behavioral changes. It is ironic that the Catholic Church's approved “rhythm method" of contraception, requires precise timing of ovulation cycles. It is ideal for rabbits but not for humans.

After St. Augustine equated sex with Original Sin, the rule was to either abstain or to have intercourse only to procreate. In the 20th century, Protestant and Catholic teaching began to recognize that most human intercourse is an expression of love, not just the urge to procreate.

When reproductive scientists discovered in the late 19th century that ovulation occurs about two weeks before a woman's menstrual period, Catholic teaching approved periodic abstinence as a “natural contraceptive," but “artificial" birth control was still a no-no.

A Catholic obstetrician, John Rock, discovered how hormones control ovulation - which lead to the development of the birth control pill. His 1963 landmark book, “The Time Has Come: A Catholic Doctor's Proposals to End the Battle Over Birth Control" pointed out that the pill's hormones imitate the natural suppression of ovulation that occurs during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Many observers expected that such reasoning would cause the Vatican to reverse its course on birth control.

However in 1968 Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical, “Humanae Vitae" condemning any method of contraception “intended to prevent procreation," contradicting the advice of the special commission that the previous pope had launched to discuss birth control. It was as if the church had decided that because it had “sent all those souls to hell for using contraception, it must keep maintaining that is where they are." doclink

Karen Gaia: today about 98% of Catholic women of child-bearing age have used contraception

Family Planning is the Most Cost-effective Way to Fight Climate Change

A new study says contraception and abortion services for 225 million underserved women worldwide would cut more carbon than renewable energy.
February 06, 2015, Take Part   By: Emily Gertz

Researchers at the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco, argue that increased funding for family planning programs in developing nations is the most effective way to avert the worst impacts of climate change.

Slowing population growth would slow demand for coal, oil, or natural gas to manufacture goods, generate electricity, fuel transportation, and power agricultural production.

It would take $9.4 billion a year to meet the demand for reproductive health services for all 225 million women worldwide who want them, averting 52 million unwanted pregnancies annually. This would be an increase in current global spending on family planning of $5.3 billion a year.

$9.4 billion is far less expensive than replacing fossil fuels with solar, wind, or nuclear power. "For every $7 spent on family planning, carbon emissions would be reduced more than (one metric ton)," the report states, while "the same emissions reduction from low-carbon energy production technologies would cost at least $32."

Improved access to family planning would reduce up to 34 gigatons of emissions a year between now and mid-century -- more than third of what must be cut in coming decades to avoid extreme climate change.

Funding for family planning services would also help solve global hunger -- currently 800 million people are underfed. It will cost $209 billion a year to feed people in some of the world's least food-secure nations.

Without improved access to contraception and abortion the population could reach 11 billion by 2050 and 28 billion by 2100, resulting in even more widespread hunger, as well as devastating climate change.

The report urges the climate and food action movements to use their "substantial and growing political and policy clout" to improve funding for family planning programs. doclink

Richest 1% Percent to Have More Than Rest of Humanity Combined

January 19 , 2015, Common Dreams   By: Jon Queally

In less than two years, if current trends continued unchecked, the richest 1% percent of people on the planet will own at least half of the world's wealth, according to Oxfam International. The rate of global inequality is not only morally obscene, but an existential threat to the economies of the world and the very survival of the planet. Alongside climate change, spiraling disparity between the super-rich and everyone else, is brewing disaster for humanity as a whole, Oxfam said.

"Do we really want to live in a world where the one percent own more than the rest of us combined?" asked Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International.

The world's wealthiest, reads the report, "have generated and sustained their vast riches through their interests and activities in a few important economic sectors, including finance and insurance and pharmaceuticals and healthcare. Companies from these sectors spend millions of dollars every year on lobbying to create a policy environment that protects and enhances their interests further. The most prolific lobbying activities in the US are on budget and tax issues; public resources that should be directed to benefit the whole population, rather than reflect the interests of powerful lobbyists."

Oxfam suggests the following policies:

* Clamp down on tax dodging by corporations and rich individuals

* Invest in universal, free public services such as health and education

* Share the tax burden fairly, shifting taxation from labour and consumption towards capital and wealth

* Introduce minimum wages and move towards a living wage for all workers

* Introduce equal pay legislation and promote economic policies to give women a fair deal

* Ensure adequate safety-nets for the poorest, including a minimum income guarantee

* Agree to a global goal to tackle inequality. doclink

Perpetuating the Reign of Carbon

January 08 , 2015   By: Michael Klare

The cornerstone of Exxon's report Outlook is its claims that ever-increasing supplies of energy are needed to sustain economic growth and ensure human betterment, and that fossil fuels alone exist in sufficient quantity (and at affordable enough prices) to satisfy rising international demand. "Over the next few decades, population and income growth -- and an unprecedented expansion of the global middle class -- are expected to create new demands for energy," the report asserts.

Some of this added energy, Exxon acknowledges, will come from nuclear and renewable energy. Most, however, will have to come from fossil fuels. The world will need 35% more energy in 2040 than it does today, the Outlook estimates. That would mean adding an additional 191 quadrillion British thermal units (BTUs) to global supplies over and above the 526 quadrillion BTUs consumed in 2010. A small percentage of those added BTUs, about 12%, will come from renewables, but the vast majority -- estimated by Exxon at 67% -- will be provided by fossil fuels.

Here's how Exxon CEO and Chairman Rex Tillerson puts it: "Energy is fundamental to economic growth, and oil is fundamental because to this point in time, we have not found, through technology or other means, another fuel that can substitute for the role that oil plays in transportation, not just passenger, individual transportation, but commercial transportation, jet fuel, marine, all the ways in which we use oil as a fuel to move people and things about this planet."

Natural gas is equally essential, Tillerson argues, because it is the world's fastest-growing source of energy and a key ingredient in electric power generation. Nor will coal be left out of the mix. It, too, will play an important role in promoting economic growth, largely by facilitating a rapid increase in global electricity supplies. Despite all the concern over coal's contributions to both urban pollution and climate change, Exxon predicts that it will remain "the No. 1 fuel for power generation" in 2040.

Without carbon-based fuels, Exxon insists, economic growth will screech to a halt and the world's poor and disadvantaged will stay immersed in poverty.

The new Exxon theme it is that we are witnessing the emergence of a new global middle class with glittering possibilities and that this expanding multitude, constituting perhaps one-half of the world's population by 2040, will require ever greater quantities of oil, coal, and natural gas if it is to have any hope of achieving its true potential.

Citing data from the Brookings Institution, the number of people who earn enough to be considered members of that global middle class will jump from approximately 1.9 billion in 2010 to 4.7 billion in 2030. China and India will be the two countries adding most substantially to the global middle class, with each acquiring hundreds of millions of newly affluent citizens, but substantial gains will also be achieved by such "key growth" countries as Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Thailand, and Indonesia.

For all this to occur, however, that rising middle class will need staggering amounts of added energy -- mostly carbon-based energy forms -- to build and power all the cars, homes, businesses, appliances, and resorts that such consumers would undoubtedly crave and demand. More income, Exxon explains, "means new demand for food, for travel, for electricity, for housing, schools, and hospitals" -- and all of these benefits "depend on energy."

