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

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

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


Mother Caring for 7 Billion doc

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

Population & Sustainability News Digest

April 15, 2015

It's Still Pretty Hard for Women to Get Free Birth Control

March 19, 2015, Huffington Post   By: Emily Cohn

Until recently Emily Cohn got free birth control - a tangible effect of the Affordable Care Act (AFC or Obamacare). But when her CVS pharmacist charged here $20 for a 28-day supply, she said, "I understand Obamacare. I shouldn't be getting charged for birth control." What troubled her most wasn't paying $20 for some pills. She could afford it, but she could not understand the change. Her CVS pharmacists didn't know why she was being charged, and the customer service rep at her employer's benefit manager couldn't clarify it either, so she consulted a lawyer. That is a privilege she has as a journalist writing a story for a widely read publication.

"You're supposed to be getting birth control without cost-sharing," or copays, said Mara Gandal-Powers, a counsel for health and reproductive rights at the National Women's Law Center. Under AFC, all insurance plans cover the full cost of recommended preventive medical services, like screenings for certain types of cancer and immunizations. The law identified contraception as one of these preventative services, and it intended that all FDA-approved forms of contraception be covered free. The financial benefits are obvious: In 2013, women saved nearly $500 million on out-of-pocket-costs for birth control. As of last spring, 67% of insured women paid nothing for the birth control pill, up from 15% before health care reform took effect.

But, according to Express Scripts, the pharmacy benefit manager for The Huffington Post's parent company, AOL, insurance plans can use "reasonable medical management techniques" to encourage customers to get care at a lower cost, Gandal-Powers said. So "The pharmacy plan provided by your employer can offer 100% coverage for contraceptive medications only when the plan's home delivery pharmacy fills them," said the Express Scripts spokeswoman. A rule change that took effect in January, so free pills must now come via mail from Express Scripts. They defended the process by saying, "Studies show that patients who use Express Scripts' home delivery pharmacy for chronic medications have greater adherence to their medication, which is crucial for the effectiveness of contraceptive medications. For these reasons, your plan has decided to require the dispensing of contraceptive medications via home delivery."

For Cohn, this required a new prescription from my doctor for three packs at a time and setting up a mail delivery with Express Scripts. For thousands of other women, it will be more of a hassle. Some women don't want to have birth control delivered because they don't want those they live with to know they're using contraception, and some can't get packages delivered without the risk of theft, Gandal-Powers noted. This group could include minors living with their parents, or women who are in abusive relationships.

Many of Cohn's colleagues had not figured this out. They told her they have always paid at least $20 a month for birth control, even though they should be getting it totally free. One woman who said she picks up a bunch of prescriptions at once admitted to not even noticing which ones she was paying for and which ones she wasn't. Another who did switch was frustrated that mail order was now the only choice. A third was planning to switch to an intrauterine device, or IUD, so "I won't have to worry about it for five years."

Gandal-Powers offered some steps these for women who are still paying for birth control:

1. Make sure this part of the law actually applies to your insurance plan. As of last fall, Obamacare hadn't kicked in yet for one in four people on employer-based plans. These "grandfathered" plans must eventually follow the law, but until then, they can still charge for birth control.

2. Ask your insurance company why you're still getting charged. If you think shouldn't be getting charged, there is an appeals process.

3. If you get your insurance through work, ask your employer's HR department about your problem, Gandal-Powers suggested. "They have a lot of power," she said.

Free birth control for all women was a lofty promise, but women must still do a lot of work to ensure they get the rights they are guaranteed under the law. doclink

Robust Economic Growth Takes Huge Toll on Planet's Biocapacity

March 18, 2015, GrowthBiasedBusted website   By: Dave Gardner

Global Footprint Network (GFN) offers a measure for natural resource accounting. The Ecological Footprint is a measure of people's demand on nature. According to GFN president, Mathis Wackernagel, "Living within nature's budget is vital for each and every nation's economic strength and the well-being of its citizens." GFN now makes its country-by-country data available to researchers, NGOs and journalists for use in news stories and presentations. Measuring and monitoring this type of data, and then taking appropriate action, are key to achieving sustainability.

Using GFN's Ecological Footprint indicator for a world overview, since humanity currently consumes 54% more biocapacity than what our planet can renew in one year, our ecological overshoot is now 54% above the planet's biocapacity. By contrast, in 1961, the first year for which consistent data sets are available, our planet consumed 30% percent less biocapacity than what humanity used.

"…the Ecological Footprints of China and India, the world's two most populous countries…now comprise about one quarter of the Ecological Footprint of the entire world." With the world's largest population and annual economic growth rates above 7% for over 20 years, "China has been the world's largest contributor to annual growth in the demand for ecological resources and services during the last five years for which data is available. China's Ecological Footprint climbed 3.6% in 2010 and 5.2% in 2011."

Meanwhile, the rest of the world, with more modest economic growth, has begun climbing again after experiencing a 2.1% decline in 2009 during the recession…. "The world's Ecological Footprint increased nearly 4% in 2010 and nearly 1.7% in 2011 (the latest year data is available)."

U.S. consumption habits provide damning evidence of the link between economic growth and ecological destruction. "I found it fascinating that the U.S. per capita footprint during the recession fell back to our 1961 level (really?). That is truly astonishing." But since the U.S. population has nearly doubled since then, we still consume an enormous amount of the planet's biocapacity. India and China haven't quite achieved fully industrialized status, but their massive populations of are enough to make them consumption bigfoots. Still, on a per person basis, our “Ecological Footprint is more than seven times higher than that of India and nearly three times that of China." doclink

More Crops Needed for a Growing Population; What Are We Doing About It?

April 12 , 2015, Overpopulation, Overdevelopment, Overshoot Book   By: Eileen Crist

From the OVER Afterword:

Since at least the early 2000s, this "ecologically correct" sound bite has been activated in environmental writings, journalistic reports, and corporate web pages: We must produce more crops (for food, feed, and fuel), as well as more meat and animal products, by means of careful planning and management, with minimal additional ecological impacts. Oddly, the latter disclaimer is stated as if tropical forests are not today giving way to soybean monocultures, cattle ranches, and oil palm, sugar, tea, and other plantations; as if large-scale acquisitions recruiting land in Africa and elsewhere are not already under way in the name of "food security"; as if marine life is not being chewed up by the industrial machine; and as if rivers are not today taxed by damming, extraction, diversion, and pollution that the crisis of freshwater Life may well be the gravest extinction site on Earth (a big nonevent as far as the public and its elected officials are concerned). doclink

Karen Gaia says: this is the state of the real world, with which we must live, except in the unlikely event that we can change the greed of the very rich. We have to at least improve the ability of women to achieve their desired family size, which will enable them to better cope with climate change and resource depletion. This much we have in our power to do.

The Fate of Trees: How Climate Change May Alter Forests Worldwide

By the end of the century, the woodlands of the Southwest will likely be reduced to weeds and shrubs. And scientists worry that the rest of the planet may see similar effects
March 12, 2015, Rolling Stone   By: Jeff Tietz

Heat-aggravated droughts have been killing trees for decades: mountain acacia in Zimbabwe, Mediterranean pine in Greece, Atlas cedar in Morocco, eucalyptus and corymbia in Australia, fir in Turkey and South Korea. In 2010 a group of ecologists wrote the first global overview of forest health describing droughts whose severity was unequaled in the "last few centuries" and documented "climate-driven episodes of regional-scale forest die-off." Even though they couldn't prove that warming climate was responsible, they warned, "far greater chronic forest stress and mortality risk should be expected in coming decades."

In 2011, Park Williams, a postdoctoral student at Los Alamos National Laboratory wanted to predict the future of the dominant iconic conifers of the American Southwest — the Douglas fir, the piñon pine and the ponderosa pine and so he began to amalgamate a millennium's worth of data, documenting the lives of 10,000 trees, spanning the years 1000 to 2007. From his research, Williams came up with a "forest-drought stress index" (FDSI), the first-ever holistic metric of atmospheric hostility to trees.

With global warming, the Southwest is projected to dry out and heat up faster than most places — few places will be more punishing to trees. Williams needed a formula that could accurately weigh the variables of heat, aridity and precipitation, and translate atmospheric projections into a unified measure of forest health.

High temperatures can be as deadly to trees as lack of water. Under normal conditions, a tree photosynthesizes when it opens the pores in its leaves called stomata and inhales CO2. Solar-charged chemical reactions then transform the CO2 into carbohydrates which become the parts of the tree such as leaves and wood. During this process, a fraction of the tree's internal water supply evaporates through its stomata, creating the negative pressure that pulls water from the soil into the tree's roots, through its trunk and up to its canopy.

When it is hot trees lose moisture, and the rate at which they lose it escalates exponentially with temperature -- even a small temperature increase can make a big difference. "Forests notice even a one-degree increase in temperature," says Williams.

When water is sucked from the leaves faster than it can be replaced by water in the soil, and the resulting partial vacuum fatally fractures the tree's water column. If a tree closes its stomata to avoid this, shutting down photosynthesis, it risks starvation. Normally trees protect themselves against insects with a toxic sap that repels predatory insects. But many insects can detect when the sap dries up by scent. A hotter climate generally means more insects. It also means more, and more intense, wildfires.

In a 2013 Williams published paper titled "Temperature as a Potent Driver of Regional Forest Drought Stress and Tree Mortality," predicting that by the 2050s, the climate would turn deadly for many of the Southwest's conifers. By then, he wrote, "the mean forest drought stress will exceed that of the most severe droughts in the past 1,000 years."

In 2000, the Southwest had entered an extreme, ongoing drought — the worst since a 20-year-long drought in the middle of the last century. Conditioned by near-record temperatures, dry soils and a lack of rain, the atmosphere stripped trees of moisture with exceptional force.

"It was like looking through a telescope into the future to see how forests would respond, and it felt awful," Williams says. "The result was totally unimaginable: wildfires, bark beetles, a huge reduction in forest growth, massive mortality. .... All over New Mexico, trees keeled over."

Williams' postdoctoral adviser at Los Alamos, Dr. Nate McDowell had been concurrently conducting his own experiments on conifers in the wild. Simulating climate conditions for the remainder of the century, McDowell could see what Williams had foreseen. "The Southwest is going to be a grassland, with the occasional rare tree," McDowell says. "It's going to be a different place. And there's reason to think that's the same for big chunks of the world."

All trees share an essential anatomy and physiology; they employ corresponding mechanisms to fight insects, to transport water, to make food, to outlast drought. They have the same vulnerabilities. Can they survive as they are? The conifer forests of the Southwest, if climate projections are even minimally accurate, cannot, but what about the rest of the world's forests?

