Facebook Twitter

Are Humans Unsustainable By Nature?

April 11th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Many thanks to Eric Rimmer for sending me this lecture by William Rees (see Word document below), and thanks to Al Bartlett for the following clear statement by William Rees on ‘carrying capacity’ and ‘productive capacity.’

Are Humans Unsustainable by Nature (William Rees) (Word doc., 157 KB)

I believe there is some confusion both in Lawrence’s note and in Hopfenberg’s presentation between the terms ‘carrying capacity’ and ‘productive capacity’ (or simple ‘productivity’).

Carrying capacity is unambiguously defined in ecology as a POPULATION number. It is the maximum population of a given organism that a particular ecosystem can sustain without the ecosystem being overexploited by that organism. Carrying capacity is highly variable because the ecosystem (the species’ environment) is constantly changing with climate, season, etc., i.e., its ‘productivity’ is changing. For this reason, even many ecologists do not see it as a particularly useful term.
Read the rest of this entry »

What the future looks like

April 10th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Many thanks to Bob Walker for this column by Martin Rees.

It would be foolhardy to venture technological predictions for 2050. Even more so to predict social and geopolitical changes. The most important advances, the qualitative leaps, are the least predictable. Not even the best scientists predicted the impact of nuclear physics, and everyday consumer items such as the iPhone would have seemed magic back in the 1950s.

But there are some trends that we can predict with confidence. There will, barring a global catastrophe, be far more people on Earth than today. Fifty years ago the world population was below 3 billion. It has more than doubled since then, to 6.7 billion. The percentage growth rate has slowed, but it is projected to reach 9 billion by 2050. The excess will almost all be in the developing world where the young hugely outnumber the old.

For full article, visit:

Yale Open Course on Population

April 8th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Thanks to Sally Mattison for notifying me of the open course on population being taught by Yale professor Bob Wyman. I spoke to this class on Thursday, April 8, 2010. To link to the Open Yale Course website (for internet courses that are free and open to the public), where you can find “Global Problems of Population Growth” by Prof. Robert Wyman, go to: http://oyc.yale.edu/molecular-cellular-and-developmental-biology

To see the lecture I gave in the course in 2009, link to http://oyc.yale.edu/molecula

United Nations Population Award for 2010 to be Given to Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development

April 7th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Congratulations to Shiv Khare, Executive Director of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, for AFPPD’s selection to receive the United Nations Population Award. The award will be presented at a ceremony at UN Headquarters in New York on June 3 at 4:45 pm. Shiv has been working in the population field longer than I have (more than 40 years). I first met him on my second day at work at the Population Institute in 1971, when he was Executive Director of the Youth and Family Planning Programme Council of India. He went on to become Secretary-General of the World Assembly of Youth in Copenhagen before moving to Bangkok to run AFFPD. This honor is well deserved.
Read the rest of this entry »

De-Growth Conference April 29 – May 2nd

April 6th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Many thanks to Fred Stanback for this information.

De-Growth conference. April 29 – May 2nd

The evidence is overwhelming that unlimited industrial growth is no longer possible.

Our challenge now is to find ways to shrink the overall size of the economy without creating unemployment and poverty.

Please join us and a panel of some of the world’s leading experts in a dialog that will pave the way to creating a new framework in understanding.

April 29th – May 2nd Vancouver will be hosting the first ever de-growth conference in North America.
Read the rest of this entry »

New Research on Population and Climate: The Impact of Demographic Change on Carbon Emissions April 8

April 5th, 2010 | 1 Comment

Thanks to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars for the announcement of this program, which you can attend online or in person.

Please join the Environmental Change and Security Program for a discussion of

New Research on Population and Climate: The Impact of Demographic Change on Carbon Emissions

Brian O’Neill, Scientist, Institute for the Study of Society and Environment, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and Program Leader, Population and Climate Change Program, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

Thursday, April 8, 2010
3:00 – 5:00 p.m.
5th floor Conference Room
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20004 USA Webcast live at www.wilsoncenter.org
Read the rest of this entry »

Data Highlights on Solar Energy

April 4th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Thanks to Lester Brown for the article below.

