World Population Awareness

Population Dynamics - Countries

Population Dynamics - Countries

October 16, 2012

Population Reference Bureau's Interactive Map

April 05, 2012   Population Reference Bureau

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9.1 Billion Population by 2050; Growth Will Mushroom in Poorer Nations

February 26, 2005   Daily Post (UK)

The world's population will increase by 40% to 9.1 billion in 2050, but the growth will be in the developing world. The population in less developed countries was expected to swell from 5.3 billion to 7.8 billion in 2050. The population of richer countries will remain unchanged, at 1.2 billion. The expected growth would be concentrated in countries that already had problems providing shelter, health care and education. India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Congo, Bangladesh, Uganda, the United States, Ethiopia and China are likely to contribute half of the increase. The population is projected to triple in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Congo, the Republic of Congo, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger and Uganda. In 2000-2005, fertility levels remained above five children per woman in 35 of the 148 developing countries. The pace of decline in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia was slower than anticipated. 60 countries are highly affected by the HIV epidemic and the impact is evident in increased deaths and slower population growth. In southern Africa, life expectancy has fallen from 62 in 1995 to 48 in 2000-2005, and is projected to decrease to 43 over the next decade. rw doclink

Winners and Losers in World of Huge Population Change 9 Billion People

February 26, 2005   The Scotsman

The world's population is expected to rise from the current 6.5 billion to 9.1 billion by 2050. India's population will overtake China before 2030, while Britain will be bigger than France by 2025 but Scotland faces a decline. China has been exercising a birth control policy, although there are considering relaxing it because of the ageing population. India's higher fertility will overtake China as the world's most populated country. Britain's population will overtake France by having higher immigration. The population of the developed world will remain stable while Scotland faces population decline, with 5.05 million falling to 4.84 million by 2009. The rise of global population is a serious concern but has slowed in recent years. There will be 1,395 million people in India by 2025, and 1,593 million by 2050. China's population will grow to 1,441 million by 2025, before slipping back to 1,392 million in 2050. The UK's population will overtake France by 2025, rising from almost 60 million to more than 67 million by 2050 while France's population will have risen from 60.5 million to 63.1 million. France and Britain have similar birth and death rates, but the UN assumes that Britain will have a higher rate of immigration. The big concern is Africa. The UN's revision said the population in less-developed countries was expected to swell from 5.3 billion today to 7.8 billion in 2050. By contrast, the population of richer, developed countries will remain unchanged, at 1.2 billion. In 1950, the world's population stood at 2.5 billion, which rose to just over 4 billion by 1975. In 1999 it was just over 6 billion and by the start of 2004 had reached 6.3 billion. The expected growth has serious implications because it will be concentrated in countries that have problems providing adequate health and shelter. India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Congo, Bangladesh, Uganda, the United States, Ethiopia and China are likely to contribute half of the world's population increase. The population is projected to at triple in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Congo, the Republic of Congo, East Timor, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger and Uganda. In southern Africa, with the highest AIDS prevalence, life expectancy has fallen from 62 years in 1995 to 48 years and is projected to decrease to 43 over the next decade. China's changing population was due to uprooting people from rural lifestyles into an urban economy. China has an ageing population but the picture is much rosier for India which has a younger populationto power its economy and fertility rates are slowing down. Europe's population is on a downward trend and will drop from 728 million to 653 million in 2050. That figure includes population falls in Italy and Germany. By 2050, there will be 101 million Turks up from 73 million. rw doclink

India World's Largest Nation by 2030, UN Says

February 25, 2005   Agence France Presse

The UN's latest global population report predicted that India would reach 1.593 billion by 2050, while China will reach 1.392 billion. India will surpass China by 2030. India's fertility rate is over three children per woman while China's is about 1.7. The report also forecast that world population will hit 9.1 billion by 2050, with India and Pakistan seeing the biggest increases. But almost all of the growth will come in developing nations, and the overall increase is "inevitable" even though fertility rates in the developed world continue to plummet. In 15 nations mostly in Europe the birth rate has fallen below 1.3 children per woman. The U.S. increase is due to the continuing arrival of immigrants, who tend to have more children. Population is expected to triple in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Chad, Congo, the DRC, East Timor, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger and Uganda. The projections assume a decline in fertility from 2.6 children per woman to slightly more than 2 by 2050. The trend toward lower birth rates combined with longer life expectancy means that the world population will be getting older. Those more than 80 years old are believed to number around 86 million now and will soar to 394 million by mid-century. rw doclink

World Population 'to Rise by 40%'

February 25, 2005   BBC News

The world's population is expected to rise from 6.5 billion to 9.1 billion by 2050 with the growth in the developing world. The population of developed countries will remain at 1.2 billion. India will be the world's most populous country by 2030. The population in the world's 50 poorest countries will more than double by 2050. Afghanistan, Chad and East Timor will see their numbers going up three-fold. They are unable to provide shelter and food for all their people, but if fertility dropped, they would buy time to face the problems. Africa has seen life expectancy at birth decline from 62 in 1995 to 48 years in 2000-2005 due to the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases, as well as armed conflicts and economic stagnation. The overall trend shows a lower rate of growth in the past 20 to 50 years. The population continues to grow but at a lower pace. By July 2005, the world will have 6.5 billion inhabitants, 380 million more than in 2000 or a gain of 76 million annually. Eight countries will account for half the population increase: India, Pakistan, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Uganda, the United States of America, Ethiopia and China, listed according to the size of their contribution to population growth. rw doclink

Finland Tops Environmental Scorecard at World Economic Forum in Davos

February 4, 2005   EurekaAlert!

The latest Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI) ranks Norway, Uruguay, Sweden and Iceland two to five respectively, their success attributed to natural resources, low population density, and management of environment. The ESI ranks countries on environmental sustainability, pollution levels, environmental management, protection of the global commons, and capacity to improve its environmental performance. The U.S., which is placed 45th behind the Netherlands and ahead of the U.K., reflects top performance on water quality and environmental protection. But the U.S. was ranked bottom on waste and greenhouse gas. The lowest ranked countries are North Korea, Iraq, Taiwan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan - all face challenges, and have poorly managed policies. Belgium is as wealthy as Sweden, but it lags with regard to pollution control and natural resource management. Political debate, a free press, lack of corruption, rule of law are correlated with environmental success. Finland is the equal of the U.S. in competitiveness but scores higher on sustainability and outperforms the U.S. from air pollution to global-scale environmental efforts. Developed countries face pollution stresses and consumption-related issues. Developing countries face resource depletion and a lack pollution control. The ESI hones in on human vulnerability to environmental stress, the functioning of ecosystems, and global stewardship and will promote a deeper international understanding of environmental management. rw doclink

Country Profiles for Population and Reproductive Health: Policy Developments and Indicators 2005

2005  

The UNFPA and Population Reference Bureau have jointly published the Country Profiles for Population and Reproductive Health, which contains national and subnational indicators on the demographic and social situation in 163 countries and subregions. The publication organizes by the following categories: population, socioeconomic and health conditions, adolescent reproductive health, gender equality, and reproductive health commodity security needs. It also provides data on internal disparities, highlighting differences within countries, between urban and rural areas, between the best and worst performing administrative regions, by education, and among different income groups. rw doclink

New UN Population Division Fertility Reports

December 2011  

From the Executive Summary: Since the 1970s the world has experienced profound changes in fertility, union formation and contraceptive demand. Fertility has declined throughout the world, early childbearing and marriage are less common and the percentage of women and men using contraception, especially modern methods, has risen.

