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Articles by Category for ‘Environment’

Contraception: Saving Lives… and the Planet

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Contraception: Saving Lives… and the Planet 

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-walker/contraception-saving-live_b_5884600.html

 

On Friday, September 26, the world is celebrating World Contraception Day. Okay, ‘celebrating’ may be too strong a word. ‘Observing’ may be more like it. And the number of people actually observing the day in some form is probably small. Okay, very small. To borrow a phrase from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, the world “will little note, nor long remember” World Contraception Day 2014. That’s too bad. For in truth, there’s a whole lot to celebrate, and a whole lot more left to do if men and women everywhere are going to have access to the contraceptive method of their choice.

The obvious reason for celebrating modern contraceptives is that they allow us to have children by choice, rather than by chance. They minimize, in other words, the chances of an unintended or unwanted pregnancy. That mere fact itself is worth a celebratory cheer, but there is a lot more to get excited about.

Contraception is a life-saver.

Contraception saves lives
, particularly in developing nations where access to contraception can mean the difference between life and death for girls and women who do not have access to adequate medical care. This is particularly true for child brides who are not physically mature enough to give birth, but pregnancy is a significant health risk for women of any age who are unable to space their pregnancies more than 18 months apart.

In the United States, very few women die from pregnancy-related causes, but in some rural parts of Africa, women have a 1 in 30 lifetime chance of dying as a result of a pregnancy. Of the 800 women in the world who die every day from pregnancy-related causes, the vast majority are in the developing world.

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In Texas & Around The World: Women’s Rights Matter for The Environment

Friday, September 26th, 2014

Why Women’s Rights Matter for The Environment

See: http://www.tribtalk.org/2014/09/16/why-womens-rights-matter-for-the-environment/

Texas women have suffered major setbacks to their reproductive health and rights this year.

 

At the federal level, the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision has made it more difficult for women to access their contraceptive method of choice. At the state level, the Legislature and Gov. Rick Perry have enacted new restrictions on clinics providing basic women’s health care and family planning services.

 
Of course, these decisions hurt Texas women and their families – but they also increase the risk of social, economic and environmental harm in our great state.

 
When women and their medical providers are prevented from making personal health care decisions, the negative consequences are far-reaching. A woman’s inability to control the number, timing and spacing of her children impacts her health, education and career. Moreover, the cumulative impact of women having more children than they desire strains public health systems and natural resources such as water, energy and healthy food.

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Condoms and Soap Operas to Save the World: A Forum in Arizona

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

TUCSON, ARIZONA– About 140 people learned about endangered species condoms and soap operas as methods to save the world on September 10th in Tucson, Arizona. The event, titled “How Can Condoms and Soap Operas Save the World?” was co-hosted by the Arizona Chapter of Population Media Center, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the University of Arizona’s Department of Communication.

The audience gathered to hear Bill Ryerson, President of the Population Media Center (PMC), Kieran Suckling, the Director of the Center for Biological Diversity, and Jennifer Aubrey, Associate Professor of Communications at the University of Arizona discuss domestic and international efforts to bring about positive social change. Continue Reading »

World population to hit 11bn in 2100 – with 70% chance of continuous rise

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

World population to hit 11bn in 2100 – with 70% chance of continuous rise

New study overturns 20 years of consensus on peak projection of 9bn and gradual decline

See: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/18/world-population-new-study-11bn-2100

 
The world’s population is now odds-on to swell ever-higher for the rest of the century, posing grave challenges for food supplies, healthcare and social cohesion. A ground-breaking analysis releasedon Thursday shows there is a 70% chance that the number of people on the planet will rise continuously from 7bn today to 11bn in 2100.

 
The work overturns 20 years of consensus that global population, and the stresses it brings, will peak by 2050 at about 9bn people.

 
“The previous projections said this problem was going to go away so it took the focus off the population issue,” said Prof Adrian Raftery, at the University of Washington, who led the international research team. “There is now a strong argument that population should return to the top of the international agenda. Population is the driver of just about everything else and rapid population growth can exacerbate all kinds of challenges.” Lack of healthcare, poverty, pollution and rising unrest and crime are all problems linked to booming populations, he said.

