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Living on the Edge of Disaster

January 30th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Congratulations to Bob Walker of the Population Institute for this editorial on Haiti, distributed to 800 U.S. newspapers and magazines by the Cagle Syndication Service.

Pat Robertson’s assertions notwithstanding, the people of Haiti have fallen victim to an act of nature, not God’s wrath for rejecting French colonial rule. The 7.0 temblor that struck Port au Prince this past week was not the first major quake that has rocked a Caribbean nation and it will not be the last. Earthquakes happen in greater frequency along geological fault lines like the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault System that runs along Haiti’s southern coast.

While the death toll in Haiti is still unknown, it is, no doubt, one of the largest humanitarian disasters in memory. What’s disturbing is that the Haitian disaster and other recent calamities, including the deadly 2004 tsunami and the 2008 Sichuan earthquake that killed more than 68,000 people in China, may be signs of even deadlier disasters to come.
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Nobody Ever Dies of Overpopulation

January 30th, 2010 | 2 Comments

Thanks to John Rohe and John Tanton for reminding me of Garrett Hardin’s classic paper, “Nobody Ever Dies of Overpopulation.” Written in 1971, it focused on Bangladesh, but it is equally applicable to Haiti. It is reprinted below.

Nobody Ever Dies of Overpopulation

By Garrett Hardin
This was published in Science, 12 February 1971, Volume 171, Number 3971, © 1971 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Those of us who are deeply concerned about population and the environment — “econuts,” we’re called, — are accused of seeing herbicides in trees, pollution in running brooks, radiation in rocks, and overpopulation everywhere. There is merit in the accusation.
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Reproductive Health in Haiti

January 30th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Many thanks to Erika Larson for this link to JSI’s report, The Long Wait: Reproductive Health Care in Haiti.

To download the report, visit http://www.jsi.com/JSIInternet/Publications/women.cfm#rh. The report, done prior to the earthquake, draws on findings from an assessment of Haiti’s reproductive health response in crisis and beyond. The report highlights persistent gaps in family planning and adolescent sexual and reproductive health, particularly in remote areas. In spite of deteriorating infrastructure and short-term funding cycles, a number of local initiatives offer promising approaches to fill reproductive health gaps.

Rwanda: Family Planning Crusade Taken to the Villages

January 29th, 2010 | Add a Comment

Local leaders at grass-roots level – Umudugudu, are championing the family planning drive given the threats posed by the country’s fast growing population.

After a four-hour community work (Umuganda) early Saturday, residents of Intwari Village in Kimironko Sector assembled for a meeting in which the country’s fast growing population, apart from other matters, took centre stage.

The gathering of over 70 residents, young and old, male and female, then keenly listened as Dr. Ezéchias Rwabuhihi, an area resident, who is also a former Health Minister and legislator expounded on the threats posed by a large family and, consequently a large population to a small comparatively poor economy.

For full article, visit:

HEALTH-KENYA: Family Planning Not Only For Women

January 29th, 2010 | Add a Comment

In a makeshift room inside an unfinished building in the Manyatta slums in the Western Kenyan city of Kisumu, the neighbourhood’s men regularly congregate to discuss community matters, usually in the presence of the area chief.

But the May 21 baraza (a chief’s gathering) was of a different kind. A community health worker engaged the over 50 men on family planning (FP), an issue they are uncomfortable about.

“Family planning is only for women. And it makes them promiscuous. I would never advise my wife to use those things [contraceptives] because the role of a woman is to give birth to children,” Zaddock Odhiambo, a 28-year-old father of six remarked.

For full article, visit:

KENYA: Water shortage increases cholera toll

January 29th, 2010 | Add a Comment

An acute water shortage in parts of eastern and northeastern Kenya is fuelling the spread of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) and cholera, with deaths from new cases being reported, a senior health official has said.

“People are resorting to drinking water from anywhere because of the shortage,” Shahnaaz Sharif, director of public health in the Ministry of Public Health, told IRIN.

“Recently, four deaths have been reported in Garbatulla [District] where about 280 AWD cases have been reported in the last three weeks,” Sharif said, adding that samples from those affected had been collected for laboratory testing.

For full article, visit:

Kenya: UN agency sounds alarm on dire food situation

January 29th, 2010 | Add a Comment

The United Nations food agency today issued a warning that Kenya faces a dire hunger crisis due to failed rains, appealing today for $230 million to feed nearly 4 million Kenyans – nearly one-tenth of the African nation’s population – over the next six months.

“Red lights are flashing around the country,” said Burkard Oberle, Kenya director of the World Food Programme (WFP).

“People are already going hungry, malnutrition is preying on more and more young children, cattle are dying – we face a huge challenge and are urging the international community to provide us with the resources we need to get the job done,” he added.

For full article, visit:

Needed: A Copernican Shift

January 27th, 2010 | 1 Comment

Thanks to Lester Brown for this article.

In 1543, Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus published “On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres,” in which he challenged the view that the sun revolved around the earth, arguing instead that the earth revolved around the sun. With his new model of the solar system, he began a wide-ranging debate among scientists, theologians, and others. His alternative to the earlier Ptolemaic model, which had the earth at the center of the universe, led to a revolution in thinking, to a new worldview.

Today we need a similar shift in our worldview, in how we think about the relationship between the earth and the economy. The issue now is not which celestial sphere revolves around the other but whether the environment is part of the economy or the economy is part of the environment. Economists see the environment as a subset of the economy. Ecologists, on the other hand, see the economy as a subset of the environment.

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Why the Environmental Movement Dropped Population – the DVD You’ve Been Waiting to See – at no cost

January 21st, 2010 | 2 Comments

Thanks to Bonnie Erbé for this press release and the offer of a free DVD. It may take two months for delivery of the DVD after you email to Bonnie, but it will be worth the wait.

To the Contrary
Telephone Contact: 202-973-2066


Free DVD Copies of PBS’ To The Contrary with Bonnie Erbé’s Three part series on how and why the US Environmental Movement dropped US population from its agenda. Series won the Population Institute’s “Best TV Show” Media Award. DVDs made available to you through the generous support of the Colcom Foundation

(Washington, D.C.) — The PBS program, To The Contrary with Bonnie Erbé, is pleased to offer, free of charge, DVD copies of its award-winning, documentary-style coverage of how the environmental movement dropped population from its agenda and how population growth is affecting the US environment. Watching this series is a great way to learn why this incredibly important environmental issue is no longer covered by mainstream US media, or discussed as an environmental issue by federal officials.
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A Bill to Prevent Child Marriages.

January 21st, 2010 | Add a Comment

Below is a press release from sponsor Representative Betty McCollum about the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act of 2009.

McCollum Bill (Word doc., 45 KB)

Thanks to Bob Walker for the following summary of the bill: Authorizes the President to provide assistance, including through multilateral, nongovernmental, and faith-based organizations, to prevent child marriage in developing countries and to promote the educational, health, economic, social, and legal empowerment of girls and women. Sets forth priority assistance criteria. Directs the President, through the Secretary of State, to establish a multi-year strategy to prevent child marriage in developing countries and to promote the empowerment of girls at risk of child marriage. Sets forth strategy elements. Read the rest of this entry »