The World Fertility Report 2009 presents a compilation of key indicators of fertility, nuptiality, contraceptive use and relevant population policies for 196 countries over the past 40 years.

1. Fertility declined worldwide to unprecedented levels between the 1970s and the first decade of the twenty-first century. Total fertility fell in all but three of the 185 countries or areas for which data are available. In the most recent period covered, 75 countries or areas had a total fertility below 2.1 children per woman, the level required to ensure the replacement of generations in low mortality populations.

2. The median level of total fertility among developing countries fell by more than half, from 5.7 children per woman in the 1970s to 2.5 children per woman in the most recent period. More than a third of all developing countries experienced fertility declines of at least 1.0 child per woman per decade during that period. Yet total fertility is below replacement level (2.1 children per woman) in 32 of 102 developing countries or areas with data available and remains above 4.0 children per woman in 10 countries or areas.

3. Fertility levels among the least developed countries remain high and have undergone only moderate decline since 1970s. Among the 39 least developed countries with data, the median total fertility declined from 6.5 children per woman in the 1970s to 5.4 children per woman in the first decade of the twenty-first century. In 2000-2007, more than two- thirds of the least developed countries still had total fertility higher than 5.0 children per woman.

4. By the first decade of the twenty-first century, none of the developed countries had total fertility above 2.1 children per woman. Total fertility was below 1.4 children per woman in about half of developed countries.

(not all points are covered. Go to the link in the headline for the complete report)

7. Increasing numbers of Governments have become dissatisfied with the fertility levels of their populations. In 1976, 53% of Governments at the world level viewed their fertility levels as being satisfactory, and by 2009 only 38% held this view. Among developed countries, an increasing proportion of Governments viewed their fertility levels as being too low: 21% in 1976 compared to 61% in 2009.

8. Age at marriage has been rising around the world.

10. Marriage is becoming less relevant for childbearing. In 62 countries with data on extramarital births the median percentage of all births that occurred out of formal (legal) marriage rose substantially, from 7.1% in the 1970s to 33.8%in the first decade of the twenty-first century.

11.The use of contraception among women aged 15 to 49 who are married or in a union increased in 90% of the 68 countries or areas with data. Among developing countries, contraceptive use increased sharply, where the median of the distribution rose from 44.6% in 1970-1979 to 64.1% in 2000-2009.

12. Despite increases in contraceptive use over time, levels of unmet need for family planning in 2000-2009 were moderate to high in developing and least developed countries. Among the 37 developing countries with data for 2000-2009, half had levels of unmet need for family planning between 7.5% and 20.2%. doclink

Latest Demographic and Health Surveys Show Varied Progress in Health and Fertility

November 04, 2011   Population Reference Bureau

Population Reference Bureau senior demographer Carl Haub has summarized data on reproductive health and maternal and child health from recently released Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) for a number of developing countries.

Large declines in womens total fertility rate (TFR) have been seen in Ethiopia and Rwanda. Rwanda's progress is the sharpest TFR decline in sub-Saharan Africa that Haub has seen. infant and child mortality are also declining dramatically in both countries, however, Ethiopia is challenged in getting health care delivery to its large rural population.

Slower fertility declines are seen in Burkina Faso, Malawi, and Senegal, but these countries are showing considerable progress in maternal and child health.

Zimbabwe has seen an increase in fertility, a rise in childhood mortality and its progress on health seems to have stagnated in recent years.

Nepal's TFR has been steadily declining and the country is on track to reaching replacement level of 2.1 children per woman. Nepal's progress in childhood mortality is lagging.

India has experienced lack of success in slowing down the birth rate. The Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry in Delhi proposed new incentives for lowering birth rates. Progress in childhood mortality is also lagging.

Vietnam's "one-to-two" children policy has resulted in a below replacement level TFR, even in rural areas.

Taiwan's TFR of 0.9 children per woman in 2010 was the lowest in the world. But births in the first nine months of 2011 have increased compared with the same period last year. doclink

Google Population Graphs

2010   Google

Informative interactive graphs showing population curves over time. You can choose the country or countries to show on the graph.

An excellent way to become knowledgeable about how population growth is slowing, but not fast enough in most countries. doclink

Population Pyramids

'Population Bomb' Forecast Proves Wrong

August 30, 2004   New York Times*

Predictions that the globe's population would soar to catastrophic levels are proving inaccurate, the New York Times reported. Paul Ehrlich created a scare with his book "The Population Bomb," warning of the consequences of too many people. But ever since the U.N. Population Division has regularly revised its estimates downward and now expects population to level off at 9 billion. This is attributed to declining birth rates and improved public health measures. Nearly half the world's people live in cities, and when in a city, children are not as helpful as on the farm. Barring disaster, a country needs a birthrate of 2.1 children per woman to hold steady. In 1970, the world's fertility level was 5.4, but in 2000, it was 2.9. rw doclink

The U.N. revised its calculations downward to 9 billion several years ago. 9 billion is still an increase of 50% over today's numbers - a disaster for the planet where 2 billion make less than $2 a day and 40% do not have basic sanitation. Still a long way to go and perhaps we are already too late.

Philippines: More Economic Activity Needed to Temper Population Rise

April 06, 2006   Business World

The economy needs to grow 7%-9% annually, equitably distributed among all classes to slow down the Philippines' population growth. The more low-income groups, the more people will be added to the Philippine population.

A 5%-6% growth will benefit only the upper classes. It needs to grow 7%-9% and be felt by all levels, including the low-income groups.

The Philippine population is growing at 2.36% annually, one of the highest in Asia, and is estimated at 87 million.

With the Catholic Church opposed to family planning methods, President Arroyo is endorsing the use of natural family planning and ordered the release of P30 million for this program.

The economy expanded by 6% in 2004 and 5.1% last year. But growth was not equitably felt. The Philippine economy needs to grow 7%-8% annually to cut poverty.

The government will work with local government units and financial institutions in stimulating growth in the countryside. The Philippines needs to attract investments, but economic provisions in the Constitution need to be changed. The ideal population growth for the Philippines is 1.8%-1.9%.

High population growth is straining resources. For example, there are more students than the educational system can handle.

Yet the Philippine population, is "more stable" compared to those of countries such as Japan where people over 60 years old are expected to outnumber those younger by 2015.

Filipino mothers tend to have one more child than they want and there is a demand for family planning services.