 
“Population policy has been abandoned in recent decades. It is barely mentioned in discussions on sustainability or development such as the UN-led sustainable development goals,” said Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters, a thinktank supported by naturalist Sir David Attenborough and scientist James Lovelock. “The significance of the new work is that it provides greater certainty. Specifically, it is highly likely that, given current policies, the world population will be between 40-75% larger than today in the lifetime of many of today’s children and will still be growing at that point,” Ross said.

See: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/18/world-population-new-study-11bn-2100

Hey, U.N.: Climate change and population are related

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Hey, U.N.: Climate change and population are related 

See: http://grist.org/climate-energy/hey-u-n-climate-change-and-population-are-related/
On Sept. 22 and 23, the United Nations will host separate daylong conferences on two issues of incalculable importance to the future of humanity: population andclimate change. Though the two meetings will take place just one day apart, neither is likely to refer to the other. And that will be a missed opportunity, because scientific research increasingly affirms that the two issues are linked in many ways.

 
The population gathering in the General Assembly on Sept. 22 will mark the 20th anniversary of the landmark International Conference on Population and Development held in Cairo in 1994. The next day’s summit has been convened by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for government and business leaders to brainstorm ideas for addressing climate change.

 
The coincidence of these meetings occurring a day apart offers a teachable moment for the global decision-makers gathering in New York. Actions to promote the well-being of women might produce mutually reinforcing benefits in both areas.

 
Population, the lives and status of women, and climate change are rarely linked at the United Nations – or in any other intergovernmental conversations, for that matter. Intuitively, it’s easy to understand that the growth of world population from 1 billion people at the start of the Industrial Revolution to 7.3 billion today has something to do with the accumulation of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

See: http://grist.org/climate-energy/hey-u-n-climate-change-and-population-are-related/

Climate Change and World Population: Still Avoiding Each Other

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Climate Change and World Population: Still Avoiding Each Other 

See: http://passblue.com/2014/09/16/climate-change-and-world-population-still-avoiding-each-other/
Despite their intimate relationship, climate change and world population are still not talking to each other. The lack of meaningful dialogue has persisted for decades, with both seeming to deliberately ignore the significance, relevance and impact of the other.

 
With the simultaneous convening on Sept. 22 of a special session of the United Nations General Assembly marking the 20th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development and the UN Climate Summit on Sept. 23, this estranged relationship is now more glaring. Both gatherings are taking place within shouting distance of one another at UN headquarters in New York.

 
With growing concerns and uncertainties about the extent of the detrimental consequences of rapid population growth and climate change, the international community of nations convened the first World Population Conference in 1974 and the first World Climate Conference in 1979. Growing at 2 percent annually, global population increases reached a record high, doubling the world population in just 38 years. At the same time, rising amounts of carbon dioxide spewing into the atmosphere pointed to a gradual warming of the earth, especially at higher latitudes. The recommendations for action emanating from these groundbreaking conferences, however, essentially ignored each other.

See: http://passblue.com/2014/09/16/climate-change-and-world-population-still-avoiding-each-other/

Africa’s Dividing Farmlands A Threat To Food Security

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Africa’s Dividing Farmlands A Threat To Food Security 

See: http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/09/africas-dividing-farmlands-a-threat-to-food-security/
NAIROBI, Sep 10 2014 (IPS) - When Kiprui Kibet pictures his future as a maize farmer in the fertile Uasin Gishu county in Kenya’s Rift Valley region, all he sees is the ever-decreasing plot of land that he has to farm on.

 
“I used to farm on 40 hectares but now I only have 0.8 hectares. My father had 10 sons and we all wanted to own a piece of the farmland. Subdivision … ate into the actual farmland,” Kibet tells IPS. “From 3,200 bags a harvest, now I only produce 20 bags, at times even less.”

 
Experts say that Africa’s extensive land subdivision is emerging as a significant threat to food security.

 

Statistics by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) show that a majority of Africa’s farmers now farm on less than one hectare of land.

