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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.

Read the rest of this entry »

No, Alan, population is not an economic boom

April 2nd, 2014 | Add a Comment

No, Alan, population is not an economic boom

See: http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2014/04/no-alan-population-growth-is-not-an-economic-boom/

Alan Kohler has today uncovered the key ingredient behind Australia’s recent economic growth: the population ponzi:

It’s perfectly clear what is now taking over as the main driver of Australia’s economic growth: population.

In the 1990s, it was the productivity growth that resulted from the microeconomic reforms of the Hawke Government. In the 2000s, it was the increase in commodity prices resulting from Chinese demand.

Productivity growth finished long ago, and the investment boom is coming to an end now. Although mining and energy exports will continue to support GDP, the burning question is: what will replace resources investment as the new driver of growth?

The answer is people, or more specifically, the infrastructure required to house, feed and transport them.

Last year Australia’s population grew 1.8 per cent — the most in the Western world…

Without that, the new boom in city infrastructure needed to cope with the increase in population will simply lead to higher costs. Its impact would be negated by making Australia less competitive, leading to higher interest rates to deal with inflation.

The key issue in all this is whether expanding Australia’s population by more than 1 million people every three years is beneficial to the existing population. Sure, while it might be great for Australia’s business elites – who enjoy the fruits of an expanded market – it imposes real costs on the rest of us, who must endure increased costs of congestion, higher infrastructure costs, lower environmental amenity, and minimal uplift in material economic well-being.

See: http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2014/04/no-alan-population-growth-is-not-an-economic-boom/

Myths foil family planning adoption

April 1st, 2014 | Add a Comment

Myths foil family planning adoption

See: http://timesmediamw.com/myths-foil-family-planning-adoption/

Violet Mboga of Gomani Village in Senior Chief Kapeni’s area in Blantyre knows well that one day, she could be in trouble.

For the period she has been married she has had to go behind her husband’s back to access family planning methods and after two deliveries, she still keeps the secret to her heart.

She even said she would still keep her husband in the dark on her secret although she is afraid that once he discovers, there will be trouble.

The 34-year old said it is not her intention to keep her husband away from the matter; it is because he has never accepted to let her access family planning methods ever since they got married.

“He hardly accepts to use family planning methods because he and other men from our village believe that once a woman starts using the methods, they become prostitutes leading to end of marriages,” she said, adding that as a woman, she did not feel safe without family planning methods due to her family’s financial standing.

The husband’s belief in myths around family planning is a common in most parts in the area.

See: http://timesmediamw.com/myths-foil-family-planning-adoption/

 

Environmental impact to worsen over time

March 31st, 2014 | Add a Comment

Environmental impact to worsen over time

HAVING PICKED MOST of the ‘low hanging fruit’, humans are now putting more effort into extracting useful materials, and a new study says the associated environmental impacts are only going to grow.

Lead author, Dr Debra Davidson of the University of Alberta, said it is a worrying trend that is set to continue as natural resources become even more limited. She said environmental impacts would grow even if current consumption levels remained constant.
“A barrel of oil that was consumed in 1950 would have had a relatively smaller ecological impact than a barrel of oil that was consumed in 1980, and that will have had a relatively smaller ecological impact than a barrel of oil that will be consumed in 2020,” Davidson said.
The reason for the increasing environmental impact over time is due to declines in the quality of natural resources as they are exploited. As the easy-to-reach and better quality materials diminish, greater effort is required to extract and process the poorer quality material that is remaining.
This extra effort could be in the form of human labour, more intensive technologies, and increased requirements for inputs such as land, water, energy and chemicals.

Family planning groups in developing countries set for Bloomberg boost

March 31st, 2014 | Add a Comment

Family planning groups in developing countries set for Bloomberg boost

$50m grants scheme will support delivery of reproductive health services in Uganda, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Nicaragua
Grassroots organisations are to share in a multi-million dollar project to improve family planning and reproductive health services for women and girls in Africa and Latin America.
Groups in Uganda, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Nicaragua will be able to apply for advocacy grants as part of a three-pillar, $50m (£30m) package to support family planning services. The scheme was announced on Thursday by Bloomberg Philanthropies, set up by Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York.
Bloomberg will work with the Planned Parenthood Federation of America to identify groups that could benefit from extra funding in each of the four countries. Organisations working among marginalised groups such as young people and unmarried women will be a particular focus for the scheme, which will also support agencies that lobby their governments for legislation and policies that support access to services.
As part of the package, Bloomberg is partnering with the UN Foundation to launch a rapid-response grants programme to support governments and providers in delivering reproductive health services in 69 of the world’s poorest countries. This could include providing grants to pay for emergency supplies of contraceptives when there is a stockout at a health centre, or paying for specialised training for health workers.

(Wrong) Opinion: Overpopulation is a red herring

March 31st, 2014 | Add a Comment

(Wrong) Opinion: Overpopulation is a red herring

See: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/blog/concern-overpopulation-red-herring-consumption-problem-sustainability

More than half the world’s population now lives in countries where the fertility rate – the average number of babies born per woman – is below the replacement level (around 2.1).

This seems good news for anyone concerned about the environment. A finite planet obviously cannot sustain limitless population growth, and many environmentalists make the case that even the current population, 7.2 billion, exceeds the planet’s ecological carrying capacity. If birth rates continue to fall, we might realise the UN’s “low” projection of a population peak of around 8.3 billion mid-century, declining back to today’s population by 2100.

For economists, however, and for the public officials they inform, the aging and decline of the population presents not a boon but a threat. When the fertility rate falls below replacement level, the older generation outnumbers the newer. That means fewer workers supporting more retirees, falling income-tax revenues and reduced economic growth. Accordingly, many countries including Singapore, France, Austria, Chile and South Korea, are offering people financial incentives to have children.

So here, as in many other arenas, we seem to face a contradiction between economic and ecological health. But a closer look at population and economic growth reveals there is more to the story, with problems extending right to the basic structure of our financial system.

To see how, let’s ask a naive question: already in many countries with slowing population growth, youth unemployment is at record levels. Why then do we think we need to add even more youth to the workforce?

See: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/blog/concern-overpopulation-red-herring-consumption-problem-sustainability

Indonesia’s Population Boom Unsustainable, Experts Warn

March 28th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Indonesia’s Population Boom Unsustainable, Experts Warn

See: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/indonesias-population-boom-unsustainable-experts-warn/

Jakarta — When the National Population and Family Planning Board, or BKKBN, held its annual meeting on Monday, there was a palpable tension in the room.

The BKKBN’s partners – such as the Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) and Muslimat NU, the women’s wing of Nahdlatul Ulama, the country’s biggest Islamic organization – seemed particularly insistent that the BKKBN this year delivers on its family planning programs, amid projections of a population explosion that could severely strain Indonesia’s economic growth and development.

A problem of numbers

The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) predicts that the country’s population will increase from 238 million in 2010 to more than 305 million by 2035 – an average increase of three million people per year.

That, the BKKBN’s partners say, poses a serious question of how to feed, educate and provide sufficient jobs for everyone.

“Things did not happen as we expected. We expected lower growth,” says Mayling Oei-Gardiner, a demographics expert from the University of Indonesia.

“Also, the fertility [rate] did not really decline. It stayed relatively constant, while the maternal mortality rate soared. So I am not very optimistic now.”

See: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/indonesias-population-boom-unsustainable-experts-warn/