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Is the Anthropocene a world of hope or a world of hurt?

July 11th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Is the Anthropocene a world of hope or a world of hurt?

See: http://grist.org/climate-energy/is-the-anthropocene-a-world-of-hope-or-a-world-of-hurt/

Is it possible that a world swarming with humanity, warmed by our fumes, and depleted by our carelessness could in any way be good?

Last year, some 30 people, including the ethicist Clive Hamilton and the journalist Andrew Revkin, attended a seminar in Washington, D.C., on the Anthropocene - a term denoting a new geologic epoch, dominated by human influence. Hamilton noticed that some of the participants seemed optimistic, even excited, about the advent of the Anthropocene. “I was astonished and irritated that some people who were scientifically literate were imposing this barrier of wishful thinking between the science and future outcomes for humanity,” he said.

Hamilton had just written a book, Requiem for a Species, arguing that people squirm away from the bleak reality of climate change.

Months later, Revkin sent this video of a talk he’d given to the people who had attended that seminar. It was entitled Seeking a Good Anthropocene, and Hamilton – seeing this idea that he objected so strongly reprised – decided to write a rebuttal (actually two).

This debate has been brewing for years, and each side tends to caricature the other’s position. Suggest there’s a reason for hope and you are called a delusional techno-utopian; if you say there’s an imperative for humility, you are framed as an anti-technological doomer.

See: http://grist.org/climate-energy/is-the-anthropocene-a-world-of-hope-or-a-world-of-hurt/

Telephone Surveys in Burundi Enhance an Already Powerful Form of Behavior Change Communication

July 8th, 2014 | Add a Comment

BUJUMBURA, BURUNDI– Since January, people in Burundi have been listening to a new radio program called Agashi! (“Hey! Look Again!”).  This 208-episode soap opera will air twice per week for two years, and uses Population Media Center’s highly successful entertainment-education approach to behavior change.

Population Media Center (PMC) is a nonprofit organization that uses entertainment-education to address pressing social issues all over the world, impacting more than 50 countries over the past 16 years. All PMC soap operas are steeped in research:

  • formative research to assess the policy and service framework within a country and to determine audience habits and perceptions in order to create realistic characters and settings;
  • research around the greatest health, human rights, and environmental protection needs;
  • clinic monitoring to assess impact of the PMC drama on new and existing clinic clients;
  • listener letters, text messages, and calls to assess understanding and likability of characters and storylines;
  • and endline data to determine the overall impact of a program.

But the PMC-Burundi office has developed a new form of audience research that’s turning out to be tremendously useful to the drama’s writing team: random telephone surveys.  The responses from the telephone surveys are made available to the scriptwriters and producer within a matter of hours.  Such quick turnaround of valuable information from listeners allows the creative team to make revisions to upcoming scripts.  Respondents’ telephone numbers are noted, along with any comments or suggestions they might have about the program, so that the creative team can phone back to get more in-depth feedback if necessary.

The idea for random telephone surveys was sparked by Jean Sacha Barikumutima, a PMC-Burundi intern who went over the pretest results of the first pilot episodes of Agashi. He realized that listeners provided a lot of ideas that could be useful to the creative team in the writing of the episodes.

“I realized that in a society with such a strong oral culture, a telephone survey had the potential to be a very powerful tool,” Barikumutima says.

Barikumutima and Willy Nsengiyumya, the Finance Manager at PMC-Burundi, demonstrated that the telephone surveys were not only the simplest, but also the most cost-effective method for gathering listenership feedback. Barikumutima conducted the first survey in late January, and the results proved incredibly valuable to the creative team.

“This feedback helps the writers understand how people are reacting to the characters and the characters’ decisions,” says Kriss Barker, PMC’s Vice President of International Programs. “They also provide ideas for positive and negative consequences that can be used in future episodes.”

Barikumutima usually conducts the surveys on Thursday and Friday, sometimes continuing through the weekend.  The PMC-Burundi creative team meets the following Monday to discuss the results. PMC-Burundi has conducted four random telephone surveys since launching the drama in January.

Although not statistically significant, the informal telephone surveys also give the PMC-Burundi team a sense of how many people are listening and the geographic distribution of those listeners. In January, about 38 percent of people surveyed said they listened to Agashi. In April, the percentage had risen to 68 percent and every comment noted the entertainment value of the program. One male Agashi  listener said, “For me, Agashi is full of tips and entertainment.  So I continue to follow it.”

“This is such a fantastic, simple, and effective survey,” says Stephanie Tholand, PMC’s Program and Partnership Development Associate. “It’s definitely a tool that every PMC country office will want to include in their program management going forward.”

