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Article Archive for February, 2012

A Prophet of More… Way More… More and More… And?

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Many subscribers to PMC’s Daily Email are familiar with Dave Gardner’s Growthbusters project. Dave has coined the phrases “growth addict” and “growth booster” to serve as helpful tools to quickly and concisely describe members of our species with an unexamined and outspoken fetish for chimeras such as perpetual economic growth. Below, Charles Kenny, writing in Foreign Policy, makes a case for being known as a “growth addict supreme” as he argues for demographic expansion as an economic development tool… or, perhaps, this is some form of satire?

See: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/02/27/go_forth_and_multiply?page=0,0

Go Forth and Multiply
Want to stop the slide in U.S. dominance? Make more Americans.
There’s been a lot of hand-wringing of late regarding the imminent demise of America’s global economic dominance as China’s gross domectic product (GDP) outstrips that of the United States. Those concerns are overwrought — aggregate output and average quality of life in a country are two very different things. But if you really want to preserve America’s top spot in the GDP rankings, there’s only one way to do it. You’ve got to make more Americans.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/02/27/go_forth_and_multiply?page=0,0

Drought, population force city to find more water

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Please see this recent article, published in the Galveston County Daily News and reporting on the travails of League City, TX in their efforts to provide water resources to a growing population. If population growth continues, by 2035 the city will need about 50 million gallons a day. Right now they can pump 21.5 million gallons a day. See: http://galvestondailynews.com/story/295958

Drought, population force city to find more water

By Christopher Smith Gonzalez

The Daily News

Published February 26, 2012

Photo by Kevin M. Cox

LEAGUE CITY – Recent rains might be a balm to a state scorched by a historic drought, but League City still has a pressing water problem.

The city can pump only about 21.5 million gallons of water a day. The drought – coupled with the city’s growing population – has meant the city came close to its limit during the past summer.

The city does have plans to acquire more water, but the person who had been pushing those projects, former acting City Manager Rich Oller, resigned earlier this month.

But now Oller is back. He signed a contract last week that will pay him $175 an hour for consulting work.

To read the full story, please click here: http://galvestondailynews.com/story/295958

Climate Ethics and Population Policy

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Thanks to Phil Cafaro, Ph.D. and Vice President/President Elect of the International Society for Environmental Ethics, for the following paper. The abstract is presented below. Also, it should be noted Dr. Cafaro’s paper was recently cited in an article in Ecologist online (link below) in which the United Kingdom’s chief scientist, Sir John Beddington, described the issue of population as ‘under thought’ and ‘our biggest challenge’.

ABSTRACT: According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, human population
growth is one of the two primary causes of increased greenhouse gas emissions
and accelerating global climate change. Slowing or ending population growth
could be a cost effective, environmentally advantageous means to mitigate climate
change, providing important benefits to both human and natural communities.
Yet population policy has attracted relatively little attention from ethicists, policy
analysts, or policymakers dealingwith this issue. In part, this is because addressing
population matters means wading into a host of contentious ethical issues,
including family planning, abortion, and immigration. This article reviews the
scientific literature regarding voluntary population control’s potential contribution
to climate changemitigation. It considers possible reasons for the failure of climate
ethicists, analysts, and policy makers to adequately assess that contribution or
implement policies that take advantage of it, with particular reference to the
resistance to accepting limits to growth. It explores some of the ethical issues
at stake, considering arguments for and against noncoercive population control
and asking whether coercive population policies are ever morally justified. It also
argues that three consensus positions in the climate ethics literature regarding
acceptable levels of risk, unacceptable harms, and a putative right to economic
development, necessarily imply support for voluntary population control.

Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control — And Why We’ll Still Be Fighting About it 100 Years From Now

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Below is strongly presented opinion piece, written by Sara Robinson, the editor of Alternet’s Visions section. Sara is a trained social futurist, and she’s particularly interested in change resistance movements. See: http://www.alternet.org/story/154144/why_patriarchal_men_are_utterly_petrified_of_birth_control_–_and_why_we%27ll_still_be_fighting_about_it_100_years_from_now?page=entire

Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control — And Why We’ll Still Be Fighting About it 100 Years From Now

Conservative bishops and Congressmen are fighting a rear-guard action against one of the most revolutionary changes in human history.

What’s happening in Congress this week, as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) bars any women from testifying at his so-called “religious freedom” hearings, is so familiar and expected that it hardly counts as news. The only thing surprising about it is the year: didn’t we all honestly think that by 2012, contraception would be a non-issue, and Congress wouldn’t make the mistake of leaving women out of conversations like this one?

Yes, we did. And the fact that we were wrong about that points to a deeper trend at work, one that needs a bit of long-term historical context put around it so we can really understand what’s going on. Let me explain.

When people look back on the 20th century from the vantage point of 500 years on, they will remember the 1900s for three big things.

One was the integrated circuit, and (more importantly) the Internet and the information revolution that it made possible. When our descendants look back, they’re likely to see this as an all-levels, all-sectors disruption on the scale of the printing press — but even more all-encompassing. (Google “the Singularity” for scenarios on just how dramatic this might be.)

The second was the moon landing, a first-time-ever milestone in human history that our galaxy-trotting grandkids five centuries on may well view about the same way we see Magellan’s first daring circumnavigation of the globe.

But the third one is the silent one, the one that I’ve never seen come up on anybody’s list of Innovations That Changed The World, but matters perhaps more deeply than any of the more obvious things that usually come to mind. And that’s the mass availability of nearly 100% effective contraception. Far from being a mere 500-year event, we may have to go back to the invention of the wheel or the discovery of fire to find something that’s so completely disruptive to the way humans have lived for the entire duration of our remembered history.

Until the condom, the diaphragm, the Pill, the IUD, and all the subsequent variants of hormonal fertility control came along, anatomy really was destiny – and all of the world’s societies were organized around that central fact. Women were born to bear children; they had no other life options. With a few rebellious or well-born exceptions (and a few outlier cultures that somehow found their way to a more equal footing), the vast majority of women who’ve ever lived on this planet were tied to home, dependent on men, and subject to all kinds of religious and cultural restrictions designed to guarantee that they bore the right kids to the right man at the right time – even if that meant effectively jailing them at home.

To read the rest of the article, click here: http://www.alternet.org/story/154144/why_patriarchal_men_are_utterly_petrified_of_birth_control_–_and_why_we%27ll_still_be_fighting_about_it_100_years_from_now?page=entire

Dip In Population Raises Concern: Demographers

Monday, February 27th, 2012

It seems clear that Dr Aneesh, assistant professor, community medicine, Thiruvananthapuram Medical College in India has not been in any recent close consultations with the Indian Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad. In the story immediately below, Dr. Aneesh is quoted bemoaning the Indian state of Kerala’s relatively small (compared to the past) cohorts of children, even calling the situation alarming. Following that is a story where Minister Azad expresses the opposite sentiment: that growing population is a matter of great concern and poses several challenges on the economic, environmental and development fronts.

See: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-02-17/kochi/31070621_1_population-growth-human-resources-kerala

Dip in population raises concern: Demographers
M K Sunil Kumar, TNNFeb 17, 2012, 05.15AM IST

KOCHI: If the results of the census is anything to go by, it is high time Kerala revised its family planning policy as the state may register negative population growth in the next two or three decades. Demographers point out that the sliding population will have far reaching consequences as human resources of the state which has already registered a dip will come down drastically. if plans to prevent such a situation are not devised.

Even while the country’s population is growing at fast pace, the 2011 census reveals that the population growth of the state is very low and it is negative in two districts. While the rate of population growth in four districts is very low, eight districts registered only nominal growth. “Given the slow pace of population growth, the state may register negative growth in the next two or three decades.