In August 2011, a team of scientists led by Dr. Yude Pan, a U.S. Forest Service researcher, reported that between 1990 and 2007, forests sequestered about 25% of all greenhouse-gas emissions — everything not in the air or seas. "Forests . . . exert strong control on the evolution of atmospheric CO2," Pan wrote. They constituted a gargantuan "terrestrial carbon sink."

Climatologists worry that if forests across the planet deteriorate, they could, on balance, begin releasing as much carbon as they absorb. One of Pan's collaborators, Dr. Richard Birdsey, said: "But if the carbon sink in forests fails, a simple speculation is that global temperatures would increase proportionally to the increase of CO2 concentration, so about 25 percent above current climate projections."

"The more forests die, the less carbon they take out of the air, the warmer it gets, the more forests die," McDowell says. "It's a thermostat gone bad."

Williams has analyzed climate and tree-health data from the dry forests of inner Asia, including northern China, Mongolia and Russia. "I saw the same thing that I saw in the U.S. Southwest," he said.

By 2100, McDowell believes rising temperatures could kill more than 50% of the conifer forests in the Northern Hemisphere. This would result in a "massive transfer of carbon to a decomposable pool."

The rest of this article is a 'must read.' Please go to the link in the headline for more. doclink

Population + Solutions

April 01 , 2015, Global Population Speakout (GPSO)

Note: this is a teaser only. Please click on the link in the headline to read the entire set of articles.

There is good news -- in the 21st century, solutions to the population challenge are many. They are progressive. They strengthen human rights and improve human health. They are things we should be doing anyway. And they contribute toward solving some of today's most pressing social and environmental challenges.

Improving the Stats of Women and Girls

How well a society treats its women is one of the strongest indicators of the success and health of that society. Discrimination against women and girls occurs in many forms — through gender-based violence, economic discrimination, reproductive health inequities, and harmful traditional practices ....

Primary and Secondary Education

Education is not only an obvious human right — but it is also an important demographic variable, influencing global population growth trajectories. There is a strong correlation between fertility decline, education, and socioeconomic development. Girls' secondary education is especially important because, among other things, ....

Family Planning Information and Services

Family planning, one of the greatest public health achievements in human history, allows individuals and couples to anticipate and attain their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births. It protects the health of the mother and the outcome of .....

Population, Health and Environment Programs

Population, Health, and Environment (PHE) programs offer an integrated approach to solving human development and conservation challenges through improving access to health services — including family planning and reproductive health — while also helping people improve livelihoods, manage natural resources, and conserve the critical ...


Entertainment-education (EE) is any form of communication that is designed to entertain and educate audiences simultaneously. Entertainment-education has existed for thousands of years in the form of parables and fables that promote social change. Modern forms of entertainment-education include television productions, radio soap-operas, and ....

Public Discourse, Campaigning, & Activism

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." So said Margaret Mead, a leading feminist whom Time magazine once named "Mother of the World." When it comes to the issue .... doclink

Hot Hands: Fingerprints of Climate Change All Over California Drought

April 02, 2015, Washington Post   By: Jason Samenow

California's astonishingly low snowpack which is a pathetic 5% of normal isn't some fluke. It's a likely consequence of climate change.

For three years the atmosphere steering flow has hit a road block along the West Coast (dubbed the "ridiculously resilient ridge"). Climate change probably isn't directly driving the weather pattern behind the drought, but it is helping to raise the background temperatures. Atmospheric levels of the heat-trapping gas carbon dioxide, due to increased industrialization, have risen about 25% since 1958.

Carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases substantially increase the likelihood that new climate records are set.

The state of California set a number of heat records in the last two years. Among them.................

* The hottest year on record in 2014

* The hottest winter on record in 2014-2015.

* Los Angeles doubled its record for 90-degree days last March, logging 6 such days compared to the previous record of 3.

* In March, Redding, Sacramento, Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Diego set records for average highs.

The added heat from climate warming acts to intensify the drought in important ways:

* When it's warmer, the evaporation of water speeds up, allowing the ground to heat up faster, which then evaporates more water in a vicious cycle which continues until meaningful rain stops it.

* When it's warmer, the snow season shortens. In other words, snow starts falling later in the fall and stops falling earlier in the spring, and snowpack declines.

* When it's warmer, snow levels rise. In other words, the elevations at which rain changes to snow in the mountains goes up, and snowpack declines.

It's interesting to note that in 1976-1977, California experienced a similar weather pattern to this year but the drought was not as severe because California's April snowpack in 1977 was 25% of normal compared to 5% in 2015.

Stanford professor Noah Diffenbaugh said "It really matters if the lack of precipitation happens during a warm or cool year." .. "We've seen the effects of record heat on snow and soil moisture this year in California, and we know from this new research that climate change is increasing the probability of those warm and dry conditions occurring together."

Future projections suggest warming temperatures will continue to lead towards stronger and more frequent droughts.

“We found that essentially all years are likely to be warm - or extremely warm - in California by the middle of the 21st century," said Daniel Swain, a graduate student of Diffenbaugh's. “This means that both drought frequency - and the potential intensity of those droughts which do occur - will likely increase as temperatures continue to rise." doclink

Richard says that the picture of the skiers and riding the chairlift is absolutely terrifying. There is hardly any snow anywhere to be seen.

California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth

A punishing drought is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been the state’s engine has run against the limits of nature.
April 04, 2015, New York Times   By: Adam Nagourney, Jack Healy and Nelson D. Schwartz

For more than a century, California has been the symbol of prosperity and possibility: Hollywood, Silicon Valley, aerospace, agriculture and vineyards.

But now a punishing 4-year drought -- and government mandated water rationing -- threaten to get in the way. The 25% cut in water consumption ordered by Gov. Jerry Brown raises questions about what life will be like in the future.

This state has defied doomsayers before, and often emerged stronger than ever. These days the economy is thriving and supporting evidence can be seen in the form of construction cranes dotting the skylines of Los Angeles and San Francisco. But even California's biggest cheerleaders are wondering if the severity of this drought will force a change in the way the state does business.

Can Los Angeles continue to lead the way if people are forbidden to take a shower for more than five minutes and water bills become prohibitively expensive? Will tourists stop visiting?

Almost 40 million people live in California today, more than double the roughly 16 million people who lived here in 1960.

California's 2 trillion dollar economy today is the seventh largest in the world. The median household income jumped to an estimated 61,000 dollars in 2013, from almost 45,000 dollars in 1960, adjusted for inflation.

For over 10,000 years only 300,000 to 400,000 people lived in California, current Governor Jerry Brown says. Now the state is home to nearly 40 million people, all living mostly high energy lifestyles. Brown said. "Now we are embarked upon an experiment that no one has ever tried: 38 million people, with 32 million vehicles, living at the level of comfort that we all strive to attain. This will require adjustment. This will require learning." "This will require adjustment" he says.

Even in places like Palm Springs, where daily per capita water use is over double the state average, drought is now forcing change. Palm Springs has ordered 50 percent cuts in water use by city agencies and plans to replace irrigated public lawns with native landscapes. City government is paying residents to replace their lawns with rocks and desert plants, and offering rebates to people who install low-flow toilets.

Other places face different threats to their way of life. In Mendota, farm workers are moving on as once moist farmland turns dry and crusty. "You can't pay the bills with free food," said Mendota Mayor Robert Silva. "Give me some water, and I know I can go to work, that's the bottom line."

Richard White, a Stanford University professor says the scarcity of water could hinder housing development in places such as Los Angeles and San Francisco. "How many (housing) developments can you afford if you don't have water?" he said.

The California governor's executive order mandates a 25% overall reduction in water use throughout the state, however this does not apply to farms, which consume the great bulk of this state's water.

Reductions in water supplies for farmers were likely to be announced in the coming weeks, and there is also likely to be increased pressure on the farms to move away from certain water-intensive crops — like almonds.

"We have to deal with a new normal," Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles said. “That said, do we have enough water to sustain life here? Absolutely. Do we have enough water to grow economically? Absolutely."

Felicia Marcus, head of the State Water Resources Control Board, said "We have a long way to go before we have tapped out our resources," she added.

But to what extent has Governor Brown succeeded in persuading people here to shake long-held habits and assumptions?

Now that “we have ....... reached the limits of supply...... the focus is on demand." said Heather Cooley, water program director for the Pacific Institute, an environmental research group based in Oakland.

Despite the mandatory cuts in supply, efficiency has been slowly gaining ground in recent decades. Total water use in Los Angeles, San Francisco and many other urban areas is now lower than it was in 1980, despite the huge economic growth and population increases.

What Californians traditionally regarded as beautiful, according to Ms. Cooley "has been a lawn that has been the standard for front yards and backyards." Now utility companies are paying people to replace their traditional thirsty plants with more drought resistant shrubbery. "This will change what Californians see as beautiful," she said.

But of all the surface water consumed in the state, roughly 80% is earmarked for the agricultural sector. Now even a small consumption shift by farmers can have the same effects as large lifestyle changes taken by local residents.

“Every time California has a problem -- we ran out of electricity in the early 2000s, then we ran out of money, and now we are running out of water -- people say California is over," Dr. Starr said. “It's not over. It's too important a part of American culture to be over. But it will change itself." doclink

Suzanne York of says:

It's shocking, but a mainstream media outlet has actually mentioned the idea of limits to growth and limits of nature. The New York Times, no less, has run a front-page story on the drought in California, invoking the concept of limits, in an article titled "California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth."

For decades, barely anyone has questioned California's model of development. Perhaps now that the New York Times is raising questions, it should give us hope that humanity is waking up and growing up.

Dr. Starr noted that the state “is not going to go under, but we are going to have to go in a different way." That is obvious, and it applies not only to California, but also to the world. Business as usual cannot go on unabated without serious environmental and social consequences.

Yes, Governor Brown seems to understand the reality of the drought crisis, yet while he talks the talk, at the same time he is also supporting fracking, a very water intensive extractive industry. And one of his major projects for the state is building tunnels to bring water from the Sacramento Delta region to southern California.

Hopefully the mentioning of limits to growth in the New York Times will lead to more discussion and acceptance of it. We live on a planet with finite resources. Now, with increasing and unknown impacts of climate change and continued population growth (8-10 billion people by 2050), it's time to accept some hard truths.

- See more at:

Addressing U.S. Population Growth Through Better, More Accessible and More Affordable Contraception

April 08 , 2015, WOA website   By: Karen Gaia

50% of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended. Why? Mostly because of ineffective contraception (i.e. the pill and condoms) and not being able to afford effective contraception. Another reason is that many doctors still discourage women with no children from using the IUD.

In 2009, the estimated number of pregnancies was 6,369,000 (4,131,000 live births, 1,152,000 induced abortions, and 1,087,000 fetal losses). Eliminate half of those by meeting the unmet need for affordable, accessible, effective contraception and accurate information about it, and you have only 2,050,000 (2.05 million) live births.

