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Articles by Category for ‘Environment’

Japan: ‘Groundwork needed to stem population decline’

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

‘Groundwork needed to stem population decline’

See: http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001510864

Former Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Hiroya Masuda has long grappled with various issues arising from a continued decline in the nation’s population. In an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun, Masuda said now is the time for the government to lay the foundation for a long-term fight against Japan’s low birthrate. The following is an excerpt from the interview.

 
The Yomiuri Shimbun: In May, the Japan Policy Council, a private-sector expert panel that you chair, released its estimates on the population decline. By the end of 2040, the number of women aged 20 to 39 will likely decrease by more than 50 percent in 896 cities, wards, towns and villages nationwide, or about half of the total municipalities, according to the projection. The council said about half of these municipalities could be wiped off the map.

 
Masuda: Population decline has been a concern of mine since my days as the governor of Iwate (1995-2007). During that time, enormous progress was made in integrating and closing down primary schools in the prefecture. But the process was accompanied by severe negative effects. This was evident in, for example, the difficulty in maintaining local communities that some areas experienced [due to the loss of primary schools].

 
However, [the consolidation] had to be carried out to accommodate a progressive decline in the number of children. The situation caused me to face a question: What will become of my prefecture in 20 years?

 
Even before the release of the panel’s estimates, many city, town and village mayors were more or less aware that the population was bound to decrease.

See: http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001510864

How can we stop the world from having too many babies? Feed more people

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

How can we stop the world from having too many babies? Feed more people 

See: http://grist.org/food/to-end-population-growth-spread-the-wealth/

Zoom out on the graph of human population until it encompasses the entire timeline of our species and you’ll notice something alarming. It looks like a right angle, with one line hovering near zero for millennia, and another, at present day, headed straight up toward the stratosphere.

 

Here I sit, on a warm quiet day in my neighborhood, with children playing nearby and a train whistle farther off, living a reasonable, modest life. And yet, at the same time, I, along with you and the rest of us, am plastered against the tip of population rocket powering upward atop megatons of explosive fuel.

 

That graph comes from Joel Cohen’s 1995 book, How Many People Can the Earth Support? Though it’s now almost 20 years old, it’s still incredibly useful in exploring the conflicting answers to that question, because Cohen never takes sides. He simply (and exhaustively) lays out the arguments, and every shred of data used to support them.
Cohen is still alarmed by that graph. “We are in a completely unprecedented range of experience,” he said. He has a gentle, grandfatherly manner, and speaks slowly, choosing his words one by one. “Population has tripled in my lifetime. It’s changing the world so fast and in so many dimensions that people aren’t aware of the significance.”

See: http://grist.org/food/to-end-population-growth-spread-the-wealth/

Do We Really Need Another Walmart More Than We Need Wildlife?

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Do We Really Need Another Walmart More Than We Need Wildlife? 

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephanie-feldstein/do-we-really-need-another_1_b_5682478.html

It doesn’t get much more David versus Goliath than this: In South Florida endangered butterflies and bats are clinging to the last remaining pine rockland forest habitat where a developer wants to build yet another strip mall, complete with Walmart and Chick-fil-A.

The development — with the shamelessly ironic name of Coral Reef Commons — also includes 900 “high quality” apartments, which could leave rare species like the Florida leafwing butterfly and Bartram’s scrub-hairstreak searching for a new home. Although these two species just gained protection under the Endangered Species Act, their habitat options are rapidly disappearing. Literally. The site for the new Walmart & Friends sits on priceless habitat reduced to just 2 percent of its original size. As if that’s not enough, the butterflies are also threatened by sea-level rise from climate change in other areas of the state.

It doesn’t matter how many solar panels Walmart might add to its new location, Florida’s threatened wildlife needs its habitat far more than it needs yet another development causing more emissions, more traffic, more pollution and more overconsumption.

So, what about humans? Do we really need another Walmart more than we need biodiversity?

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephanie-feldstein/do-we-really-need-another_1_b_5682478.html

100,000 Elephants Killed In 3 Years As Poaching Rates Climb In Africa, Study Finds

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

100,000 Elephants Killed In 3 Years As Poaching Rates Climb In Africa, Study Finds 

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/18/100000-elephants-killed_n_5688893.html
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – Poachers killed an estimated 100,000 elephants across Africa between 2010 and 2012, a huge spike in the continent’s death rate of the world’s largest mammals because of an increased demand for ivory in China and other Asian nations, a new study published Monday found.

