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The Critics – Deconstructed

May 13th, 2010 | 1 Comment

Many thanks to Kurt Dahl for this fascinating paper deconstructing the arguments against concern with population. Kurt’s material provides relevant answers to some of the postings at Mother Jones’ population forum, which you can see at http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2010/05/population-forum.

There are monsters on the loose today – vile ogres who propose that we should “dispense with seatbelts” and who believe “children should be encouraged to smoke at an early age” (From the Wall Street Journal). These villainous creatures are identified as post-reproductive rich white men who are trying to protect their right to own super-yachts (Monbiot, in the Guardian), and who talk of mass sterilizations and abortions (Harsanyi, in the Denver Post).

And who exactly are these monsters? They are people like John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor – a man who “peddles calamity as science” (Denver Post), and Paul Ehrlich, the “bumbling soothsayer” (also Denver Post).

For full article, visit:

“The Coming Population Crash”: The overpopulation myth

May 12th, 2010 | 2 Comments

Fred Pearce, author of “The Coming Population Crash,” is one of several authors who thinks population growth is not a problem. His publishers need to hear from you.

Pearce did an interview on the Daily Show. You can view that segment by going to http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch. Pearce’s views are also described at Salon.com You can post comments on Salon.com by visiting http://letters.salon.com/books/feature.

Pearce will be one of this week’s panelists in Mother Jones’ population forum this week. The others will be:

*Martha Campbell, political scientist and public health lecturer at UC Berkeley
*Paul Ehrlich, founder of Zero Population Growth and author of “The Population Bomb”
*Courtney Martin, feminist writer and Feministing.com editor
*Malcolm Potts, obstetrician, biologist, and author of “Sex and War.”
*William N. Ryerson, president of the Population Media Center and Population Institute
*Rinku Sen, racial justice writer and president of the Applied Research Center
*Julia Whitty, Mother Jones environmental correspondent and author of “The Last Taboo”

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Bomb Scare

May 12th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Zunia carried this story from Foreign Policy. You can post your comments at http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/04/26/bomb_scare?page=0,1. As one quote illustrates (“experts reckon we could support a population that’s twice as big or more without running out of food.”), this economist has not read the writings of very many ecologists. He clearly missed the announcement last year that over 1 billion people are hungry.

Ever since Parson Thomas Robert Malthus wrote his 1798 essay on population, it has been trotted out by millenarians and self-styled Cassandras as the basis for predicting famine and global woe. Malthus’s arguments were resurrected as a best-seller for the modern era in the 1968 overpopulation-panic classic The Population Bomb. More recently, Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs has cited Malthus to explain the dire state of Africa, and Harvard University historian Niall Ferguson to predict a coming 20 years of global misery. The recent food crisis — which pushed 100 million-plus people worldwide into absolute poverty — has elevated Malthus’s reputation as a prognosticator to the Delphic levels of a Nostradamus or an Al Roker.

For full article, visit:

400 Million People Can’t Be Wrong

May 12th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Thanks to Mary DeLavalette for letting me know about this Newsweek article.

As the nonstop TV commercials have made clear, the U.S. Census Bureau really hopes you’ve sent back your questionnaire by now. But in reality, we don’t have to wait for the census results to get a basic picture of America’s demographic future. The operative word is “more”: by 2050, about 100 million more people will inhabit this vast country, bringing the total U.S. population to more than 400 million.

With a fertility rate 50 percent higher than Russia, Germany, or Japan, and well above that of China, Italy, Singapore, South Korea, and virtually all of Eastern Europe, the United States has become an outlier among its traditional competitors, all of whose populations are stagnant and seem destined to eventually decline. Thirty years ago, Russia constituted the core of a vast Soviet empire that was considerably more populous than the United States. Today, Russia’s low birthrate and high mortality rate suggest that its population will drop by 30 percent by 2050, to less than one third that of the United States. Even Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has spoken of “the serious threat of turning into a decaying nation.”

For full article, visit:

Econundrum: Kids vs. Earth?

May 11th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Thanks to Alexandra Paul for this article from Mother Jones.

Last week, we held a household conservation smackdown. Change out lightbulbs? Retrofit your windows? Drive less? The answers are here.

But there’s one thing you can do with carbon-saving benefits that wildly surpass all of the activities on last week’s list: Have fewer kids. Assuming that an American mother and father are each responsible for one half of the emissions of their offspring and 1/4 of the emissions of their grandchildren, researchers at Oregon State University recently calculated that each child adds a staggering 10,407 tons of carbon dioxide to an average female’s carbon legacy, the equivalent of 5.7 times her lifetime emissions, or an extra 470 years of life. You’d have to change out 2,623 incandescent bulbs to offset a child’s carbon footprint.

For full article and to read comments, visit:

Mother Jones Asks “Who’s to Blame for the Population Crisis”?

May 11th, 2010 | 3 Comments

Thanks to Bob Walker for his blog (which appears below my commentary) about the May-June issue of Mother Jones, which focused on population issues. You can read the primary article from the May-June issue at http://motherjones.com/environment/2010/05/population-growth-india-vatican, where you can also post comments and questions. The New Media Editor is asking readers for questions for a panel of experts, of which Paul Ehrlich and I are two. The forum discussion about population will appear Wednesday to Friday (May 12-14) at http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2010/05/population-forum.
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The New Population Bomb

May 10th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Thanks to Susan Gibbs for sending me this article from Foreign Affairs. As Susan suggested, “Readers may want to submit letters to the editors of Foreign Affairs. Goldstone argues that ‘21st century will depend less on how many people inhabit the world than how the global population is composed and distributed’ and, in short, that Paul Ehrlich’s population bomb has been successfully defused. While much of the article is cogent and timely, he does not address the growing strain on the earth’s natural systems associated with unsustainable population and consumption trends (and indeed urges policies that encourage higher fertility and in-migration to the industrialized world).”

Goldstone Population Bomb Jan 2010 Foreign Affairs (PDF 102 KB)

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Impacts of Population Growth on Ecosystem Services

May 9th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Thanks to Jack Marshall for the attached summary of a report, “Estimating Impacts of Population Growth on Ecosystem Services for the Community of Albemarle County and Charlottesville, VA,” co-authored by Dr. Claire Jantz and James Manuel and produced by Advocates for Sustainable Albemarle Population (ASAP) in Virginia. As far is known, this is the first such study ever undertaken to examine the effects of a community’s projected growth on its ecosystem services, and to suggest projected population sizes at which essential ecosystem services are threatened or impaired. A pdf version of the 76-page report is available for downloading at: http://www.stopgrowthasap.org/OSPSFinalReport_Aug05.pdf

This research examined the effects of local population increases on a selection of ecosystem services, including water-related services (i.e. stormwater retention, water pollution removal) and air-related services (i.e. carbon sequestration and storage, air pollution removal).
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PMC Spring Newsletter Now Available

May 8th, 2010 | Add a Comment

The Spring 2010 newsletter features stories about PMC’s programs in Ethiopia, the United States and Papua New Guinea.

Spring 2010 Newsletter (PDF, 2MB)

Five Next Generation Contraceptives

May 8th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Contraception is a “best buy” for development. The policy brief located below highlights five “next generation” contraceptives, each of which offers one or more advantages over similar earlier methods. These innovations are among those expected to enter the market within five years.

Contraceptive Choice (PDF, 272 KB)