In 2009 there were 307 million Americans. The U.S. was growing by 0.9% at that time, or 2.76 million people. If we had cut the birth rate in half by using effective contraception for all who wanted it, we would have had a population growth of only .71 million, or about 0.35%.

However, the population growth rate has declined to 0.7% in 2013, probably due to lowered desired family size, so we could expect an even faster decline if every woman of child bearing age got effective contraception, if desired.


World Terrestial Vertebrate Mass

April 01 , 2015, Bhodi Paul Chefurka Facebook page   By: Paul Chefurka Via Vlacov Smil

Notice the overwhelming mass of humans and their domesticated animals compared to wildlife.

Note: the source of all figures can be found in the link above, in the same photo album. Lots of interesting graphs can be found there doclink

OVER: Overpopulation, Overdevelopment, Overshoot: View this entire amazing 316-pg coffee table photo book online!

April 05 , 2015, Global Population Speakout (GPSO)

Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot (OVER) contains powerful and evocative images showing the ecological and social tragedies of humanity's ballooning numbers and consumption. It retails for $50, but as part of Speak Out you can request free books to use raising awareness about these important and urgent issues. doclink

Antarctica Just Got Hotter Than Has Ever Been Recorded, Twice

March 28, 2015, Think Progress   By: Ari Phillips

The coldest place on Earth is getting warmer.

A temperature of 63.5°F was recorded at Argentina's Esperanza Base, located near the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, on March 24th. It was a record for the polar continent, eclipsing all previous highs, according to the Weather Underground.

Setting a new all-time temperature record for an entire continent is rare and requires the synthesizing of lots of data, as Weather Underground's Christopher C. Burt explains. For example, according to the World Meteorological Organization, the official keeper of global temperature data, the previous high temperature for Antarctica was 59°F in 1974.

As Burt reports, these temperature records occurred nearly three months past the warmest time of year in the Antarctic which occurs traditionally in December, but, he adds, previous records at Esperanza have been set in October and April, so these anomalies are not "unheard of."

Rapid melting of ice is happening at increased rates in Antarctica. A new study found that ice shelves in West Antarctica have lost as much as 18% of their volume over the last two decades, with rapid acceleration occurring over the last decade. The study found that over the last decade West Antarctic losses increased by 70%.

The Antarctic Peninsula has warmed almost 5°F in the last 50 years, according to measurements taken by the British Antarctic Survey.

46 nations or territories out of 235 have set or tied record highs since 1910, while four have set record lows. doclink

Mother Caring for 7 Billion - View Free Through the End of April

March 30, 2015

Mother is a groundbreaking and award-winning film that reveals the compelling challenges we face in a world of 7 billion. It tells the story of Beth, an American mother and child's right activist, and her journey to make sense of the controversy and the forces trying to keep it in the shadows. Mother features world-renowned experts to help explore this issue and how it intersects with gender equity, religion, reproductive health, economic inequality and the environment. It is fundamentally a film of hope and shows the strength of the human spirit to make a better world. WWW. MOTHERTHEFILM.COM

We hope you enjoy watching Mother during this Earth Day free streaming through the end of April. For more information about Tiroir A Films and the programs we create, go to our website at doclink

Road Rage: Scientists Denounce $60 Trillion Infrastructure Expansion

G-20 nations make commitment to invest $60 to $70 trillion worldwide in new infrastructure over the next 15 years
March 14, 2015,   By: Mrinalini Erkenswick Watsa

The author watched the 2,500 kilometer-long Interoceanic Highway -- which connects the west coast of Peru with the western Brazilian border -- change from a scraggly dirt and gravel path, blanketed on both sides by massive Amazonian trees in 2009, to a faster, wider, paved road with the trees cut further away from the road and farms developing along the way by 2014.

Now Brazil could transfer Amazonian produce much faster by exporting west through Peruvian ports, much closer to production sites than the eastern Atlantic coast of Brazil. Global Forest Watch, a subsidiary of the World Resources Institute, monitors land use via satellite imagery across the planet and reports over 67,000 hectares of deforestation in the region around Puerto Maldonado.

As the forest on either side was cut down, sold, bought, farmed and exploited, the wildlife succumbed to slaughter on the highway.

The story of this road is like thousands of other stories all over the world. The Bengal tiger, the Amazonian jaguar, and the African forest elephant have suffered great reductions in numbers due to roads. Over 37% of roadkills were reptiles. Amphibians experienced the next-highest mortality rate, followed by birds.

Last November, at the annual G-20 summit - for the 20 wealthiest of the world's nations, a staggering commitment was made to invest $60 to $70 trillion worldwide in new infrastructure over the next 15 years. This is akin to doubling the current value of all global infrastructure put together.

"The G20's pledge would be the largest financial transaction in human history," writes William Laurance, a Researcher and Australian Laureate at James Cook University. "Unless these projects are managed carefully, their ecological consequences could be almost unthinkable."

It is expected that there enough paved roads globally by mid century to circle the Earth more than 600 times. Nine-tenths of these new roads will be in developing nations, which sustain many of the planet's most biologically rich and environmentally important ecosystems. Massive hydroelectric projects involving damming some of the world's largest rivers have been planned for the Mekong region, the Congo basin and the Amazon basin.

The authors recommended that the road planners avoid the first cut, since every road brings with it the potential for further subsidiary roads, thus exponentially increasing the area eventually modified. Even upgrading an existing road cannot be dismissed as irrelevant, because upgraded roads maintain access year-round, which increases traffic speeds and has wide-ranging impacts on the surrounding environment.

Laurance suggests for those who wish to see the African wilds and all it contains not to hesitate, but to go now, for soon will be too late. Indeed, Global Forest Watch shows large portions of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, and the Republic of Congo have been allotted for mining concessions. "It's a bit of a tsunami," Laurance said. doclink

Karen Gaia says: by all means let's all rush to see it in our jets burning fossil fuel, flaunting the rich polluting lifestyle dream to every region in the world.

All Aboard the UK's First Poop Bus

November 2014, Quartz   By: Adam Epstein

Public transport powered by human waste and sewage could be the next big trend in sustainable energy. Seriously.

The UK's "Bio-Bus" took it's first trip today, running entirely on biomethane gas produced by treating waste and sewage at a plant run by the biotechnology company GENeco. The 40-seat bus can travel 186 miles on one tank of gas, which requires roughly the annual waste of five people to fill.

Biomethane produces fewer emissions than regular diesel fuel does. GENeco general manager Mohammed Saddiq said that the Bio-Bus "is actually powered by people living in the local area, including quite possibly those on the bus itself."

In 2009, the city of Oslo, Norway converted 80 public buses to run on biomethane. And some European countries, like Sweden, have been using biogas to power vehicles for years. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Let's do the math: 40 people can travel 186 miles on the annual poop of 5 people. That means the average person could travel 8 trips per year, of 186 miles each trip -- or 29 miles a week -- on his own poop. Not bad. But not anything like what we are used to.

UN Calls for Action as Global Water Crisis Looms

The UN has warned that the world will soon face a crisis of huge dimensions if water management does not improve
March 20 , 2015, DW

The U.N. warned in its annual World Water Development Report that, if current trends of water usage continue, the demand for water will exceed its replenishment by 40% by 2030.

One of the main factors is the rise in the world's population by some 80 million people per year. The current population of some 7.3 billion is likely to reach 9.1 billion by 2050.

Agriculture uses some 70% of water resources globally and over 90% in most of the world's least-developed countries. With growing population agriculture will need water resources to increase by some 60%, the report said.

Climate change, and growing urban populations across the world will also exacerbate water shortages, with global demand for water likely to rise by 55% by 2050.

About 20% of groundwater supplies -- which provide drinking water to about 50% of the world's population -- are now suffering from over-extraction, which leads to freshwater in coastal areas often being contaminated by saline intrusion.

In India, regions such as Maharashtra and Rajasthan are subjected to significant water stress, according to the report.

"The fact is there is enough water to meet the world's needs, but not without dramatically changing the way water is used, managed and shared," the report said, pointing to a number of current abuses, including agricultural and industrial pollution and contamination by untreated sewage.

The report called for the introduction of measures to curb waste and punish pollution, increased education about the problem and possibly rises in the price of water. doclink

World Ocean Heartbeat Fading? ‘Nasty' Signs North Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation is Weakening

March 23 , 2015, Robertscribbler

Scientists call it Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). But we may as well think of it as the heartbeat of the world ocean system. And when that heartbeat begins to slow down, we'd best sit up and start paying attention:

Near Greenland in the North Atlantic, salty, dense, ocean water issuing from the tropics along the Gulf Stream begins to cool. The heavier water, burdened with salt, sinks to the bottom in the North Atlantic. This drives a massive ocean conveyer belt, driving less oxygen rich bottom waters to the surface where they can be reinvigorated. It also drives this ocean revitalizing train of currents through every major corner of the world ocean.

However, scientists have been warning policymakers for 30 years that this salt and heat driven (thermohaline) circulation could be disrupted, reducing oxygen levels throughout the whole ocean system, and greatly reducing the oceans' ability to support life and shifting one step closer to the nightmare ocean state called a Canfield Ocean.

This disruption could be caused by warmer, salty water cooling and sinking in the North Atlantic. And any disruption of the overturning process in the North Atlantic basically kills off a life-giving circulation to the entire world ocean system.

For details and graphs, click on the link in the headline. doclink

Introduction to OVER by William Ryerson

March 20 , 2015, Global Population Speakout (GPSO)

Well worth reading.

In the introduction to the picture book Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot (OVER), William Ryerson covers all the bases on overpopulation, sustainable living, resource depletion, poverty, preventing unplanned pregnancies, educational soaps, child brides, and so on.

The book was written for the Global Population Speakout, an annual event promoting the 'speaking out' for population awareness. Ryerson is the president of the Population Media Center and CEO of the Population Institute.

. . . more doclink

Global Dependence on Food Imports Leaves Countries Vulnerable

March 14 , 2015, Malaysian Times

Over one-third of countries import 25% or more of their grains, according to Gary Gardner, a researcher at the Worldwatch Institute and author of the study "Food Trade and Self-Sufficiency". This is an increase of 57% since 1961. Total grain imports have increased by 500% in the same time.

There are fears that many countries have become too dependent on the vagaries of international markets for their food. If prices rise or exports suspended, countries that dependent heavily on imports could face crisis.

Thirteen countries were dependent entirely on imports for their grain supply by 2013, an 18% increase from 1961, said Gardner.

In 2010, bad weather prompted Russia to suspend grain exports. This was partially responsible for triggering social unrest and a revolution in Egypt as global prices rose damaging Egypt's state bread subsidy program.