According to the census, the general fertility in Kerala is 1.8 which means that many of the couples have only one child,” said Irudayarajan, professor, Centre for Development Studies (CDS).

According to the census results, Pathanamthitta and Idukki registered negative annual population growth in 2001-2011 periods of 3.12 and 1.93 respectively. “The fall in number of children below the age of 10 causes more concern. The fall in percentage of children in the age group in Idukki and Pathanamthitta in the last decade is 23.91% and 25.44% respectively. This is an alarming situation so far as Kerala’s socio-economic development is concerned,” said Dr Aneesh, assistant professor, community medicine, Thiruvananthapuram Medical College.

To read the rest of this article, click here: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-02-17/kochi/31070621_1_population-growth-human-resources-kerala

See: http://www.newkerala.com/news/2011/worldnews-158824.html

Azad concerned about growing population

Nairobi, Kenya, Feb 14 : Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Tuesday said growing population is a matter of great concern.

“More South-South cooperation and mutual understanding would help to redefine strategies in terms of introduction of newer contraceptives, technical protocols and also replicate the successful schemes in the area of population stabilisation,” said Azad, who is also Chairman, Partners in Population Development (PPD).

Azad was on Tuesday addressing a gathering at Nairobi, Kenya on the occasion of Re-Launch of Family Planning Campaign of Government of Kenya during the ongoing three day meeting of the Executive Committee of PPD.

He said: “Kenya and India can engage with each other and work together – We will be glad to share our policy initiatives, schemes, products and expertise.”

To read the rest of this article, click here: http://www.newkerala.com/news/2011/worldnews-158824.html

Friday Humor: “Really? With Seth and Amy”.

Friday, February 24th, 2012

I hope you enjoy the following video clip, which comes to you via Saturday Night Live’s “Really? With Seth and Amy“. In it, Amy and Seth question the actions and decisions of lawmakers and the church about birth control. Navigate here to watch the clip: http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/really-with-seth-and-amy-birth-control/1386256

(Below, Fiona Carmody of RH Reality Check, elucidates the serious issues that “Seth and Amy” were referring to relative to the state of Virginia; and, what has happened there in the past week).

Bill Requiring Invasive Ultrasound Procedure Passes VA House of Delegates

by Fiona Carmody, RH Reality Check

February 23, 2012 – 2:49pm

A bill mandating invasive trans-abdominal ultrasound procedures for all women seeking abortions has been passed by the Virginia House of Delegates today.

This bill has received a lot of negative backlash in the media over the past week because its original requirements included a trans-vaginal ultrasound, which qualified as rape under Virginia state law and which was described in a recent opinion piece as follows:

The probe is inserted into the vagina, sending sound waves to reflect off body structures to produce an image of the fetus. Under this new law, a woman’s vagina will be penetrated without an opportunity for her to refuse due to coercion from the so-called “public servants” who passed and signed this bill into law.

After an outraged media discussion of the potential legal and medical (not to mention emotional and psychological) consequences of such a mandate, Governor McDonnell decided to amend the bill to require a trans-abdominal ultrasound instead of a trans-vaginal one. McDonnell claimed to be swayed towards this amendment by a lack of supporting medical evidence, stating:

No person should be directed to undergo an invasive procedure by the state, without their consent, as a precondition to another medical procedure.

As a staunch anti-choicer who rarely considered such evidence before, McDonnell’s desire to change the bill seems more likely to come from its risk factor to his own personal goals: it could have threatened his chances of running for VP in the upcoming presidential election.

Continue Reading »

Civilization faces ‘perfect storm of ecological and social problems’

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

The following news report appeared in the environmental section of the The Guardian’s website titled “Global Development”. The report is based on the release of a synthesis paper created from key messages found in individual papers written by the past 18 winners of the Asahi Glass Foundation’s Blue Planet Prize. The Blue Planet prize is reported to be the “unofficial Nobel for the environment”.