 

ABOUT POPULATION MEDIA CENTER (PMC):

Population Media Center (PMC) 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. www.populationmedia.org

Partnering on Climate Change Adaptation, Peacebuilding, and Population in Africa

July 7th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Partnering on Climate Change Adaptation, Peacebuilding, and Population in Africa 

See: http://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2014/06/partnering-climate-change-adaptation-peacebuilding-population-africa/

Rapid population growth can be a contributing factor to climate change vulnerability and should be considered in climate adaptation and peacebuilding efforts, said the Wilson Center’s Roger-Mark De Souza at a workshop on climate change adaptation and peacebuilding hosted by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Addis Ababa.

Improving access to family planning and reproductive health services “help[s] women and girls overcome the constraints of gender roles and family responsibilities that leave women less agency, time, and freedom to alleviate their economic burdens, achieve education, and participate in community-based adaptation strategies,” he said.

See: http://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2014/06/partnering-climate-change-adaptation-peacebuilding-population-africa/

Post-2015 Agenda: Organized Chaos or Hot Mess?

July 7th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Post-2015 Agenda: Organized Chaos or Hot Mess? 

Sexual and Reproductive Health in Trouble as Goals Move Forward 

See: http://www.populationaction.org/blog/2014/07/03/post-2015-agenda-organized-chaos-or-hot-mess/

The latest version of the zero draft report from the Open Working Group developing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) hit the internet late Monday evening. This is the final draft that member states will have a chance to respond to before the final report is produced and shared with the Secretary General prior to the United Nations General Assembly in September. It is fairly similar to the last draft (discussed here) in that it still has the same 17 goals, with small semantic differences. Overall, there are fewer targets, but both the targets and the process are becoming increasingly convoluted.

This draft misses the integration, aspiration, transformation and sustainability that were meant to drive the post-2015 agenda.  We see important targets missing in this lengthy draft, but we have yet to really see the difficult trade-offs that a final set of implementable goals would require.

See: http://www.populationaction.org/blog/2014/07/03/post-2015-agenda-organized-chaos-or-hot-mess/

Call climate change what it is: violence

July 7th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Call climate change what it is: violence

Social unrest and famine, superstorms and droughts. Places, species and human beings – none will be spared. Welcome to Occupy Earth

See: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/07/climate-change-violence-occupy-earth

If you’re poor, the only way you’re likely to injure someone is the old traditional way: artisanal violence, we could call it – by hands, by knife, by club, or maybe modern hands-on violence, by gun or by car.

But if you’re tremendously wealthy, you can practice industrial-scale violence without any manual labor on your own part. You can, say, build a sweatshop factory that will collapse in Bangladesh and kill more people than any hands-on mass murderer ever did, or you can calculate risk and benefit about putting poisons or unsafe machines into the world, as manufacturers do every day. If you’re the leader of a country, you can declare war and kill by the hundreds of thousands or millions. And the nuclear superpowers – the US and Russia – still hold the option of destroying quite a lot of life on Earth.

So do the carbon barons.

See: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/07/climate-change-violence-occupy-earth

The Disaster We’ve Wrought on the World’s Oceans May Be Irrevocable

July 7th, 2014 | Add a Comment

The Disaster We’ve Wrought on the World’s Oceans May Be Irrevocable 

See: http://www.newsweek.com/2014/07/11/disaster-weve-wrought-worlds-oceans-may-be-irrevocable-256962.html

In the great halls of La Boqueria, Barcelona’s central market, tourists, foodies and cooks gather every day to marvel at the fresh food, like pilgrims at the site of a miracle. The chief shrines are the fish counters, where thousands of sea creatures making up dozens of species gleam pink and gray on mounds of ice. But to many ocean scientists this is not a display of the ocean’s bounty but a museum-by the end of this century, many of these animals may be history due to man’s reckless abuse of the planet. As we keep dumping greenhouse gases into the air, the oceans keep sucking them up, making the waters deadly to their inhabitants.

On the Boqueria’s fish stands I count 10 types of bivalves-creatures like clams, oysters and mussels that use calcium carbonate to make their endlessly varied shells. In as little as 20 years they will be very different and, in some parts of the world, entirely gone.

See: http://www.newsweek.com/2014/07/11/disaster-weve-wrought-worlds-oceans-may-be-irrevocable-256962.html

Border Crisis Linked to Bishops’ Crusade Against Contraception

July 7th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Border Crisis Linked to Bishops’ Crusade Against Contraception 

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-seager/border-crisis-linked-to-b_b_5549505.html

As thousands of Central American children desperately cross our southern border, seeking security and opportunity unavailable to them in their home countries, there is a rush to deal with this humanitarian crisis. While experts strive to stem this immigration surge, one fundamental cause shouldn’t be ignored: the Vatican’s refusal to respect the rights of all women to make their own childbearing decisions.