Population management advocates should go to local government units, because there, church officials are less dogmatic and local officials more cooperative. rw doclink

Modeling Fertility in Modern Populations

March 2007   Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

The age-specific fertility pattern has a shape common in all human populations. Recently however, the fertility pattern in developed countries exhibits a deviation from the classical one. Data sets of United Kingdom, Ireland and US show a bulge in fertility rates of younger women. In countries with distorted fertility, the pattern of first births exhibits a hump in younger ages, stronger than that of the total pattern. This heterogeneity indicated by the recent fertility distributions of European countries and the US might be related to marital status, religion, educational level and differences in social and economic conditions. In the US this might be related to ethnic difference. In this paper, a new flexible model for describing both the old and the new patterns of fertility is proposed. Follow the link above for more detail. rw doclink

Population: a Lively Introduction

March 2007   Population Reference Bureau

Demography is the study of human populations: Populations grow or decline through the interplay of three demographic processes: birth, death, and migration. The newest edition of "Population: A Lively Introduction," introduces the basics of population studies and explains how to calculate the total fertility rate (TFR) and also reviews the social and biological factors that affect when women have children and how many they will have. The study of mortality is less certain than it would seem. More and more people are living past 100, but we don't know what the upper limit to human life might be. No one has lived beyond 122 years and five months, as far as we know. Just as HIV devastated certain population groups and some entire countries, we might see unexpected medical breakthroughs that protect against HIV and slow aging.

Migration is the third demographic variable with key variables such as age structure that determine population size and change. The relationship between slow population growth and aging, between immigration and ethnic composition, are added to the basic theories of population growth and change.

This new book serves as a demography primer for anyone interested in the topic, which, according to McFalls, includes everyone. rw doclink

Asia's 163 Million Missing Girls

The Daily Beast (US)

Mara Hvistendahl is the author of Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men. She puts the number of missing girls in Asia at 163 million, more than the entire female population in the U.S. The imbalance was made possible by gender-selection abortion practices not only in China, but in India and other developing countries -- and in ethnic Asian communities in the U.S.

As a result, tens of millions of men in Asia, 'surplus males,' who, without female counterparts, may purchase women from poorer countries.

Sex selection has taken hold thanks to technology, lower birth rates, and deep-seated cultural biases that require a boy to carry on a family's lineage.

Abortion is accessible and widely used in most cultures, easier to obtain than in the U.S. There are nearly three abortions for every birth in some countries. "The availability of relatively inexpensive screening with unconditional abortion is a game changer," says Nicholas Eberstadt, a demographer at American Enterprise Institute.

Falling birth rates in developing countries, which improve the health and education of mothers and children, have the unintended consequence of encouraging sex-selection abortion. When a woman gave birth to six children, the odds were 99% that one would be a boy. With two children, it's only a 24% chance. "It's not that women want more boys, they have less chance of getting them," says Hvistendahl. Eberstadt says that women will take whatever sex with the first child, but after that, it's "very apparent there?s a massive parental intervention going on."

Sex selection happens more frequently with the urban, educated middle-class, says Hvistendahl, adding that it seems paradoxical that educated women are more likely to abort a fetus. Women in China are doing better than ever before, with more women in Ph.D. programs than men. "Yet this is happening at the same time,? she says. "If you don?t have a boy, you lose status." doclink

Karen Gaia says: this is a big surprise to me that educated women are doing sex selection. According to some experts, sex selection raises the replacement fertility because there are fewer women to bear children.

Religions and Babies

May 2012   Gapminder World

Is there a relation between religion, sex and the number of babies per woman? In this TED talk from Doha, Qatar, Hans Rosling discusses this delicate topic and explains the main reason why the world population will increase with another 3 billion people.

It's not religion; it's not income. What is it?

. http to see and explore the interactive map shown in the video.


Image from Qatar government website


Image from Gapminder World website at http://www.ted.com/talks/view/lang///id/1455 doclink

Population Decline/Graying

Historical TFR's by Region

August 2003   Patrick Burns

Are we making progress in reducing fertility rates? The short answer is "yes," as the numbers below make clear. Unfortunately, even after a region has reached replacement level fertility, population growth typically continues for 40 years or so due to demographic momentum. The good news is that fertility rates in some parts of the world have not stopped at replacement levels, and have dived below replacement -- Canada, Japan, and most of the countries of Europe and the former Soviet Union are good examples. The table below details the past 50 years of fertility decline, by region of the world, and gives the U.N. median variant for the next 50 years. No one knows whether the U.N. median variant will, in fact track, with what actually happens, but in recent years the U.N. medium variant for the world has been high, not low. As the table below suggests, the big outlier in terms of fertility decline is Africa. On the slightly hopeful side, 4 of the top 10 countries with the fastest fertility declines from 1990-2000 were in Africa (Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Malawi) and two of the countries that are expected to have the fastest fertility declines from 2000 to 2010 are in Africa (Malawi and Mozambique) while 4 others are in the Middle East (Syria, Gaza Strip, Iran, Yemen). UN Medium Variant from U.N. World Population Prospects: 2002 Revision Database

Period WORLD AFRICA ASIA EUROPE L.A.&C N.A. OCEANIA
1950-1955 5.02 6.74 5.89 2.66 5.89 3.47 3.9
1955-1960 4.95 6.8 5.63 2.66 5.93 3.72 4.12
1960-1965 4.97 6.86 5.63 2.58 5.97 3.34 4.01
1965-1970 4.91 6.8 5.68 2.36 5.55 2.54 3.59
1970-1975 4.48 6.71 5.06 2.16 5.03 2.01 3.25
1975-1980 3.9 6.59 4.17 1.97 4.48 1.78 2.82
1980-1985 3.57 6.43 3.66 1.88 3.9 1.81 2.62
1985-1990 3.37 6.08 3.4 1.83 3.39 1.89 2.56
1990-1995 3.03 5.63 2.98 1.58 3.01 2.02 2.55
1995-2000 2.83 5.22 2.72 1.42 2.72 2.01 2.45
2000-2005 2.69 4.91 2.55 1.38 2.53 2.05 2.34
2005-2010 2.59 4.57 2.42 1.37 2.36 2.05 2.23
2010-2015 2.5 4.19 2.3 1.4 2.23 2.03 2.16
2015-2020 2.41 3.84 2.21 1.44 2.13 2.02 2.12
2020-2025 2.33 3.52 2.13 1.52 2.04 1.99 2.08
2025-2030 2.25 3.23 2.06 1.63 1.98 1.96 2.04
2030-2035 2.18 2.98 2 1.72 1.94 1.94 2
2035-2040 2.12 2.75 1.95 1.79 1.91 1.91 1.97
2040-2045 2.06 2.56 1.93 1.83 1.88 1.89 1.94
2045-2050 2.02 2.4 1.91 1.84 1.86 1.85 1.92
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Bioregionalism

Bioregionalism

January 06, 2012   WOA!! website - Karen Gaia Pitts

Any region whose biodiversity or sustainability is threatened by population pressures is neglectful if it does not find a way to stop growth. Any country whose increased population results in exploiting other countries for materials or impacts other countries with its waste, its pollution, or its contribution to Climate Change is neglectful if it does not find a way to stop growth. If a region does not protect its environment, no one else will. doclink

World Carryover Grain Stocks Fall to 72 Days of Consumption - Uncomfortably Close to Level Prior to 2007-08 Food Price Spike

August 12, 2010   Earth Policy Institute

Estimates for this year's global grain carryover stocks have fallen to 444 million tons, according to the USDA's August 12th World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report. This amount of grain remaining in the world's silos and stockpiles when the next harvest begins is enough to meet 72 days of consumption.