Civilisation faces ‘perfect storm of ecological and social problems’
Abuse of the environment has created an ‘absolutely unprecedented’ emergency, say Blue Planet prizewinners

John Vidal, environment editor

Monday 20 February 2012 09.45 EST

Celebrated scientists and development thinkers today warn that civilisation is faced with a perfect storm of ecological and social problems driven by overpopulation, overconsumption and environmentally malign technologies.

In the face of an “absolutely unprecedented emergency”, say the 18 past winners of the Blue Planet prize – the unofficial Nobel for the environment – society has “no choice but to take dramatic action to avert a collapse of civilisation. Either we will change our ways and build an entirely new kind of global society, or they will be changed for us”.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/feb/20/climate-change-overconsumption

Student Reporting: Population 7 Billion

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

I am pleased to distribute the following student essay, written by Carleton University undergrad Marika Washchyshyn (Bachelor of Journalism, 2012) for her International Reporting analytical course. Marika initially reached out to Population Institute’s Global Population Speak Out program for information and research leads. She submitted her paper on December 8, 2011. Congratulations, Marika.

Student Reporting: Population 7 Billion
Marika Washchyshyn

On October 31st, 2011, the United Nations announced the birth of the world’s seven billionth baby. According to the Population Institute’s population clock, the world population is 7,007,925,230 and counting today.

In a world where globalization has brought billions of people around the world closer together, is the birth of ‘Baby Seven Billion’ cause for concern or celebration? Now more than ever, factors like climate change, gender equality, the global economy and consumption of resources are being scrutinized as our planet’s sustainability is called into question.

Population growth has been on the rise since the 1800s, most notably from the three billion people milestone in 1959 to the seven billion people milestone in 2011. A report from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) shows the billion-person increments between 1959 and 2011 took 12 years on average versus the 159 years it took to add the first three billion people. If current trends continue, the world population will rise to nine billion by 2050 and 10 billion by 2082, continuing to grow until the end of the century and beyond.

For perspective, the article “The Myth of 9 Billion” in May 2011′s Foreign Policy magazine says in the first five months of the year, the world population has grown by enough to equal all of the AIDS deaths since the epidemic began 30 years ago.

The world’s current population is consuming commodities and natural resources at a rate of one and a half Earths. In a report by the Global Footprint Network, this is explained as the “ecological overshoot” phenomenon, where annual demand for resources exceeds what the Earth can generate in a year. Today, it takes the Earth one and a half years to regenerate what its population uses in one year.

Continue Reading »

Hollywood actress, Alexandra Paul, to train local actors in Sierra Leone

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

February 21, 2012

Alexandra Paul, an actress (best known for her role as Lt. Stephanie Holden in TV series “Baywatch”) and social activist, has teamed up with Population Media Center (PMC) to train local actors in Sierra Leone from February 23 – March 1, 2012 for PMC’s newest radio series.

I am honored to be working with Population Media Center in Sierra Leone. Coaching actors for PMC’s latest radio drama allows me to meld two passions of mine: my 30 years of experience as an actress in Hollywood and my belief in the benefits of family planning.

- Alexandra Paul

PMC produces serialized dramas on radio and television to improve the health and well-being of people around the world and encourage positive behavior change.

The radio drama series will be addressing the following issues in this west African country:

  • Reproductive health and family planning
  • Adolescent reproductive health and unwanted pregnancies
  • Gender-Based Violence
  • Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) and Stigma
  • Obstetric Fistula, Delayed Care, and Antenatal Care

Paul has been a long-time advocate of population issues. She has worked to educate thousands of students in Los Angeles on the importance of the issue and is dedicated to finding effective solutions. In 1997, Paul was honored by the United Nations Environmental Programme for her work on population and the environment.