Although food prices are at lowest levels in more than 4-1/2 years, population growth and expanding appetites for meat in developing countries -- which requires grain for feed -- and environmental pressures mean these low price levels won't last forever.

Governments should do their best to nurture homegrown production and not just leave food supplies to the mercy of global markets.

The number of people worldwide without enough to eat has dropped from nearly a million in 1990 to 805 million in 2014, according to the FAO. However population pressures and economic growth are leading countries to convert farmland into urban or suburban areas. In the United States alone, agricultural lands the size of Indiana were "paved-over" between 1982 and 2007, Gardner said. doclink

Access to Contraception

March 24 , 2015, ACOG - American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynocologists

Nearly all U.S. women who have ever had sexual intercourse have used some form of contraception at some point during their reproductive lives. However, multiple barriers prevent women from obtaining contraceptives or using them effectively and consistently.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (the College) recommends full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirement that new and revised private health insurance plans cover all U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved contraceptives without cost sharing.

Also recommended:

* Easily accessible alternative contraceptive coverage for women who receive health insurance through employers exempted from the contraceptive coverage requirement.

* Medicaid expansion in all states, an action critical to the ability of low-income women to obtain improved access to contraceptives

* Adequate funding for the federal Title X family planning program and Medicaid family planning services to ensure contraceptive availability for low-income women

* Sufficient compensation for contraceptive services by public and private payers to ensure access, including appropriate payment for clinician services and acquisition-cost reimbursement for supplies

* Age-appropriate, medically accurate, comprehensive sexuality education that includes information on abstinence as well as the full range of FDA-approved contraceptives

* Confidential, comprehensive contraceptive care and access to contraceptive methods for adolescents without mandated parental notification or consent, including confidentiality in billing and insurance claims processing procedures

* The right of women to receive prescribed contraceptives or an immediate informed referral from all pharmacies

* Prompt referral to an appropriate health care provider by clinicians, religiously affiliated hospitals, and others who do not provide contraceptive services

* Evaluation of effects on contraceptive access in a community before hospital mergers and affiliations are considered or approved

* Efforts to increase access to emergency contraception, including removal of the age restriction for all levonorgestrel emergency contraception products, to create true over-the-counter access

* Over-the-counter access to oral contraceptives with accompanying full insurance coverage or cost supports

* Payment and practice policies that support provision of 3-13 month supplies of combined hormonal methods to improve contraceptive continuation

* Provision of medically accurate public and health care provider education regarding contraception Improved access to postpartum sterilization

* Institutional and payment policies that support immediate postpartum and postabortion provision of contraception, including reimbursement for long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) devices separate from the global fee for delivery, and coverage for contraceptive care and contraceptive methods provided on the same day as an abortion procedure

* Inclusion of all contraceptive methods

* Funding for research to identify effective strategies to reduce health inequities in unintended pregnancy and access to contraception

The CDC named contraception one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century because of it's contribution to improved health and well-being, reduced global maternal mortality, health benefits of pregnancy spacing for maternal and child health, female engagement in the work force, and economic self-sufficiency for women. 87.5% of U.S. women who have been sexually active report use of a highly effective reversible method.

The College supports women's right to decide whether to have children, to determine the number and spacing of their children, and to have the information, education, and access to health services to make those choices. Women must have access to reproductive health care, including the full range of contraceptive choices, to fulfill these rights.

The U.S. has higher pregnancy and abortion rates than most other developed countries. Low-income women have even higher rates. The Healthy People 2020 goal is to decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies from 49% to 44%.

Women with unintended pregnancies must choose between carrying the pregnancy to term, putting the baby up for adoption, or to undergo abortion. Medical, ethical, social, legal, and financial reasons come into play. U.S. births from unintended pregnancies cost taxpayers approximately $12.5 billion in 2008. Each dollar spent on publicly funded contraceptive services saves the U.S. health care system nearly $6.


* The emphasis on abstinence-only education may have in part led to widespread misperceptions of contraceptive effectiveness, mechanisms of action, and safety that can have an effect on contraceptive use and method selection. Many individuals believe that oral contraceptives are linked to major health problems or that IUDs carry a high risk of infection, or that certain contracptives may be abortifacients. None of the FDA-approved contraceptive methods are abortifacients because they do not interfere with a pregnancy.

* Many clinicians are uncertain about the risks and benefits of IUDs and lack knowledge about correct patient selection and contraindications.

* Legal rulings and legislative measures can impede access to contraceptives for minors and adults and interfere with the patient-physician relationship by impeding contraceptive counseling, coverage, and provision. Hobby Lobby is an example.

* Supporters of "personhood" measures argue erroneously that most methods of contraception act as abortifacients because they may prevent a fertilized egg from implanting; if these measures are sucessful, hormonal contraceptive methods and IUDs could be illegal.

* While the Title X family planning program and Medicaid require that minors receive confidential health services, currently, 20 states restrict some minors' ability to consent to contraceptive services.

* More than one half of the 37 million U.S. women who needed contraceptive services in 2010 were in need of publicly funded services, either because they had an income below 250% of the federal poverty level or because they were younger than 20 years. 25% of women in the United States who obtain contraceptive services seek these services at publicly funded family planning clinics.

* There was a 17% increase (about 3 million) in the number of women needing publicly funded contraceptive services from 2000 to 2010. As the ACA goes into effect, obstetrician-gynecologists can be strong advocates for continued expansion of affordable contraceptive access, which has been shown to be cost neutral at worst and cost saving at best.

* In 2000, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concluded that a company's failure to cover contraception is sex discrimination under the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act. However, even when contraception is covered, women pay approximately 60% of the cost out of pocket compared only 33% for noncontraceptive drugs.

* Under the ACA, all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient contraceptive education and counseling are covered for women without cost sharing by all new and revised health plans and issuers. This requirement also applies to those enrolled in Medicaid expansion programs. However, many employers are now exempt from these requirements because of regulatory and court decisions, leaving many women uncovered. In addition unauthorized immigrants remain uninsured in spite of the ACA. For these women the most effective methods, such as IUDs and the contraceptive implant, likely will remain out of reach.

* Another barrier is the distribution of only a month's supply of contraception at one time. Data show that provision of a year's supply of contraceptives is cost effective and improves adherence and continuation rates.

* Some policy makers also require women to "fail" certain contraceptive methods before an IUD or implant will be covered.

* Allowing over-the-counter access to oral contraceptive pills is a good strategy for improving access, but only if over-the-counter products also are covered by insurance or other cost supports in order to make them financially accessible to low-income women.

* Ten of the 25 largest health systems in the country are Catholic-sponsored facilities which object to contraception.

* Another barrier is the pharmacist who refused to fill contraceptive prescriptions or provide emergency contraception. For women in areas where pharmacies and pharmacists are limited, such as rural areas, this obstacle may be insurmountable.

* There is no benefit to a routine pelvic examination or cervical cytology before initiating hormonal contraception. However some doctors insist on one, in order to deter a woman, especially an adolescent, from having a clinical visit that could facilitate her use of a more effective contraceptive method than those available over the counter.

* Another common practice is requiring two visits to place a LARC device when one is all that is really needed.

* A study showed that almost 50% of women who did not receive a requested postpartum sterilization were pregnant again within 1 year. Twenty seven percent of reproductive-aged women choose to undergo permanent sterilization once they have completed childbearing, and many of them want the procedure to take place immediately after birth. However often the hospital is not always prepared for this, or the insurance does not cover it. Medicaid regulations require signed consent 30 days before sterilization, eliminating immediate postpartum sterilization as an option in many cases. The regulation was created to protect women from coerced sterilization, but it also can pose a barrier to a desired sterilization.

* Highly effective LARC methods are underutilized, mostly by adolescents and women who have not had children. Providing effective contraception postpartum and postabortion can be ideal because the patient is often highly motivated to avoid pregnancy, but appropriate reimbursement for LARC methods at these times can be difficult to obtain.

* Unintended pregnancy rates for poor women are more than five times the rate for women in the highest income bracket and this number has increased substantially over the past decade. Publicly funded programs that support family planning services, including Title X and Medicaid, are increasingly underfunded and cannot bridge the gap in access for vulnerable women. To address these barriers, the ACA has encouraged states to expand Medicaid eligibility for family planning services to greater numbers of low-income women. In states that choose to expand Medicaid under the ACA, fewer poor women will lose Medicaid eligibility postpartum.

All women should have unhindered and affordable access to all U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives as an integral component of women's health care. doclink

Karen Gaia says: My daughter was told by her doctor that she couldn't have an IUD because she didn't have any children yet. So she had to go to another doctor to get it. Her friend was told by her doctor that the IUD promoted slutty behavior.

World Population Video

March 20 , 2015

Watch human population grow from 1 CE to present and see projected growth in under six minutes. This "dot" video is one of our most popular teaching tools. Recommended for grades six and up. An interactive companion site to the video will launch in July 2015. doclink

A Fools Take

March 01, 2015, Motley Fool investors e-newsletter   By: Morgan Housel

One of the most important money lessons is that wealth is relative. Someone with millions in the bank can feel broke, while someone with a modest stash can feel like they're on top of the world, so rich that they can retire 15 years after puberty.

Think about this. The group belonging to the "1%" richest Americans has become a symbol of the rich elite. But if you earn more than $34,000 in America, you are part of the richest 1% of the globe, even adjusted for differences in purchasing power, according to World Bank economist Branko Milanovic.

We always think about wealth as a number. But it's really just a feeling, a product of your own expectations. This is so important to understand because a lot of people talk about how to get rich. It involves making a lot of money. But to stay rich, you have to do something else. You have to ensure that your expectations don't grow faster than your wealth. doclink

Karen Gaia says: to save the Earth and its inhabitants, we must learn to live well with less.

100+ Ways to Conserve

March 01, 2015, Water Use It Wisely

When it comes to conserving water, small adjustments can have a big impact. Here you can sort through nearly 200 water-saving tips, download and print tip posters or share your favorites on social media. doclink

Karen Gaia says: the best answer to a growing population -- other than family planning -- is not so much technology but conservation.

Amazon's Carbon Uptake Declines as Trees Die Faster

March 19, 2015, Exeter, University of

The results of a 30-year survey of the South American rainforest involving an international team of almost 100 researchers, has concluded that trees are dying faster than before and this is affecting the rainforest's ability to store carbon.

Initially, an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere - a key ingredient for photosynthesis - led to a growth spurt for the Amazon's trees, the researchers say. But the extra carbon appears to have had unexpected consequences.