"This drop in world carryover stocks of grain to 72 days of consumption is moving us uncomfortably close to the 64 days of carryover stocks in 2007 that fueled the 2007-08 spike in world food prices," according to Lester R. Brown, of Earth Policy Institute.

A searing record heat wave, severe drought, and relentless wildfires in Russia and Central Europe have decimated the region's harvests. Russia's wheat production is now estimated at 45 million tons, a 27% drop from last year. In Kazakhstan, the wheat harvest is down 32% to 12 million tons, and in Ukraine it is 17 million tons, 19% smaller than in 2009. On August 5, Russia announced that it was banning grain exports at least through the end of the year and requested that neighboring countries do the same. Since these three countries typically supply a fourth of world wheat exports, wheat prices have risen along with the region's temperature.

Russia runs the risk of drought spillover into the next year if there is not enough soil moisture to plant the new winter wheat crop. With soils parched, planting time only days away, and not much rain in prospect, this is a growing concern in Moscow, and indeed in the world.

Rising temperatures and food security do not mix, notes Brown. "The situation in Russia gives us a preview of what could be in store if we continue to overheat our planet. This should be a wake-up call for the world: to protect our food security we need to dramatically cut carbon dioxide emissions. We cannot continue to burn coal and oil with abandon and expect to have bumper harvests that can keep up with the record demand generated by population growth and the increasing use of grain to feed livestock and to fuel cars." rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: another danger of globilization. Globally, people should be practicing local sustainability. Populations are more likely to get out of hand when food and other resources is taken from another region.

U.S.: America's Rivers at Risk

October 23, 2005   Hartford Courant

In October 2001, the Rio Grande petered out before it reached the sea. A river that once disgorged fresh water into the Gulf of Mexico was transformed into little more than a brook that disappeared in the dry, flat country on the Texas and Mexico border. From Colorado the Rio Grande is tapped for agriculture and drinking water; so much so that the river's flow is but a fraction of what it once was, and demand for its water continues to grow. There are too many people using too much water. In northern New Mexico, the Rio Grande flows through canyon walls but even here, virtually every drop spoken for. Sit by a bridge and you're likely to see a farmer pull up in a pickup truck, glance to see that no one is watching, fill a tank with water and drive off. There is an over-allocation problem, and it's about to become obvious to everybody. In the arid Southwest, it is impossible to overstate how precious river water has become, and how contested. The Gila, which flows through Phoenix, is sucked dry before it reaches the Colorado River, into which it once flowed. The Colorado is tapped by so many interests that it, too, no longer reaches the sea. But the Rio Grande, the Gila and the Colorado are a glimpse of what the rest of the country is beginning to experience. We're going to butt up against the limits of clean, fresh water. The National Research Council - that advises Congress - concluded in a book-length report that in years ahead the United States will be challenged to provide sufficient quantities of high-quality water to its growing population. In northern California and Oregon, farmers along the Klamath River were outraged when they were denied irrigation water. The river had become so low that a threatened fish species, coho salmon, did not have sufficient water to migrate upstream to spawn. Georgia, Alabama and Florida have argued for years over rights to various river flows. Years of controversy over a diversion in a scenic river in Connecticut, the Shepaug, led to a state Supreme Court decision between Waterbury, which diverts the water, and environmental interests. During a dry spell last month, a half-mile-long stretch of the Fenton River next to a University of Connecticut wellfield dried up, killing thousands of trout. In New York state, anglers complain that New York City, which diverts drinking water from the Delaware River, isn't allowing sufficient flow to keep trout alive. Nine scientists prominent in river ecology research concluded that population growth and climate change would put great stress on water supplies in the next few years, putting human water needs in conflict with the needs of aquatic life and the overall health of river ecosystems. Water is going to be the issue in the 21st century. In the future, water will be what oil is today. On the Rio Grande, Albuquerque plans for the first time to take water for drinking. Until now, it relied upon groundwater, only to discover it was rapidly depleting that resource. The new plan will tap water diverted from the Colorado River into the Rio Grande, through 26 miles of tunnels under the Continental Divide. But critics are worried about the impact downriver and challenged the city's plan, which is now before a court-ordered mediator. The city argues that it is doing nothing more than using water it owns. Albuquerque's water resources manager said the city has reduced water use by 33% over the past 10 years, even as the city added more than 40,000 new water customers. The city began a 10-year conservation program intended to reduce use by 1% each year. The silvery minnow, an endangered species now found only in the Rio Grande, in a 174-mile stretch that includes Albuquerque, is down to 5% of the river miles it once occupied. In a drought, Albuquerque will be required to reduce its withdrawals from the Rio Grande to protect the minnow. Water is so precious that scientists here are trying to determine which tree species along the river guzzle the most water. Since flows were impounded by dams and the river channel stabilized, two non-native shrubs, saltcedar and Russian olive, have taken over vast sections of riverbank. The dams were meant to conserve water, but research suggests that saltcedar takes up large amounts of water. The section of the Rio Grande below the Elephant Butte Reservoir, south of Albuquerque, "operates largely as a ditch for water delivery for agriculture and rapidly growing municipalities." Water is so intensively used and reused that when it returns to the river through groundwater or wastewater discharges, it can aggravate river problems. Water quality has started to deteriorate because water being used so intensely. rw doclink

This should be "required reading" in every school and college. We cannot just let people flood to these places; there must be some control.

Fastest-Growing Communities Are in West

September 28, 2005  

Twelve of the 20 fastest growing metropolitan areas are in the West. The fastest is Greeley, Colo. and its surrounding communities, that grew by 16.8% to 211,000 people, between 2000 and 2003. Greeley ranked just ahead of St. George, Utah, and Las Vegas. The area has grown because it's a reasonable commute to Denver and has inexpensive homes. The New York-northern New Jersey-Long Island area has a population of 18.6 million, up 1.7% from three years earlier. The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana population hit 12.8 million. Chicago-Naperville-Joliet was 9.33 million. A metropolitan area is a region containing at least one urbanized area of 50,000 or more people. The report focused on growth estimates from 2000 to 2003. Americans have been moving south and west for decades, with a big jump in population in the South, starting in the 1970s. The West continues to outpace other regions. Population in the western United States grew by 19.7% in the 1990s, followed by the South with 17.3% more people. The Midwest and the Northeast posted single-digit increases. rw doclink

Countries, Demographics News

Toxin Threat to Inuit Food

April 02, 2003   BBC News

The traditional diet of Inuits of Greenland includes polar bears, seals, and whales. It is a healthy diet and no toxins are produced by their lifestyle. Unfortunately persistent organic pollutants, lead, cadmium, mercury, and other hazardous chemicals are being carried from industrialised nations by wind and ocean currents to Inuit Greenland region and accumulating in the same animals the Inuit eat - which could result in birth defects, reduced fertility, and genetic damage for the humans. In fact, in some areas toxic levels were high enough to cause concern for in 100% of the population, and above the "level of action" for 30%. The report from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) concludes Greenlanders should consider changing their eating habits. The Greenlander diet that has kept Greenland's population protected from ailments typically associated with industrialised societies, like heart disease, diabetes and obesity; so until now people were told to avoid abandoning their traditional diet for a Western one. Diabetes, for example, has increased from almost no cases twenty-five years ago to three times the level in Denmark. "To discover that the food which for generations has nourished them and kept them whole physically and spiritually is now poisoning them is profoundly disturbing and threatens Indigenous Peoples' cultural survival," the report says. doclink

