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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.

Human “Litter” Found in Europe’s Deepest Ocean Depths

May 5th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Seabed survey reveals depth of marine litter problem by mapping waste in Atlantic and Arctic oceans and Mediterranean.

See: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/30/human-litter-european-seafloor-survey-ocean-deep

Bottles, plastic bags, fishing nets and other human litter have been found in Europe’s deepest ocean depths, according one of the largest scientific surveys of the seafloor to date.

Scientists used video and trawl surveys to take nearly 600 samples from 32 sites in the Atlantic and Arctic oceans and the Mediterranean Sea, from depths of 35 metres to 4.5 kilometres. They found rubbish in every Mediterranean site surveyed, and all the way from the continental shelf of Europe to the mid-Atlantic ridge, around 2,000km from land.

Plastic was the most common type of litter found on the seafloor, accounting for 41%, while rubbish associated with fishing activities (discarded net and fishing lines) made up 34%. Glass, metal, wood, paper and cardboard, clothing, pottery and unidentified materials were also documented. Click here to continue reading.

Stop Planetary Destruction and Human Demise

May 5th, 2014 | Add a Comment

Population Media Center has proposed two panel concepts which we would like to present at the South by Southwest ECO exposition in Austin, Texas this coming October 6th through the 8th. Today, I would like to ask for your “thumbs up” in support of our bids — it is a competitive process, and we would greatly benefit from your electronic vote. Known as SXSW Eco, this conference takes place in the most progressive city in Texas and would be a great place to showcase PMC’s work and educate attendees about the population, health and environment nexus.

Below, I have pasted both proposals and links to each on the SXSW “Panel Picker” website. Thanks in advance for your support.

Yes — it’s true. You do have to create an account to vote. All they are looking for is your email and a password; they send you a confirmation email, you click, and boom — you can then help support PMC with your vote. Please take a moment to review our ideas below. If you can spare 3 minutes to register, and are willing to do so, just click through the following registration link and then navigate to the links embedded below to vote.

Register: https://auth.sxsw.com/users/sign_up

Women First: Improve Society & Protect Environment

See:  http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/29476

An expert discussion on innovative approaches to empowering women around the world and how this benefits individuals, societies, and the environment. Women’s rights resulting in individual economic and social empowerment is well-documented. This panel discussion will not only solidify that connection, but will also examine the links between strong sexual and reproductive health and rights and sustainable and healthy societies. Attendees will also learn about diverse barriers faced by women both domestically and internationally; the wide-ranging social, economic and environmental benefits of women having the freedom to access reproductive health care and plan their own families; and, finally, will learn about cutting-edge and avant-garde approaches incorporating technology, entertainment-education and on-the-ground advocacy to empower women and address other global health challenges.

Entertain the World to Create Change

See: http://panelpicker.sxsw.com/vote/29994

This program is highly interactive and will consist of two workshops and a final presentation. Workshop participants will learn about (and actively participate in) the process of developing an entertainment-education soap opera (for TV or radio) to effect social change. They will help create the tools used in development, such as building a values grid, which is one of the earliest and most important tools developed to support the program creation. Following the creation of the grid a brief skit based upon the work completed by the groups will be created. The skit will be acted out on the final day of SXSW Eco fest. The skit will be proceeded by an introduction and explanation of the process and followed by a Q & A session.

Why They Care: Reproductive Health Champions Spotlight Personal Connections to Development, Environment, More

May 2nd, 2014 | Add a Comment

Why They Care: Reproductive Health Champions Spotlight Personal Connections to Development, Environment, More

“Saving the planet depends on women achieving full human rights, and that begins with reproductive rights,” writes the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Frances Beinecke in a new set of essays on reproductive health published by the United Nations Foundation and the Aspen Institute.

Two years ago, the Aspen Institute collected stories from 15 global leaders – policymakers, heads of state, and advocates – about why reproductive health matters to them. The “Why We Care” series featured contributions from Ted Turner, Mary Robinson, Annie Lennox, and Fred Sai. This week, the series continues with 21 new voices, including the Wilson Center’s own Jane Harman and Roger-Mark De Souza, as well as a launch event Tuesday on Capitol Hill with Harman and fellow contributor Vanessa Kerry.

Stories of Empowerment and Agency

An emphasis on reproductive heath’s importance for women and girls’ empowerment and agency runs throughout the new essays, but each champion has different reasons for their support, drawn from personal stories that touch on sustaining the environment, overcoming inequality, and providing humanitarian relief, to name a few.
In his essay, Nigerian-born physician and UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin writes, “I have made it my mission to help create a world where no girl or woman is ever subjected to violence, where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.”

Ethiopia’s Investments in Family Planning

May 2nd, 2014 | Add a Comment

Ethiopia’s Investments in Family Planning
From: U.S. Department of State Remarks
Anne C. Richard
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
Center for Strategic and International Studies
Washington, DC
April 23, 2014

See: http://blog.jaluo.com/?p=39677

Let me start by thanking you for organizing this event.

And thank you for preparing this video. It is inspiring to see how enlightened family planning policies can transform the lives of women like Mihret who was a child bride and young mother and is now proudly helping others make their own choices about when to bear children.

I would also like to thank CSIS and Janet Fleischman and Alisha Kramer for producing this excellent report. The fact that it grew out of a bipartisan trip is encouraging. So is your astute analysis of what Ethiopia is attempting to do in the area of reproductive health, the strategies that have worked, the obstacles to be overcome, and what donors and governments, including our own can do to help.

And finally I would like to thank many of you in the audience who have dedicated your careers and lives to bringing family planning services to women who desperately need them. As Assistant Secretary, I have had the chance to witness first-hand how important this work is, and what it means to those who benefit from it. This past fall I attended the Third International Family Conference in Addis. On this trip, I toured our implementing partners’ facilities, including projects run by Pathfinder and Marie Stopes International.

See: http://blog.jaluo.com/?p=39677