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Texas’s Culture Wars Have Created a Public Health Disaster for Women

May 14th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Texas’s Culture Wars Have Created a Public Health Disaster for Women

A report from the impoverished Rio Grande Valley

See: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117738/texas-family-planning-budget-cuts-are-hitting-latinas-rio-grande

In a warm afternoon in January, Lucy Felix steers down a bumpy dirt road in a dusty black Honda Element, a white megaphone in her lap. She hangs a right into the driveway of a dilapidated mobile home with boarded-up windows. “Ladies!” the bespectacled 43-year-old hollers in Spanish through the megaphone. “Meet us down the street in an hour! Come! There will be free food and prizes!”

Felix’s cries of mujeres and gratis could be confused for the promotional dance-club vans that roll around parts of Latin America, blaring Reggaeton at ungodly hours. But she’s shouting about Pap smears, not complimentary drinks before 11 p.m., and she’s in Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, not Mexico City.

Felix, a Texas field organizer for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, and her petite, perfectly coiffed 65-year-old mother, Lucila Ceballos, have been leading reproductive health workshops in the valley, an economically depressed stretch of borderland at the state’s southernmost tip, since 2011. That’s when the GOP-controlled Texas legislature slashed $73 million from the state’s family-planning budget, leaving approximately 147,000 women without access to affordable preventative health care and shuttering more than 50 clinics statewide. It’s a move that women’s rights advocates-and some legislators-say is more about restricting access to abortion and contraception than saving money. “Of course this is a war on birth control and abortions and everything-that’s what family planning is supposed to be about,” declared state Rep. Wayne Christian, a Republican, in an interview with The Texas Tribune. Lawmakers also passed a ban on “abortion affiliates,” thereby barring all Planned Parenthood health centers from receiving state funding. The legislation is estimated to impact upwards of 50,000 women, many of them with low incomes.

The Future of Population Funding in the U.S.: Mixed Prospects for Foundation Support

May 14th, 2014 | Add a Comment

The Future of Population Funding in the U.S.: Mixed Prospects for Foundation Support
See: http://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2014/05/future-population-funding-mixed-prospects-u-s-foundation-support/

World population continues its steady climb, surpassing 7 billion in 2011 and heading to somewhere between 8 and 11 billion by midcentury. But funding to address population-related issues is moving in the opposite direction.

In 2000, U.S. foundations spent $96 million on population-related initiatives, according to data collected by the Funders Network on Population, Reproductive Health, and Rights. By 2012, that spending had fallen to less than $7 million.

See: http://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2014/05/future-population-funding-mixed-prospects-u-s-foundation-support/

In Brazil, Dry Weather and Population Growth Spell Water Rationing

May 12th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Nor any Drop to Drink

Dry Weather and a Growing Population Spell Rationing

See: http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21601280-dry-weather-and-growing-population-spell-rationing-nor-any-drop-drink

BRAZIL has the world’s biggest reserves of fresh water. That most of it sits in the sparsely populated Amazon has not historically stopped Brazilians in the drier, more populous south taking it for granted. No longer. Landlords in São Paulo, who are wont to hose down pavements with gallons of potable water, have taken to using brooms instead. Notices in lifts and on the metro implore paulistanos to take shorter showers and re-use coffee mugs.

São Paulo state, home to one-fifth of Brazil’s population and one-third of its economic activity, is suffering the worst drought since records began in 1930. Pitiful rainfall and high rates of evaporation in scorching heat have caused the volume of water stored in the Cantareira system of reservoirs, which supplies 10m people, to dip below 12% of capacity. This time last year, at the end of what is nominally the wet season, it stood at 64%.

On April 21st the governor, Geraldo Alckmin, warned that from May consumers will be fined for increasing their water use. Those who cut consumption are already rewarded with discounts on their bills. The city will tap three basins supplying other parts of the state, but since these reservoirs have also been hit by drought and supply hydropower plants, fears of blackouts are rising. Click here to continue reading.

Profiling The Failed State of Yemen

May 12th, 2014 | Add a Comment

We have forgotten the crisis Yemen is facing

See: http://www.yemennewstraffic.com/story-z10682000

Yemen is one of the most water-starved countries in the world. Its rapid population growth rate of more than three per cent a year means shortages are set to continue and intensify driving further conflicts across the country. Yemen’s capital, Sanaa risks becoming the world’s first capital to run out of water.

