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1 Revisiting demographic transition: correlation and causation in the rate of development and fertility decline.

November 1st, 2013

Revisiting demographic transition: correlation and causation in the rate of development and fertility decline.

Please see the following paper by Dr. Jane O’Sullivan, recently presented at the 27th IUSSP International Population Conference, in Busan, South Korea. Titled “Revisiting demographic transition: correlation and causation in the rate of development and fertility decline“. It may be an indispensable addition to your library.

See: http://www.iussp.org/sites/default/files/event_call_for_papers/OSullivan_IUSSP27_DemographicTransition_FullPaper.pdf

Ocean damage ‘is worse than thought’

October 21st, 2013
Ocean damage ‘is worse than thought’
A new report says the world’s oceans are changing faster than previously thought, which could have dire consequences for both human and marine life.LONDON, 3 October – Marine scientists say the state of the world’s oceans is deteriorating more rapidly than anyone had realised, and is worse than that described in last month’s UN climate report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

They say the rate, speed and impacts of ocean change are greater, faster and more imminent than previously thought – and they expect summertime Arctic sea ice cover will have disappeared in around 25 years.

Their review, produced by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, agrees with the IPCC that the oceans are absorbing much of the warming caused by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

But it says the impact of this warming, when combined with other stresses, is far graver than previous estimates. The stresses include decreasing oxygen levels caused by climate change and nitrogen run-off, other forms of chemical pollution, and serious overfishing.

Professor Alex Rogers of the University of Oxford, IPSO’s scientific director, says: “The health of the ocean is spiralling downwards far more rapidly than we had thought. We are seeing greater change, happening faster, and the effects are more imminent than previously anticipated.”

The IUCN’s Professor Dan Laffoley says: “What these latest reports make absolutely clear is that deferring action will increase costs in the future and lead to even greater, perhaps irreversible, losses.”

Overpopulation: Why ingenuity alone won’t save us

September 23rd, 2013

Overpopulation: Why ingenuity alone won’t save us
We are running out of tricks to squeeze more from a planet already bursting its seams
See: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-weisman-population-hunger-climate-20130922,0,90687.story

It’s easy to grasp that in a national park, balance must be maintained between predators and prey, lest the ecosystem crash. But when we’re talking about our own species, it gets harder. The notion that there are limits to how much humanity this parkland called Earth can bear doesn’t sit easy with us.

The “nature” part of human nature includes making more copies of ourselves, to ensure our genetic and cultural survival. As that instinct comes in handy for building mighty nations and dominant religions, we’ve set about filling the Earth, rarely worrying that it might one day overfill. Even after population quadrupled in the 20th century, placing unprecedented stress on the planet, it’s hard for some to accept that there might be too many of us for our own good.

A recent essay in the New York Times by University of Maryland geographer Erle C. Ellis, argued that population growth is actually the mother of invention, that it inspires new technologies to sustain ever more humans and to coax more from the land. And as Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his 2009 encyclical “Caritas in Veritate,” “On this Earth there is room for everyone … through hard work and creativity.”

In 2011, I visited the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which had warned in 1994 that it was “unthinkable to sustain indefinitely a birthrate beyond 2.3 children per couple…. The contrary demographic consequences would be unsustainable to the point of absurdity.” Nevertheless, the church still encouraged population growth.

With a billion humans already malnourished, I asked the academy’s director where would we get food for nearly 10 billion by midcentury? Clearing more forests for farming would be disastrous. Beset by floods and erosion, China alone has been spending $40 billion to put trees back. And force-feeding crops with chemistry has backfired on us, with nitrogen runoff that fouls rivers, deadens New Jersey-sized chunks of the oceans and emits large quantities of two greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.

To read the full Op-Ed, please click here: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-weisman-population-hunger-climate-20130922,0,90687.story

2013 World Population Data Sheet Now Available

September 16th, 2013

Note: The Population Reference Bureau (PRB) has come out with its annual flagship publication, the 2013 edition of the World Population Data Sheet.