Virtually none of the expected increase in global energy demand will come from the older industrialized countries, which can afford more costly alternatives; rather, its source will be developing countries, which generally seek cheap energy quickly -- that is, coal and natural gas for electricity generation and oil for transportation.

“Rising prosperity will drive increased demand for transportation," the Outlook notes. "n expanding global middle class means millions of people will buy a car for the first time." Between 2010 and 2040, the human population is expected to grow by 29%, from approximately seven billion to nine billion people; the global population of cars, SUVs, and other light-duty vehicles, however, is projected to grow by more than 100%, from 825 million to 1.7 billion. And while an increasing number of these vehicles will be powered by gas-electric hybrid engines, the majority will still be fueled by petroleum, pushing up the demand for petroleum and pumping ever more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

A rising middle class seeking more consumer products, urban amenities, and travel opportunities will also require a commensurate fleet of trucks, buses, trains, ships, and planes.

Finally, the new global middle class will want more computers, flat-screen TVs, air-conditioners, and other appliances, stoking a soaring demand for electricity. Among the advanced nations that make up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a growing share of the energy used in generating electricity will indeed come from renewables and natural gas, while coal use will decline sharply. In non-OECD countries, however, the drive for electrification will be accompanied by a significant increase in the consumption of coal -- from 54 quadrillion BTUs in 2010 to 82 quadrillion in 2040. This means that the non-OECD's contribution to global warming will continue to soar, although that's not a point that Exxon is likely to emphasize.

Nor does the Exxon blueprint neglect the needs of the world's poorer citizens. “The progress enabled by modern energy has not reached everyone," the Outlook notes. “One out of every five people in the world still has no access to electricity. Even more lack modern cooking fuels."

Tillerson tells us “There are still hundreds of millions, billions of people living in abject poverty around the world. They need electricity... They need fuel to cook their food on that's not animal dung... They'd love to burn fossil fuels because their quality of life would rise immeasurably, and their quality of health and the health of their children and their future would rise immeasurably. You'd save millions upon millions of lives by making fossil fuels more available to a lot of the part of the world that doesn't have it."

In fact, Exxon predicts that reliance on fossil fuels will grow fastest in the poorest parts of the world -- precisely the areas that are expected to suffer the most from climate change. Africa, for example, is expected to witness a 103% increase in net energy consumption between now and 2040, with 83% of that increase supplied by fossil fuels.

The final part of the industry's counterattack is the claim that, for all their purported benefits, renewable sources of energy like wind and solar power are just not up to the task of providing the necessary extra energy needed to sustain economic growth and propel billions of people into the middle class.

Wind and solar are more costly than the fossil fuel alternatives and so are not growing fast enough to meet rising world demand. Even though the energy provided by these renewables will expand by 315% between now and 2040, it still represents such a small share of the total global energy mix that, by the end of this period, it will only reach the 4% mark in its share of total world energy consumption (compared to 77% for carbon fuels).

Put together, this represents a dazzling vision of a future in which growing numbers of people enjoy the benefits of abundant energy and unlimited growth. Needless to say, in such imagery there will be nothing to mar the promise of unbridled prosperity for all -- no horrific droughts, colossal superstorms, or mass migrations of desperate people seeking to flee devastated areas.

Someday, it will also be seen as one of the more striking lies on whatever's left of the historical record. In fact, follow this vision to 2040, burning through whatever fossil fuels the energy companies and energy states can pull out of the earth and the ballooning carbon emissions produced will ensure planetary warming far beyond the two degrees Celsius deemed by scientists to be the maximum that the planet can safely absorb without catastrophic climate effects.

Exxon's dreamy landscapes will be replaced by burning forests, flooded coastlines, and ever-expanding deserts. As climate conditions deteriorate, croplands will wither, coastal cities and farmlands will be eradicated, infrastructure will be devastated, the existing middle class will shrink, and the poor will face ever-increasing deprivation.

Those who truly care about the future of humanity will attempt to better educate people about the risks of climate change and the role played by fossil fuel combustion in producing it. But they will also need to deconstruct and expose the futuristic fantasies deployed by the fossil fuel companies to perpetuate their dominance. However fraudulent their arguments may be, they have the potential to blunt significant progress on climate change and so must be vigorously repudiated. doclink

Karen Gaia says:

1) The ratio of fossil fuels to total energy has not changed in 25 years.

2) There is no mention of declining EROI and rising costs of recovering oil, and gas - which will suck up whatever earnings our economy produces. It is better to conserve our energy as much as possible, reserving use for producing food and producing renewable and equipment infrastructure.

U.S.: Is Inequality Killing US Mothers?

January 16, 2015, Truthout.org   By: Andrea Flynn

It is no surprise that maternal mortality rates (MMRs) have risen in tandem with poverty rates. Women living in the lowest-income areas in the United States are twice as likely to suffer maternal death, and states with high rates of poverty have MMRs 77% higher than states with fewer residents living below the federal poverty level. Black women are three to four times as likely to die from pregnancy-related causes as white women, and in some U.S. cities the MMR among Black women is higher than in some sub-Saharan African countries.

In terms of economic inequality it might as well be 1929, the last time the United States experienced such an extraordinary gulf between the rich and everyone else. Today 30% of Blacks, 25% of Hispanics (compared to only 10% of whites) live in poverty, and in certain states those percentages are even higher. Since 2008, the net worth of the poorest Americans has decreased and stagnant wages and increased debt has driven more middle class families into poverty. Meanwhile, the wealthiest Americans have enjoyed remarkable gains in wealth and income.

The Affordable Care Act is providing much-needed health coverage to many poor women for whom it was previously out of reach and if fully implemented could certainly help stem maternal deaths. But nearly 60% of uninsured Black Americans who should qualify for Medicaid live in states that are not participating in Medicaid expansion. doclink

Colorado: Bill Would Fund IUDs

February 02, 2015, Durango Herald   By: Peter Marcus

Republican Rep. Don Coram of Montrose is at odds with members of his own party after co-sponsoring a measure that would fund long-acting contraceptives for low-income women.

The measure, House Bill 1194, was introduced on Friday, despite cries that the legislation funds devices that induce abortion.

The issue has become a battle of science, with doctors arguing that there is little evidence to indicate that intrauterine devices, IUDs, cause abortion.

He said estimates indicate that a statewide program would save 4,300 abortions and tens-of-millions of public welfare dollars that are spent annually on teen and unwanted births.

Coram also spoke of the emotional and educational toll teen pregnancies can have, pointing out that by age 30, only 1.5% of teens who become pregnant obtain a school degree.

A long line of doctors are lining up to challenge the perspective that IUDs cause abortion. Dr. Larry Wolk, executive director and chief medical officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, pointed out that 99% of the time IUDs act as a hormonal barrier, making it unlikely that there would be implantation of a fertilized egg.

Coram's bipartisan legislation would provide $5 million from the state general fund to continue a program that health officials say lowered the teen birth rate in Colorado by 40%. doclink

Karen Gaia says: The IUD has been shown to cut the abortion rate. Legislators should do the math: drop the funding for IUDs and see more abortions, or fund the IUDs and subtract the 1% possible resulting abortions from the number of abortions that are prevented by the IUD.