U.N. Official Says Bangladesh Must Control Rising Population to Reduce Poverty

December 04, 2002   Associated Press

Bangladesh, one of the world's most densely populated and poorest countries, needs to control its population to reduce poverty. Most of its 130 million people live on less than a dollar day yet the population is increasing by 2.1 percent each year. Despite an increase in the use of contraceptives to an estimated 54%, the average number of children per woman has remained at 3.3 since 1994. The rate has not decreased partly because contraceptives are not consistently used. Social traditions in the Muslim-majority country make it difficult to talk about contraception among young people. Many believe that reproductive services and information will encourage promiscuity, but the reverse is true and information can bring down unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

rw doclink

Germany Funds Safe Motherhood Project in Afghanistan

December 2002  

Germany has contributed 500,000 euros to the U.N. Children's Fund in Afghanistan. It will procure obstetric supplies, equipment, medicine and the rehabilitation of the Malalai maternity hospital which is a teaching institute for doctors and midwives and the main facility for Kabul and nearby provinces. The funding will also support the translation of a reference manual for training doctors and midwives in Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and Nangarhar provinces. The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in the province of Badakhshan, was 6,500 per 100,000 - the highest in the world. By comparison, the MMR in Germany is 12 per 100,000 live births. rw doclink

The Desperate Bachelors; India's Growing Population Imbalance Means Would-be Brides Are Far Fewer Byline: John Lancaster, Washington Post Foreign Service Dateline: Bhali Anandpur, India

December 2002  

In India, the state of Haryana is running out of girls. It produces a smaller share of girls, than anywhere else in India. Just 820 girls for every 1,000 boys. This reflects the spread of ultrasound exams, which allow couples to abort unwanted girls. The situation in Haryana has become so desperate that parents are dropping their demands for wedding dowries, and offering a "bride price" to families of prospective mates for their sons, up to 25,000 rupees $520. Haryana is an extreme case, but the trend is visible at the national level. The number of girls in the state under 6 declined from 945 for every 1,000 boys in 1991 to 927 in 2001. Some of the sharpest declines in India have occurred in the the wealthy neighborhoods in New Delhi where couples have the money for sex-selective abortion. Previously a bride had to be from the right caste, the right family, the right state but now no one cares as long as there's a girl to marry. Medical tests to determine the sex of a fetus is illegal in India, but the law is easily circumvented. But the bride shortage is not going to change things in the society. The literate will always find ways to get rid of the girl fetus. rw doclink

Philippines: $2 Million in USAID Grants to Fund Health Programs in the ARMM

December 2002   Push newsfeed

Four organizations implementing health programs in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) were awarded $2 million to help local governments, the private sector and communities improve the family planning and health services. The grantees have experience in conflict-affected communities, working with the local government in delivering health services. Mindanao has the poorest health and family planning in the country, intervention is needed to improve the situation. ARMM has the highest population growth of 3.86% against the national rate of 2.36%, lowest contraceptive use of 8.1%, and infant mortality rate of 55 out of 1,000, it has the poorest provinces in the country. USAID supports Vitamin A supplementation in 14 cities in Mindanao. For almost ten years now, USAID has been working with the Philippine Government to bring peace and development in Mindanao. USAID also provides economic, energy and environmental assistance.

rw doclink

World Bank Gives Tanzania US$136 Million Grant

December 2002   Associated Press

For the first time the World Bank has given Tanzania a grant of US$136 million. Half of the money will be used against AIDS and the balance on reducing poverty. An estimated 2 million of Tanzania's 32 million people are infected with the HIV virus. 35% live below the poverty line. Tanzania owes the World Bank $2.6 billion in loans and the country's total debt is $6.56 billion. Last year the International Monetary Fund approved debt relief of $3.3 billion spread over 20 years. rw doclink

Farmers Eat Away Kenyan Mountain Forests

December 2002   Panos Institute

Farming in the Mount Kenya region is causing deforestation and water sources to dry up. There are no clear environmental policies and local officers turn a blind eye for a small bribe. Forest land is cleared for cultivation under a system known as shamba. After three years of farming farmers must plant trees and move to a fresh plot of land. But over 75% of the plantations have not been replanted. Mt Kenya is home to 30,000 families who farm in the forest. If the shamba system is done away with the landless farmers may cause more problems since the forestry department cannot patrol the entire Mt. Kenya region. Kenyas population is growing at 2.4% a year, and the forest is one of the few places they can farm. The government announced a plan to clear over 67,000 hectares of forest including 2,600 hectares in Mt Kenya. Campaigners say this will encourage squatters to farm on forest land in the hope they will later be settled. The destruction of the Mt Kenya ecosystem will ruin the water supply of the rivers that flow from the Mt Kenya and Nyandarua ranges and increasing use by farmers means there is less water for people living downstream. Horticulture earned $110 million in foreign exchange last year. There is a proposal to expel squatters from Mt Kenya and families in the vicinity will have to pay to graze livestock and draw water. The landless say that if they have land to till they will not need to enter the forest. But population continues to increase, there without a clear policy and this could mean the end of Mt Kenyas forests. rw doclink

Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union

Eastern Europe and Former Soviet Union

October 16, 2012

Russia's Demographics Continue to Improve, Natural Population Growth Likely in 2012

September 05 , 2012   Forbes Magazine

Russia went from experiencing one of the world's most dire depopulations to being naturally stagnant in barely seven years. It's population is now more naturally stable than those of many of its neighbors, including several countries that have joined the EU and NATO.

Russians are, on average, living longer, having more children, drinking themselves to death less frequently, killing themselves less frequently, and killing each other less frequently.

In the late 1970′s and most of the 1980′s mortality in the Soviet Union was increasing. To a large extent this reflected the shocking growth in alcoholism and binge drinking, and to a lesser extent it reflected a genuine society-wide sense of malaise and hopelessness and a breakdown in the basic functionality of the public health system.

Even though it is said that Vladimir Putin has cruelly driven the Russians to despair, in 2012 Russia is arguably safer and healthier than it has ever been before. doclink

Georgia: From Abortion to Contraception

July 20 , 2012   New York Times

In the country of Georgia in mideast Asia, women in 2005 had on average 3.1 abortions in their lifetimes - giving Georgia the highest documented abortion rate in the world. Compare that to the U.S. rate of .02. The Georgian number as dropped to 1.6 in 2010 a 48% decline.

The reason: women in Georgia finally got the pill, thanks to a campaign funded by USAID and the UNFPA that educates doctors and nurses here, markets birth control on television and subsidizes the cost of condoms, pills and IUDs.

This success story underscores a simple truth: more contraception equals fewer abortions. However, when the fertility rate drops below replacement, as in the case of Georgia, the issue of contraception becomes a hot topic and, in Georgia, the government has refused to cover contraception in the state-funded healthcare program for the poor.

Denying poor women safe contraception won't solve the problem of population decline, though; it will only encourage them to use abortion as a primary means of birth control, as they have done for decades. Today 40% of women in Georgia's rural areas can't afford birth control ($9-$12 per cycle) without the subsidies provided by the USAID-UNFPA program.