Although the study finds that tree mortality increases began well before an intense drought in 2005, it also shows that drought has killed millions of additional trees. The Nature paper shows how the Amazon's carbon sink has declined as tree death accelerated. From a peak of two billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year in the 1990s, the net uptake by the forest has weakened by a half, and is now, for the first time, being overtaken by fossil fuel emissions in Latin America.

"Regardless of the causes behind the increase in tree mortality, this study shows that predictions of a continuing increase of carbon storage in tropical forests may be too optimistic," one of the study authors and researchers said.

The study involved eight countries in South America and was coordinated by RAINFOR, a unique research network dedicated to monitoring the Amazonian forests.

"All across the world even intact forests are changing", says Oliver Phillips of the University of Leeds. He adds, "Forests are doing us a huge favour, but we can't rely on them to solve the carbon problem. Instead, deeper cuts in emissions will be required to stabilise our climate." doclink

Richard says: The "lungs of the Earth" may not be as healthy as previously imagined

A Review of the Past and Current State of EROI Data

October 10, 2011, MDPI AG (Switzerland)   By: Ajay K. Gupta and Charles A.S. Hall

This seems to be the latest review of the literature available on data for the EROI of oil and natural gas, coal, tar sands, shale oil, nuclear, wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, wave/tidal and corn ethanol. Few studies have been undertaken since the 1980s, and such as have been done are often marked more by advocacy than objectivity.

In the 1970's ecologist Charles Hall coined the term "Energy Return on Investment" (EROI), with originally a focus on migrating fish. In the 1980s, Hall, working with Cutler Cleveland, Robert Kaufmann and others, extended the concept to seeking oil and other fuels. The concept had been around for some time, although it was expressed as "net energy." The difference is that EROI is the unit-less ratio of energy returned from an energy-gathering activity to the energy it takes to provide that energy, and net energy is the difference left over after the costs have been subtracted from the gains.

EROI allows the ranking of fuels and an estimate of the changing in their ease of extraction over time. One important idea is that as this ratio approaches 1:1 the fuel is no longer useful to society (except for the presumably rare case where a low quality fuel is used to produce a higher quality fuel). The original papers on EROI were mostly received with interest, but that interest waned in the late 1980s and 1990s as fuel prices declined. More recently as energy prices have again been increasing the interest in EROI has again increased. Additionally many papers on energy and emerging economic fields discuss this ratio and what it means to current and future economies.

EROI for Oil and Gas

Oil and conventional natural gas are usually studied together because they often occur in the same fields, have overlapping production operations and data archiving. The EROI for producing oil and gas was roughly 30:1 in the 1950s which declined irregularly to 20:1 in the 1970s and 11-18:1 in the mid 2000's. An additional finding of oil in these studies was that the EROI tended to decline when drilling rates were higher, and increase when drilling was relaxed. These two trends, a secular decline and a secondary response to drilling intensity together explained most of the variability in oil production. There have now been updates to these analyses for the U.S. until the present issue.

Since few countries make data on inputs public, Gagnon et al. had to estimate energy costs by calculating the energy equivalent per dollar spent in the petroleum industry using various methods to estimate the energy intensity from fairly good data for the U.S. and the U.K. They concluded that global oil and gas EROI was approximately 26:1 in 1992, increased to 35:1 in 1999, and declined to 18:1 by 2006. Thus the EROI for global oil and gas appeared to have a similar declining trend as the U.S. but was from 50 to 100% higher at any given time, as the U.S. is more thoroughly exploited than the rest of the world. These authors also estimated through that the EROI for global oil and conventional natural gas could reach 1:1 as soon as about 2022. However, the authors also state that the uncertainty for the exact date is large and a linear decline assumes an exponential rise in cost per unit output. The authors note that although the EROI for gas is likely much higher than that for oil in most cases, due to the difference in energy costs for raising the fuel in a well, EROI is often represented as an average of both fuels for a given field.

The authors of an unpublished 2007 SUNY ESF study estimated that in 2005 the EROI for a gas field in the U.S. is 10:1 although new analysis (in this special issue) by Sell et al. gives a considerably higher estimate. Heinberg predicts that these sources will have lower EROIs than conventional gas and as they take over market share in the global energy matrix, the EROI for natural gas could decline dramatically, but we are desperately in need of real analyses on this subject using solid data.

EROI for Coal

Studies prior to the 2007 SUNY ESF study found that the EROI of coal was approximately 30:1 until the 1960's when it increased to approximately 35:1, and then fell during the 1970's to less than 20:1. The rise in EROI during the 1960's is attributed to increased extraction efficiency as production shifted to Western surface coal, whereas the drop in EROI during the 1970's is attributed mostly to a decline in the quality of coal being mined in the U.S.

A subsequent study by Cleveland found that the EROI of U.S. coal fell from about 100:1 during the 1960's to approximately 50:1 and then began to increase to higher than approximately 70:1 by 1987. There is no information on the EROI of coal beyond 1987 that we know of. However some assumptions can be made. For the U.S. there are forces driving down the EROI into the future. Bituminous coal hit its production peak in about 1992 and has been gradually declining in quality (BTUs per ton) since the 1950's. Also, increased environmental regulations on the industry would have negative impacts on EROI. Forces driving the EROI of coal up include the growing trend of moving from underground mining to surface mining, and other gains in extraction efficiencies. It is not clear whether over time the decline in resource quality would be greater or less than the increased impact of technology. A problem here, too, is a great decline in the quality of data maintenance by the federal government.

EROI for Tar Sands

Tar sands, or oil sands, consist of bitumen embedded in sand or clay. It can be liquefied underground through the injection of steam, or mined at the surface, and then processed into liquid fuel called syncrude. The largest producers of syncrude are Canada and Venezuela. The reserves are enormous, but the extraction rate is limited by environmental and other constraints.

The 2007 SUNY ESF study calculate an EROI of tar sands of about 6:1 that is based mostly upon the direct energy costs of producing syncrude. Including indirect inputs reduced the EROI to about 5:1, and including the energy equivalent of environmental impacts and labor had only a marginal effect. Previous studies reported by Herweyer and Gupta calculated EROIs lower than their results, in the vicinity of 3:1. Also, syncrude production is not only very energy intensive, but also a large consumer of water, which could also have a negative impact on EROI.

In 2009 a preliminary study posted on The Oil Drum calculated the EROI of producing syncrude from the new Toe to Heel Air Injection (THAI) method as about 9:1, with a range of 3.3-56:1 given different assumptions on the relevance of inputs. Smaller quantities of natural gas and water are necessary in the THAI process.

EROI for Shale Oil

Shale oil is similar to tar sands in some ways -- both are very low quality resources of petroleum. Whereas tar sands are bitumen surrounding a substrate such as clay or sand with a layer of water in between, shale oil consists of kerogen fused directly to the substrate itself. As it is more difficult to separate the kerogen from a substrate than to separate bitumen from water, it is expected that the EROI for shale oil should be lower than that of tars sands.

The SUNY ESF study reviewed a number of studies from 1975 up to 2007 which had made some kind of EROI or net energy assessment. Most of these studies gave EROIs for shale oil from 1.5-4:1. A few earlier studies suggested an EROI of 7:1 to 13:1. In general, these numbers are in the same range and with the same degree of uncertainty as tar sands. Also, both are unique in that the resource can be used to fuel its own extraction.

EROI for Nuclear

Nuclear power is the use of controlled fission reactions for the purpose of producing electricity. There are currently 439 commercial nuclear power plants worldwide generally using variations of the same technology. The SUNY ESF study summarized the EROI of nuclear power from previous studies, concluding that the most reliable information is still from Hall et al.'s summary of an EROI of about 5-8:1. Clearly with reactors operating for longer periods of time, with the possibility of serious uranium shortages with larger use, and with the new considerations of the Japanese reactor accidents due to the earthquake and subsequent tsunami new calculations are needed.

EROI for Wind

Wind energy is one of the fastest growing renewable energies in the world today, although it still represents far less than one percent of global or U.S. energy use. Since it is renewable energy, EROI is not calculated the same as for finite resources. The energy cost for such renewable systems is mostly the very large capital cost per unit output and the backup systems needed, for two thirds of the time the wind is not blowing. As a result, the input for the EROI equation is mostly upfront, and the return over the lifetime of the system -- which largely is not known well. For renewable resources a slightly different type of EROI is often used, the "energy pay back time" (EPBT). EPBT is the time it takes for the system to generate the same amount of energy that went into creating, maintaining, and disposing of it, and so the boundaries used to define the EPBT are those incorporated into the EROI.

The SUNY ESF study used a “meta-analysis" study by Cleveland and Kubiszewski, in which the authors examined 112 turbines from 41 analyses of both conceptual and operational nature. The system boundaries included the manufacture of components, transportation of components to the construction site, the construction of the facility itself, operation and maintenance over the lifetime of the facility, overhead, possible grid connection costs, and decommissioning where possible, however not all studies include the same scope of analysis. The authors concluded that the average EROI for all systems studied is 24.6:1 and that for all operational studies is 18.1:1.

EROI tends to increase with the size of the turbine. This is because smaller turbines are of older design and can be less efficient; larger models have larger rotor diameters so they can operate at lower wind speeds and capture more wind energy at higher efficiencies year round; and larger models are taller and can take advantage of the higher wind speeds farther above ground.

Aspects of wind energy which can lower the EROI include the location of manufacture and installation but have greater construction and maintenance costs as they can add to the initial capital investment of a wind turbine or limit the use of recycled materials. Also, energy storage and grid connection dynamics could potentially reduce EROI where applicable. Finally off shore systems would experience more reliable winds but have greater maintenance costs associated with them.

EROI for Photovoltaics

The use of Solar photovoltaics (PV) are increasing almost as rapidly as wind systems, although they too represent far less than 1% of the energy used by the U.S. or the world. Similarly, they are a renewable source of energy and thus the EROIs are also calculated using the same idea. We can calculate the EROI by dividing the lifetime of a module by its energy payback time (EPBT). Like wind turbines, PV EPBT can vary depending on the location of production and installation. It can also be affected by the materials used to make the modules, and the efficiency with which it operates - especially under extreme temperatures.

The SUNY ESF study looked at a number of life cycle analyses from 2000 to 2008 on a range of PV systems to determine system lifetimes and EPBT, and subsequently calculated EROI. Most operational systems to have an EROI of approximately 3-10:1. The thin-film modules considered had an EROI of approximately 6:1 whereas some theoretical modules, including a 100MW very large scale PV installation reached or exceeded 20:1. A subsequent study by Kubiszewski et al. reviewed 51 systems from 13 analyses and calculated similarly an average EROI of 6.56:1. Much promotional literature gives higher estimates but we are unable to validate their claims.

