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PMC Articles Tagged 'Population'

Population Media Center Offers Solution to Unsustainable Population Growth in New Environmental Book

January 17th, 2013 by PMC | Add a Comment

The San Francisco Chronicle

January 15, 2013

Rapid population growth on a planet already suffering from human induced climate change, species extinctions and ocean acidification is not helpful. In a new environmental book, Life on The Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation, Bill Ryerson, founder of the non-profit organization Population Media Center, explains how population growth can be slowed using human-rights enhancing, progressive strategies of entertainment-education.

Founder and President of Population Media Center, Bill Ryerson, is a featured author in a new book, Life on The Brink: Environmentalists Confront Overpopulation (University of Georgia, 2012).

The book, an edited anthology, aspires to reignite a robust discussion of population issues among environmentalists, environmental studies scholars, policymakers, and the general public. Some of the leading voices in the American environmental movement restate the case that population growth is a major force behind many of our most serious ecological problems, including global climate change, habitat loss and species extinctions, air and water pollution, and food and water scarcity.

Ryerson’s chapter is titled “How Do We Solve the Population Problem?” It explains that the major barriers to contraceptive use around the world include traditional desires for large families, religious opposition and unwarranted fear of health side-effects. This conclusion contrasts with the more common idea that contraceptive use remains low in developing countries primarily due to supply chain constraints.

“Of course, high-quality supply chains for contraceptives are crucial, but Demographic and Health Surveys carried out in numerous developing countries reveal that lack of access is infrequently cited as a reason for non-use of contraception,” says Ryerson. “Rather, the major obstacles are cultural and informational barriers.”

Currently, global population is expanding by an estimated 231,000 people per day — the net result of approximately 385,000 births minus 154,000 deaths. In turn, this results in over 84 million additional people on Earth per year. This annual population growth is equal to the total current population sizes of France, Libya, Singapore, Rwanda and Qatar.

“Such rapid population growth on a planet already suffering from human induced climate change, species extinctions and ocean acidification is not helpful. Global population stabilization should be a priority for international sustainable development programs and initiatives,” says Ryerson.

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.sfgate.com/business/prweb/article/Population-Media-Center-Offers-Solution-to-4195270.php

The Populations Problem

October 23rd, 2012 by PMC | Add a Comment

By Herman Daly
See: http://steadystate.org/populations-problem/

The population problem should be considered from the point of view of all populations – populations of both humans and their artifacts (cars, houses, livestock, cell phones, etc.) – in short, populations of all “dissipative structures” engendered, bred, or built by humans. In other words, the populations of human bodies and of their extensions. Or in yet other words, the populations of all organs that support human life and the enjoyment thereof, both endosomatic (within the skin) and exosomatic (outside the skin) organs.

All of these organs are capital equipment that support our lives. The endosomatic equipment – heart, lungs, kidneys – support our lives quite directly. The exosomatic organs – farms, factories, electric grids, transportation networks – support our lives indirectly. One should also add “natural capital” (e.g., the hydrologic cycle, carbon cycle, etc.) which is exosomatic capital comprised of structures complementary to endosomatic organs, but not made by humans (forests, rivers, soil, atmosphere).

The reason for pluralizing the “population problem” to the populations of all dissipative structures is two-fold. First, all these populations require a metabolic throughput from low-entropy resources extracted from the environment and eventually returned to the environment as high-entropy wastes, encountering both depletion and pollution limits. In a physical sense the final product of the economic activity of converting nature into ourselves and our stuff, and then using up or wearing out what we have made, is waste. Second, what keeps this from being an idiotic activity, grinding up the world into waste, is the fact that all these populations of dissipative structures have the common purpose of supporting the maintenance and enjoyment of life.

To read the full article, click here: http://steadystate.org/populations-problem/

Growing Pains: Uganda Population Bomb Ticking

October 8th, 2012 by PMC | Add a Comment

By Robert Madoi

October 4, 2012


Uganda enters its next 50 years of self-rule with its reputation as a demographic renegade well and truly intact, thanks to a mindboggling fertility rate (the average number of children a woman can have in her lifetime), which the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) put at 6.2 in 2011.

One of the highest in the world, Uganda’s fertility rate is the stand-out catalyst to the Malthusian disaster on which the country awkwardly squats. The narrative would have been different, demographers contend, had President Museveni taken a lead role in advocating smaller families.

Instead, between 1995 and 2006, when fertility rates in notoriously childbirth-happy sub-Saharan Africa were on a down slope, Uganda’s fecundity was stalling at 6.7 in the face of Museveni’s message that vociferously hailed a large population.

Currently, the average fertility rate for sub-Saharan African countries stands at 4.64 – a high statistic by any measure, but one which would have been a bit lower were it not for the shenanigans of entities like Uganda. Not that there haven’t been any positive demographic strides in Uganda.