Many of these children have made the long, dangerous trek from Guatemala, which has the most rapid population growth of any Latin American nation. There, the least educated women have more than five children each; the average woman has nearly four. Mexico, its neighbor to the north, however, has made extraordinary progress in expanding access to voluntary family planning. Family size there has plummeted from 6.8 children per woman in 1970 to just 2.2 children today. This helps explain why the current crisis involves a sudden influx of children from Central America and not from Mexico, where small families have played a major role in changing society for the better.

What makes Guatemala so different from Mexico? A big part of the discrepancy is the role of the Catholic Church. Both Mexico and Guatemala are largely Catholic and share much in the way of a common heritage. But Mexico has a long, proud tradition of separation of church and state, and birth control is universally available. Not so in Guatemala, where the church is a powerful and harmful political force. Catholic bishops in Guatemala have long suppressed efforts to allow women and couples the means to make their own reproductive choices.

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-seager/border-crisis-linked-to-b_b_5549505.html

Food Security: The Challenge of A Growing Population

July 7th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Food Security: The Challenge of A Growing Population

See: http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2014/06/29/42052

Can Bangladesh sustain the gains achieved in food security and make further progress towards sustainable food security?

The main challenge in the way of progress towards food security emanates from continuing growth of population. The progress in reducing population growth, from 3.0 per cent per year at independence to about 1.2 per cent now, is laudable. But there are indications that the progress made in fertility reduction has slowed down in recent years. In Chittagong and Sylhet divisions, the total fertility rate is still higher than three, while the national average is 2.3, and it is less than two in Khulna Division. Strong traditional norms, and socio-cultural conditions in the Chittagong and Sylhet Divisions contribute to low acceptance of family planning that will not be easy to overcome.

The population is still increasing by 1.8 million every year. Rice production has to increase by 0.4 million tons every year to meet the need for staple food for the growing population. The increase in domestic production at that rate would be difficult due to several supply-side factors. The arable land has been shrinking by 0.6 per cent every year due to demand from housing and industries, and infrastructure, as well as loss of land from river erosion. With global warming and climate change, another one-sixth of the land may be submerged with brackish water over the next 40 years due to rising sea levels with adverse impact on soil salinity.

See: http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2014/06/29/42052

In Pakistan, “Killed by Stork”

July 7th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Killed by Stork

See: http://newsweekpakistan.com/killed-by-stork/

FAMILY PLANNING IS VITAL FOR PAKISTAN’S SECURITY.

Thomas Robert Malthus predicted that the world population was bound to outstrip food production, leading to a state of “natural distress.” This was in 1798. In order to strike a balance between global natural resources and population, Malthus was far ahead of his times in proposing family planning through “moral restraint,” that is, rallying men to delay marrying until later. Subsequent research has proven Malthus right on the significance of family planning, which is today inextricably linked with economic and security challenges in developing countries, like terror-stricken Pakistan.

A runaway population growth rate without a compensatory economic growth rate has a direct bearing on a state’s ability to survive. The 2009 Failed States Index by the Fund for Peace, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., showed that “failed” states had a total fertility rate-the number of children per woman-at five, while the then global average was 2.6. The 2013 Failed States Index, where Pakistan features at No. 13, connects the risk of radicalization to the lack of economic opportunities and unemployment. When states are unable to afford the basics for their people (schooling, nutrition, health care, etc.) the denudation of the state is hastened by the employment of its people for radical causes. It’s also now evident that having more children results in more, not less, poverty.

See: http://newsweekpakistan.com/killed-by-stork/

East Los High: A Teen Soap Opera That’s A Teaching Tool

June 30th, 2014 | Add a Comment

East Los High: A Teen Soap Opera That’s A Teaching Tool

See: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/la-et-st-east-los-high-hulu-20140629-story.html#page=1

Inside a cramped writers room in a Hollywood office building, a team of overage teenagers was debating how a Los Angeles high schooler might carry on a conversation with a counselor about being the victim of domestic violence.

“I’m not sure the character’s reaction would be hesitation so much as defensiveness,” one said.

“Yeah, I think she’d be, like, ‘You don’t understand! I’m his girlfriend! I want to make him happy!” another chimed in.

This is how Hulu’s popular teen soap “East Los High” gets made. In these quarters, telenovela meets after-school special, spawning story lines that had laptop and cellphone screens fogged up in its first season last summer, all the while trying to relay a social message.

The series consistently ranked among the ad-supported streaming site’s most popular programs, demonstrating that an English-language show with an all-Latino cast – a TV unicorn in the broadcast marketplace – can find a following. Times TV critic Robert Lloyd singled it out as one of the top summer shows to watch last year, saying it was not only “as eventful as any other teen soap” but noted that it “feels down-to-earth and issue-oriented.”

Hulu hopes the clicks and taps won’t slow when it launches the second season on July 9.

See: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/la-et-st-east-los-high-hulu-20140629-story.html#page=1