Too many bodies? The return and disavowal of the population question

September 7th, 2013

Too many bodies? The return and disavowal of the population question
See: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09644016.2012.730268#tabModule


During the 1960s and early 1970s population growth was regarded as an urgent environmental issue. Since then the topic has fallen into abeyance. Despite continuing demographic expansion and anxieties about a range of socio-ecological problems – from the stresses of high-density urban living to climate change, water, energy and food insecurity and loss of biodiversity – there is currently scant consideration of the benefits of population stabilisation or decline. Indeed, the problematisation of population numbers is widely disavowed or regarded with profound suspicion. Why have we become so reluctant to ask whether we are too many or to countenance policies that might discourage further growth? I identify five discourses – population-shaming, population-scepticism, population-declinism, population-decomposing and population-fatalism – that foreclose public debate and subject them to critical analysis. I end by eliciting signs of a hesitant revival of the population question alongside the enduring potency of silencing discourses.

Main article

In 1950 world population had recently exceeded 2.5 billion. By 1990 it had doubled and by 2020 it will have tripled. October 2011 marked one among numerous demographic milestones on this expansive journey as the 7 billion threshold was crossed. This is in line with conclusions to the United Nations’ 2010 revision that ‘world population is expected to keep rising during the 21st century’, albeit more slowly during the latter part. It projects some 9.3 billion of us by 2050 and over 10 billion by the century’s end (United Nations 2010). Such an ongoing increase surely conveys an alarming story to anyone concerned about environmental sustainability and social wellbeing. Or does it? I ask why concerns about population growth and over-population have virtually disappeared from the political agenda of developed countries, especially, since the mid-1970s. Have they simply forgotten about, even resolved, the issue? Or is it rather, as my analysis suggests, that problematising it has been foreclosed? For despite periodic eruptions of concern among democratic publics, members of the policy community have been noticeably reluctant to address these anxieties. Even among critical theorists and Greens, scant attention has been paid to the topic over recent decades. Indeed, it is noticeable that insofar as population numbers are mooted as a contributor to socio-ecological problems – from environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity to food and water insecurity or deteriorating wellbeing – pre-emptive dismissals swiftly follow.

The analysis that follows identifies five categories of silencing discourse: population-shaming; population-scepticism; population-declinism; population-decomposing and population-fatalism. These are analytic distinctions. In practice the discourses overlap or work in conjunction, the most obvious factor they share being antipathy to the Malthusian equation between population growth and resource shortages. But these are not merely analytic categories; they are also profoundly political. Each has a distinctive genealogy in terms of its ideological and professional investments, the political interests it serves and the narratives in which it is embedded. The more that key demographic variables become amenable to policymaking, the greater the impact of the discourses that frame them.

To read the full paper, please click here: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09644016.2012.730268#tabModule

Population growth increases climate fear

September 7th, 2013

Population growth increases climate fear
Carolyn Lochhead
Updated 11:26 pm, Monday, September 2, 2013
See: http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Population-growth-increases-climate-fear-4781833.php

Washington –

California has 157 endangered or threatened species, looming water shortages, eight of the 10 most air-polluted cities in the country and 725 metric tons of trash washing up on its coast each year.

California also has 38 million people, up 10 percent in the last decade, including 10 million immigrants. They own 32 million registered vehicles and 14 million houses. By 2050, projections show 51 million people living in the state, more than twice as many as in 1980.

In the public arena, almost no one connects these plainly visible dots.

For various reasons, linking the world’s rapid population growth to its deepening environmental crisis, including climate change, is politically taboo. In the United States, Europe and Japan, there has been public hand-wringing over falling birthrates and government policies to encourage child-bearing.

But those declining birthrates mask explosive growth elsewhere in the world.

In less than a lifetime, the world population has tripled, to 7.1 billion, and continues to climb by more than 1.5 million people a week.

A consensus statement issued in May by scientists at Stanford University and signed by more than 1,000 scientists warned that “Earth is reaching a tipping point.”

An array of events under way – including what scientists have identified as the sixth mass extinction in the earth’s 540 million-year history – suggest that human activity already exceeds earth’s capacity.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.sfgate.com/science/article/Population-growth-increases-climate-fear-4781833.php

Time magazine catches on to the childfree movement, misses the green angle

August 7th, 2013

Time magazine catches on to the childfree movement, misses the green angle

See: http://grist.org/living/time-magazine-catches-on-to-the-childfree-movement-misses-the-green-angle/

The childfree trend is experiencing its biggest mainstream-media moment ever thanks to Time’s new cover story: “The Childfree Life: When having it all means not having children.”