These Amazing New Contraceptives Could Be the Future of Birth Control

February 06 , 2015, VOX Media   By: Megan Thielking

Due in part to high failure rates (18%), only 20% of couples choose condoms. Scientists continue working to develop better options. The pill is still the most commonly used contraceptive in the US, but since women must remember to take the pill every day, it has a 9% failure rate. Potential side effects include nausea, mood swings, and possible stroke. For these reasons, there's a push to develop new, long-acting reversible contraceptives, says Dr. Michael Thomas, OB/GYN at the University of Cincinnati's Center for Reproductive Health.

Longer acting options include a hormonal patch called Ortho Evra that must be changed every week, and the NuvaRing hormone-releasing uterine ring that must be changed every three weeks. Contraceptive implants are thin plastic devices inserted under the skin on the upper arm. Current versions release hormones for up to three years. Still, removing them requires a trip to the doctor. A T-shaped intrauterine device (IUD) under study may work for up to 12 years, but removing an IUD still requires a trip to the doctor.

Working with the Gates Foundation, MicroCHIPS Biotech is developing an implant that will last up to 16 years, which women can to turn it off by remote control. Human trails should start next year. The same microchip technology has been tested successfully in women with osteoporosis, so MicroCHIPS Biotech believes the implant could be on the market by 2018.

Over the longer term (at least 10 years), the NIH is partnering with researchers to develop a lower-dose version of emergency contraception Ella, which would work like "the pill" if taken daily. The estrogen-free pill would reduce side effects and be more effective for certain women, particularly obese women who have higher failure rates using estrogen-based contraception.

Northwestern University says that, like condoms, new vaginal rings could prevent sexually-transmitted infections. Two-in-one options under study include a contraceptive similar to the current Nuvaring, which is placed in the vagina. It uses hormones to prevent pregnancy and also releases an antiretroviral drug to inhibit HIV and herpes.

Men use about one-third of all contraception. Aside from condoms, some men rely on vasectomies that can only be reversed via surgery. In coming years men will have more reversible birth control options. In the 1950s, scientists tested on prisoners a form of male birth control that weakened the sperm. It worked until it was tested outside of the prisons, where interactions with alcohol caused vomiting, profuse sweating, and headaches. Over 60 years later, scientists are still trying. Dr. John Amory of the University of Washington is now testing molecules to gum up an enzyme that facilitates sperm maturation. If this works, they will approach the FDA within the next few years to start clinical trials.

RISUG stands for reversible inhibition of sperm under guidance. Trials in India showed the procedure to be 100% effective. A doctor injects the vas deferens with a gel that makes the sperm unable to travel. The procedure lasts for years and can be reversed at any point with another injection. A U.S. company used the same concept to create Vasalgel. It is now in animal testing, still years from approval.

The NIH, in partnerships with the University of Washington and UCLA, is researching gels currently used for hormone-replacement therapy in men with low testosterone. The gels stop sperm production with hormones — much like "the pill" works for women. The challenge is to manage sperm production without reducing testosterone levels for the rest of the body. Each day men apply a progestin hormone gel on the abdomen and a testosterone gel on the arm. The progestin gel halts sperm production by blocking the supply of testosterone in the testes. Then, a testosterone gel applied to the arm reintroduces the hormone to the blood, which allows it to stimulate libido and enable ejaculation. Diana Blithe, Program Director at the NIH's Contraceptive Discovery and Development Branch said that in human trials, "It works if they use it every day, and even pretty well if they miss a day," The gels will be combined into a single, easier-to-use formula. Blithe anticipates at least a 10 year wait before the product is available. doclink

Global Energy and Carbon Intensity Continue to Decline

New Worldwatch Institute analysis examines trends in energy and carbon emissions globally
December 17 , 2014, Worldwatch Institute   By: Gaelle Gourmelon

Global energy intensity, defined as worldwide total energy consumption divided by gross world product, decreased 0.19% in 2013. Although this may not seem impressive, considering that energy intensity increased steeply between 2008 and 2010, this small decline continues a much-needed trend toward lower energy intensity.

In the 1990s, industrial economies began turning to a new growth paradigm that relied heavily on service sectors. This "knowledge-based economy" is much less energy-intensive than the economic model adopted during industrialization. As a result, global energy intensity decreased 13.72% during the 1990s -- the largest drop in the past 50 years.

While the first decade saw great volatility, with two upward surges during 2002-04 and 2008-10, the period between 2004 and 2008 saw a decrease in intensity of 3.50%.

Global carbon intensity has followed the same general pattern of energy intensity, dropping 36.62% overall between 1990 and 2013, but rising between 2002 and 2004. After 2008, probably because of the impact of the economic recession, the decline in global carbon intensity generally slowed, although 2013 brought a slightly more rapid pace than in previous years.

China claims that its carbon intensity decreased 4.3% between 2012 and 2013 and dropped 28.56% from the 2005 level.

In November 2014, President Obama and President Xi issued a joint announcement in which China proposed to peak its carbon emissions by 2030. doclink

Karen Gaia says: at some point of peak energy, the service sector will become a nicety that we will be less and less able to afford.

Underuse of Modern Methods of Contraception: Underlying Causes and Consequent Undesired Pregnancies

December 05, 2014, Oxford Journal   By: Saverio Bellizzi, Howard L. Sobel, Hiromi Obara and Marleen Temmerman

It is already known that every year 87 million women worldwide become pregnant unintentionally because of the underuse of a modern method of contraception.

Every year, when 123 million women experience pregnancy as a harbinger of happiness, many of the remaining 87 million face it with dismay. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that, after becoming pregnant without intention, many of these women are presented with a stark set of scenarios: risk of death, disability and lower educational and employment potential. Reducing the number of unintended pregnancies could avert 60% of maternal deaths and 57% of the child deaths . Access to essential contraceptive commodities remains a great concern to redress global inequity. Furthermore, many undesired pregnancies end in induced abortion

In a study of 35 countries it was found that, If more women had access to modern birth control methods and used them correctly, there would be 15 million fewer unwanted pregnancies in these countries.

Researchers looked at birth control use by women between the ages of 15 and 49, in 35 countries, between 2005 and 2012. Birth control was defined as modern or traditional. Modern methods included condoms, intrauterine devices, oral and injectable contraceptives, implants, sterilization and breast feeding. Traditional methods included withdrawal and trying to time intercourse when women weren't fertile.

The risk of unwanted pregnancy was 2.7 times higher among those who used traditional methods and 14.5 times higher among those who used no birth control compared to women who used modern methods.

In 2000, 189 nations developed the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), pledging to free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations. It was agreed that family planning contributes to sustainable development, health and well-being of mothers, their children and gender equity. In 2005, the Member States added ‘achieve universal access to reproductive health' to MDG 5, however, despite pledges, MDG-5 is the most off-track MDG of all. Although contraceptive prevalence shows an upward trend and unmet needs show a downward trend globally, the absolute number of married women who either do not use contraception or who have an unmet need for family planning is projected to grow. This indicates that increased investment is necessary to meet the demand for contraceptive methods worldwide.