To see an interview of Lester Brown by Richard Heinberg of the Post Carbon Institute, see http://www.postcarbon.org/video/83004-post-carbon-exchange-1-richard-heinberg In this premier Post Carbon Exchange, Post Carbon Institute Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg talks with Lester Brown, Founder of the Earth Policy Institute, about hopeful developments in alternative energy, as well as the importance of Brown’s updated path toward a sustainable future, “Plan B 4.0″.

Concerns about global warming, rising fossil fuel prices, and oil insecurity have prompted calls for a new energy economy, one that replaces fossil fuels with renewables. The sun is an enormous reservoir of energy; in fact, the sunlight reaching Earth in just one hour is enough to power the global economy for a whole year. Harnessing some of this energy is an essential component of Earth Policy Institute’s carbon cutting plan, as presented in Chapter 5 of Plan B 4.0. Here are some highlights from the accompanying data on three types of solar energy: solar photovoltaics (PVs), concentrated solar thermal power (CSP), and solar water and space heating.

For full article, visit:

On Rooftops Worldwide, A Solar Water Heating Revolution

April 3rd, 2010 | 2 Comments

Thanks to Lester Brown for this book byte.

The harnessing of solar energy is expanding on every front as concerns about climate change and energy security escalate, as government incentives for harnessing solar energy expand, and as these costs decline while those of fossil fuels rise. One solar technology that is really beginning to take off is the use of solar thermal collectors to convert sunlight into heat that can be used to warm both water and space.

China, for example, is now home to 27 million rooftop solar water heaters. With nearly 4,000 Chinese companies manufacturing these devices, this relatively simple low-cost technology has leapfrogged into villages that do not yet have electricity. For as little as $200, villagers can have a rooftop solar collector installed and take their first hot shower. This technology is sweeping China like wildfire, already approaching market saturation in some communities. Beijing plans to boost the current 114 million square meters of rooftop solar collectors for heating water to 300 million by 2020.

For full article, visit:

“Thirst of Life” Wins Listeners’ Acclaims

April 2nd, 2010 | Add a Comment

PMC’s program in Vietnam, Khat Vong Song (“The Desire of Life”) also known as “Thirst of Life”, was featured on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark http://www.ambhanoi.um.dk

On 19 March 2010, a meeting between Voice of Vietnam (VOV)’s listeners, the programmers and actors of Thirst of Life, one of the most popular programmes on VOV, was organized. The programme has been supported by the Embassy of Denmark with technical assistance from UNFPA.

Production and broadcast of the serialized radio drama designed towards positive behavioural change based on the partnership between Danida and UNFPA is going to finalize airing of its 104 episodes. The drama tells stories of unfortunate lives, domestic violence, gender inequality, and the characters’ extraordinary efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. A meeting between active listeners, programmers and actors was organised in Hanoi on 19 March to exchange their experience and opinions about the drama and its impacts.
Read the rest of this entry »

Viet Nam Radio Drama Helps Reduce Stigma Related to HIV

April 2nd, 2010 | Add a Comment

PMC’s project in Vietnam, Khat Vong Song (“The Desire of Life”), was featured on the UNFPA website.

As the first national radio soap opera that focused on changing the behaviour of young people in Viet Nam drew to a close, producers shared some of the 2,000 letters sent in by listeners, who testified to the impact the show had on their lives. For instance, one woman wrote:

I got married when I was 19. Some months after the marriage, I found out my husband was a drug addict. Two years later, I gave birth. My husband died when my child was a year old. It was only then, that I realized he had died from AIDS and had infected me with HIV. Very soon after, my child drowned, and this made me go crazy. I did not want to live. However, thanks to my family and the commune Women’s Union’s care and encouragement, I started to receive antiretroviral treatment, and my life changed.

I hope Desire of Life helps other people who are suffering from either HIV or domestic violence to overcome their difficulties and live a healthy life.
Read the rest of this entry »