Planetary health: a call for papers
Articles by Category for ‘Climate Change’
My Turn: Raising awareness about population issues
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.
Reducing Carbon by Curbing Population
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.”
Family Planning and Environmental Sustainability Assessment Aims to Shed Light on Pop-Environment LinkMonday, August 4th, 2014
Family Planning and Environmental Sustainability Assessment Aims to Shed Light on Pop-Environment Link
As global environmental change accelerates, understanding how population dynamics affect the environment is more important than ever. It seems obvious that human-caused climate change has at least something to do with the quadrupling of world population over the last 100 years.
But the evidence that slower population growth is good for the environment – logical as that statement may seem – has never been extensive, with conceptual models, empirical research, and data often lacking on key issues.
An ambitious new Worldwatch project, the Family Planning and Environmental Sustainability Assessment, hopes to help redress this, shedding light on how increased access to voluntary family planning services can support environmental sustainability.
See: Here (PDF)
The global population is likely to grow to between 8.3 and 10.4 billion by 2045, largely because of increasing life-expectancy, declining levels of child mortality and continuing high birth rates in many developing countries. Growth is not likely to be evenly distributed and will probably be slower in developed countries. Some, including Japan and a number of European countries, are likely to experience a decline in population.
In developing countries, rapid population increase and urbanisation will probably challenge stability. Age and gender imbalances may exacerbate existing political and social tensions while a growing youth population, especially in the Middle East, Central Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, could provide a reservoir of disaffected young people.
Conversely, if harnessed, they could provide a boost to their economies. Migration is likely to increase, with people moving within, and outside, their country of origin to seek work or to escape the effects of climate change.
Our contemporary world is host to two coexisting but fundamentally different-and, in at least one crucial respect, contradictory-realities. One of these might be termed Political Reality, though it extends far beyond formal politics and pervades conventional economic thinking. It is the bounded universe of what is acceptable in public economic-social-political discourse. The other is Physical Reality: i.e., what exists in terms of energy and materials, and what is possible given the laws of thermodynamics.
For decades these two realities have developed along separate lines. They overlap from time to time: politicians and economists use data tied to measureable physical parameters, while physical scientists often frame their research and findings in socially meaningful ways. But in intent and effect, they diverge to an ever-greater extent.
The issue at which they differ to the point of outright contradiction is economic growth. And climate change forces the question.
Is the Anthropocene a world of hope or a world of hurt?
Is it possible that a world swarming with humanity, warmed by our fumes, and depleted by our carelessness could in any way be good?
Last year, some 30 people, including the ethicist Clive Hamilton and the journalist Andrew Revkin, attended a seminar in Washington, D.C., on the Anthropocene - a term denoting a new geologic epoch, dominated by human influence. Hamilton noticed that some of the participants seemed optimistic, even excited, about the advent of the Anthropocene. “I was astonished and irritated that some people who were scientifically literate were imposing this barrier of wishful thinking between the science and future outcomes for humanity,” he said.
Hamilton had just written a book, Requiem for a Species, arguing that people squirm away from the bleak reality of climate change.
Months later, Revkin sent this video of a talk he’d given to the people who had attended that seminar. It was entitled Seeking a Good Anthropocene, and Hamilton – seeing this idea that he objected so strongly reprised – decided to write a rebuttal (actually two).
This debate has been brewing for years, and each side tends to caricature the other’s position. Suggest there’s a reason for hope and you are called a delusional techno-utopian; if you say there’s an imperative for humility, you are framed as an anti-technological doomer.
Call climate change what it is: violence
Social unrest and famine, superstorms and droughts. Places, species and human beings – none will be spared. Welcome to Occupy Earth
If you’re poor, the only way you’re likely to injure someone is the old traditional way: artisanal violence, we could call it – by hands, by knife, by club, or maybe modern hands-on violence, by gun or by car.
But if you’re tremendously wealthy, you can practice industrial-scale violence without any manual labor on your own part. You can, say, build a sweatshop factory that will collapse in Bangladesh and kill more people than any hands-on mass murderer ever did, or you can calculate risk and benefit about putting poisons or unsafe machines into the world, as manufacturers do every day. If you’re the leader of a country, you can declare war and kill by the hundreds of thousands or millions. And the nuclear superpowers – the US and Russia – still hold the option of destroying quite a lot of life on Earth.
So do the carbon barons.
The Disaster We’ve Wrought on the World’s Oceans May Be Irrevocable
In the great halls of La Boqueria, Barcelona’s central market, tourists, foodies and cooks gather every day to marvel at the fresh food, like pilgrims at the site of a miracle. The chief shrines are the fish counters, where thousands of sea creatures making up dozens of species gleam pink and gray on mounds of ice. But to many ocean scientists this is not a display of the ocean’s bounty but a museum-by the end of this century, many of these animals may be history due to man’s reckless abuse of the planet. As we keep dumping greenhouse gases into the air, the oceans keep sucking them up, making the waters deadly to their inhabitants.
On the Boqueria’s fish stands I count 10 types of bivalves-creatures like clams, oysters and mussels that use calcium carbonate to make their endlessly varied shells. In as little as 20 years they will be very different and, in some parts of the world, entirely gone.
Food Security: The Challenge of A Growing Population
Can Bangladesh sustain the gains achieved in food security and make further progress towards sustainable food security?
The main challenge in the way of progress towards food security emanates from continuing growth of population. The progress in reducing population growth, from 3.0 per cent per year at independence to about 1.2 per cent now, is laudable. But there are indications that the progress made in fertility reduction has slowed down in recent years. In Chittagong and Sylhet divisions, the total fertility rate is still higher than three, while the national average is 2.3, and it is less than two in Khulna Division. Strong traditional norms, and socio-cultural conditions in the Chittagong and Sylhet Divisions contribute to low acceptance of family planning that will not be easy to overcome.
The population is still increasing by 1.8 million every year. Rice production has to increase by 0.4 million tons every year to meet the need for staple food for the growing population. The increase in domestic production at that rate would be difficult due to several supply-side factors. The arable land has been shrinking by 0.6 per cent every year due to demand from housing and industries, and infrastructure, as well as loss of land from river erosion. With global warming and climate change, another one-sixth of the land may be submerged with brackish water over the next 40 years due to rising sea levels with adverse impact on soil salinity.