‘Groundwork needed to stem population decline’
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.
How can we stop the world from having too many babies? Feed more people
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.”
Expanding Sexual, Reproductive Health to Score Development Goals
With just 500 days left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), we must all intensify our actions to hit our targets, especially the MDG 5 targets to reduce maternal death and achieve universal reproductive health.
There is no time for complacency when 800 women and girls continue to die each day of pregnancy and childbirth complications, and more than 220 million women who want to plan their births continue to lack modern contraception.
To speed up progress, I am excited about a new public-private partnership that plans to save an additional 140,000 women and 250,000 newborns and significantly increase access to reproductive health services, including modern contraception, by the end of 2015. We are working together — governments, the United Nations system, civil society and the private sector — guided by a roadmap, we unveiled last month, to accelerate maternal and newborn survival.
Amid population explosion, birth control access roils the Philippines
MARK LITKE: It’s 8 a.m. at the Jose Favella hospital in the Philippine capital, Manila. In the past 12 hours there have been about 40 births, a fairly average night for one of the world’s busiest maternity wards.
DR. SYLVIA DE LA PAZ: As you can see, there’s more patients than there are resources for them.
MARK LITKE: Dr. Silvia de la Paz, the chief obstetrician here, says they manage the crush as best they can. Often putting two beds together as a tandem bed for four mothers and four newborns.
And from these overcrowded hospital wards, out into the teeming slums of the city, it’s easy to see this country is in the midst of a population explosion, what some are calling a crisis. The Philippines today has one of the highest birth rates in Asia with a population that has more than doubled over the last three decades from 45 million to 100 million.
Once the mothers and their newborns leave the maternity hospital, many are going to return to places like, Tondo – this gritty neighborhood right on the edge of Manila. It’s a place where families struggle to get by on $1 or $2 a day at best. Here, very young children scavenge through garbage in search of something to sell for a few dollars to help support their families.
Cost of Raising Child in U.S. Climbs to $245,340, Smallest Rise Since 2009
The cost for a middle-income family to raise a child born last year to age 18 is $245,340, a 1.8 percent increase from the previous year and the smallest jump since the financial crisis, according to the government.
Housing was the largest expense at 30 percent, unchanged from 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in an annual report that showed wealthier families spend more than twice as much on their children as poorer households. Child care was the second-biggest cost in more affluent homes, while lower-income households spent a greater proportion on food.
Costs have climbed as the need for day care has increased and a recovery in U.S. home prices adds expense. The advance was the smallest since 2009, with inflation in check as health-care costs rise more slowly, jobs are created and the Federal Reserve winds down record economic stimulus.
Long-Term Answer to Border Crises: Empower Women
Border crises flare as government policies neglect inequality, family planning and gender mainstreaming
MEXICO CITY: The United States has a border crisis – with more than 50,000 unaccompanied minors streaming into the country overwhelming the administration. The obvious reasons behind their desperate journey of up to 1,600 miles are well known – fleeing violence, drug crime, poverty and lack of opportunities. But the solutions offered by the US government and politicians are short-term palliatives that do not address the fundamental causes including gender inequality and poor governance.
Most of the minors are fleeing from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, which have high rates of homicide and poverty. The violence threatens livelihoods, and in addition, about 40 percent of the minors coming from these three countries have a parent or family member living in the United States. Regional migratory surges are common when a struggling country has easy access to stronger, more developed economies and a constant onslaught of images touting wealth and comforts. Conflicts emerge when many in the host country fear the sudden influx might precipitate demographic, cultural or security threats. Migrations are more complicated when the influx is composed mostly of unaccompanied minors – a migratory challenge transforms into a humanitarian and moral dilemma.
Do We Really Need Another Walmart More Than We Need Wildlife?
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?
100,000 Elephants Killed In 3 Years As Poaching Rates Climb In Africa, Study Finds
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.
Call for Applications:
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 email@example.com.
Safety nets for birth control coverage aren’t working
The number of poor women who need contraception has gone up nearly a quarter. The number getting it has dropped
Between 2000 and 2012, the number of American women in need of publicly funded family planning services went up 22 percent. The number of women able to access those services did not. Instead, it declined, according to a new report from the Guttmacher Institute. Recent estimates show that 20 million women qualify as “in need” of publicly funded contraception typically provided by Title X services, instituted decades ago to provide family planning assistance (because even Richard Nixon knew that accessible birth control is a good idea).But the ongoing partisan crusade against abortion providers, in which Title X programs have unfortunately been included, has left just over one-fifth of qualifying patients covered.
“The number of women needing publicly funded contraceptive services has skyrocketed over the last decade,” Rachel Gold, Guttmacher’s acting vice president for public policy, said in a statement. “Publicly funded family planning centers are safety-net providers – they are essential in enabling women to plan the pregnancies they want and avoid the ones that they don’t. But public funding sources – such as the federal Title X program and state revenues – are failing to keep pace with women’s growing needs.”
In 2000, public clinics were able to provide coverage for just 41 percent of the low-income women who qualified for it; that number dropped 10 percent by 2012, when Title X was able to serve just 4.3 million women. Despite the program’s inability to keep up with growing demand, it has still offered crucial assistance: Guttmacher credits public clinics with helping to avoid 1.5 million unintended pregnancies in 2012, which would have resulted in 741,000 unplanned births and 510,000 abortions. Title X health centers provided more than 70 percent of those services, which kept the combined rate of unintended pregnancy, unplanned birth and abortion down by 44 percent. It also saved the U.S. a whole lot of money.