Method failure leading to pregnancy is common among reversible methods of contraception. During the first year of contraceptive use, 25-27% women stop using ‘calendar' and ‘withdrawal' methods due to unintended pregnancy, 15% stop using male condoms, 8% oral contraceptives, 3% injectable, 2% lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) and 0.2% intrauterine devices (IUDs). Women, especially those with low education, often switch to less-effective traditional methods of contraception.

Among the nearly 15,000 women in the study who did not want to get pregnant but did not use any type of birth control, the main reason (37%) for non-use was fear of side effects and health concerns.

Other reasons included opposition to birth control (22%), underestimating the risks of pregnancy (nearly 18%), cost and not knowing how to obtain modern birth control (both 2.4%).

In a U.S. News and World Report article ( http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2015/02/04/modern-birth-control-methods-could-avoid-15-million-unwanted-pregnancies-report ), Dr. Howard Sobel, one of the study authors said, "Health concerns was the most common reason given for not using modern contraception, yet these concerns are not backed up by evidence."

"Health workers have an important role to play in reassuring, educating, treating symptoms and finding the methods that best suits an individual. However, frontline health workers need the skills to do this, and our experience has been that many have the same misconceptions," he added.

"We could prevent the overwhelming majority of pregnancies if we could debunk the myths and misperceptions about modern methods and use long-term methods of contraception, such as implants and intrauterine devices," Sobel suggested.

"National strategies need to be put in place to address unfounded health concerns, fear of side effects, opposition and underestimated risk of pregnancy. These need to be coupled with good quality contraception that is available and affordable," he concluded. doclink

Joe Bish, of Population Media Center said: This finding only exacerbates the maddening irony that every year, 87 million women worldwide become pregnant unintentionally -- of course, that 87 million figure bears a striking resemblance to annual net global population growth. In other words, all things being equal, if the human community could just figure out how to bring 100% intention to our reproduction, annual global population growth could conceivably fall to zero immediately.

Child, Bride, Mother

February 08, 2015   By: Stephanie Sinclair

In Guatemala the legal age of marriage is 14 with parental consent. In the Petén, in northern part of the country, the law seems to be more of a suggestion.

In the villages of Guatemala, about 53% of women age 20 to 24 were married before age 18, and 13% before age 15, according to the Population Council. Many of these girls had withdrawn from their educations; were subject to physical and sexual violence; risked dangerous pregnancies and went without crucial medical care. Their lives were controlled by older men who considered the girls little more than sexual and domestic servants.

These physically immature and psychologically unready young mothers were prone to complications during childbirth, which often took place at home. For girls in Petén villages, the journey to competent care could take hours and the consequences dire. Petén has the highest rate of maternal mortality in Guatemala. The infant mortality is also high.

The Too Young to Wed transmedia project, a partnership with the UNFPA - United Nations Population Fund, produced poignant images and a video which can be seen by following the link in the headline. doclink

England's Population Growth Squeezes Resources

January 28, 2015, Population Matters

Population Matters has released a report entitled More People, Less Food by London School of Economics and Political Science graduate student Diandian Chen in which the author analyzes the perverse impact of population growth in England during the past 20 years on housing, food production and amenity land.

In 1994, the population of England was approximately 48 million, of whom about 250,000 were "statutory homeless". If the population had been stabilized at that point, then only approximately 5,200 hectares of land would have been required to house all of these people and they could have been housed in two years on land used for commercial purposes that was changed to residential use in 1994 and 1995. Conversion of undeveloped or agricultural land would not have been required.

In practice, because of rapid population growth since then the housing shortage has worsened; about 26,400 hectares of farmland and 3,600 hectares of undeveloped land have been converted for residential use; approximately £63 million (US $95.5 million) worth of annual food production has been lost; homelessness has remained acute; house price inflation caused by demand exceeding supply has continued; and food self-sufficiency has been further reduced.

Looking ahead to 2050, by which time the Office of National Statistics of the United Kingdom projects that the population of the country will have increased by between seven and 46 more Manchesters, local authorities anticipate that more than 700,000 houses will be built in the countryside, including almost 200,000 in undeveloped or agricultural land.

"When England is already the most overcrowded country in Europe, our houses are already the smallest, and our polls show that 80 per cent of us would prefer a smaller population than we have now, this is a truly pathetic situation," said Population Matters Chair Roger Martin. "This shows what happens when the national debate is all about increasing supply in our small island and totally ignores any idea of reducing demand, whether for housing, energy, water or anything else. Until we have a clear national objective of stabilizing our numbers and then frankly reducing them, all of our efforts will be to catch up with population growth while congestion, overload and quality of life steadily worsen." doclink

Pope Francis Addresses Population Control as Millions Attend Manila Mass

Pope Francis Says Children Should Be ‘Welcomed, Cherished and Protected’
January 18, 2015, Wall Street Journal   By: Deborah Ball

During the Pope's recent week-long trip to Asia, those looking for a statement changing the church's policies on birth control instead had to settle for subtle hints that Pope Francis may view the issue a little differently than his predecessors.

While family-planning programs in Asian nations such as South Korea and Thailand have helped to rein in population growth, U.N statistics show Filipino women having, on average, 3.1 children, higher than many other developing countries. Only about a third of women of childbearing age use modern methods of birth control, and fertility rates among the poorest quartile -- many of whom cannot afford birth control -- are three times higher than for rich Filipinos. A 2012 law expanded the availability of birth control. Family-planning advocates viewed the law as an important step in helping poor women to control the size of their families, but the Filipino church has continued to preach against artificial birth control.

The Pope offered a mass in Manila which drew an estimated six million people despite steady rain. In Manila, Pope Francis touched upon population control and seemed to support the local Clergy's stand. On the final full day of his visit to the Philippines, Pope Francis said "the family all too often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred. … We need to see each child as a gift to be welcomed, cherished and protected, and we need to care for our young people, not allowing them to be robbed of hope and condemned to life on the streets."

However, during his Asian tour the Pope highlighted themes that he and developing world bishops consider top priority: social justice, the stress that migration places on families, poverty and income inequality.

While visiting Tacloban, which was hit by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, the Pope said again that climate change is disproportionately affecting the developing world. He is preparing an encyclical on the environment for this summer and has hinted lately that he may throw his weight behind those who say human activity is a major cause of global warming change — a stance not welcomed by climate change skeptics. "This country, more than many others, is likely to be seriously affected by climate change." doclink

Art says: While the Pope did not endorse birth control on this trip, he did recently state that Catholics do not have to breed like rabbits. His statements against artificial birth control implies that he, or the church, prefers more 'natural' restraints. Hopefully, he will clarify this matter in the near future.

Articles of Interest - Had to Skip Summarizing - No Time

If you would like to help summarize articles for the News Digest, click on the red arrow in any article to register.

