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Climate Change: The Least We Can Do

April 15th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Climate Change: The Least We Can Do
See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-walker/climate-change-the-least_b_5107476.html?utm_hp_ref=green

As the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report makes clear, we are long past the point of avoiding climate change. The best we can do now is to avoid the worst effects. The situation is more dire than previously projected and the consequences of inaction more starkly drawn than ever before:

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased….Over the last two decades, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass, glaciers have continued to shrink almost worldwide, and Arctic sea ice and Northern Hemisphere spring snow cover have continued to decrease in extent (high confidence)…. Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

In a perfect world, the IPCC’s report would summon forth our best efforts at mitigating climate change and its effects. We would be doing whatever is necessary and prudent to avoid a human and environmental catastrophe. By now, however, it is evident that governments — and the people they represent — are shrinking from the challenge. Hope for concerted global action on any kind of meaningful scale has largely evaporated.

Instead of asking what is the most that can be done to mitigate climate change and alleviate its consequences, perhaps we should be asking, “What is the least that can be done?”

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-walker/climate-change-the-least_b_5107476.html?utm_hp_ref=green

Population Media Center Capacity Building with South-to-South Training

April 14th, 2014 | Add a Comment

SHELBURNE, VT – When Gabin Kifukiau accepted the job of Country Representative in the Democratic Republic of Congo for a United States nonprofit, he didn’t know that some of his training would come from Burundi and Rwanda. In March of 2014, Kifukiau and his DRC colleague traveled to Burundi, with a stop-over in Rwanda, to see how Burundians and Rwandans were operating country offices of US-based Population Media Center.

Population Media Center (PMC) works around the world to improve the health and well-being of people through storytelling. In order to tell real, authentic, and powerful stories, PMC knows that the writers and rest of the staff have to be from the country where the stories are being told. As PMC’s work has expanded, country offices have become so proficient that PMC has begun using local staffs to provide south-to-south training.

“Such meetings allow mutual enrichment and have many advantages,” says Kifukiau. “The most important is undoubtedly a valuable time saver in the approach used to solve potential operations management problems and implementation of program activities.”

Kifukiau and his team, like the Burundi and Rwandan teams, are working to produce long-running radio serial dramas that engage people and effect behavior change. South-to-south trainings allow the details of best practices to be transferred, supplementing the guidance from headquarters with on-the-ground recent experiences.

“We produce long-running dramas for radio and TV,” says PMC’s President Bill Ryerson, “which require our country teams to handle numerous tasks at once. Plus, they have to work within the framework of their country and establish partnerships for research, broadcast, distribution, and promotion. South-to-south training allows our country teams to help each other anticipate and overcome stumbling blocks.”

DRC is preparing to launch five radio serial dramas later this year, the most PMC has ever launched in one country simultaneously. The dramas will air in Lingala, Swahili, French, Tshiluba, and Kikongo. Kifukiau and his colleague hoped to learn from Burundi’s experience launching the 208-episode radio serial drama “Agashi,” (“Hey! Look Again!”) in January of 2014. The trip also allowed for a short visit in Rwanda, which produced and aired the 312-episode “Umurage Urukwiye” from 2007 to 2009 and is currently preparing for a new program that will launch in May of 2014.

“It’s the local experiences, the local understandings, that make the country offices efficient and effective and that result in real, colorful radio programs that connect with people,” says PMC’s Vice President for International Programs Kriss Barker. “We provide appropriate training and oversight, but they know their country. The south-to-south trainings are fabulous because we get to see the country teams’ excitement to share our framework and methodology with other country teams so that they can effect change within their community and create a real impact.”


Population Media Center is a nonprofit, international nongovernmental organization, which strives to improve the health and well-being of people around the world through the use of entertainment-education strategies, like serialized dramas on radio and television, in which characters evolve into role models for the audience for positive behavior change. Founded in 1998, PMC has over 15 years of field experience using the Sabido methodology of behavior change communications, impacting more than 50 countries around the world.

Philippine Supreme Court Upholds Most of Reproductive-Health Law

April 9th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Philippine Supreme Court Upholds Most of Reproductive-Health Law
Law Allows Greater Access to Birth Control; Some Provisions Struck Down
See: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304819004579488974266047850?4579488974266047850.html

The Philippine Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld most of a controversial reproductive-health law, handing the government a victory in its effort to provide greater public access to birth control and family-planning education in the heavily Catholic country.

The implementation of the law has been held up for more than a year by a legal challenge from the Roman Catholic Church and faith-based groups. Advocates of the law say it will help slow the country’s population growth of more than 2% annually by providing people more access to contraceptives. However, opponents say the law violates the Philippine Constitution by promoting contraceptives, imposing population control and violating religious beliefs.