Factors contributing to the increase of EROI include increasing efficiency in production, increasing efficiency of the module, and using materials that are less energy intensive than those available today. Factors contributing to lower EROI include lower ore grades of rare metals used in production (from either depletion in the ground or competition from other industries) and lower than projected lifetimes and efficiencies, problems with energy storage, and intermittence.

EROI for Hydropower

The SUNY ESF study found EROI figures ranging from 11.2-267:1 due to the extreme variability of geography and technology. The author noted that environmental and social costs, which can be substantial, are not incorporated in the numbers. Since all these costs and gains are site sensitive, it is clear that determining an overall EROI for hydropower would be meaningless and that each project would need to be examined separately. Yet, given the range of EROIs in the study, it seems that hydropower, where available, is often a good energy return on investment.

EROI for Geothermal

Geothermal energy uses the heat within the Earth to do work by transferring the heat to a gas such as steam, or a liquid. This can be used to produce electricity or heat for buildings etc. The best suited sites are near plate boundaries and are not available to everyone. Enhanced geothermal systems also known as Hot Dry Rock (HDR) are thought to be able to exploit heat at greater underground depths where there is no groundwater although there are none in commercial use. Another theoretical system called geopressured geothermal could provide thermal energy from hot brine, mechanical energy from highly pressured fluid, and chemical energy from confined methane, but the specifics for such systems are unknown.

The SUNY ESF study reported the EROI for electricity generation from HDR hydrothermal resources to be from 2 to 13:1. Corrected for quality as an electricity source, this is recalculated as approximately 6-39:1. No EROI values of geothermal direct use were found. Energy can be extracted from normal soils and ground water with an EROI of about 5:1, although the input is electricity and the output heat so the quality corrected output may not be very high.

EROI for Wave/Tidal

There is very little information available on wave or tidal energy due to its fledgling state in commercial application. The SUNY ESF study estimated that one wave energy project could have an EROI of approximately 15:1. This number was estimated based on a life cycle assessment of the Pelamis off-shore device currently deployed outside of Portugal. A problem is that it is difficult to maintain many devices when large storms occur.

EROI for Corn Ethanol

The debate over the EROI for corn ethanol is probably the most documented of all the energy sources presented here. The EROI of the numerous studies available on the subject range from approximately 0.8:1 to 1.3-2:1 . The difference in values is mostly attributed to boundaries used and energy quality issues.

Since the 1980's the energy information required to make such calculations have become even scarcer. This is a terrible state of affairs given the massive changes in our energy situation unfolding daily. We need to make enormously important decisions but do not have the studies, the data or the trained personnel to do so. Thus we are left principally with poorly informed politicians, industry advocacy and a blind but misguided faith in market solutions to make critical decisions about how to invest our quite limited remaining high quality energy resources. Our major scientific funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation and even the Department of Energy have been criminally negligent by avoiding any serious programs to undertake proper EROI, environmental effects, or other studies, while our federal energy data collections degrade year by year under misguided cost cutting and free market policies.

Given what we do know, it seems that the EROI of the fuels we depend on most are in decline; whereas the EROI for those fuels we hope to replace them with are lower than we have enjoyed in the past. This leads one to believe that the current rates of energy consumption per capita we are experiencing are in no way sustainable in the long run. At best, the renewable energies we look toward may only cushion this decline. doclink

Study: Over-the-Counter Birth Control Without Cost-Sharing Would Reduce Unintended Pregnancies

February 27, 2015

About 11% to 12% more women would use the birth control pill available if it could be obtained at a pharmacy without a prescription or out-of-pocket cost, and this would reduce the number of unintended pregnancies among low-income women by 7% to 25%, according to Researchers from the University of California-San Francisco and Ibis Reproductive Health.

The increase in pill use would reduce the number of women who do not use contraception or who only rely on condoms by about 20% to 36%, resulting in a reduction in unintended pregnancies.

The co-author of the study Dan Grossman said, "Women who are currently using methods that are less effective than the pill -- mainly condoms or nothing -- would use it," ... "Particularly low-income women"

Although the Affordable Care Act has expanded access to contraceptive coverage without cost-sharing, "there is still a need for over-the-counter birth control to fill the gap when women run out of pills while traveling, for example, or for those who find it inconvenient to get to a clinic." Grossman also said that to reach the largest number of women most in need, it's critical that a future over-the-counter pill be covered by insurance. doclink

3 Counterintuitive Connections Between Climate Change and Extreme Weather

February 27, 2015, World Resources Institute - WRI   By: Kelly Levin and C. Forbes Tompkins

A growing body of evidence shows strong connections between climate change and extreme events, and impacts once thought of as a distant future threat are already occurring and widespread.

Over 98 inches of snow has fallen in Boston this season, while a the same time, California, in the grip of an epic drought, had its fourth-driest January ever recorded with just 15% of average precipitation.

However, warming is still occurring. Even though cities in regions like the Midwest and Northeast endured record cold during 2014, the national average temperature was warmer than normal, and at the global scale 2014 was the warmest year ever recorded.

Research suggests that a contributing factor of this drastic east-west temperature contrast could be a weaker polar jet stream which can increase the frequency of phases where Arctic air seeps south into regions like the eastern United States while warmer air protrudes north in the western half of the country.

A warming planet can make some regions much snowier. The warmer the air is, the more water vapor it can hold. This additional moisture can bring more intense rain or even snowfall. Also, when sea surface temperatures are warmer than average as they currently are in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean the atmosphere becomes fueled with more moisture and energy.

In the U.S., all regions except Hawaii have experienced an increase in very heavy precipitation events since the late 1950s. However, snowfall has decreased in most parts of the country mostly because more winter precipitation has come from rain instead of snow.

Gradual warming is reducing the number of very cold days in many regions, but in the event when temperatures are cold enough, the increased moisture can cause heavier snowfall events.

Climate change can also lead to both drought and extreme precipitation in the same location. Since 2010, regions like the Midwest have been impacted by numerous extreme drought and flooding events that have each exceeded $1 billion in losses. California is in the midst of a drought that is the worst in at least 1,200 years. Yet in December the city of San Francisco received more rain in a matter of days than it did all of 2013, causing flooding and mudslides, washing out roads and damaging homes.

It's time decision makers pause to acknowledge the role that human-induced climate change is playing in our changing weather - and commit to ambitious policy changes that reverse these trends. doclink

Karen Gaia says: the weaker polar jet stream is the result of the lowered contrast between a warmer Arctic and the surrounding area, according to an article I read.

A Strange Map of the World's Child-Marriage Laws

When it comes to statutes prohibiting minors from getting married, the U.S. is more like Latin America than Europe.
March 09, 2015   By: Olga Khazan

The Clinton Foundation recently released an article on child marriage. Russia, China, and Ethiopia prohibit marriage before the age of 18, but many countries in the Americas allow it with "parental consent and/or under customary law."

Child marriage "limits the full potential of girls" and "undermines health, education, economic opportunity, and security." Early wedlock is most common among the world's poorest children

One 2004 study found that teen marriage in the U.S. increased by nearly 50% in the 1990s thanks to "the spread of abstinence-only-until-marriage sex education at American schools, a shift toward cultural conservatism among some teens, and a growing fear among youngsters of contracting AIDS through promiscuity," according to the Chicago Tribune.

Still, child marriage is much less of an issue in the U.S. than it is in other countries with similar laws. By 2002, only about 0.1% of American girls were married by 18. Meanwhile, in Niger,39% of girls are married by 18, and 22% in Bolivia.

Some American child marriages are the result of attempts to prevent the imprisonment of the older partner for statutory rape.

Even though American teens who get married might have more say in the matter than their counterparts in other countries, many advocates believe permissive child-marriage laws can still be harmful.

Visit the article by clicking on the link in the headline to see the child marriage maps. doclink

Lester Brown: 'Vast Dust Bowls Threaten Tens of Millions with Hunger'

Over his 50-year career, Lester Brown has become known for his accurate global environmental predictions. As he enters retirement, he warns the world may face the worst hunger crisis of our lifetimes
February 24, 2015, Mail and Guardian   By: Suzanne Goldenberg

At 80, Lester Brown is best known for his writings on population and for founding first the Worldwatch Institute (the first U.S. environmental think tank ) and later the Earth Policy Institute. Brown plans to retire as President of the Earth Policy Institute in June and wind down a prolific career. His 53 books in 630 editions helped shape the thinking of two generations of academics and activists. Both President Lyndon Johnson and the government of China based policy decisions on Brown's advice.

As Brown nears retirement, he fears the world may soon face a huge hunger disaster. Much of the world is exhausting its ground water due to overuse and overpumping. He noted two large regions in particular where people are running out of land to grow food, and millions of acres are becoming wasteland due to over-farming and over-grazing. In the Sahel region of Africa, an area wracked by war, a huge dust bowl that extends from Senegal to Somalia is losing a lot of top soil. "Eventually they will be in serious trouble," he said. And in northern and western China, where much of the land is too depleted to raise flocks or grow food, villagers are leaving. "At some point they will have abandoned so much farming and grazing land that China no longer will be able to expand food production." This will be worse than what America saw in the 1930s. "Our dust bowl was a confined area. Within a matter of years we had it under control, but these two areas don't have that capacity. We are pushing against the limits of land that can be ploughed and the land available for grazing."

Although Brown believes that most people now accept that family planning and improving childhood nutrition are essential to development, he says that was not the case when he started. "In so much of the developing world people live in cities, not so many in the countryside, and so they buy their food," he said. “What is happening in countries like Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Peru is that low-income families have reached the point where they can no longer afford to eat every day."

“I have been working on these issues for half a century plus, and it is only in the last year or two that this actually become an issue in a number of countries. It used to be the low end of things where you only had one meal a day." But for the first time, he said, “there are now places in the world where tens of millions of people are saying things like: ‘we can only eat five days this week'. That is how they are managing." doclink

Art says: At a time when a New York Times article describes the problems caused by having to dispose of tons of wasted food, Lester Brown reminds us millions of poor people are not so fortunate. As we keep losing croplands, our food supplies cannot expand indefinitely.

Visions of a Fallen World: What Our Crowded, Imperiled Planet Really Looks Like

A new book skips over the statistics and gets right to the emotional core of overpopulation
March 03, 2015, AlterNet   By: Lindsay Abrams

The more than 7 billion humans alive right now are, with 5 billion more expected by the end of the century. Already the planet lost half of its wildlife population in just four decades, and climate change, spurred on by our appetite for fossil fuels, is threatening Earth's future.

The logical arguments for getting population under control are compelling, says Tom Butler of the Foundation for Deep Ecology. Yet somehow they just are not working.

Butler came up with a coffee-table book featuring images of a world overrun by human activity. "Take a look: 7.3 billion people on the planet, trying to get by, living as they's what it looks like," he says.