In addition the Orthodox Church in Georgia condemns both contraception and abortion. Also many Georgian women distrustful of the hormones in birth-control pills, saying they will make them sterile, give them cancer or make them fat. Others believe the pills don't really work, which is partly because for many years Georgian women were not instructed on how to use them correctly.

So far only 36% of Georgian women use any modern birth control. doclink

In Uzbekistan, Haunting Tales of Mass Sterilization Drive to Curb Population Growth

July 15, 2010   The Canadian Press

A housewife in Uzbekistan had a cesarean section and gave birth to a premature boy who died three days later. The surgeon removed part of her uterus during the cesarean, telling her the hysterectomy was necessary to remove a potentially cancerous cyst; while she believes he sterilized her as part of a state campaign to reduce birthrates.

She is only one of hundreds of Uzbek women who have been surgically sterilized without their knowledge in a program designed to prevent overpopulation from fuelling unrest, according to rights groups, victims and health officials.

Critic claim autocratic President Islam Karimov has recently ramped up a sterilization campaign he initiated in the late 1990s. The Health Ministry ordered all medical facilities to "strengthen control over the medical examination of women of childbearing age."

The decree also said that "surgical contraception should be provided free of charge" to women who volunteer for the procedure.

Uzbekistan is in Central Asia, and is the size of California or Iraq. Its population density in areas such as the fertile Ferghana Valley is among the world's highest.

Rights groups claim this is how the government is dealing with poverty, unemployment and severe economic and environmental problems that have triggered an exodus of Uzbek labour migrants to Russia and other countries.

Heightening the government's fears is the spectre of legions of jobless men in predominantly Muslim Uzbekistan succumbing to the lure of Islamic radical groups with ties to Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida.

Uzbekistan is not alone: authorities in China's Guangdong Province were accused by Amnesty International in April of carrying out coerced sterilizations to meet family planning goals.

In the past, Uzbekistan once had one of the Soviet Union's highest birthrates, 4 -5 children per woman. Young army conscripts from Uzbekistan and the four other Central Asian republics made up for a declining ethnic Russian population.

Now, the birthrate is around 2.3 children per woman — still higher than the rate of 2.1 that demographers consider sufficient to replenish a falling population.

Women of childbearing age with two or more children are urged to have hysterectomies or fallopian tube ligations.

Some of the women who were sterilized were abandoned by their husbands as a result, it said.

Instead of focusing on condoms or birth-control pills, the Health Ministry promotes uteral resections as the most reliable method of contraception.

Health workers and potential employers are coercing women to agree to sterilization. Sterilizations are sometimes done with unclean instruments of by unskilled medical workers, causing a lot of damage.

Health workers must persuade at least two women a month to be sterilized.

In Uzbekistan, a large family is seen as a blessing from God, and women are often blamed for childless marriages. rw doclink

Should Azerbaijan Adopt Law on Reproductive Health and Family Planning

December 22, 2008   APA.AZ.Com

The bill on "Reproductive health and family planning" rejected by parliament caused broad discussions.

The parliamentarians were divided while discussing the bill. Those who are against it say artificial insemination, surrogate mother and sperm donors contradict national mentality. Those who support the bill consider it will prevent divorce. There is a need to adopt the bill to protect motherhood.

Much work had been done in the country to protect women health, maternal and infant death.

Reproductive health is on the agenda, because AIDS has been declared pandemic in the world.

AIDS is considered a global threat in all countries. In Azerbaijan there are 1771 AIDS-infected people in the country. The majority were foreigners before, but now 70% of the infected are young. Breast cancer has increased by three times in Azerbaijan. 32 in every 10,000 women suffer uterine cancer. rw doclink

Turkmenistan's Plan for Baby Boom

March 05, 2008   unknown

Turkmenistan's president announced incentives to women who give birth to eight or more children. Those who qualify will receive a payment of $250 and get lifetime benefits such as free dental care, utilities and public transport.

There was a large increase in child mortality under the former President and the health system declined. Free health care was abolished, all hospitals outside the capital were closed, and thousands of health care personnel were sacked. The idea of trying to stimulate a baby boom by rewarding mothers is not unprecedented; after World War II the Soviet Union awarded medals to mothers of five or more children. This scheme will give $10 to every woman in the country, to mark International Women's Day on 8 March. rw doclink

Russia's Birth, Mortality Rates to Equal by 2011 - Ministry

January 29, 2008   RIA Novosti

Russia's health ministry predicted that the birth rate in Russia would equal mortality rate by 2011.

In the first eleven months of 2007 the mortality rate was 14.7 deaths per 1,000 live births, and 15.3 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2006. The average mortality rate for the 27-member European Union in 2006 was 10.1 deaths per 1,000 live births. The first time in European modern history the death rate exceeded births.

Experts are concerned that Russia will be hit by a demographic crisis in the near future: Russia's population could fall by 30% by the middle of the century.

President Putin approved a set of targets to improve the country's demographic policy to 2025, designed to lower the national mortality rate, raise birth rates, improve national health and regulate immigration.

In 2008-2010, the country plans to invest almost 500 billion rubles in socio-demographic programs.

Maternity incentives, including payouts of about $9,500 for the birth of two or more children, were introduced in early 2007 following a presidential initiative. rw doclink

Russian Population Dropped This Year

January 08, 2008   United Press International

Russia lost more than 200,000 people this year and this decline of 0.15% was smaller than in 2006, The country's population was 142 million as of Nov. 1. The death rate continued to exceed the birth rate, and the number of immigrants was up 87%. Most were from former Soviet republics.

The working age population was 75.1 million or about 53% of the total population.

If current trends continue, Russia's population will be one-third smaller in 2050 than it is now. The President has pushed to force the birth rate up, including increased maternity benefits and additional benefits for families with children. Real income grew by 10.1% in the first 11 months of 2007, with the top 10% of the population receiving more than 30% of all income. More than 15% of the population had incomes below the subsistence level. rw doclink

Low Birthrate Harming Romania

October 02, 2007   Gulf Times

The Romanian President said that he is worried his country was going through a demographic desert because of a drop in birthrates since 1990.

In 17 years, Romania has lost 1.4 million people due to emigration and the lower birth rate. If this birth rate remains there will only be 16 million residents in Romania in 2050, 11 million in 2075 and 8.5 million in 2100. He said Romania needed to urgently review its demographic policies. In 2050, there will be 145 pensioners for every 100 active persons.

That figure shows the burden that is weighing on the children's shoulders. rw doclink

Romanians Burdened by Birth Rate Decline

September 25, 2007   Forbes

Romania's population is dwindling and retirees would place an increasingly heavy burden on the country's working population.

Authorities should do more to support women who have young children.

Creches and kindergartens are not free, and childcare facilities are lacking. Romania has four million employed people, while retirees number six million.

Romania had a population of 23 million in 1989. It has dropped to fewer than 22 million and is set to decline further.

In the 1990s, many people opted to not have children owing to economic instability. Birth rates have fallen especially in villages, where poverty is higher and many younger women have traveled to Western Europe to find work. By 2050 there would be 100 working age people, to 149 citizens of retirement age.

