Facebook Twitter



Recommended Reading

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/

Why world population growth matters to Singapore

July 19th, 2013

Why world population growth matters to S’pore
See: http://www.todayonline.com/voices/why-world-population-growth-matters-spore

World Population Day, July 11, passes largely unnoticed in this global city. However, we cannot ignore how a world population now reaching 7.2 billion affects all life on Earth.

Increasing demands for finite resources are aggravated by inequitable and unsustainable resource use. The extinction of species is disrupting the global ecosystem, adversely affecting climate and, consequently, our sources of food and medicines.

Singapore espouses a pro-natalist policy, reiterated recently in the White Paper. This plan for population growth is driven by a paradigm requiring a high old-age support ratio to provide for an ageing population. But what happens when those of working age, in turn, grow old?

In her speech to Parliament in February, Nominated Member of Parliament Faizah Jamal (co-writer of this letter) said:

“We act as if all that economic growth, all those companies and talent that we want to entice, all the goodies that we want in life, all the construction that is going to happen, do not, in fact, come from somewhere and have to end up somewhere, in the environment.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.todayonline.com/voices/why-world-population-growth-matters-spore

World Population Day: Women take sterilisation burden

July 17th, 2013

World Population Day: Women take sterilisation burden
See: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/world-population-day-women-take-sterilisation-burden/1140901/

As the World Population Day this year focused on awareness on adolescent pregnancy, a Pune Municipal Corporation family welfare bureau survey found at least 4,237 girls 15 to 19 years of age who are married (the legal age for marriage in India is 18) and 2,071 of them not using any contraceptive or opting for any other family planning measure.

The city registered 50,374 deliveries last year.

A function was held to mark the day. The theme was “small family, happy family”.

The survey shows that women continue to shoulder the responsibility of family planning, with 15,368 women undergoing tubectomy and only 209 men opting for vasectomy last year.

“Last year, there were 50,374 deliveries registered with the city family welfare bureau,” Sabne said.

Dr V M Khanande, Joint Director of Health, Maharashtra, told Newsline, “In 2012-13, of the 5.50 lakh sterilizations across the state, 4.86 lakh were performed on women and 18,877 on men.”

Starting Thursday to July 24, the family welfare bureau of PMC has planned family planning operations especially for men at its hospitals at Bopodi, Kondhwa and Hadapsar.

Dr Anjali Sabne, acting deputy medical officer of health, PMC, said 15,368 women were sterilised from April 2012 to March this year. Another 1,11,09 opted for intra-uterine devices and 1,988 women took contraceptive pills. Condoms were distributed to 7.5 lakh population.

A total of 9,33,510 couples were surveyed in urban slums and 51,796 did not avail of any family planning method, the city family welfare bureau said.

From April to June this year, 3,862 women underwent sterilization. There were 1,960 who used IUDs.

A total of 1,482 took pills and 1,43,444 used condoms.

Preposterous population forecasts for Africa

July 15th, 2013

Preposterous population forecasts for Africa
by Gwynne Dyer

See: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/author/int-gwynne_dyer/

LONDON – The news on the population front sounds bad: birthrates are not dropping as fast as expected, and we are likely to end up with an even bigger world population by the end of the century. The last revision of the United Nations’ World Population Prospects, two years ago, predicted just over 10 billion people by 2100. The latest revision, just out, predicts almost 11 billion.

That’s a truly alarming number, because it’s hard to see how the world can sustain another 4 billion people. (The current global population is 7 billion.) The headline number is deceptive,and conceals another, grimmer reality. Three-quarters of that growth will come in Africa.

The African continent currently has 1.1 billion people. By the year 2100, it will have 4.1 billion – more than a third of the world’s total population. Or rather, that is what it will have if there has not already been a huge population dieback in the region. At some point, however, systems will break down under the strain of trying to feed such rapidly growing populations, and people will start to die in large numbers.

It has happened before – to Ireland in the 1840s, for example – and it can happen again. In fact, it probably will.

When you look more carefully at the numbers, you can even identify which regions will be hardest hit, because even in Africa there are large areas where population growth is low and dropping.

None of the Arabic-speaking countries of northern Africa will increase its population by more than one-third by 2100, and some will even be declining. South Africa, at the other end of the continent, will only add another 10 million people by the century’s end. It’s in the middle belt of Africa that things will get very ugly.

Between now and 2100, six countries are expected to account for half of the world’s projected population increase: India, Nigeria, the United States, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Uganda. Four of the six are in central Africa.

In this area, where fertility is still high, the numbers are quite astonishing. Most countries will at least triple in population; some, like Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia, are predicted to grow fivefold. That is on top of populations that have already tripled, quadrupled or quintupled in the past half-century. Uganda had 5 million people at independence in 1962; it is projected to have 205 million in 2100.

The numbers are simply preposterous. Niger, a desert country whose limited agricultural land might feed 10 million people with good management, a lot of investment, and good luck with the weather, already has twice as many as that. By the end of the century it will have 20 times as many: 204 million people.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2013/07/01/commentary/preposterous-population-forecasts-for-africa/

Should We Stop Worrying and Love the Population Bomb?