“This monumental decision upholds the separation of church and state and affirms the supremacy of government in secular concerns like health and socio-economic development,” said Congressman Edcel Lagman, one of the authors of the law.

See: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304819004579488974266047850?4579488974266047850.html

Four Steps to Better Link Climate Adaptation and Reproductive Health Strategies

April 9th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Four Steps to Better Link Climate Adaptation and Reproductive Health Strategies
See: http://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2014/03/kathleen-mogelgaard-steps-linking-climate-adaptation-reproductive-health-strategies-2/#.U0Po5vldW8w

LINK TO PODCAST: http://ecsp-wwc.podomatic.com/entry/2014-03-27T14_53_31-07_00

Climate change vulnerability is closely tied to population dynamics, says Kathleen Mogelgaard in this week’s podcast. “We know that population size, composition and spatial distribution around the world is constantly changing, and that these changes do have implications for climate change exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity – the three elements of vulnerability.”

And yet, despite this knowledge, alternative population scenarios are rarely considered in climate assessments. “We do know that things like fertility and population growth can be responsive to policy and programmatic interventions,” she says, and more than 233 million women worldwide currently lack access to family planning but want to delay or prevent pregnancy. Addressing that unmet need could make a major difference in the growth rates of many regions of the world, reducing climate vulnerability along the way.

Mogelgaard outlines four ways the links between climate change adaptation and reproductive health strategies need to be strengthened: in adaptation planning frameworks, tools and training, program design, and the evidence base for these connections.

The creation of National Adaptation Programs of Action (NAPAs) was a major initiative by the UN Framework on Convention on Climate Change to create climate adaptation plans for the most vulnerable countries. Most of the plans, in fact, identified rapid population growth as something that exacerbates vulnerability. But when it came to the implementation phase, only a “handful of the NAPAs recognized that family planning and reproductive health services could be part of an adaptation strategy,” Mogelgaard says; fewer still made them a priority, and none were funded.

See: http://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2014/03/kathleen-mogelgaard-steps-linking-climate-adaptation-reproductive-health-strategies-2/#.U0Po5vldW8w

47th Session of the Commission on Population and Development

April 9th, 2014 | 1 Comment

Assessing progress for populations worldwide
See: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/newsletter/desanews/feature/2014/04/index.html#10580

When the Commission on Population and Development gathers on 7-11 April, it will be only a few months away from the 20-year anniversary of the largest intergovernmental conference on population and development ever held – the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo in 1994. Ahead of this event, John Wilmoth, Director of UN DESA’s Population Division, spoke with DESA News about some of the demographic trends during the past 20 years and some of the issues currently at stake.

“One of the most important areas of progress goes to the heart of what the Cairo conference was all about,” said Mr. Wilmoth, highlighting how this conference represented a shift in thinking. “Across the board, the emphasis went toward thinking about individuals and their rights and needs, and addressing those issues first and foremost,” he explained. He also pointed to positive changes that can be seen over the past 20 years including a substantial reduction of fertility around the world, increases in life expectancy as well as greater recognition of the contribution of international migration to development.

The conference in Cairo helped galvanize action that brought major improvements in the well-being of people around the world. When representatives and experts from a large number of UN Member States and NGOs gather in New York for the 47th session of the Commission on Population and Development, they will assess the status of implementation of the Programme of Action, adopted by 179 governments in 1994.

“There is still an unfinished agenda of the Cairo conference,” Mr. Wilmoth said, pointing to the need to continue to improve life expectancy, reduce fertility, enhance access to education, and achieve gender equality. “It means continuing to work on fulfilling the rights and needs of individuals across the life course,” Mr. Wilmoth added.

See: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/newsletter/desanews/feature/2014/04/index.html#10580

Great Plains and Gulf Coast the Latest High Growth Areas in USA

April 9th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Energy Boom Fuels Rapid Population Growth in Parts of Great Plains; Gulf Coast Also Has High Growth Areas, Says Census Bureau
See: https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb14-51.html

Oil- and gas-rich areas in and near the Great Plains contained many of the fastest-growing areas in the U.S. last year, according to U.S. Census Bureau population estimates released today. Areas along and near the Gulf Coast were also home to several high-growth communities.

Of the nation’s 10 fastest-growing metropolitan statistical areas in the year ending July 1, 2013, six were within or near the Great Plains, including Odessa, Texas; Midland, Texas; Fargo, N.D.-Minn.; Bismarck, N.D.; Casper, Wyo.; and Austin-Round Rock, Texas.

Micropolitan statistical areas, which contain an urban cluster of between 10,000 and 49,999 people, followed a similar pattern, with seven located in or adjacent to the Great Plains among the fastest-growing between 2012 and 2013. Williston, N.D., ranked first in growth (10.7 percent), followed by Dickinson, N.D. Andrews, Texas; Minot, N.D.; and two areas in western Oklahoma (Weatherford and Woodward) also made the top 10, as did Hobbs, N.M.