Between 2006 and 2011, the country was rattled out of its stall with the fertility rate falling from 6.7 to 6.2. The UDHS posits that this fall was largely because of a paradigm shift in the apprehension of all things demographic by urbanites whose fertility fell steeply from 5.0 in 1995 to 3.8 in 2011.

Whether the predisposition of Ugandan urbanites to smaller families (remember 3.8 is still some way off the 2.1 replacement rate of fertility) will haul Uganda out of a Malthusian abyss and place it on a right path is anyone’s guess.

To read the full article, click here: http://www.observer.ug/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=21353:growing-pains-uganda-population-bomb-ticking&catid=57:feature&Itemid=69

Nine Population Strategies to Stop Short of 9 Billion

July 12th, 2012 by PMC | 1 Comment

Press Release by Worldwatch Institute

Washington, D.C.-Although most analysts assume that the world’s population will rise from today’s 7 billion to 9 billion by 2050, it is quite possible that humanity will never reach this population size, Worldwatch Institute President Robert Engelman argues in the book State of the World 2012: Moving Toward Sustainable Prosperity.

In the chapter “Nine Population Strategies to Stop Short of 9 Billion,” Engelman outlines a series of steps and initiatives that would all but guarantee declines in birthrates-based purely on the intention of women around the world to have small families or no children at all-that would end population growth before mid-century at fewer than 9 billion people. “Unsustainable population growth can only be effectively and ethically addressed by empowering women to become pregnant only when they themselves choose to do so,” Engelman writes.

Examples from around the world demonstrate effective policies that not only reduce birth rates, but also respect the reproductive aspirations of parents and support an educated and economically active society that promotes the health of women and girls. Most of these reproduction policies are relatively inexpensive to implement, yet in many places they are opposed on the basis of cultural resistance and political infeasibility.

Eschewing the language and approaches of “population control” or the idea that anyone should pressure women and their partner on reproduction, Engelman outlines nine strategies that could put human population on an environmentally sustainable path.

To read the full article, click here:


Gates Summit Aims to Fill Family Planning Gap

July 12th, 2012 by PMC | Add a Comment

Bob Walker: The working assumption always seems to be that population growth is a “given,” and that world population will be 9 billion by 2050 and there’s nothing that can or will be done about it.

Projected population growth, however, is just a projection. It’s not a prediction. (Demographers are loath to make predictions). To the extent that demographers talk about the assumptions underlying the UN medium variant, which now shows world population reaching 9 billion, by 2042, there’s a growing consensus that the assumptions may prove too optimistic (i.e. population may grow more rapidly than projected). Reasons for this vary, but it includes declining donor nation assistance for family planning over the past 17 years, a variety of cultural factors (e.g. prevalence of child marriage, male opposition, and misconceptions about the dangers of contraception). For more about the population projections, see this Woodrow Wilson Center discussion.

In particular, listen to the comments made by Carl Haub, the senior demographer at the Population Reference Bureau:

“It has been – I guess conventional is a good word – to assume that birth rates are going to come down the way they did in the rich countries,” Haub noted.

But there has been a “stall” for many developing countries, which he suggests is caused by fast initial uptake from urban women followed by much slower uptake by rural women. These dynamics, however, are relatively new and therefore are not always well incorporated into current projections.

On the other hand, population projections are extremely sensitive to changes in fertility. If the total fertility rate, the average number of children that a woman has in her lifetime, falls by even half a child, the impact on the long run projections is enormous.

Read the full article here: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/11/a-gates-summit-aims-to-fill-a-family-planning-gap/

Nigeria Tested by Rapid Rise in Population

April 16th, 2012 by joe | Add a Comment

Bill Ryerson, currently in Nigeria working to plan a PMC program there, sent me the link to this highly relevant story. At roughly 170 million (currently) in its population size, Nigeria now accounts for about 2.4% of global population. See: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/world/africa/in-nigeria-a-preview-of-an-overcrowded-planet.html?_r=2&ref=todayspaper

Nigeria Tested by Rapid Rise in Population

By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL Published: April 14, 2012

LAGOS, Nigeria – In a quarter-century, at the rate Nigeria is growing, 300 million people – a population about as big as that of the present-day United States – will live in a country the size of Arizona and New Mexico. In this commercial hub, where the area’s population has by some estimates nearly doubled over 15 years to 21 million, living standards for many are falling.

Lifelong residents like Peju Taofika and her three granddaughters inhabit a room in a typical apartment block known as a “Face Me, Face You” because whole families squeeze into 7-by-11-foot rooms along a narrow corridor. Up to 50 people share a kitchen, toilet and sink – though the pipes in the neighborhood often no longer carry water.

At Alapere Primary School, more than 100 students cram into most classrooms, two to a desk.

As graduates pour out of high schools and universities, Nigeria’s unemployment rate is nearly 50 percent for people in urban areas ages 15 to 24 – driving crime and discontent.

The growing upper-middle class also feels the squeeze, as commutes from even nearby suburbs can run two to three hours.