(And the magazine gets kudos for using the word childfree, preferred by those who don’t want children, as opposed to childless, which is more appropriate for people who want kids but don’t have them.)

Writer Lauren Sandler notes that an increasing percentage of Americans are bypassing parenting:

The birthrate in the U.S. is the lowest in recorded American history, which includes the fertility crash of the Great Depression. From 2007 to 2011, the most recent year for which there’s data, the fertility rate declined 9%. A 2010 Pew Research report showed that childlessness has risen across all racial and ethnic groups, adding up to about 1 in 5 American women who end their childbearing years maternity-free, compared with 1 in 10 in the 1970s.

To read the full article, please click here: http://grist.org/living/time-magazine-catches-on-to-the-childfree-movement-misses-the-green-angle/

When I Ran Out of Birth Control in Iran

August 5th, 2013

When I Ran Out of Birth Control in Iran
See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/narges-bajoghli/when-i-ran-out-of-birth-control_b_3671688.html

I recently had to extend my trip to Iran and ran out of birth control. No biggie, I thought, contraceptive pills are easily found in pharmacies throughout the country and you don’t even need a prescription. I walked into a pharmacy in Tehran two nights ago, showed the pharmacist my own birth control pills from the United States, and asked for something similar. “We don’t have anything like this,” he said. “Our choices of birth control have become extremely limited the past few months.” With the same tired look he also responded to questions from other customers, repeatedly forced to say the same thing: “We no longer have that. You have to check on the black market.”

I knew that Western sanctions against Iran had made it difficult, if not impossible, to procure many vital medicines. Cancer patients, sufferers of multiple sclerosis and those with numerous others serious conditions have turned to buying medicine on the black market for exorbitant prices, and at times not finding them at all. But I never thought there would be shortages of medicines as routine as birth control. Juggling requests and questions from an anxious crowd of other customers, the pharmacist barely looked back at me: “Ma’am, the only thing I can offer you is Yaz or Yasmin. That’s the best we have in Iran right now.”

I was deeply worried, as Yaz was bad news. I had taken it four years ago only to develop blood clots and extreme mood swings, and gained weight. Yaz and Yasmin are the same birth control brands that now face major lawsuits in the United States because they have been linked to heart attacks, strokes, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, and blood clots in women. Distributed by Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, there are currently more than 9,000 pending lawsuits against these brands of pills.

See here for full essay: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/narges-bajoghli/when-i-ran-out-of-birth-control_b_3671688.html

The Scientific Argument for Climate Change

July 24th, 2013

Mark Cochrane: The Scientific Argument for Climate Change
See: http://www.peakprosperity.com/podcast/82412/mark-cochrane-scientific-argument-climate-change#

Chris Martenson: Welcome to this Peak Prosperity podcast. I am your host, Chris Martenson, and as promised from an earlier interview, today we are going to discuss climate change with a well-known and widely published and cited scientist who also happens to chair the Climate Change thread at Peak Prosperity, for which he has my deep admiration for both the style and form of the conversation being held there.

We are talking with Dr. Mark Cochrane today, who is currently conducting climate-related research in the United States, Australia, Brazil, and Indonesia that explores how climate change is affecting the characteristics and impacts of wildfires on ecosystems and human societies. He is also professor and senior research scientist at the Geospatial Science Center of Excellence, the GSCE, at South Dakota State University, and he holds a Doctorate Degree in Ecology from Penn State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Engineering from MIT.

Mark’s earth-system science research focuses on understanding spatial patterns, interactions in synergisms between multiple physical and biological factors that affect ecosystems. This look at complexity is exactly what you need when you are looking at the economy, energy, or the environment – in this case, climate change. His interdisciplinary work combines ecology, climate science, remote sensing, and other fields of study to provide landscape perspectives of the dynamic processes involved in land cover change.

I have invited Mark on to share his expertise with all of us and publicly dig into the topic of climate change. Mark, thank you so much for your work on the site, and thank you for joining us today.

Mark Cochrane: You are welcome. Thank you for having me.

Chris Martenson: Mark, we hear a lot of discussion about climate change these days. What is your interpretation of the science?

Mark Cochrane: That is a good question. To discuss climate change, you first have to consider what climate actually is. We are worried about it changing, but we do not generally think about what climate is, because we live in it every day. Standard answer is that climate is simply average weather over a long period of time, where 30 years has become sort of a de facto standard unit of climate time. It could be more than that, but generally we need at least 30 years to feel like we have a good measure on a region’s climate.

