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Around Dublin (CA): The double-edged sword of growth

May 27th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Around Dublin: The double-edged sword of growth

See: http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_25753418/around-dublin-double-edged-sword-growth 

It appears that many Dubliners feel the city is bursting at the seams. And recent stats add more fuel to the fire.

In recently released population statistics that surprised virtually no one in Dublin, the state proclaimed Alameda as the second-fastest-growing county in the state, while our beloved Dublin was the third-fastest-growing city. And, as the Times previously reported, when you consider that the two fastest growing cities in the state’s report — McFarland (Kern County) and Chowchilla (Madera County) both have large state prisons that experienced increases in the number of inmates, which is included in the population stats, Dublin could very well be No. 1.

“The numbers themselves were not a surprise, we all recognize that Dublin is growing,” says City Council Member Abe Gupta. “We are situated in a very optimal area with easy access to BART and a thriving business climate. Our schools are well funded, and as a city we’re a very popular destination for families, young professionals and seniors — a rare statement for a Bay Area community.”

While no one would argue with Gupta on the attractiveness of Dublin, there continues to be — as I’ve previously reported — a growing drumbeat of people who say this bedroom community does not need many more bedrooms.

“Dublin is definitely growing too fast,” says Dublin resident Danielle Cooper.

See: http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_25753418/around-dublin-double-edged-sword-growth 

West Antarctic ice collapse ‘could drown Middle East and Asia crops’

May 27th, 2014 | Add a Comment

West Antarctic ice collapse ‘could drown Middle East and Asia crops’

America’s corn belt could face yield declines of more than 25% by mid-century as climate change takes hold, report warns

See: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/22/west-antarctic-ice-collapse-middle-east-asia-crops

The ongoing collapse of a large part of the Antarctica ice sheet could devastate global food supply, drowning vast areas of crop lands across the Middle East and Asia, according to new research.

The report, Advancing Global Food Supply in the Face of a Changing Climate, urges the Obama Administration to step up research funding – especially in developing countries – to help make up a projected gap in future food supply.

It also warns America’s corn belt could face yield declines of more than 25% by mid-century – unless there are new advances in agriculture to compensate for hotter temperatures, changing rainfall and more aggressive weeds and pests under climate change.

The report, due to be released at a high-level conference in Washington DC on Thursday (May 22), is the first to factor in the effects of the slow-motion collapse of the Western Antarctica ice sheet on future food security.

See: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/may/22/west-antarctic-ice-collapse-middle-east-asia-crops

Egyptian doctor to stand trial for female genital mutilation in landmark case

May 27th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Egyptian doctor to stand trial for female genital mutilation in landmark case

See: http://voicesofafrica.co.za/egyptian-doctor-stand-trial-female-genital-mutilation-landmark-case/

A doctor is to stand trial in Egypt on charges of female genital mutilation on Thursday, the first case of its kind in a country where FGM is illegal but widely accepted.

Activists warned this week that the landmark case was just one small step towards eradicating the practice, as villagers openly promised to uphold the tradition and a local police chief said it was near-impossible to stamp out.

Raslan Fadl, a doctor in a Nile delta village, is accused of killing 13-year-old schoolgirl Sohair al-Bata’a in a botched FGM operation last June. Sohair’s father, Mohamed al-Bata’a, will also be charged with complicity in her death.

Among Climate Threats, Military Leaders See Population Growth, Natural Resources as Key Factors

May 27th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Among Climate Threats, Military Leaders See Population Growth, Natural Resources as Key Factors 

See: http://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2014/05/climate-threats-military-leaders-population-growth-natural-resources-key-factors/ 

In 2007, an influential analysis by 11 retired generals and admirals characterized climate change as a “threat multiplier” that could aggravate the conditions for conflict. Last week, in a follow-up report launched at the Wilson Center, members of the CNA Corporation’s Military Advisory Board framed climate change as a more direct and immediate risk, calling it a “catalyst for conflict.”

The new report re-examines the risks of climate change in the context of advancing science and a “more complex and integrated world.” Perhaps surprisingly, the group of retired flag officers from all four branches of the U.S. military also come out strongly in favor of cross-sectoral responses to climate change, noting that the food-water-energy nexus and demographic shifts are inextricably linked to vulnerability.

Rapid Population Growth Exacerbates Vulnerabilities

Since the Military Advisory Board’s 2007 report, world population has grown by more than a half a billion people. This growth means increased competition for natural resources, the authors write – specifically water, food, and energy, the availability of which is also exacerbated by climate change.

See: http://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2014/05/climate-threats-military-leaders-population-growth-natural-resources-key-factors/ 

South, West Have Fastest-Growing Cities, Census Bureau Reports; Three of Top 10 are in Texas Capital Area

May 27th, 2014 | Add a Comment

South, West Have Fastest-Growing Cities, Census Bureau Reports; Three of Top 10 are in Texas Capital Area
See: http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb14-89.html

Austin has been the capital of Texas since 1839, and in 2013 the area became the nation’s capital for population growth, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates released today. San Marcos, Cedar Park and Georgetown – each near Austin – ranked among the 10 fastest-growing cities with populations of 50,000 or more during the year ending July 1, 2013. San Marcos was number one in percent growth for the second consecutive year, with Austin itself gaining more people (nearly 21,000) than any city with fewer than 1 million residents.