Last October, the United Nations announced the global population had breached seven billion and would expand rapidly for decades, taxing natural resources if countries cannot better manage the growth.

Nearly all of the increase is in sub-Saharan Africa, where the population rise far outstrips economic expansion. Of the roughly 20 countries where women average more than five children, almost all are in the region.

Elsewhere in the developing world, in Asia and Latin America, fertility rates have fallen sharply in recent generations and now resemble those in the United States – just above two children per woman. That transformation was driven in each country by a mix of educational and employment opportunities for women, access to contraception, urbanization and an evolving middle class. Whether similar forces will defuse the population bomb in sub-Sarahan Africa is unclear.

“The pace of growth in Africa is unlike anything else ever in history and a critical problem,” said Joel E. Cohen, a professor of population at Rockefeller University in New York City. “What is effective in the context of these countries may not be what worked in Latin America or Kerala or Bangladesh.”

Across sub-Saharan Africa, alarmed governments have begun to act, often reversing longstanding policies that encouraged or accepted large families. Nigeria made contraceptives free last year, and officials are promoting smaller families as a key to economic salvation, holding up the financial gains in nations like Thailand as inspiration.

Nigeria, already the world’s sixth most populous nation with 167 million people, is a crucial test case, since its success or failure at bringing down birthrates will have outsize influence on the world’s population. If this large nation rich with oil cannot control its growth, what hope is there for the many smaller, poorer countries?

“Population is key,” said Peter Ogunjuyigbe, a demographer at Obafemi Awolowo University in the small central city of Ile-Ife. “If you don’t take care of population, schools can’t cope, hospitals can’t cope, there’s not enough housing – there’s nothing you can do to have economic development.”

To read the full article, please click here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/15/world/africa/in-nigeria-a-preview-of-an-overcrowded-planet.html?_r=2&ref=todayspaper

Albert Bandura Article on Population Media Center

June 23rd, 2009 by Chantelle Routhier | Add a Comment

Many thanks to Stanford psychologist Albert Bandura for the attached article in the June 2009 issue of The Psychologist. The article describes the work of Population Media Center. Dr. Bandura is a member of PMC’s Program Advisory Board.

Social Cognitive Theory Goes Global (PDF, 92 KB)


Contraception, a life-saving investment for the Philippines

June 11th, 2009 by Chantelle Routhier | 1 Comment

Opposition to contraception is hurting the Philippines. Each year, more than half of the 3.4 million pregnancies in the country are unplanned, resulting in high costs to women, their families and the national health care system. In addition, this very high rate of unintended pregnancy is impeding the Philippine’s development goals.

Yet this is not an epidemic for which there is no known solution. Unintended pregnancies are highly preventable if women have access to voluntary family planning information and services, particularly modern methods of contraception.

For full article, visit:

Contraceptives remain hard-to-come-by for impoverished Filipino women

June 11th, 2009 by Chantelle Routhier | Add a Comment

Ask 46-year-old Erlinda Cristobal (real name concealed by request) how many children she has.
“Ten,” she said.

“But I was supposed to have only six,” she snapped in a breath.

After the sixth pregnancy, Cristobal decided that she and her husband, a casual laborer who earns an average of four dollars a day, should not have any more children.

“My husband doesn’t have a stable job. There are days when we don’t eat so that our children can,” she told Xinhua in an interview near her residence in Manila.

For full article, visit:

Sex Sells: A Tiny Nonprofit Uses Mass Media to Encourage Family Planning

June 5th, 2009 by Chantelle Routhier | Add a Comment

PMC was recently featured in Earth Island Journal

Sex Sells: A Tiny Nonprofit Uses Mass Media to Encourage Family Planning

Fikrite is a girl in trouble. Her grandfather has just died and now a neighbor, a man named Damte, has taken over the house and is trying to turn the place into a bar and brothel. Fikrite says she won’t allow it, so Damte starts spreading rumors about the girl and soon everyone, including her boyfriend, thinks that she is hiding a child born out of wedlock. Damte then seduces Fikrite’s stepsister, Lamrot, gets her hooked on booze and drugs, and knocks her up. When Lamrot tries to abort the pregnancy, she almost bleeds to death and lands in the hospital, where she finds out that she is HIV-positive.

If this sounds like overcooked melodrama – well, that’s the point. The story comes from “Yeken Kignit” (“Looking Over One’s Life”), a radio soap opera that gripped much of Ethiopia for 257 episodes beginning in 2002. The show had all of the elements that make serial dramas popular: sex, romance, mischief, betrayal, suspense. But the wildly successful program – which reached more than one half of Ethiopian adults during its two-year run and sparked a craze for naming baby girls Fikrite – wasn’t designed just for entertainment. Produced by a small US organization called the Population Media Center (PMC), the show was written with the express purpose of encouraging family planning, women’s empowerment, and HIV/AIDS awareness. Not all the listeners knew this, however, and that was also the point.
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