On 27 January 2010, as UK Foreign Secretary, I chaired a meeting in London that brought ministers from 21 countries together to discuss the myriad problems facing Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world. We launched the Friends of Yemen, a grouping of states and global institutions that through regular meetings and systematic, structured engagement was to help the country tackle the political, social and economic causes of those problems.

The Friends of Yemen has met five times since, and today will again gather in London. Much has changed in Yemen over the past four years. It has undergone a significant political transition and recently concluded a national dialogue process that will pave the way for a new constitution, general elections and a federal system of government.

But the appalling humanitarian crisis in the country continues to receive little or no attention from the international community, despite the fact that it ranks alongside the Syria crisis in scale and threatens to undermine Yemen’s fragile political process. Simply put, stability in Yemen is not possible if more than half of the population do not know where their next meal is coming from, or cannot access safe water and sanitation. Such is the challenge confronting the country. Click here to continue reading.

Ocean Acidification Alarm Bells Ring… Few Bother to Listen

May 12th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Climate change: Pacific Ocean acidity dissolving shells of key species

See: http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_25664175/climate-change-pacific-ocean-acidity-dissolving-shells-key

In a troubling new discovery, scientists studying ocean waters off California, Oregon and Washington have found the first evidence that increasing acidity in the ocean is dissolving the shells of a key species of tiny sea creature at the base of the food chain.

The animals, a type of free-floating marine snail known as pteropods, are an important food source for salmon, herring, mackerel and other fish in the Pacific Ocean. Those fish are eaten not only by millions of people every year, but also by a wide variety of other sea creatures, from whales to dolphins to sea lions.

If the trend continues, climate change scientists say, it will imperil the ocean environment.

“These are alarm bells,” said Nina Bednarsek, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Seattle who helped lead the research. “This study makes us understand that we have made an impact on the ocean environment to the extent where we can actually see the shells dissolving right now.”

Scientists from NOAA and Oregon State University found that in waters near the West Coast shoreline, 53 percent of the tiny floating snails had shells that were severely dissolving — double the estimate from 200 years ago. Click here to continue reading.

Methane Emissions Rising… with No End in Sight

May 12th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Wetland emissions mean more methane

See: http://www.climatenewsnetwork.net/2014/05/wetland-emissions-mean-more-methane/

By Alex Kirby

Methane emissions are rising globally because wetlands – especially in northern latitudes – are releasing more than anyone had realised, a team of researchers based in Canada says.

LONDON, 1 May – The bad news is that global emissions of methane appear to be rising. The worse news is that scientists believe there’s much more to come in the form of releases from many of the world’s wetlands.

Methane is emitted from agriculture and fossil fuel use, as well as natural sources such as microbes in saturated wetland soils. It is a powerful greenhouse gas, and in the short term it does much more damage than the far more abundant carbon dioxide.

Just how much more damaging it is is something scientists keep updating. There is now international agreement that methane is 34 times more potent than CO2 over a century, but 84 times more over a much shorter timespan – just 20 years. And two decades can be crucial in trying to slow the rate of climate change.

Professor Merritt Turetsky, of the department of integrative biology at the University of Guelph, Canada, is the lead author of a paper published in the journal Global Change Biology.

The paper is based on an analysis of global methane emissions examining almost 20,000 field data measurements collected from 70 sites across Arctic, temperate and tropical regions. Click here to continue reading.

Youth anxiety on the rise amid changing climate

May 8th, 2014 | Add a Comment

See: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/youth-anxiety-on-the-rise-amid-changing-climate/article18372258/

Sammy McLean, 14, felt overwhelming helplessness as she stood with her family and watched two angry rivers – the Bow and the Elbow – surge through their home, cutting a path of destruction across the downtown Calgary neighbourhood. Furniture flew through the front windows, and the basement and first floor were washed out and filled with mud. McLean remembers thinking that her once calm, picturesque street resembled a war zone.

A confident, athletic girl, McLean says the flood left her vulnerable, scared and hating the rivers that encircled her home. “They wouldn’t let us in for several days after we were evacuated,” says McLean, who now lives in a downtown condo with her parents and three siblings while the house is being extensively renovated. “I used to think the rivers were so pretty. It made me not like them any more. I thought the water was going to take away the whole house – and my bedroom.”

While the Alberta floods haven’t been directly linked to climate change, destructive weather events are expected to increase in Canada in the future. McLean, a normally upbeat youth, is painfully aware of the sheer power of Mother Nature and the carnage its fury can wreak. She’s now anxious about what we’re doing to our environment. “I volunteered to take an active role in my school’s Model United Nations, which is studying the impact climate change is having on our planet,” she said. Click here to continue reading.