What climate really describes, though, is the average patterns of energy redistribution that form as the solar energy that strikes the planet moves from warmer to cooler regions throughout the years. In any given year, the earth gets a fairly consistent amount of solar energy – or energy budget, if you will.

To read the full interview transcript at PeakProsperity.com , please click here: http://www.peakprosperity.com/podcast/82412/mark-cochrane-scientific-argument-climate-change#

Soap Operas Can Save the World

July 22nd, 2013

Soap Operas Can Save the World
Melodramas promoting literacy and family planning? Tune in next week.
See: http://www.psmag.com/culture/soap-operas-can-save-the-world-58992/

Meet Jessie, a shy Latina teen in East Los Angeles who just wants to survive chemistry class, help out her single mom, and escape high school still a member of what she and her best friend call “the virgins’ club.” High-school society, unfortunately, has other plans.

Jessie is at the winter ball when she steals a dance with Jacob-the super- hot quarterback of the football team. Sparks fly, and Jessie is soon caught in a tempestuous love triangle with Jacob and his queen-bee girlfriend, Vanessa. So when an iPhone sex tape of Vanessa starts circulating, who could be to blame but Jessie?

Welcome to East Los High, a soap opera for young adults that debuts this June on Hulu. Filmed in L.A. and written in a slangy mix of English and Spanish, the show follows a handful of Latino teenagers as they preen, flirt, and brawl their way through high school. Between dance-offs, drive-bys, and grinding hip-hop soundtrack, casual viewers might think they were watching MTV.

But East Los High is funded by Population Media Center, a Vermont-based non-profit that produces “pro-social” radio dramas in developing countries around the world. The shows address issues like family planning, maternal health, and HIV transmission. East Los High is Population Media’s first foray into both America and the Web. Whether the series bombs or goes viral depends on how well it weaves its do-right messages together with believable characters and compelling screenwriting.

The idea of marrying melodrama and public health was first developed in Mexico in the 1970s by Miguel Sabido, a television executive who believed that national welfare mattered as much as ratings. His shows promoting literacy and family planning became smash hits and generated impressive impacts. The year Sabido’s first program, Ven Conmigo, appeared, the number of people signing up for government literacy classes jumped from 99,000 to 840,000. Following the run of a second show, Acompáñame, sales of over-the-counter contraception spiked 23 percent.

Today Johns Hopkins University, the University of Southern California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the United Nations Population Fund all have centers dedicated to promoting public health through Sabido-style educational entertainment. The Gates Foundation and USAID provide millions of dollars in funding for such efforts. Radio and television dramas based on Sabido’s model have appeared in dozens of countries. Educational entertainment is nothing new, of course. The sitcom Diff’rent Strokes was famous for its “very special episodes” tackling issues including bulimia, racism, and pedophilia. The 1988 Harvard Alcohol Project popularized the term designated driver by partnering with prime-time shows to dramatize the consequences of drunk driving.

And after a 2001 episode of The Bold and the Beautiful, in which 4.5 million Americans watched a character test positive for HIV, calls to the CDC’s AIDS hotline jumped from fewer than 200 per hour to more than 1,800. East Los High follows Sabido’s method, which draws on social psychology, dramatic theory, and Jungian archetypes. A “transitional” character- Jessie-is shown caught between doing the wrong (often popular) thing and the right (often difficult) one.

Please click here to read the full article: http://www.psmag.com/culture/soap-operas-can-save-the-world-58992/


2010/2011 Annual Report

In 2010-2011, PMC had projects in Brazil, Burkina Faso, Caribbean, Ethiopia, Mexico, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Senegal, Sierra Leone, the United States, Vietnam and a worldwide electronic game.

2010/2011 Annual Report (PDF, 5.5 MB)

Soap Operas for Social Change to Prevent HIV/AIDS

This training guide is designed to be used by journalists and media personnel to plan and execute the production and broadcast of Sabido-style entertainment-education serial dramas for HIV/AIDS prevention, especially among women and girls.

Using the Media to Achieve Reproductive Health and Gender Equity

In 2005, as a companion piece to the training guide, PMC developed a manual documenting best practices in the application of the Sabido methodology of behavior change via entertainment-education.

Read more about these guides and download »