The South and West dominated the list of fastest-growing municipalities between 2012 and 2013, claiming all of the top 15, seven of which were in Texas. Frisco and McKinney (near Dallas), Odessa (in West Texas) and Pearland (near Houston) were the other Texas cities on the list.

See: http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb14-89.html

We must balance our population growth and resources

May 22nd, 2014 | 1 Comment

We must balance our population growth and resources

See: http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20140511204682

At a recent GCC municipal conference, policy makers voiced their concern about the rapid population growth in their respective countries and called for cooperation to improve the lives of their citizens.

While the population of countries is considered one of the elements of national power, the population boom in Gulf countries in recent years is alarming. A paradigm shift in thinking has occurred as it has become clear that the rapid growth of cities and the increase in their population along with the failure to provide adequate sewage services, water and electricity are bound to cause environmental problems.

This further taxes already pressured services. The population of GCC countries has almost tripled and this unplanned surge will have a negative effect on balanced and sustainable development.

It will also choke the economy and prevent long-term prosperity. The more the population increases the greater the need for better infrastructure, public transport and other facilities.

See: http://www.saudigazette.com.sa/index.cfm?method=home.regcon&contentid=20140511204682

Death in the Amazon: Triple Murder Renews Friction Over Rain-Forest Growth

May 22nd, 2014 | Add a Comment

Death in the Amazon: Triple Murder Renews Friction Over Rain-Forest Growth

Tenharim Indians Charged in Killings of Settlers as Brazil Continues Development in Difficult Region

For WSJ link to story: Here

HUMAITÁ, Brazil-On a muggy February day, police made a grisly find on an Indian reservation in Brazil’s Amazon: the bodies of three men last seen driving toward the reserve on the Trans-Amazon highway, the massive road Brazil bulldozed deep into the rain forest in the 1970s.

The discovery added grim clues to a murder case that has pitted the Amazon settler town of Humaitá against the Tenharim Indian reservation 80 miles to the east. Police charged six Tenharim Indians this month with murder-charges the six have denied as they await trial. In Humaitá, where two of the victims lived, police say locals rioted and set fires at an Indian health clinic and aid agency. There is ominous talk, locals say, of more violence.

The triple murder exposes a troubling legacy of the Amazon’s signature road. Four decades after Brazil plowed a rutted red-clay track some 2,500 miles into its vast rain forest interior, the Trans-Amazon remains a source of tension between the settlers who came with it, and the Indians who were living in its path. And those tensions have boiled over as Brazil makes a new push to develop the world’s largest tropical rain forest.

Some of those tensions are surfacing now because the Amazon region-about the size of Western Europe-has undergone a remarkable population boom, rising 50% in two decades to 25 million people as mines, ranches and soy farms attract migrants. Workers are flocking here to help pave roads and build a string of huge hydroelectric dams planned for the region’s big rivers.

For WSJ link to story: Here

Demography and the Bicycle Effect

May 22nd, 2014 | Add a Comment

Demography and the Bicycle Effect

When Alvin Hansen first proposed the concept of secular stagnation, he emphasized the role of slowing population growth in depressing investment demand (and his warnings were made moot by the postwar baby boom.)  Modern discussions return to that emphasis: Japan’s shrinking working-age population looks like an important source of its problems, and slowing population growth in Europe and America are important reasons to believe that we may be entering a similar regime.

But whenever I raise these points, I get questions from people who ask why I don’t regard slowing population growth as a good thing. After all, it means less pressure on resources, less environmental damage, and so on.

What’s important to realize, then, is that slower population growth indeed could and should be a good thing – but that what passes for sound economic policy is all too likely to turn this potentially good development into a major problem. Why? Because under the current rules of the game, there’s a strong bicycle aspect to our economies: unless they’re moving forward sufficiently rapidly, they tend to fall over.

See: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/19/demography-and-the-bicycle-effect/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

Bram Kleppner Becomes Chair of Population Media Center’s Board of Directors

May 19th, 2014 | Add a Comment

SHELBURNE, VT – Bram Kleppner believes in working hard to tackle difficult problems. This is just one of the reasons Population Media Center recently named Kleppner as Chair of its Board of Directors.

“We are very lucky,” says Population Media Center President, Bill Ryerson, “to have a Board Chair with Bram’s experience and expertise, not to mention his dedication to our mission.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Sex, Soap Operas, and Social Change: Kriss Barker Teaches Sabido and Changes the World

May 19th, 2014 | 1 Comment

SHELBURNE, VT – When Kriss Barker first met Bill Ryerson in Washington DC, she thought he must be mistaken. It was 2001, and Barker, an expert in public health communications, didn’t think the numbers Ryerson was reciting were possible. Ryerson was discussing a communications effort in Tanzania that had used a strategy Barker was unfamiliar with: the Sabido Methodology.