Warnings about massive elephant slaughters have been ringing for years, but Monday’s study is the first to scientifically quantify the number of deaths across the continent by measuring deaths in one closely monitored park in Kenya and using other published data to extrapolate fatality tolls across the continent.

The study – which was carried out by the world’s leading elephant experts – found that the proportion of illegally killed elephants has climbed from 25 percent of all elephant deaths a decade ago to roughly 65 percent of all elephant deaths today, a percentage that, if continued, will lead to the extinction of the species.

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/18/100000-elephants-killed_n_5688893.html

Call for Applications, Deadline 8/22/2014

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Call for Applications:

See: http://us4.campaign-archive2.com/?u=302c6990dc3b5cfe595793def&id=b1d248218a&e=7ac8664768

The OASIS Initiative is currently seeking nominations for Fellows and for facilitators for theSahel Leadership Program (PLS). The PLS will be co-hosted by Abdou Moumouni University (UAM) in Niamey, the Higher Institute of Population Sciences (ISSP) based at the University of Ouagadougou (UO) in Burkina Faso and the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS).

The PLS is a unique and visionary program, aiming to catalyze an active and engaged network of development professionals with a common vision for the Sahel. We will recruit approximately 20 emerging leaders in research, policy and development programs from Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Chad. The costs of participation will be fully covered by the program. Selected fellows will strengthen their skills in multidisciplinary collaboration while gaining knowledge about the interactions between population, climate and sustainable agriculture, and in the crucial role of girls and women in development.

The success and sustainability of this program depends on you. Please share information about this exciting opportunity with your professional networks, especially with potentially qualified candidates. More information about the program and the application form are available at www.oasisinitiative.org/pls. If you know of any dynamic facilitators whom you would like to recommend with expertise in sustainable agriculture, girls education and empowerment, or family planning, please contact Paige Passano toinfo@oasisinitiative.org.

Dick Smith challenges ‘faith’ in benefits of population and economic growth

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Dick Smith challenges ‘faith’ in benefits of population and economic growth
See: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/dick-smith-challenges-faith-in-benefits-of-population-and-economic-growth-20140813-3dmx0.html

Dick Smith has warned against unchecked population growth but says Australia’s politicians are not “game” enough to talk about the issue.

In an address to the National Press Club on Wednesday, the businessman said endless population and economic growth was like a “religious faith” for graduates of university degrees in economics and questioning whether these two things were beneficial for Australians was something of a taboo in public discussion.

Mr Smith singled out politicians, economists and journalists for restricting debate about the costs of “endless compound growth in population” and said a Senate inquiry might be needed to break open a conversation.

“It’s almost like a religious faith that growth, don’t even discuss it, it will just go on forever when it obviously can’t and I’m absolutely surprised at that,” Mr Smith said.

Mr Smith said, left unchecked, Australia’s population would hit “80 to 100 million by the end of the century if we keep growing”.

He said that kind of perpetual growth would only serve wealthy Australians, while the majority of the population would suffer a decline in living conditions and be worse off.

“The cake is a certain size, mainly coming from our mineral reserves and our primary production from farming, and double the population, I believe everyone’s worth half as much,” he said.

 See: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/dick-smith-challenges-faith-in-benefits-of-population-and-economic-growth-20140813-3dmx0.html

 

Not Yet?

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Not Yet?

See: http://mahb.stanford.edu/blog/not-yet/

The summer 2014 issue of CALIFORNIA, the magazine of the University of California Alumni Association, was touted as the “Apocalypse Issue.” It contained articles, mostly excellent, on a series of potential California and global problems: asteroid collision, epidemics, extinction, climate disruption and earthquake.  In stark contrast, though, was a summary article, “Apocalypse Later” by Brendan Buhler, interim Science Editor for the issue.