“The data released in today’s population estimates report provide an important look at the fastest-growing counties and metro areas,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. “Coupled with yesterday’s Economic Census report results, the Census Bureau’s population report provides a bigger picture of why certain areas may be growing or shrinking, which is critical for business and government decision-making. The Commerce Department’s ‘Open for Business Agenda’ supports making our data easier to access and understand, so that it can continue enabling startups, moving markets, protecting life and property, and powering both small and large businesses across the country.”

See: https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb14-51.html

Hungry monkeys raid farms in north India as forests shrink

April 9th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Hungry monkeys raid farms in north India as forests shrink
See: http://www.trust.org/item/20140403102617-cv8xn/

JAMMU, India (Thomas Reuters Foundation) – Panicked monkeys jump off an orange tree and disappear fast as angry children pelt them with stones and shout abuse. Crackers are let off in the distance, and more kids rush out to a nearby field, dotted with scarecrows, to stop wild animals destroying crops.

For a few years now, the small farmers of Pouni block, an area surrounded by green hills and mountains in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district, have faced an unusual threat from hungry wildlife whose forest habitats are in decline.

The animals are harming crops, livestock and even people here in India’s far north. In many villages, almost entire crops have been damaged on a yearly basis, threatening to bring food insecurity for small farmers living in and around traditional forest areas.

“The monkeys don’t spare any crop in our fields,” said Bal Krishan Arya, a resident of Kheralair village in Pouni block, pointing to the devoured shoots of his wheat plants. “They have destroyed my orange orchard, not leaving a single fruit on any tree.”

“There used to be dense forest on the higher reaches of the hills, but in the past few decades, the forest canopy has become patchy,” said Arya. The nearby Bayard forests were well known for their thick bamboo bushes but in the recent past, they have thinned out dramatically. Other trees have suffered too, shrinking the area’s natural vegetation.

Arya blames “reckless tree-felling” due to development activities undertaken by the state – mainly road building and expansion of human settlements – as well as local people’s dependence on wood for fuel and other purposes.

See: http://www.trust.org/item/20140403102617-cv8xn/

NY Times: Old Forecast of Famine May Yet Come True

April 4th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Old Forecast of Famine May Yet Come True

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/02/business/energy-environment/a-200-year-old-forecast-for-food-scarcity-may-yet-come-true.html?_r=1

Might Thomas Malthus be vindicated in the end?

Two centuries ago — only 10 years after a hungry, angry populace had ushered in the French Revolution — the dour Englishman predicted that exponential population growth would condemn humanity to the edge of subsistence.

“The power of population is so superior to the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man, that premature death must in some shape or other visit the human race,” he wrote with alarm.

This was, we now know, wrong. The gloomy forecast was soon buried under an avalanche of progress that spread from England around the world. Between 1820 and the year 2000 the world’s population grew sixfold. Economic output multiplied by more than 50.

Nonetheless, Malthus’s prediction was based on an eminently sensible premise: that the earth’s carrying capacity has a limit. On Monday, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change provided a sharp-edged warning about how fast we are approaching this constraint.

See: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/02/business/energy-environment/a-200-year-old-forecast-for-food-scarcity-may-yet-come-true.html?_r=1

Norman Borlaug enters U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall

April 3rd, 2014 | Add a Comment

Norman Borlaug enters U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall

See: http://archive.desmoinesregister.com/article/20140326/NEWS/303260057/Norman-Borlaug-enters-U-S-Capitol-s-Statuary-Hall

WASHINGTON — Far from the fields and laboratories where Norman Borlaug worked much of his life, hundreds gathered in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday to unveil a statue honoring the plant geneticist credited with saving more than a billion people around the world from starvation.

As light snow blanketed Washington, attendees joined to praise the late scientist’s work to boost crop production and recognize his enduring impact on agriculture — still yielding benefits for people living in Mexico, India and other countries around the globe five years after his death.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Sen. Chuck Grassley, among the nearly dozen people to talk about the Cresco native, called Borlaug a great humanitarian and a visionary who was focused on ending hunger and boosting farm productivity.

See: http://archive.desmoinesregister.com/article/20140326/NEWS/303260057/Norman-Borlaug-enters-U-S-Capitol-s-Statuary-Hall

Population Media Center Request for Proposals for Website Revamp

April 2nd, 2014 | Add a Comment

SHELBURNE, VT –Population Media Center (PMC) knows that strategic and audience-specific communications have tremendous impact. This year, PMC has two exciting opportunities. First, PMC will be partnering to produce a worldwide campaign titled Global Population Speak Out in 2015. Second, PMC is poised to tell the story of our work and its impact. With these two goals in mind, PMC is looking to hire a website development vendor.

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