Not every image included in the book is shocking. But taken together they demand attention and provide a convincing argument for bringing overpopulation and consumption back to the center of the environmental movement.

"The vast majority of people get up every day and are embedded in a system, an economic, social, political system, that seems normal to them but the effects of which are harming the biosphere and making it less and less likely that humanity will have a flourishing future," Butler said.

The response to this problem includes affordable solutions, such as providing girls and women with education and access to family planning, solutions that have benefits beyond just helping to limit population growth. The main problem is that society does "not have the political will" to implement them, commensurate with their level of severity.

Go here to see a slide show of some of the pictures: doclink

Israel Admits Forcing Birth Control on Ethiopian Jews

February 19, 2015,   By: Jacqui Deevoy

The Israeli government has recently acknowledged injecting Ethiopian women immigrating to Israel with a long-acting contraceptive, Depo-Provera, telling them they couldn't come into the country if they didn't take the shot, which the women thought was a vaccination.

Suspicions were raised when the birth rate in Israel's Ethiopian community dropped dramatically.

The Israeli Health Ministry's director-general has now ordered doctors to stop administering the drugs to Ethiopian women if for any reason there is concern that they might not understand the ramifications of the treatment.

The possible side effects of Depo-Provera include a decrease in bone density that puts women at increased risk for osteoporosis and fracture. In addition, returning to fertility can be a lengthy process and withdrawal symptoms can be acute.

"Depo-Provera has a shameful history," Efrat Yardai wrote in an op-ed, explaining that the drug was used between 1967 and 1978 as part of an experiment that took place in the U.S. state of Georgia on 13,000 impoverished women, half of whom were black. Many of them were unaware that the injections were part of an experiment.

Ethiopian Jews have faced widespread discrimination and isolation since being moved to Israel in the 1980s. Some were forced to live in transit camps or absorption centers to "adjust to society." They face widespread discrimination in the job market and the educational system. doclink

Karen Gaia: I publish the bad with the good. The good of contraception far outweighs the bad, but only when it is not being forced or foisted upon someone. Women must have informed consent about contraception, and only for purposes of empowering women to choose their family size (or to make their own medical decisions).

3 Maps Explain India's Growing Water Risks

February 26 , 2015, World Resources Institute - WRI   By: Tien Shiao, Andrew Maddocks, Chris Carson and Emma Loizeaux

India is one of the most water-challenged countries in the world. Wells and aquifers are being drained by farmers, city residents and industries. What water is available is often severely polluted.

Worse yet, the national supply is predicted to fall 50% below demand by 2030. And 54% of India's total area facing high to extremely high stress, which would leave almost 600 million people at higher risk of surface-water supply disruptions.

The India Water Tool 2. 0. is a comprehensive, publicly available online tool evaluating India's water risks. Created by a group of companies, research organizations, and industry associations—including WRI and coordinated by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)—the tool can help companies, government agencies, and other water users identify their most pressing challenges and carefully target water-risk management efforts.

Click through to the link in the headline to see the maps and more information.
. . . more doclink

The Human Costs of Chris Christie's Attack on Planned Parenthood

February 26 , 2015, Think Progress   By: Tara Culp-Ressler

At this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, right-wing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R), a potential presidential contender said, "I ran as a pro-life candidate in 2009 unapologetically," ... " I was the first governor to ever speak at a pro-life rally on the steps of the statehouse in the state of New Jersey," ... "And I vetoed Planned Parenthood funding five times out of the New Jersey budget."

In 2010, Christie cut off $7.5 million that had supported 58 family planning clinics, eliminating state funding altogether. The New Jersey Spotlight reported at the time, "For a state that began financially backing family-planning clinics in 1967, increased grants nearly every year since then, and endeavored to build a network accessible to all women in every county, it's a 180-degree turn."

As a result, there has been more than a 25% decrease in the state network's capacity to meet the need for family planning services among New Jersey's impoverished residents. Nine health centers have been forced to close.

Although the state legislature repeatedly tried to restore the funding cuts, but Christie resisted every year. Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D) accused him of pandering to the social conservatives who might support a 2016 presidential run.

"Women and families in communities across New Jersey have lost access to cancer screenings, prenatal care, STD testing and treatment and birth control," she said.

Concurrently, the federal Title X funds used for family planning clinics have suffered from a lower budget and increased load.

Supporting family planning isn't antithetical to Republicans' priorities. Some GOP leaders recognize the financial benefits of Title X. Earlier this year, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI)'s audit of federal anti-poverty programs acknowledged that the program is “moderately effective" at providing low-income women with health services. doclink

Did Climate Change Spark 2011 Syrian Uprising?

March 03, 2015, Business Standard

Researchers say a record drought that ravaged Syria in 2006-2010 destroyed agriculture in the breadbasket region of northern Syria, which, in turn, drove dispossessed farmers to cities, where poverty, government mismanagement and other factors created unrest that exploded in the spring 2011 Syrian uprising. The conflict has since evolved into a complex multinational war that has killed at least 200,000 people and displaced millions.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Coauthor Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said the drought " added to all the other stressors, it helped kick things over the threshold into open conflict."

A growing body of research suggests that extreme weather, including high temperatures and droughts, increases the chances of violence, from individual attacks to full-scale wars.

The recent drought affected the so-called Fertile Crescent, spanning parts of Turkey and much of Syria and Iraq. The study authors showed that since 1900, the area has undergone warming of 1 to 1.2 degrees Centigrade (about 2 degrees Fahrenheit), and about a 10% reduction in wet-season precipitation. They showed that the trend matches neatly with models of human-influenced global warming, and thus cannot be attributed to natural variability.

Global warming appears to have indirectly weakened wind patterns that bring rain-laden air from the Mediterranean, and higher temperatures have increased evaporation of moisture from soils during the usually hot summers, giving any dry year a one-two punch. While there were substantial droughts in the 1950s, 1980s and 1990s, 2006-10 was easily the worst and longest since reliable recordkeeping began.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that the already violent Mideast will dry more in coming decades as human-induced warming proceeds.

Population growth -- from 4 million in the 1950s to 22 million in recent years -- has also made Syria vulnerable. Other factors include growing water-intensive export crops like cotton and illegal drilling of irrigation wells which dramatically depleted groundwater, said coauthor Shahrzad Mohtadi, a graduate student at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs who did the economic and social components of the research.

The drought caused agricultural production to drop by a third. Livestock herds were practically obliterated; cereal prices doubled; and nutrition-related diseases among children saw dramatic increases. 1.5 million people fled from the countryside to the peripheries of cities that were already strained by influxes of refugees from the ongoing war in next-door Iraq. In these chaotic instant suburbs, the Assad regime did little to help people with employment or services, said Mohtadi. It was largely in these areas that the uprising began.

High global food prices may also have been a factor.

Research by other scientists has suggested that the Akkadian Empire, spanning much of the Fertile Crescent about 4,200 years ago, likely collapsed during a multi-year drought. doclink

Unmasking Fake Clinics

March 12, 2015, NARAL Pro Choice California

Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) pose as legitimate reproductive health centers. They have a track record of outright lying to women and work to dissuade people from exercising the right to choose. They often advertise as if they provide abortion services, drawing people in by promising free reproductive health services, including free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, and options counseling.

CPCs hide that they're almost entirely funded by national anti-choice umbrella organizations and that the mission of these organizations is to manipulate women into not choosing abortion by giving them false medical information.

CPC workers are well-trained to lie to women about physical and mental health issues they claim are associated with abortion.

While posing as legitimate reproductive-health clinics — locating in medical buildings or near a real abortion clinic, wearing white lab coats, calling themselves counselors — CPCs purposefully do not provide the medical services that pregnant women need, whether to continue a pregnancy or to terminate a pregnancy.

At a vulnerable time, CPCs delve into personal details during counseling to try to make women feel guilty about choosing abortion. doclink

U.S.: Unintended Pregnancies Cost Federal and State Governments $21 Billion in 2010

February 27, 2015, Guttmacher Institute   By: Adam Sonfield and Kathryn Kost.

A study "Public Costs from Unintended Pregnancies and the Role of Public Insurance Programs in Paying for Pregnancy-Related Care: National and State Estimates for 2010," showed that U.S. government expenditures on births, abortions and miscarriages resulting from unintended pregnancies nationwide totaled $21 billion in 2010. In 19 states, public expenditures related to unintended pregnancies exceeded $400 million in 2010. Texas spent the most ($2.9 billion), followed by California ($1.8 billion), New York ($1.5 billion) and Florida ($1.3 billion); those four states are also the nation's most populous.

51% of the four million births in the United States in 2010 were publicly funded, including 68% of unplanned births and 38% of planned births.

Prior research has shown that investing in publicly funded family planning services enables women to avoid unwanted pregnancies and space wanted ones, which is good not only for women and families, but also for society as a whole. In the absence of the current U.S. publicly funded family planning effort, the public costs of unintended pregnancies in 2010 would have been 75% higher.

Adam Sonfield, one of the authors, said. "Reducing public expenditures related to unintended pregnancies requires substantial new public investments in family planning services." ... "That would mean strengthening existing programs, such as the Title X family planning program, as well as working to ensure that the Affordable Care Act achieves its full potential to bolster Medicaid and other safety-net programs. We know we can prevent unintended pregnancies and the related costs. There are public programs in place that do it already, but as these data show, there is significantly more progress to be made." doclink

Brazil's Ravaged Forests Are Taking Their Revenge

Thanks to massive deforestation along Brazil's Atlantic coast and the Amazon, São Paulo's reservoirs are at just 6% of their capacity and water rationing is in place. But this is just the beginning of a long term drying process that could be recreated around the world as forests are laid waste and hydrology disrupted.
March 02 , 2015, Ecologist   By: Robert Hunziker

Brazil has about 12% of the world's fresh water, but São Paulo is running dry. The city's reservoir, which is a water resource for 6.2 million of the city's 20 million, is down to 6% of capacity! The city's other reservoirs are also dangerously low. The water is turned off every day at 1:00pm.

Deforestation is the problem. The Atlantic Forest, which surrounds São Paulo, stretches along the eastern coastline of the country. A few hundred years ago it was twice the size of Texas. Today it is maybe 15% of its former self and what remains is highly fragmented. The forest harbors 5% of the world's vertebrates and 8% of Earth's plants.

Brazil holds one-third of the world's remaining rainforests. In the past, deforestation was the result of poor subsistence farmers, but today large landowners and corporate interests have cleared the rainforest at a rate that will further reduce the Amazon rainforest by 40% by 2030.

The rainforests act as the world's thermostat by regulating temperatures and weather patterns, and they are absolutely necessary in maintaining Earth's supply of drinking and fresh water.