 
According to FAO, in the last 10 years the land/person in agriculture ratio in Kenya declined from 0.264 to the current 0.219. Explained as a percentage, this means that the number of people with one hectare of agricultural land in Kenya decreased by 17 percent over the last decade.

See: http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/09/africas-dividing-farmlands-a-threat-to-food-security/

Three Limits to Growth

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Three Limits to Growth 

See: http://steadystate.org/three-limits-to-growth/
As production (real GDP) grows, its marginal utility declines, because we satisfy our most important needs first. Likewise, the marginal disutilitiy inflicted by growth increases, because as the economy expands into the ecosphere we sacrifice our least important ecological services first (to the extent we know them). These rising costs and declining benefits of growth at the margin are depicted in the diagram below.

daly graph1

From the diagram we can distinguish three concepts of limits to growth.
1. The “futility limit” occurs when marginal utility of production falls to zero. Even with no cost of production, there is a limit to how much we can consume and still enjoy it. There is a limit to how many goods we can enjoy in a given time period, as well as a limit to our stomachs and to the sensory capacity of our nervous systems. In a world with considerable poverty, and in which the poor observe the rich apparently still enjoying their extra wealth, this futility limit is thought to be far away, not only for the poor, but for everyone. By its “non satiety” postulate, neoclassical economics formally denies the concept of the futility limit. However, studies showing that beyond a threshold self-evaluated happiness (total utility) ceases to increase with GDP, strengthen the relevance of the futility limit.
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Population stabilization is not enough to save Earth

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Population stabilization is not enough to save Earth

See: http://www.africasciencenews.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=982:population-stabilization-is-not-enough-to-save-earth&catid=52:environment&Itemid=115
As a college undergraduate years ago majoring in forestry and wildlife management, I took an elective philosophy course in logic. One of the key takeaways that I still remember more than three decades later is the crucial distinction between the words “necessary” and “sufficient.”

 
When it comes to population issues, I often find myself using these two words and drawing the distinction between them, as in the following statement: “Population stabilization is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for environmental sustainability.”

 
In other words, if we do not stabilize the human population at or below carrying capacity, it will be impossible to ever achieve environmental sustainability. However, even if we do stabilize population, sustainability is still not guaranteed, because stabilization alone is insufficient.
We also need the right technologies, and most important of all, the right values and priorities, in other words, a sense of ethics that embraces more than short-term human interests.

 
Our ideological adversaries on population – cornucopians both on the left and the right – would have flunked my college logic class because they misunderstand or conflate “necessary” and “sufficient.” They mistakenly or mendaciously conclude that because population stabilization is not sufficient, neither is it necessary. Nothing could be further from the truth.

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Around The “Limited” World — In 5 Short Stories

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Cape Cod’s namesake fish population rapidly disappearing

See: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-cod-fishing-20140831-story.html
There aren’t enough cod left on Cape Cod.

 

 
That soon becomes evident to the tourists crowding an observation deck to watch fishermen unload their boats in this picturesque harbor sheltered from the ocean by sandy dunes.

 

 
Today’s catch: pounds of skate, a fish that looks like a sting ray until fishermen catch it, when they cut off its wings and throw the body back into the water. The skate wings, white triangular pieces of flesh trailed by streams of blood, slide down ramps onto the loading dock.

 
“Eeeewww,” says 5-year-old Felix Haight. “It looks like raspberry jelly,” he adds, as his mother wrinkles her nose.

 
The next boat brings in dogfish, which looks like a mix between a shark and a lizard, and is no more appealing to the tourists.

 
For generations, the fish sliding down this ramp would have been cod, a ground fish that has been caught in these parts since the Pilgrims landed on Cape Cod, and before. But for reasons that scientists are still trying to determine, the cod population, shrinking for decades, dropped off precipitously in the last few years.

 

Pacific tuna stocks on the brink of disaster, warns outgoing fisheries head Glenn Hurry

 

See: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-02/pacific-tuna-stocks-on-brink-of-disaster-says-glenn-hurry/5704644
The Australian who heads fishery management in the Western and Central Pacific has warned an international agreement is urgently needed to avert disaster for the tuna industry.
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