  • Why We Need to Address Population Growth's Effects on Global Warming doclink

    Earlier this month, Pope Francis made news when he said that not only was climate change real, but it was mostly man-made. Then, last week, he said that couples do not need to breed "like rabbits" but rather should plan their families responsibly — albeit without the use of modern contraception. Amid climate change, what's more important: Protecting money or people? Amid climate change, what's more important: Protecting money or people? Th... January 25, 2015, Los Angeles Times   By: The Times Editorial Board


  • Humanity's Future: Below Replacement Fertility? doclink

    However, if women on average have less than two births, then world population eventually decreases. A fertility rate of 2.1 births per woman under low mortality conditions is the replacement level, which over time results in population stabilisation. Throughout most of human history women bore many children. In addition to offsetting high rates of infant and child mortality, a large number of children provided valuable assistance, needed labour a... January 25, 2015   By: Joseph Chamie


  • Sustainable Development is Only Possible If Women's Health is Prioritised doclink

    "Let the 21st century be the century of women." These were the words of the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, when he launched his report on the post- 2015 development agenda. "The empowerment and rights of girls and women must be at the heart of everything we do," said Ban. Let's hope the member states were paying attention. In September, UN delegates will come together in New York to decide on the content of the sustainable develop... January 21, 2015, Guardian   By: Ann M Starrs

@@032214 Unplanned Births Associated with Less Prenatal Care and Worse Infant Health, Compared with Planned Births @@032215 Publicly Funded Family Planning Yields Numerous Positive Health Outcomes While Saving Taxpayer Dollars
  • Watch Me Get An IUD — for the Planet doclink

    I took birth control pills for seven and a half years, and then one day in June decided that maybe I should take a stab at life without a daily dose of hormones. "This is great!" I thought, after a month or so off the pill. "I don't want to spend literally every moment of my life sleeping, my hair and butt have never looked better, and I'm not constantly beset by a vague but weighty feeling of dread and melancholy!" But then I start... January 20, 2015, Grist   By: Eve Andrews


  • ‘It is Profitable to Let the World Go to Hell' doclink

    How depressed would you be if you had spent more than 40 years warning of an impending global catastrophe, only to be continually ignored even as you watch the disaster unfolding? So spare a thought for Jørgen Randers, who back in 1972 co-authored the seminal work Limits to Growth (pdf), which highlighted the devastating impacts of exponential economic and population growth on a planet with finite resources. As politicians and business leaders... January 19, 2015   By: Jo Confino


  • That was Easy: in Just 60 Years, Neoliberal Capitalism Has Nearly Broken Planet Earth doclink

    Humanity's rapacious growth and accelerated energy needs over the last generation—particularly fed by an economic system that demands increasing levels of consumption and inputs of natural resources—are fast driving planetary systems towards their breaking point, according to a new pair of related studies. "It is difficult to overestimate the scale and speed of change. In a single lifetime humanity has become a geological force at the planet... January 16, 2015, Common Dreams   By: Jon Queally

@@032171 Is Inequality Killing US Mothers?
  • Condoms and Contraceptive Pills Reach Rural Laos doclink

    Bounthone Kongphongma knows family planning arrived too late for his generation in rural Laos. The former military medic and his wife had 14 children, the youngest of whom they raised during the country's secret war, often escaping to the jungle on the outskirts of their village to avoid airstrikes. Only eight of his children survived to adulthood, and those who died were not victims of war, but of what Kongphongma thinks was malaria. "It wa... January 13, 2015, Guardian   By: Carla Kweifio-okai


  • Ethiopia's Key: Young People and the Demographic Dividend doclink

    (January 2015) Over the last decade, Ethiopia has experienced strong economic growth, accompanied by positive trends in poverty reduction. Ethiopia has demonstrated its commitment to improving the lives of its citizens through policies and programs that have reduced child mortality, improved education, and increased access to family planning. While life is improving for many, nearly 30 percent of Ethiopia's population still live in extreme povert... January 16, 2015, Population Reference Bureau   By: Shelley Megquier and Kate Belohlav

@@032164 Demographic Challenges of the Sahel doclink

Pope Francis Says Catholics Don't Need to Breed 'Like Rabbits'

January 20 , 2015, NPG Negative Population Growth   By: Jasmine Garsd

After visiting the Philippines, Pope Francis made strong statements supporting the church's ban on artificial means of birth control. He also said Catholics should practice "responsible parenthood" and don't have to breed "like rabbits."

Speaking with reporters on a flight Monday from the Philippines to Rome, Francis encouraged the use of church-approved contraception.

The National Catholic Reporter described the pope's remarks this way:

"Telling the story of a woman he met in a parish in Rome several months ago who had given birth to seven children via cesarean section and was pregnant with an eighth, Francis asked: 'Does she want to leave the seven orphans?' ... " 'This is to tempt God,' he said, adding later: 'That is an irresponsibility.' Catholics, the pope said, should speak of 'responsible parenthood.' "

" 'God gives you methods to be responsible,' the Pope said.

Pope Francis also has aimed to reassure members of the flock that he is still in line with traditional Catholic values. doclink

Karen Gaia says: the Pope is probably referring to Fertility Awareness, a method that is one of the least effective, having a chance of pregnancy in the 94% range after a 10 year use. It is often referred to as 'Vatican Roulette'.

Renewable Resources Reach Their Limits

Humanity should use planetary resources with care
January 14, 2015, Hemholtz Centre for Environmental Research   By: Prof. Dr. Ralf Seppelt

Research from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Yale University and Michigan State University demonstrates that several key resources have recently passed, at around the same time, their "peak-rate year" -- the maximum increase year. It seems that as substitution becomes arduous, global society's expanding needs will be harder to fill.

The research analyzed the production and extraction rates of 27 global renewable and non-renewable resources, including 20 renewable resources, such as maize, rice, wheat or soya -- which represent around 45% of the global calorie intake according to FAO -- as well as animal products, such as fish, meat, milk and egg.

The term peak was popularized in the discussion about peak oil initiated in the mid-1970s. Though oil production has actually continued to expand beyond its predicted peak, "for many resources, but not oil, we indeed observed a peak pattern", noted one of the researchers landscape ecologist Prof. Dr. Ralf Seppelt.

20 resources had a peak-year and for 16 of those 20 resources, the peak-year lay between 1988 and 2008. "The key commodities that a person needs for food and must harvest are limited", summarizes Dr. Seppelt, Head of the Landscape Ecology Department at the UFZ. The maximum global growth rate in crop yields for soya beans was in 2009, for milk it was 2004, for eggs it was 1993 and for the fish caught it was 1988. Data from other studies show that the crop yield per area with maize, wheat, soya and rice on more than a quarter of the farming area around the world is stagnating or decreasing according.

Many of the peak-years occur at about the same time because of the rising population and change in diet in regions such as India and China increased the demand for renewable resources increased in order to produce as much food as possible. The highest rate of increase in the cultivation of arable land was found to be in the 1950s; the peak for human-made irrigation areas then followed in the 1970s, and the peak for nitrogen fertilizers was subsequently in the 1980s, as "the land available for agriculture was used more intensively for growing food", concludes Dr. Klotz, Head of the Department of Community Ecology.

"Experts see opportunities for further increases in agricultural yield of about one to two percent per year due to better breeding techniques and genetically modified organisms", states Dr. Seppelt. But then it will be tight: "The global community needs to accept that renewable raw materials are also reaching their yield limits worldwide".