Rainforests are home to 50% of its plants and animals, and they act as the world's thermostat by regulating temperatures and weather patterns, and they are absolutely necessary in maintaining Earth's supply of drinking and fresh water.

"The original untouched resource of six million square miles of rainforests" (in the world) has already been chopped down by 60%. Only 2.4 million square miles remains today.

In this month's National Geographic magazine, Scott Wallace said "During the past 40 years, close to 20 percent of the Amazon rainforest has been cut down-more than in all the previous 450 years since European colonization began." ... "In the time it takes to read this article, an area of Brazil's rainforest larger than 200 football fields will have been destroyed." doclink

The Worst Droughts in 1,000 Years May Be on the Horizon for the American West

If you think the current drought in California is bad, take a look at what some scientists predict for the second half of this century
February 28, 2015, PRI - Public Radio International   By: Adam Wernick

This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

A new study in the online journal "Science Advances" predicts global warming will cause a 35 year mega-drought in the Southwest and Plains states worse than any drought of the past 1,000 years.

Such droughts took place in the American Southwest about 1,000 years ago, physical evidence shows.

The research team under Jason Smerdon, an associate research professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, compared models of future climates with historical data, and their simulations predicted an 80% chance that a 35-year mega-drought would occur in the latter half of this century as compared to only a 10% chance of such a drought when they ran the data for the period between 1950 and 2000.

And worse: the predicted dryness periods in the Southwest and the Great Plains look worse than previous mega-drought periods.

These results surprised most scientists, but one thing they're certain of is that global warming is the main cause of the increased dryness. Prolonged dryness, Smerdon says is due to less rain and snow on one hand, and increased evaporation from the soil due to higher air temperatures on the other.

The droughts in the West have already had "huge impacts on our economy, our food supply, our recreation. All of these things are related to water supplies. Now just imagine those continuing for multiple decades and what that means for the water resources that are already in short supply," Smerdon says.

"These kinds of droughts will become more frequent and more persistent as a consequence of an increase in greenhouse gases as we move into the 21st century," he said. doclink

Richard says "35 year mega-drought? Reading this can only make me think of a Cormac McCarthy novel about an apocalyptic future."

U.S.: Poor Women Get Fewer Abortions Than Rich Women

February 27, 2015, VOX Media   By: Sarah Kliff

Researchers at Brookings Institute have found that poor women in America are five times more likely to have an unplanned childbirth than those who are affluent, a recent study finds.

Researchers Richard Reeves and Joanna Venator examined the National Survey of Family Growth and found that poor women aren't any more or less sexually active than affluent women, but they are using contraception less.

About 16% of women below the poverty line ($11,770 for an individual) say they had unprotected sex in the past year. Among women earning more than 400 percent over the poverty line (about $47,000 annually), that number falls in half, to 7.9%.

Nine percent of women below the poverty line report becoming pregnant in the past year, three times as many as women who earn more than 400% of the poverty line.

Reeves and Venator also found that higher-income women have a much higher abortion rate than lower-income women.

Because of the difference in contraceptive use and abortion rate, higher-income women have fewer unintended births.

Could the difference in levels of contraceptive and abortion use reflect a lack of access, or does it show different preferences for having children?

Sociologist Kathryn Edin claims "Maybe poor women are less concerned about having a baby, even by accident." ... "Work by the sociologist Kathryn Edin and others does suggest that a child -- even when unplanned -- is a great source of fulfillment for women in low-income communities."

However, Reeves and Venator found that 1/3 of women across the economic spectrum who say they are actively not trying to conceive said they would be upset if they became pregnant.

The real barrier, it seems, is access to good contraception and safe abortion services. doclink

Burma: Upper House Approves Population Control Bill

February 19, 2015, DVB   By: Shwe Aung

A bill which limits child births to one baby per mother every three years was passed by the upper house (amyotha hluttaw) of Burma's parliament on Wednesday.

The Population Control Healthcare Bill constitutes one part of a controversial four-proposal package that has been tabled in parliament, commonly referred to as the "Race Protection Bill". Hla Swe, an MP in the amyotha hluttaw, states that a population which is too high can be no good in terms of health and that it is dangerous when there is no balance between resources and birth rate. Therefore, he proposes that childbirth be limited to one child per mother "every three years."

A petition by the conservative Buddhist monkhood group Ma-Ba-Tha last year received 100,000 signatures in favour of the Race Protection package.

President Thein Sein subsequently ordered the drafting of four bills: the Religious Conversion Bill, Monogamy Bill, Population Control Healthcare Bill, and Buddhist Women's Marriage Bill. Many observers see the Race Protection bills as attempts to subjugate and control the Muslim community in Burma. Recent bloody confrontations between Muslims and Buddhists have led to a rise in nationalism among Burmese Buddhists across the country. Human Rights Watch say more than 100,000 people have been displaced by communal violence in Arakan State in recent years.

Aung Kyi Nyunt, a National League for Democracy MP, and Zone Hle Thang of the Chin Progressive Party argued against the bill in the upper house on Wednesday, but it was passed with more than 100 supporting votes, 10 objections and four abstentions. The bill is now set to be debated in the lower house. Last month, 180 women's groups, networks and civil society organisations voiced opposition to the proposed race protection package in a signed statement which they delivered to parliament.

Khin San Htwe of the Burmese Women's Union (BWU) said that the BWU "are concerned with the bills as they serve to directly or indirectly control and limit the rights of women." She added that a close examination of the bills leads the BWU to conclude that the bills were drafted to ".....legally control the female population rather than to protect them."

The women's group's statement say the proposals would be unconstitutional and that the new laws would oppose international legislation, including the Convention Eliminating All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR). doclink

Karen Gaia says: This is why we don't like the term 'Population Control'. We don't condone any sort of 'control' over a woman's right to determine the size and timing of her family.

Why Ocean Health is Better and Worse Than You Think

The good news is the world’s oceans have not experienced the extinctions that have occurred on land. But as ecologist Douglas McCauley explains in a Yale Environment 360 interview, marine life now face numerous threats even more serious than overfishing.
February 18 , 2015, Yale Environment 360   By: Fen Montaigne

A group of marine experts published a study in the journal Science which drew conclusions that were both heartening and disturbing: While ocean ecosystems are still largely intact, the marine world is facing unprecedented disturbance, including acidification from the absorption of greenhouse gases and widespread habitat destruction from deep-sea mining, oil and gas drilling, development, and aquaculture.

Lead author Douglas McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, noted that, while there was a sixth mass extinction that's been happening, the sixth mass extinction is not underway in the oceans. However the bad news is that there were a lot of data suggesting that we're in a really important transition zone and we seem to be on the verge of transitioning from an era in which harvesting and fishing of marine resources has been the main driver of impoverishing biological diversity to one in which massive habitat change and, `global chemical warfare' (acidification) may be waged on the oceans.

"If you hunt individuals intensely that's going to have negative impacts, but if you go through and actually ravage the homes of these animals, it's going to be a lot harder to recover and the impacts are going to be more profound," he said.

"Look at the way we are impacting coral reef cover, the way that fish farming is eating up mangrove forest, the amount of factory building that we are doing in the oceans for energy production. Seabed mining can only be described as a gold rush that's underway under the ocean now."

"Let's keep our eyes on this emerging rising tide of industrialization in the oceans."

"There are just so many more of us on the planet that have so much higher energy and resource needs, and that we have to start reaching into the oceans for things that we require in our everyday lives."

We just need to be smarter about how to industrialize the ocean and put industry in the right places. "If we need to develop a section of the oceans that turns out to have really bad impacts for wildlife, we need to do remediation somewhere else."

"There are millions and millions of dollars that are being invested to build technological capacity to mine minerals, and they are talking about doing this in the deepest parts of the oceans. And the numbers involved are a bit scary -- a million square kilometers that have been staked out in this marine gold rush"

"There are two major changes that are happening in the oceans as a result of climate change — changing temperature and acidification.""We need to keep climate change and climate change effects on the oceans -- and what this means for wildlife -- at the top of our agenda."

Some of the "corals are beginning to show the capacity for resiliency to cope with some of these temperature increases.". "So what we need to do is basically slow down the rate of the advance of climate change."

"We need more parks and protected areas in the ocean. It's something that we need to very actively tell our policy makers to do."

"The processes of engaging and slowing marine defaunation is made triply hard because large parts of the oceans have no owners. But there is a growing awareness that we need to build international alliances to think about marine wildlife issues." doclink

A Thirsty, Violent World

February 24 , 2015, New Yorker   By: Michael Specter

The angry protests by crowds in the streets of Karachi last week had nothing to do with freedom of expression, drone wars, or Americans. They were about access to water.

Khawaja Muhammad Asif, the Minister of Defense, Power, and Water had warned that the country's chronic water shortages could soon become uncontrollable. The meagre allotment of water available to each Pakistani is a third of what it was in 1950. As the country's population rises, that amount is falling fast.

Dozens of other countries face similar situations. Rapid climate change, population growth, and a growing demand for meat (and, thus, for the water required to grow feed for livestock) have propelled them into a state of emergency.

Growing hunger and the struggle to find clean water for billions of people are clearly connected.

California is now in its fourth year of drought, staggering through its worst dry spell in twelve hundred years. In Nigeria, water shortages are responsible for more deaths in Nigeria than Boko Haram, according to the NGO Wateraid. In India there are places in India where hospitals have trouble finding the water required to sterilize surgical tools. In São Paulo Brazil, the shortage of water is so acute that the country is bracing for riots.

The amount of freshwater on earth has not changed significantly for millions of years. But in the past century population has tripled and water use has grown sixfold. Also we have polluted much of what remains readily available -- and climate change has made it significantly more difficult to plan for floods and droughts.

As populations grow more prosperous, vegetarian life styles often yield to a Western diet. The new middle classes, particularly in India and China, eat more protein than they once did, and that, again, requires more water use. Hundreds of gallons of water are required to produce a single hamburger.

The world will require at least 50% more water in 2050 than we use today -- to feed nine billion residents. Where will the water come from?. Half of the planet already lives in urban areas, and that number will increase along with the pressure to supply clean water.

Floods and droughts will become more common. At the same time, demands for economic growth in India and other developing nations will necessarily increase pollution of rivers and lakes. That will force people to dig deeper than ever before into the earth for water.

There are renewables that may replace oil, gas, and coal, but there isn't anything to replace water. Conservation would help immensely, as would a more rational use of agricultural land -- irrigation today consumes 70% of all freshwater.

Experts seem to agree on the dire state of a future water shortage and predict water wars are on the horizon. doclink

Richard says: China has seen meat consumption increase 15 fold over the last five centuries.

In Singapore the people have acted before it is too late. They are now making drinking water from sewage. Personally, I would rather drink out of a clear, mountain stream.

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