“I was blown away,” says Barker. “Those of us in the business of public health communication knew that you couldn’t get real behavior change in a short time-frame. Maybe you could get knowledge change or attitude change, but certainly not behavior change.” But Ryerson insisted, citing statistics like 82 percent of listeners saying they changed their behaviors to avoid HIV by limiting number of sexual partners and using condoms, and independent data from the Tanzanian government showing a 153 percent increase in condom distribution in broadcast areas during the first year.

Barker had invited Ryerson to DC after hearing about his organization, Population Media Center (PMC). PMC works to improve the health and well-being of people around the world with entertainment-education strategies, focusing on soap operas using the Sabido methodology.

“This is a really dynamic methodology,” says Barker. “The stunning results are what drew me to PMC and to Sabido.” By the end of 2002 Barker was the Vice President of International Programs at PMC. Since that time, she has trained producers and writers for more than 30 different TV and radio shows.

What is Sabido?

Take a well-written, engaging, emotional soap opera and then add an underlying framework that unobtrusively yet obviously weaves in social issues like HIV/AIDS, women’s rights, family planning, or environmental preservation and you may have found an example of a Sabido soap opera.

The stories feature “positive,” “negative,” and “transitional” characters that realistically model behavior in long-running serial dramas, relying on extensive formative research to develop the characters and storylines. Over the course of broadcast, which can be years, audiences develop bonds with characters and learn vicariously through each character’s decisions and the repercussions.

According to Barker, the Sabido methodology works for a number of reasons, primary among them is its entertainment factor. She emphasizes that it must be a thrill for the audience to listen or watch the program – otherwise it won’t work. The second reason for its success is that it’s based on proven psychological theories. She explains that Miguel Sabido, who pioneered the methodology in the 1970s, worked to understand why his methodology was so effective. For instance, Sabido’s insertion of a “transitional” character drastically increased behavior change adoption. Sabido wondered why until he found Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory, which is an influential theory of learning and development and explains the importance of observational learning.

“We’re Sabido purists,” Barker says of PMC’s approach to serial dramas, “It’s actually highly formulaic but that’s why it’s replicable. It works for all people in all places. It doesn’t teach creativity – the writers have to bring that on their own. But it’s the same steps every time.”

These steps have achieved incredible results. For example, married women who listened to Yeken Kignit in Ethiopia increased their use of family planning by 31.2 percentage points (12.3 percent to 43.5 percent). In Nigeria , 72.4 percent of the population listened to PMC’s show, Ruwan Dare . One impact of this incredible listenership was 67 percent of new clients at clinics naming Ruwan Dare as the direct or indirect source influencing them to seek family planning or reproductive health services for the first time.

How do you train someone in Sabido?

After training producers and writers for more than 30 serial dramas and conducting numerous workshops, Barker may be the world’s foremost expert at training people in the Sabido methodology. In fact, it’s her work that has led PMC to create a network of Sabido trainers from 15 countries speaking 15 different languages.

“I’ve trained trainers, but I’ve also trained writers and producers who become trainers,” Barker explains. “If you really understand what you’re doing, you can teach the methodology. Each show looks completely different, but the basic structure is the same every time. And that’s what’s so fantastic about it. We train one person and that person can train another person, and another. We’re developing a network of people who have valuable knowledge about how to effect behavior change with a powerful communications tool.”

“Kriss brings her planning expertise and her knowledge of the methodology to the trainings,” says Tom Kazungu, one of PMC’s trainers and the first African ever trained in the Sabido methodology by Miguel Sabido. “She works well with people from many different backgrounds and different levels of knowledge.”

Barker, who has lived all over the world, explains that trust is the most important part of the trainings, on both sides. The participants have to be open to learning a new skill and the trainer has to trust that the participants will understand and succeed. This is crucial because trainers are not lecturers; they have to employ active participation and exploration from the participants in order to be successful.

“My trainings got a lot better a couple of years ago,” Barker says as she talks about getting her doctorate in communications, focusing on successful entertainment-education. “There’s a point at which you have to step away. You have to be confident in the methodology and the participants’ ability to understand it. I put everything out on the table and then watch them take it from there.”

For Barker, every training workshop has parts that she identifies as a lot of fun, but the part she enjoys the most is creating the storylines.

“I love the storylines. That’s the best part for several reasons. For instance, that’s when you really discover if the script writers and producers understand all the elements, things like characters, triggers, repercussions. But it’s not just the gold standard proof of their understanding of the methodology, it’s also just a lot of fun because you get to have conversations about characters,” says Barker. “One minute you’re killing a character off and the next minute you realize that you need that person later in the story.”

Who knew that so much fun could be had creating such a powerful communications tool? PMC creates its own radio and TV serial dramas, as well as providing training and consultation for other serial dramas.  PMC also conducts workshops for groups looking to learn more about Sabido, but who haven’t yet committed to the production of a specific serial drama.

“We’ve had a few failures,” says Barker, “but we know why it failed and what to avoid. With this methodology, it’s not about luck. If done right, it works every time. We use Sabido and that’s why we get these results.”

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