July 10th, 2013

Please click the picture below to watch the video titled “Should We Stop Worrying and Love the Population Bomb?”

Population Growth: Malthus Rolls Over

July 8th, 2013

Population Growth: Malthus Rolls Over
See: http://theenergycollective.com/sierenernst/246136/malthus-rolls-over

Last week, Oxford Computer Science Professor Steven Emmott published an excerpt of his book, Ten Billion, in The Guardian. The tone of his excerpt breaks all of the rules about communication on environmental issues. It uniformly grim and offers no solutions-verboten on two counts if you actually want people to listen, hear the message, and take actions. However, the article, and presumably the book, deals head on with the foundation of environmental destruction-population growth-from which so many environmental groups and writers shy away. The article correctly points out that the constraints are not just climate, but water, waste, and concentrated populations combined with contaminated environments that lead to elevated risks of disease.

The Green Revolution caused the Malthusian crisis to go out of fashion. But Malthus was not wrong, but rather too narrow in his analysis; he identified food as a single, inflexible constraint. He didn’t allow for the expanding effects of technology and didn’t consider the ecosystem’s other limits. He should have identified multiple constraint that represent the ecosystem as a whole.

E.O. Wilson coined the term ‘technological prosthesis’ for pesticides, fertilizers, de-salinization, fossil fuels-anything that allows the population to continue to expand beyond what it would without technology. But these prostheses come at the cost of the complexity and resilience of the natural environment. Each prosthetic fix that allows us to go beyond natural carrying capacity also creates a point of weakness at which our built environment can fail.

The Earth has a carrying capacity. Technology and its continual advancement make that capacity hard to pinpoint, but it does not vitiate it all together. If the capacity is met, human population will inevitably be curtailed. The question now is merely whether the curtailment comes about humanely through policy and planning, or painfully, through ecosystem collapse.

Please click here to read the full essay: http://theenergycollective.com/sierenernst/246136/malthus-rolls-over

Population 10 Billion by Danny Dorling and Ten Billion by Stephen Emmott – review

July 8th, 2013

Population 10 Billion by Danny Dorling and Ten Billion by Stephen Emmott – review
Are we done for? John Gray on one flawed and one indispensable study of population growth

See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jul/05/ten-billion-stephen-emmott-review

Overpopulation has become almost a forbidden concept. Thirty years ago, when there were around two and a half billion fewer human beings on the planet, the idea was actively debated. Many environmentalists accepted that smaller human numbers were necessary if humankind was ever to live in balance with the natural world, while the argument that there was no such thing as overpopulation was largely the preserve of free-market economists, doctrinaire Marxists and assorted religious fundamentalists. The debate was not always of the highest quality, with some advocates of population control making stark forecasts of imminent global starvation, and some of their opponents suggesting that a Green Revolution in agriculture would abolish hunger within a generation. Neither of these prospects was realistic, but there was a shared recognition that there might be a problem in rapidly rising human numbers.

Today, the very idea that there could be too many people on the planet has been abandoned as retrograde and anti-human. Green parties rarely raise the issue of population, saying that what matters is not the number of people but how resources are distributed among them; they insist that concern with population is a distraction from inequality and the immoralities of capitalism. No leader of any mainstream party in any country would dream of making population a key issue. The view that overpopulation is a figment of the dark reactionary imagination is undoubtedly the current orthodoxy. Yet there has not been a voice that could systematically articulate the prevailing wisdom – a gap that has been filled by Danny Dorling.

A professor of human geography at Sheffield and soon to be Halford Mackinder professor of geography at Oxford, Dorling aims to discredit any suggestion that the human species might be pressing up against the limits of natural resources. Peppering his argument with pained references to the few that persist in asking whether the planet might not already be rather crowded – David Attenborough and Joanna Lumley among those cited with purse-lipped disapproval – Dorling is the perfect anti-Malthusian. His account of the Essay on the Principle of Population (1798), in which the Reverend Thomas Malthus argued that the growth of human numbers would eventually be checked by shortage of food, follows a time-worn path. “It was the sexual hang-ups of a man of the cloth that resulted in ideas of population control making their political debut in 19th-century Britain.” Originating in sexual repression, the idea of overpopulation tells a gloomy tale of the narrow limits of social improvement. “Human beings progress by telling stories,” and it is a story of ongoing advance that we need. We should “learn to try not to estimate the carrying capacity of the Earth”, but instead focus on possibilities of changing human behaviour. Population decline is already under way in some countries, and global human numbers will peak sometime this century. By telling ourselves a story about “how ten billion people can live well on the planet”, we can exorcise the Malthusian phantasm.

Though Dorling describes Population 10 Billion as “a book for pragmatists”, it is actually intensely ideological all the way through. Reading his winningly simple narrative, you would not know that Malthus stands at the start of a long liberal tradition that acknowledged the dangers of rising human numbers but argued for contraception as the solution.

To read the full review, please click here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/jul/05/ten-billion-stephen-emmott-review

RELATED RESOURCES

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 »