Now, Paul is taking her passion across the world to Sierra Leone by helping PMC create a highly engaging drama that will help empower women and promote the use of family planning. PMC is committed to building strong media in all of the countries that it works in, and investing in the talent of their actors is critical to producing effective programs – as it is the characters in PMC’s programs that inspire audiences to change their lives and the world. PMC is thrilled to have her involvement in this exciting new series.

Internationally recognized for her 5-year starring role as Lt. Stephanie Holden in the hit series Baywatch, Alexandra Paul began her acting career at age 18 starring in the highly rated telefilm Paper Dolls. She then starred in the Warner Bros. motion picture American Flyers opposite Kevin Costner, Dragnet opposite Tom Hanks & Dan Ackroyd, Eight Million Ways to Die opposite Jeff Bridges & Andy Garcia, Stephen King’s Christine, Spyhard with Leslie Nielsen, and two films opposite Pierce Brosnan.

But acting is far from Alexandra’s only interest. Alexandra was honored by the ACLU of Southern California as their ’2005 Activist of the Year’ for her long history of fighting for the environment, voting rights and peace issues. In 1997 the United Nations commended Alexandra for her environmental activism. In 1999, she won the International Green Cross award. She walked across America for over five weeks on The Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament, and has been arrested over a dozen times for protesting at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site.

Population Media Center (PMC) works worldwide to bring about stabilization of human population numbers at a level that can be sustained by the world’s natural resources and to lessen the harmful impact of humanity on the earth’s environment. PMC uses entertainment media to change cultural attitudes and individual behavior with regard to health and social issues. To achieve this, PMC adopted the Sabido methodology, which uses long-running serialized melodramas, written and produced in participating countries by local people in local languages. Characters are created that gradually evolve into positive role models for the audience. The emotional bonds that the audience forms with the characters and stories help inspire audiences to make positive changes in their lives. PMC’s serial dramas have addressed issues such as the use of family planning, adoption of small family norms, avoidance of AIDS, elevation of women’s status, protection of children, and related social and health goals, depending upon the relevance of each to the policies of the country in which PMC is working.  Scientific research has shown that PMC’s programs lead to population-wide behavior change.

Honduran Supreme Court Upholds Most Sweeping Ban on Emergency Contraception Anywhere

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Jodi Jacobson, Editor in Chief of RH Reality Check, recently penned this report on the Honduran Supreme Court upholding a severe ban on emergency contraception. See: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/02/14/honduran-supreme-court-upholds-complete-ban-on-emergency-contraception-0

Honduran Supreme Court Upholds Most Sweeping Ban on Emergency Contraception Anywhere

by Jodi Jacobson, Editor in Chief, RH Reality Check

February 14, 2012 – 12:35pm

The Honduras Supreme Court has cemented the fate of women trying to avoid unintended pregnancy–whether from unprotected sex, contraceptive failure, or rape–by upholding what is currently the strictest ban on emergency contraception in the world. The absolute ban would criminalize the sale, distribution, and use of  the “morning-after pill,” a contraceptive method that prevents pregnancy, by imposing punishment for offenders equal to that of obtaining or performing an abortion, which in Honduras is completely restricted.  Emergency contraception is just that: contraception.

Anti-choice forces have, however, succeeded in confusing the method with an abortifacient despite a wealth of medical studies from around the globe that have shown it to be a safe, effective method of birth control which simply uses a higher dose of the same medication in typical birth control pills, and works by preventing an egg from being fertilized.

According to the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), currently, anyone who performs an abortion in Honduras can be sentenced anywhere from three to 10 years in prison, depending on if the woman consents or if violence and intimidation is a factor. Women who seek an abortion face three to six years in prison. With the court’s decision, simply being caught with an emergency contraceptive pill would be considered an abortion attempt.

These extreme bans on emergency contraception have been widely recognized by international and regional human rights bodies, like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, as violations of a woman’s ability to exercise her fundamental rights.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/02/14/honduran-supreme-court-upholds-complete-ban-on-emergency-contraception-0