As the foundation of humanity's current standard of living is eroding, it becomes essential to take action by using fertilizer and water more efficiently. "At the individual level, we can start by preferring a vegetarian diet, or eating chicken instead of beef", said Dr. Seppelt. doclink

Is it Too Late to Save the Planet?

January 24, 2015, Nation of Change   By: Thomas Magstadt

Astrophysicist Adam Frank said: "The defining feature of a technological civilization is the capacity to intensively ‘harvest' energy. But the basic physics of energy, heat and work known as thermodynamics tell us that waste, or what we physicists call entropy, must be generated and dumped back into the environment in the process." Globally, we generate around 100 billion megawatt hours of energy every year and dump 36 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the earth's atmosphere and oceans, not to mention rivers, coal slurry impoundments ("sludge ponds"), aquifers, and underground “sequestration", all of which goes a very long way to explaining the overheating planet and acidifying oceans.

Everything from biodiversity to ocean chemistry is being degraded, entropy due to global population growth and human activity is a major cause. Climate change is happening; the signs are abundant, and too many voters are indifferent. What is needed is 1) a policy prescription for the government and 2) an action program for the rest of us.There is rarely any mention of conservation as a kind of categorical public-policy imperative.

Even though population is nearly 7.3 billion and rising, nobody wants to talk about population in part because they think most everything that can be done about that issue has already been or is being done.

Maybe our indifference will give way to our instinct for survival in time. Maybe we will come to understand that we have to conserve in order to survive, reorganize our cities and societies, depend less on long-distance transport and travel, and do more on a local level. We have to drive fewer cars fewer miles, build mass transit systems, and subsidize riders for being good citizens. We have to consume less and conserve more of everything -- from water and fossil fuel to wildlife and rain forests. We have to do a much better job of protecting the atmosphere, oceans, topsoil.

Our species has caused this problem and there will be a lot more of us either contributing to the problem or becoming the solution in the future. We have to learn to do more with less. A lot less. It probably won't happen any time soon on the scale that's needed, but it will happen sooner or later because it has to. Let's hope it won't be too late. doclink

Overpopulation: the Environmental Movement's Third Rail

January 27, 2015, Huffington Post   By: Marc Ross, founder and executive director, Rock the Earth

Population is the one issue that most major environmental organizations are not mentioning, let alone addressing. It is an issue that transcends age, race, religion and borders.

About 80 million people were added to the planet in 2014 -- the equivalent of the population of California, New York and Florida. The world is already seeing depleting natural resources, unprecedented water scarcity and citizens with a "throwaway" mentality. Every environmental issue facing our planet -- clean water, energy usage, public lands and wilderness use, endangered species, raw materials and food -- is affected by it.

• 1 billion people are added to the planet every 12 years.

• Today, nearly 1 billion people do not have access to food and safe drinking water.

• 2.2 million acres of forest and ranch land are destroyed every year in the U.S, due to sprawl.

• Deforestation limits our planet's ability to control temperature.

• Every human generates 4.3 lbs. of waste per day.

Only 2.5% of the Earth's water is fresh, and we only have access to 1% of it! Water usage is growing at twice the rate of the population and that by 2025, approximately 23% of the population will live in an area affected by water scarcity, according to the U.N.

In 2012 the U.S. incurred the highest levels of municipal solid waste generation so far in the 21st century according to the EPA, with the largest component of discarded waste being organic and recyclable.

Millions of acres of previously undeveloped lands are sacrificed each year in the U.S. to support urban growth, energy development and other private interests. Public lands used for recreation are diminishing. Off-road vehicle enthusiasts and hikers are coming into conflict, and the growth invasive species (often transported by human visitors and their machines) all threaten our public lands.

The Natural Resources Defense Council cites how U.S. energy companies in the Southeast are putting a tremendous strain on the local forests to produce energy for their fossil fuel burning plants. The Southeast has also become the largest exporter of wood pellets in the world.

While world-wide birth rates are falling, we are still replacing each human on the planet with two, four, and in some places, upward of eight children per adult! Each year, we use the equivalent of 1.5 Earths. Continued high levels of consumption and population growth will have us using two Earths of resources every year by the 2030s.

There are plenty of orphans available for adoption: 101,666 in the U.S. and about 17 million in the world. These children are at risk for disease, malnutrition and death. Yet we Americans compound are having children at a rate that dwarfs the adoption rate by over 500 times.

It is imperative that larger organizations with robust resources get involved. Mobilization and activation are critical if we are going to make any real preparations to host our fast-growing family on Earth. doclink

Karen Gaia says: To be fair, many people are childless or have only one child. The average fertility rate in the U.S. is 1.9. Yes, adopting children is a worthwhile solution, but even more important is addressing the 50% unintended pregnancy rate in the U.S. See http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/contraceptive-study-in-st-louis-coincides-with-drop-in-abortion/article_9efe9196-b672-5f6a-9a6a-c094e7fe5546.html

Will Humankind Survive the Century?

January 10, 2015, MAHB - Millenium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere

doclink

10 Things America Does So Much Worse Than Europe

July 11, 2015, Salon   By: Alex Henderson

1. Lower Incarceration Rates

2. Less Violent Crime Than the U.S.

3. Better Sex Education Programs, Healthier Sexual Attitudes

For decades, the Christian Right has been trying to convince Americans that social conservatism and abstinence-only sex education programs will reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. The problem is that the exact opposite is true: European countries with comprehensive sex-ed programs and liberal sexual attitudes actually have lower rates of teen pregnancy and STDs. Looking at data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Guttmacher Institute, Advocates for Youth and other sources, one finds a lot more teen pregnancies in the U.S. than in Europe. Comprehensive sex-ed programs are the norm in Europe, where in 2008, there were teen birth rates of 5.3 per 1000 in the Netherlands, 4.3 per 1000 in Switzerland and 9.8 per 1000 in Germany compared to 41.5 per 1000 in the United States. In 2009, Germany had one-sixth the HIV/AIDS rate of the United States (0.1% of Germany's adult population living with HIV or AIDS compared to 0.6% of the U.S. adult population), while the Netherlands had one-third the number of people living with HIV or AIDS that year (0.2% of the Netherlands' population compared to 0.6% of the U.S.' adult population).

4. Anti-GMO Movement Much More Widespread

5. Saner Approaches to Abortion

Logic never was the Christian Right's strong point. The same far-right Christian fundamentalists who favor outlawing abortion and overturning the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 cannot grasp the fact that two of the things they bitterly oppose -- contraception and comprehensive sex education programs -- reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and therefore, reduce the need for abortions. But in many European countries, most politicians are smart enough to share Bill Clinton's view that abortion should be "safe, legal and rare." And the ironic thing is that European countries that tend to be sexually liberal also tend to have lower abortion rates. The Guttmacher Institute has reported that Western Europe, factoring in different countries, has an average of 12 abortions per 1000 women compared to 19 per 1000 women in North America (Eastern Europe, according to Guttmacher, has much higher abortion rates than Western Europe). Guttmacher's figures take into account Western Europe on the whole, although some countries in that part of the world have fallen below that 12 per 1000 average. For example, the UN has reported that in 2008, Switzerland (where abortion is legal during the first trimester) had an abortion rate of 6.4 per 1,000 women compared to 19.6 per 1000 women in the U.S. that year. And Guttmacher has reported that countries where abortion is illegal or greatly restricted tend to have higher abortion rates than countries where it is legal: back-alley abortions are common in Latin America and Africa.