Ceausescu tried to increase Romanian's population by banning contraception and abortion. Women who had five children were given financial benefits rw doclink

Ralph says: It is time that we began to plan for a stable population, we cannot expect populations to grow for ever!!!!

Birth Rate Hits 15-year High in Russia

September 2007   Age

The birth rate over the first six months of 2007 has hit a 15-year high in Russia: between January and June 2007, 142,000 babies were born in the country. The number of childbirths increased 6.5% in the first half of 2007, while the number of deaths fell 6.5%.

Two million women with children aged 18 months and younger were receiving maternity benefits. A program to increase the number of childbirths and improve the conditions of raising children was launched in Russia on January 1. The birth of a family's first child is welcomed with a non-recurrent payment of RUR8,000 from the federal budget. The amount is increased to RUR10,000 with the birth of a second child. In addition, parents receive a RUR250,000 certificate, redeemable after the child turns three.

The Russian population is expected to decline by five million by 2020. There are currently 74.3m economically active people in Russia, which represents 52% of Russia's overall population. If the demographic problem is not addressed, the Russian population will have shrunk by one third in 40-50 years.

Out of the 143.1m people registered in 2005, only 138.1m will remain by 2020. rw doclink

Belarus Propagates Economic and Demographic Successes

August 21, 2007   Eurasia Daily Monitor

Belarus shed a favorable light on living standards and economic progress in the country. The payment of debt to Gazprom has not had any impact on internal stability. Over seven months of 2007, GDP rose by 8.8% compared to last year, keeping pace with the official prognosis of 8-9% while industrial output increased by 7-8% and consumer goods output by 6.2%. Production of food goods fell to 99% of the 2006 level, but labor productivity increased by 8%. The demographic problems appear to be abating as over the first six months of 2007, the national birth rate has risen by 108.8% compared to 2006. The biggest rise is in towns (109.8%), but in rural regions also (106.2%). The most significant improvements are in Homel and Brest oblasts, whereas Vitsebsk region experienced a net loss once again. The mortality rate has dropped to 95.8% of last year's level, with the average lifespan for Belarusian men 63.3 and for women, 75.5.

The Health Ministry allotted payments of $432 to families for the birth of a first child and seven $605 for the second. A program will provide free food for children during the first year of life. The number of people working in the Belarusian economy has risen to 4,409,200, and is anticipated to increase to up to 4,448,000. Only about one-third of Belarusian industries are operating at a profit. 93 investment projects are under way, which include the modernization of several large enterprises.

Foreign investment has led to some joint ventures, Venezuela is prepared to extend credit of $500,000 at an interest rate of 3.5% over 15 years, toward the establishment of joint enterprises in the South American country. But Belarus needs cash and credits. The country has gold reserves of $3 billion, but these could become depleted rapidly. Economic relations with Russia are clouded by fears of the larger country's political goals.

The political power rests on its image of fostering prosperity and stability. Reports of successes are obligatory in order to shore up confidence in the government. They belie problems, particularly outdated factories and a shortage of ready cash. rw doclink

Population in Bulgaria Steadily Grows Older and Decreases

August 21, 2007   SofiaEcho.com

Bulgaria is steadily experiencing a reduction of population. It was 7,679,300 people in the end of 2006. The population decreased by 39,500 people between 2005 and 2006.

In 2006, the growth was minus 5.1 per thousand, which is a decrease of 0.3 compared with the 2005 rate.

The extramarital birth rate continued growing. The number of women in fertile age decreased.

The ratio of Bulgarians up to 15 years old was 13.4% of the population, while the people over 65 years comprised 17.3%.

The average life expectancy was 72.61 years. rw doclink

Russia Allows Citizens Time Off to Have Babies as Underpopulation Worsens

August 21, 2007   Life News

The Russian region of Ulyanovsk is allowing its citizens time off from work to make a baby and will award prizes to those who give birth on the nation's annual holiday.

The government has declared September 12 the Day of Conception and wants workers to procreate.

Couples who then give birth on June 12 can win anything from cash prizes to cars to refrigerators.

Ulyanovsk, about 550 miles east of Moscow, has conducted similar contests since 2005, and the number of participants and prizes awarded each year has risen.

The Russian population has been shrinking since the 1990s as abortion became a means of birth control.

President Putin defined the crisis as the nation's biggest problem and the government is offering bonuses to women who have a second child.

Putin has also focused on adoption to promote the population. He has asked parliament to increase to $166 per month the stipend given to families that adopt children.

The number of abortions in Russia is now about 1.5 million annually.

Abortions are on the decline, but some estimates indicate as many as 10-15% of all abortions aren't recorded. The underpopulation is producing worker shortages and an inability to support the country's elderly population.

Many European countries have policies and programs in place that are intended to raise the birth rate.

The Russian government has given couples a bonus of $9,600 following the birth of a second child and any subsequent children.

The policies have not been working, in part because the nations continue to fund and promote abortion on demand.

Russia's birthrate has been on the decline for decades and, in 2004, was 1.17 babies per woman. Demographers say that 2.4 children born per woman is necessary for any nation to sustain its population. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: Russia is a special case. Jobs are hard to find. Men drink their unemployment troubles away and die early. Women don't want to get married to men who have no jobs and drink. Alcohol-related violence is high.

Government Moves to Boost Armenian Birth Rate

August 07, 2007   Armenia Liberty

The government approved a plan aimed at boosting the birth rate in Armenia. The $8.6 million program, financed by Western donors, is to boost the country's population. It is aimed at boosting the birth rate and creating favorable conditions for healthy childhood and maternity.

Armenia's population has shrunk since the Soviet collapse as a result of the out-migration of hundreds of thousands of its citizens and a decreased birth rate. Giving birth in any maternity hospital is officially free of charge in Armenia. However, this is rarely enforced due to a well-entrenched system of informal payments levied from the parents and typically involves hundreds of dollars.

The director of the Maternity and Gynecology Institute claimed that parents must pay only for having separate wards and other "special services" in maternity hospitals.

In general, delivery is free of charge for socially vulnerable or poor people he told reporters. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: who is going to pay to raise, feed, and educate the child?

Russia;: Demographic Future Bleak for City

July 31, 2007   St Petersburg Times

According to the St. Petersburg Civil Registry Committee, 130 children are born in the city every day but the mortality rate is over 200.

However, St. Petersburg's population decline has been exaggerated, reporting worse figures while St. Petersburg is experiencing a less than 1% annual slump.

These cities as a rule are attractive spots for both internal and foreign migrants, ready to cover any demographic gap.

The real concern in official circles is an extinction of Russians as a race, rather than population decline. It was one of the factors that prompted President Putin to adopt a policy aimed at "calling ethnic Russians abroad back home, but restricting migration for other nationalities."

To reverse the demographic trend, Russia has to revise its policies so that the balance of development and distribution of services between rural and urban Russia and between the center and the periphery can be equally ensured.

Russia should mend its internal migration rather than focusing on the more easily controlled migration from abroad.

The St. Petersburg Bureau of Statistics has offered figures saying the mortality rate was almost double the birth rate in the first quarter of the year. About 9,986 children were born during the period, driving the city's population to 4.567 million by April.