Engaging Malawi Youth to “Fight Overpopulation”

May 7th, 2014 | Add a Comment

See: http://allafrica.com/stories/201405020547.html

Kasungu - Youths in Kasungu have been urged to take an active role in a quest to mitigate the effects of rapid population growth in the country by fully participating in family planning services.

Speaking at Santhe Community Hall in Kasungu during its meeting with the young people drawn from different youth groups in Traditional Authority (T/A) Santhe, Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM) Programs Manager Ndidza Chisanu said there is a great need for the young population of the country to get to know their sexual reproductive rights which will assist them to the claim family planning methods.

“This is the age group that is so productive to our country and if we lose out on this target group, then we are losing out on the development of Malawi. Henceforth the need for them to be equipped with the right information in such issues of reproductive health,” said Chisanu.

She however bemoaned cultural attitudes towards sexual reproductive issues as one of the hardships fuelling over population as most parents do not want to talk about such issues to their children as they feel it is not normal to do so.

“If we are not providing the right information to the young people, we will still find them sleeping around and getting unplanned pregnancies; as a result they are giving birth at a tender age.

“This is bringing in a lot of problems to the young people as well as contributing to the rapid population growth in the country,” Chisanu explained

“We therefore want, through these meetings to see a generation that has the right information about population, family planning, and sexual reproductive health. Therefore, the youth would take actions which would be so beneficial to the nation,” she said.

The youth friendly centered organization therefore urged the youth to continue taking contraceptive methods such as pills, condoms and others which have been proven to be helping in reducing rapid population growth in the country.

FPAM is working in four T/A’s in Kasungu namely: Mwase, Kaomba, Lukwa and Santhe where with funding from the University of North Carolina (UNC) the young generation is being drilled in issues concerning their sexual reproductive health rights so that they make right decisions.

UNFPA chief: What is gender parity, when you can’t exercise your rights?

May 6th, 2014 | Add a Comment

See: https://www.devex.com/news/unfpa-chief-what-is-gender-parity-when-you-can-t-exercise-your-rights-83395

How can parliamentarians push population issues more prominently in the international development agenda?

This was one of the questions debated last week in Stockholm, where lawmakers from 134 countries convened for the the 6th International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the Program of Action agreed upon at the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo.

On the sidelines of the three-day event, we sat down with U.N. Population Fund Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin to get his take on the ICPD at 20 and the challenges ahead in what is a crucial year for the future of development cooperation.

The main lesson learned, Osotimehin explained, is that the international community has finally accepted the paradigm shift that took population away from demographic targets to the individual, with tangible results including a significant decrease in maternal and child mortality rates. Gender equality, however, has not yet been accomplished and, in his opinion, would benefit from a standalone goal in the post-2015 framework – always linked to a rights-based approach.

“We must never delink gender equality from the issue of rights … We should never get to a point where, because some people are uncomfortable about rights, we delink it,” the UNFPA chief said. “When you do that, it becomes a Trojan horse – there’s nothing. What is gender parity, when you cannot exercise your rights?” Click here to continue reading.

The State of Population-Climate Change Research

May 5th, 2014 | Add a Comment

See: http://www.newsecuritybeat.org/2014/05/state-population-climate-change-research/

What is the future of population and climate change research, and how can this research impact international policy? In a special issue of Population and Environment, environmental and social scientists look at these questions. “One of the most exciting developments in the climate change research community at present is the development of a new generation of climate scenarios,” write Adrian C. Hayes and Susana B. Adamo in the introduction. These can help facilitate more interdisciplinary research.

Lori Hunter and Brian O’Neill, for example, discuss “shared socio-economic pathways” (SSPs), a new framework that expands on the IPCC’s Special Report on Emissions Scenarios and combines demographic, socio-economic, and environmental models to identify gaps in population-environment research and to pose “plausible alternative trends in the evolution of social and natural systems over the twenty-first century.”

The five core representative pathways outlined are 1) sustainability, in which the world shifts gradually but dramatically toward a more sustainable path; 2) middle of the road, in which global population growth is moderate and development and income growth proceeds unevenly; 3) fragmentation, in which countries increasingly focus on domestic issues instead of broader-based development; 4) inequality, in which vulnerable groups have little representation in national and global institutions, and the world is regularly in social conflict; and 5) conventional development, where the world continues to be driven by the economic success of industrialized economies and adopts energy-intensive lifestyles. The authors emphasize that the SSP framework is open for further revision, and that researchers must continue to study and develop them. Click here to continue reading.