Clearly, better sex education, easier access to birth control and universal healthcare are decreasing the number of abortions in Western Europe. So instead of harassing, threatening and terrorizing abortion providers, the Christian Right needs to examine the positive effects that sexually liberal attitudes are having in Switzerland and other European countries.

6. More Vacation Time

7. Universal Healthcare

The U.S. made a small step in the direction of universal healthcare when Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010, but the U.S. is so backwards when it comes to health care that implementing even the modest reforms of the ACA (which doesn't go far enough) has been an epic battle. Meanwhile, every developed country in Western Europe has universal health care, which is implemented in different ways in different countries.

8.Greater Life Expectancy

9. Mass Transit Systems

10. Europeans More Likely to Speak Foreign Languages doclink

Abortion Articles

Now that we have a Republican legislature and abortion is threatened, there is no shortage of abortion articles

  • No Pardon - Young Woman to Serve 30 Years for Miscarriage doclink

    With some stories, I'm not sure where to begin, because the news has me stunned and almost speechless. I want to turn away, block it out and find something happy to do, or something else to think about, or write about. But I can't. And so I begin. Last week, a young woman in El Salvador who goes by the alias name of 'Guadalupe,' had very high hopes, and was all but assured she would receive a pardon from her 30-year sentence. She had already ser... January 19, 2015, Daily Kos   By: Leslie Salzillo


  • In Just the Last Four Years, States Have Enacted 231 Abortion Restrictions doclink

    In just the last 4 years, states have enacted 231 abortion restrictions The large number of recently enacted abortion restrictions has dramatically reshaped the landscape for women seeking an abortion (see A Surge of State Abortion Restrictions Puts Providers—and the Women They Serve—in the Crosshairs). In 2000, 13 states had four or five types of abortion restrictions in effect and so were considered hostile to abortion rights. In that year,... January 22, 2015   By: Guttmacher Institute


  • Tim Ryan: Why I Changed My Thinking on Abortion doclink

    I was elected to political office at a young age, and being raised in a Catholic household, always considered myself pro-life. My faith is important to me, and like many Catholics I strive to adhere to its principles, especially one of the essential and highest teachings of "judge not, lest ye be judged." I've heard firsthand from women of all ages, races and socioeconomic backgrounds about the circumstances and hardships that accompany this pers... January 27, 2015   By: Tim Ryan


  • Prevalent and Preventable: the Tragedy of Unsafe Abortion doclink

    "Unsafe abortion is actually a public health tragedy of our times, simply because the technology to make this procedure safe has been available for decades…In our region, particularly with the patriarchal culture and the society we live in, religious fundamentalism (and) political conservatism has always tended to make women's bodies a battleground for these issues." That's Dr. Suchitra Dalvie, coordinator of the Asia Safe Abortion Par... January 16, 2015, Population Action International   By: Danielle Zielinski


  • Congressman Attacks GOP Congresswomen's Stand on Abortion: ‘it Sent the Entirely Wrong Message' doclink

    Last week, a proposed 20-week abortion ban didn't get a vote in the House after a group of Republican women expressed concerns about its narrow exception for rape victims. And days later, the political conflict — which amounted to an embarrassing setback for Republicans on the same day that thousands of abortion opponents flooded the nation's capital for the annual March for Life — is still simmering. On Tuesday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX... January 27, 2015, Think Progress   By: Tara Culp-Ressler


  • 'i Just Had An Abortion' doclink

    I've been a strident advocate for a woman's right to choose since I was a pre-teen, and it's still difficult for me to say those words. So many assumptions about my life can be made on the basis of that admission, and the shame is real. For White women in American society, the shame of having an abortion is mainly centered on their individual behavior. For Black women, our behavior reflects on Black folks as a whole, specifically other Black wome... January 12, 2015   By: Tasha Fierce


  • Abortion Vote Shows How Much Democrats' World Has Changed doclink

    This week, Congress returns with House leaders vowing to revisit the anti-abortion bill they pulled off the floor last week. The ban on abortions after 20 weeks was withdrawn when it appeared there weren't enough Republican votes to pass it. Why did it need quite so many Republican votes? Because the GOP can no longer count on a contingent of Democrats to help out on abortion-related votes. That was obvious last week, on Thursday, when the lead... January 26, 2015, National Public Radio   By: Ron Elving


  • The Secret History of the GOP's New Abortion Ban doclink

    Update: The Washington Post reports that House Republicans have canceled the vote on Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which had been scheduled for January 22. The bill was reportedly dropped amid concerns that it would hurt the party's image with women, as well as its partial exemption for rape survivors. Just hours after the newly Republican Congress was sworn in on January 6, Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.)... January 21, 2015, Mother Jones   By: Molly Redden


  • Rick Santorum: Saying 'Dumb Things' About Birth Control and Abortion Fueled 2012 Loss doclink

    Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) said Monday that controversial comments over abortion and contraception contributed to his defeat in the 2012 Republican presidential primary to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. In an interview with NBC News, Santorum blamed himself for saying "dumb things" that allowed critics to portray him as an extreme conservative only interested in "crazy stuff that doesn't have anything to do with anything." Santor... January 20, 2015   By: Igor Bobic


  • Obama Threatens to Veto New GOP Abortion Bill doclink

    January 20, 2015 Just hours before Tuesday night's State of the Union address, the White House has issued veto threats involving two bills, including House Republicans' Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks. "The administration strongly opposes H.R. 36, which would unacceptably restrict women's health and reproductive rights and is an assault on a woman's right to choose," the White House said in a st... January 20, 2015, National Journal   By: Matt Berman

doclink

Global Population and Environment 101

January 07, 2015, Sierra Club Global Population and Environment Program

See http://www.sierraclub.org/population doclink

A Synopsis: Limits to Growth: the 30-year Update

January 17, 2015, Donella Meadows Institute   By: Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers, and Dennis Meadows

Note: this article is more than 10 years old, but it is still pertainent

More than 30 years ago, a book called The Limits to Growth created an international sensation. Commissioned by the Club of Rome, an international group of businessmen, states- men, and scientists, The Limits to Growth was compiled by a team of experts from the U.S. and several foreign countries. Using system dynamics theory and a computer model called "World3," the book presented and analyzed 12 scenarios that showed different possible patterns -- and environmental outcomes -- of world development over two centuries from 1900 to 2100.

Already in the 1990s there was compelling evidence that humanity was moving deeper into unsustainable territory. Beyond the Limits argued that in many areas we had "overshot" our limits, or expanded our demands on the planet's resources and sinks beyond what could be sustained over time.

In a new study, Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update, the authors have produced a comprehensive update to the original Limits, in which they conclude that humanity is dangerously in a state of overshoot. The authors are far more pessimistic than they were in 1972. Humanity has squandered the opportunity to correct our current course over the last 30 years, they conclude.