Buhler’s essay hinges around two assertions about the future.  On the one hand he asserts that apocalypse is something that is at worst far off in the future.  It is “not yet”; there is time.  Time for what?  For the technological solutions that he asserts are just around the corner.  To advise a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to confronting severe threats to us and our descendants, and a thoughtless confidence when it comes to future breakthroughs in technology, is a lethal combination; it is not the advice we and many of our scientist colleagues offer up in the classroom.

See: http://mahb.stanford.edu/blog/not-yet/

Planetary health: a call for papers

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Planetary health: a call for papers 

See: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)61289-7/fulltext

We live in the Anthropocene era when humanity’s impact on both biological and geophysical systems is becoming increasingly dominant. Environmental trends, including large-scale changes to climate, water, and natural habitats, pose important challenges to sustaining the biosphere in a state conducive to the advancement of health and flourishing of humanity. Those challenges also threaten the very viability of human civilisation.1
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has assessed the risks to health from climate change, but much less has been written on the health effects of the other environmental changes or on the implications for health from interactions between different types of environmental stress. Biodiversity loss, freshwater withdrawals, cropland and pasture conversion, coastal buffer degradation, and ocean acidification have major implications for human health through effects on a range of health outcomes that include: water-related and vector-borne diseases; impacts of increased frequency and intensity of extreme events, such as floods, droughts, and heatwaves; and food security and undernutrition. Beyond these direct and ecologically mediated impacts, cultural and aesthetic deprivation, livelihood losses, population displacement, conflict, poverty, and ultimately collapse of our civilisation are of added concern. There is evidence, for example, that increased thermal stress will substantially reduce labour productivity in tropical and subtropical regions and earnings of subsistence farmers because of declining crop yields, thus increasing poverty.2 However, the nature and extent of many of these indirect pathways have yet to be successfully quantified.

See: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)61289-7/fulltext

My Turn: Raising awareness about population issues

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

My Turn: Raising awareness about population issues

See: http://www.taosnews.com/opinion/article_66d419b4-18d0-11e4-97c2-001a4bcf887a.html

On July 11 people around the world took part in World Population Day to raise awareness about population issues. But here in the United States, we don´t talk enough about the specific effects our exploding numbers have on wildlife, the planet and our own future. Instead, our ultra-conservative United States Supreme Court is telling us our employers can decide for us, based on the employer’s religious beliefs, whether we can have access to birth control through our health care plans.

There are more than 7 billion people on the planet, and we´re adding 227,000 more each day. Every eight seconds another person is born in the United States. U.S. citizens are the worst of all humans when it comes to consumption of resources and destruction of habitat for wildlife. If every human on earth consumed like we do, it would take 4.4 Earths to sustain our current world population.

We destroy a great deal of wildlife habitat in producing our food, then we waste about half of the food we produce. We foul our air and water, the most fundamental necessities of life, then we pat ourselves on the back for being the most intelligent creatures on Earth.

See: http://www.taosnews.com/opinion/article_66d419b4-18d0-11e4-97c2-001a4bcf887a.html

Reducing Carbon by Curbing Population

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Reducing Carbon by Curbing Population 

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/06/business/economy/population-curbs-as-a-means-to-cut-carbon-emissions.html?_r=0

Remember the population explosion?

When population was growing at its fastest rate in human history in the decades after World War II, the sense that overpopulation was stunting economic development and stoking political instability took hold from New Delhi to the United Nations’ headquarters in New York, sending policy makers on an urgent quest to stop it.

In the 1970s the Indian government forcibly sterilized millions of women. Families in Bangladesh, Indonesia and elsewhere were forced to have fewer children. In 1974, the United Nations organized its first World Population Conference to debate population control. China rolled out its one-child policy in 1980.

Then, almost as suddenly as it had begun, the demographic “crisis” was over. As fertility rates in most of the world dropped to around the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman – with the one major exception of sub-Saharan Africa – population specialists and politicians turned to other issues.

By 1994, when the U.N. held its last population conference, in Cairo, demographic targets had pretty much been abandoned, replaced by an agenda centered on empowering women, reducing infant mortality and increasing access to reproductive health.

“Some people still regret that; some applaud it,” said Joel E. Cohen, who heads the Laboratory of Populations at Rockefeller University in New York. “I’m not sure we need demographic goals but we need forward thinking.”

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/06/business/economy/population-curbs-as-a-means-to-cut-carbon-emissions.html?_r=0