Noted energy economist Matthew Simmons wrote, “The most amazing aspect of the book is how accurate many of the basic trend extrapolations … still are some 30 years later."

Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update presents the underlying economic structure that leads to these problems. World3 keeps track of stocks such as population, industrial capital, persistent pollution, and cultivated land. In the model, those stocks change through flows such as births and deaths; investment and depreciation; pollution generation and pollution assimilation; land erosion, land development, and land removed for urban and industrial uses.

The model accounts for positive and negative feedback loops that can radically affect the outcome of various scenarios. It also develops nonlinear relationships. For example, as more land is made arable, what's left is drier, or steeper, or has thinner soils. The cost of coping with these problems dramatically raises the cost of developing the land -- a nonlinear relationship.

For more than a century, the world has been experiencing exponential growth in a number of areas, including population and industrial production. Positive feedback loops can reinforce and sustain exponential growth. In 1650, the world's population had a doubling time of 240 years. By 1900, the doubling time was 100 years. When The Limits to Growth was published in 1972, there were under 4 billion people in the world. Today, there are more than 6 billion, and in 2000 we added the equivalent of nine New York cities.

Another area of exponential growth has been the world economy. From 1930 to 2000, the money value of world industrial output grew by a factor of 14—an average doubling time of 19 years. If population had been constant over that period, the material standard of living would have grown by a factor of 14 as well. Because of population growth, however, the average per capita output increased by only a factor of five.

Moreover, in the current system, economic growth generally occurs in the already rich countries and flows disproportionately to the richest people within those countries. Thus, according to the United Nations Development Program, the 20% of the world's people who lived in the wealthiest nations had 30 times the per capita income of the 20% who lived in the poorest nations. By 1995 the average income ratio between the richest and poorest 20% had increased from 30:1 to 82:1.

Limits to growth include both the material and energy that are extracted from the Earth, and the capacity of the planet to absorb the pollutants that are generated as those materials and energy are used. Streams of material and energy flow from the planetary sources through the economic system to the planetary sinks where wastes and pollutants end up. There are limits, however, to the rates at which sources can produce these materials and energy without harm to people, the economy, or the earth's processes of regeneration and regulation. doclink

Mississippi Wouldn't Allow This Teacher to Show Kids How to Use a Condom. His Simple Solution is Brilliant

January 22, 2015   By: Julia Lurie

In Mississippi, where education laws require "stressing" abstinence, teachers are prohibited from "any demonstration of how condoms or other contraceptives are applied." Nonetheless, 76% of Mississippi teenagers report having sex before the end of high school, and a third of babies in the state are born to teenage mothers. One teacher came up with a creative solution for imparting some wisdom to students about condoms -- watch it below. doclink

Statement From Republican Majority for Choice on the 42nd Anniversary of Roe V. Wade

January 22, 2015, GOP Choice   By: GOP Choice

As we mark the 42nd anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, we are reminded of the critical real life situations and necessary health protections that brought the right to choose to the forefront. We, like millions of other Republicans, believe in the GOP core values of individual freedom and safeguarding the constitutional protections of privacy and the separation of Church and State. Yet, decades after the historic Roe ruling, we struggle with how personal freedom is too often disregarded in political gamesmanship.

We applaud the level of common sense that resulted in the GOP tabling the abortion ban (H.R. 36) today. Regardless of personal views on the issue of abortion, provisions in this bill went too far, violating the private doctor-patient relationship, threatening to jail physicians and putting the health, future fertility and lives of women at risk. This proposal is particularly alarming due to the reporting requirement for victims of rape and incest to law enforcement officials. With the majority of rapes going unreported in the U.S., imposing such medically unnecessary restrictions only does more harm to women who have already survived assault. GOP members of varying ideological leanings saw that this legislation would harm women and is not the type of legislation that should be central in the GOP agenda.

This victory should not be overlooked, but this is not the end of our battle for common ground and solutions-based legislation. The politics of pressure from a vocal anti-choice lobby today led to the ultimate passage of H.R. 7. This so-called "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion" bill bars individuals to use their own money to purchase plans that offer abortion coverage and penalizes small businesses that offer their employees such coverage. Taxpayer funding of abortion has already been illegal since the enactment of the 1976 Hyde Amendment. The passage of H.R. 7 allowed fiction to win over fact.

As Republicans we are eager to work with all members of our party. Mainstream Republicans must be more vocal and counter the pressure to appease the anti-choice lobby. Instead of pandering on areas of disagreement on reproductive health- Republicans can take the lead to advance evidence-based initiatives that have already proven-effective at reducing the rates of unintended pregnancy, teen pregnancy and abortion. RMC calls on all elected leaders to stop playing politics with personal freedom and understand that an unchecked anti-choice agenda has negative and lasting effect of the social and economic health of millions of women and families. doclink

Making the Connection: Population Dynamics and Climate Compatible Development

December 19 , 2014, Worldwatch Institute   By: Robert Engelman

Policymakers and others working to slow human-caused climate change and make societies more resilient to its impacts should consider potential contributions to that effort from expanded access to family planning, a group of experts recommends.

The first step is simply to open dialogues on possible connections between climate change and family planning, and the right of individuals and the services they need to decide for themselves the timing and frequency of childbearing, said the experts.

"The group strongly recommends expanding access to family planning, with one of its many benefits being that it helps support development that is compatible with a sustainable climate."

Connections within family planning-climate change connections are presented from a woman-centered and rights-based approach. When safe and effective family planning services are available to all, experience shows that average family size falls, pregnancies occur at more optimal times in women's lives, and mothers and children are healthier and more able to contribute to their countries' development -- and are more resilient to rapid change. doclink

The Climate is Ruined. So Can Civilization Even Survive?

January 14, 2015, CNN.com   By: David Ray Griffin

Although most of us worry about other things, climate scientists have become increasingly worried about the survival of civilization. For example, Lonnie Thompson, who received the U.S. National Medal of Science in 2010, said that virtually all climatologists "are now convinced that global warming poses a clear and present danger to civilization."

Informed journalists share this concern. The climate crisis "threatens the survival of our civilization," said Pulitzer Prize-winner Ross Gelbspan. Mark Hertsgaard agrees, saying that the continuation of global warming "would create planetary conditions all but certain to end civilization as we know it."

Because of the CO2 increase, the planet's average temperature has increased 0.85 degrees Celsius (1.5 degrees Fahrenheit). Although this increase may not seem much, it has already brought about serious changes.

The resulting threat of runaway global warming may not be merely theoretical. Scientists have long been convinced that methane was central to the fastest period of global warming in geological history, which occurred 55 million years ago. Now a group of scientists have accumulated evidence that methane was also central to the greatest extinction of life thus far: the end-Permian extinction about 252 million years ago.

According to Joe Romm, a physicist who created the Climate Progress website, methane release from thawing permafrost in the Arctic "is the most dangerous amplifying feedback in the entire carbon cycle."

It was previously thought that significant amounts of permafrost would not melt, releasing its methane, until the planet's temperature has risen several degrees Celsius; however recent studies indicate that a rise of 1.5 degrees would be enough to start the melting. doclink

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