The St. Petersburg Civil Registry Committee say the birth rate has declined by 46%, while mortality jumped by 27% in the past 10 years. The first 5 years saw half of the male labor force and one-eighth of the female force die before reaching retirement age.

In 2001, there were 631 pensioners to every 1,000 working people.

Russia loses 800,000 people every year and will be inhabited by only 40 million people in the next 40 years, down from the current 143 million, if it does not adopt a policy to preserve natives in their regions.

The UN says Russia's population will fall by a third by the middle of the century. The International Institute for Strategic Studies warns that if the slump is not reversed, Russia's population will be “only a little bigger than that of Vietnam and Ethiopia, one-third of the U.S. and one-twelfth that of China," by 2025.

Currently, Russia's annual rate of population decline is 0.5%, but will jump to 1.2% by the year 2020 and to 2.2% a decade later. rw doclink

Eastern Serbia Dies Slow Death From Depopulation

July 25, 2007   Balkan Investigative Reporting Network

The latest census shows that eastern Serbia's Timok region has lost a population over the last decade equal in size to one of its major towns, Bor.

In the past 12 years, the region's population has decreased by about 30,000. In 2005, the mortality rate outweighed the birth rate by 1,191 in the Bor basin and by 1,686 people in the Zajecar municipality.

Zajecar has fewer inhabitants than more than half a century ago, a decline attributed to a low birth rate and the migration of families.

When the new school year starts this autumn, there will be no first-graders in Miroc or in the nearby villages of Strbac and Kopana Glavica. The three villages have only five pupils in four grades.

Thousands of people from the Timok region abandoned the rural backwater to make a better life abroad.

Economic hardship is the key to the region's steady depopulation and decline. Industrial production in the region grew by 1.5% last year, less than in other parts of Serbia.

Serbia's estimates of the average fertility rate in 2006 were 1.69 babies per woman.

Unemployment has remained a blight. The town of Majdanpek has only 6,805 working age adults today. Fifteen years ago, it had twice as many.

The town's key employer gold smelter and jewelry produces Zlatara Majdanpek has collapsed with its mother company, the Copper Mininin and Smelting Complex Bor (RTB Bor).

The remaining adult population in the east of Serbia is ageing fast. Serbia has an aging population with the median age of 37.3, and life expectancy of 75.06 years.

Villages of 500 have decreased by an average of 90%, those of 1,000 by 80% while towns of up to 5,000 by 50%.

Under the communist federation the economy was stimulated in areas like the Timok region. Public sector workers were offered better wages than their Belgrade counterparts and people were given apartments and other benefits. Serbia has no such tools today and young people are flocking to the big cities. Sending children to school and obtaining medical care have also become more expensive for rural areas.

Many village schools have amalgamated or closed. No one wants to leave six-year olds walking miles to the nearest school alone and unaccompanied by parents who are busy earning salaries somewhere. In many remaining village schools, facilities are poor. These children are deprived of quality education. The government has not lifted VAT on sales of baby and infant products, even though they remain expensive.

The authorities do little to help large families. The mayor of Majdanpek, is offering financial bonuses for families, but the initiative has been almost fruitless so far. Only 42 babies were born this year in Majdanpek's two urban and 12 rural municipalities. The figure used to be 300 babies a year only 20 years ago.

Eastern Serbia's towns and villages are now quiet. Squares and lanes bustling with children are a rare sight. Weddings are few and far between. rw doclink

Five More Die as Southeast Europe Sizzles

June 27, 2007   Plantet Ark

Four more Romanians have died from a heatwave, raising the region's death toll from the past few days to at least 30.

In western Turkey, a 60-year-old man died in hospital as temperatures there hit 111.2F.

Turkey reduced working hours for state officials and urged the elderly and children to stay at home, out of the heat.

This was Greece's hottest June ever, with more emergency calls.

By contrast, northern had severe flooding, caused by torrential rain, which killed a 68-year-old man and a teenager in Sheffield and a man in his 20s in Hull.

Southeastern Europe was suffering a drought, even before the latest heatwave.

Grain producers say Romania might have to import a million tonnes of wheat to cover a domestic shortfall.

In Ukraine, the government has imposed limits on grain exports for three months in an attempt to keep down bread prices. rw doclink

Estonia's Population Decline Slows

June 04, 2007   RIA Novosti (Russia)

Estonia's population fell by 2,500 to 1.34 million during 2006. During the first decade of Estonia's independence the nation lost 200,000 people due to the low birth rate and mass emigration. However, the population reduction was less than in recent years, due to a slightly higher birth rate.

During the 1990s, live births registered in Estonia dropped from 19,300 per year to 13,000. Authorities expect the country's depopulation trend to continue for the foreseeable future, raising issues for the economy and society. rw doclink

Eu Parliament Slams Croatia's Church-backed Sex Education

April 25, 2007   Agence France Presse

The European Parliament slammed a proposed Church-backed sex education program in Croatia, saying it encouraged discrimination.

The EU parliament voiced "concern regarding the potential implementation of a reproductive health and sexual curriculum."

The program "supplies medically inaccurate and information about sexual health and family planning as well as about contraceptive methods," read the letter.

The deputies warned the curriculum was "gender-biased and features negative attitudes towards homosexuality, thus contradicting Croatian laws."

The program is backed by the Roman Catholic Church and is in line with Vatican teaching that there should be no sexual relations outside marriage, no safe sex, and no homosexuality.

It needs the health ministry's approval in order to be introduced in schools.

Local NGO's have urged authorities to reject the program because it was not based on scientific research. Croatians have sex for the first time at an average age of 17.

Almost 90% of Croatia's population of 4.4 million are Roman Catholics. rw doclink

Croatia;: Low Birth Rate - the Result of a Lack of Marriages

April 17, 2007   Javno

The book "Social Sterility In Croatia, Why We Are Unmarried" by Andelka Akrap and Ivan Cipin, “Marriage is the basic reproductory institution, and the less marriages there are directly influences the reproductive potential".

The book was financed by the ministry of families, veterans and intergenerational solidarity.

The main aim is to discover what affects the late entry into marriage and the late birth of children.

Some of the important factors are social and economic conditions, inequality between the sexes, unemployed female work force, inability to find a partner, war of independence, housing problems, poor support for those wanting to have children, the trend of living with your parents longer and other. rw doclink

Birth Rate in Russia to Grow 26% by Late 2009

March 12, 2007   Agence France Presse

Russia predicted that their birth rate will increase by 26% by the end of 2009. A set of measures had been introduced including maternity hospital funding and capital payouts ($9,500) for the birth of two or more children.

But a sociologist said Russia's population will fall to 135 million by 2016, from the current 142.2 million.

Social upheaval, low birth rates, the proportion of families with only one child, high male mortality rates, and a decline in internal migration were the main reasons for the population decline.

However, the average life span for Russians had increased slightly from 64.9 years in 2003 to 65.3 years in 2005, but was still less than in Japan, the US, China and some European countries.

The government is implementing a number of programs to increase the birth rate and attract more migrants. rw doclink

Birth Rate in Russia to Grow 26% by Late 2009 - Health Ministry

March 06, 2007   RIA Novosti (Russia)

Russia's health ministry predicted that the birth rate will increase by 26% by the end of 2009. Measures had been introduced, including maternity hospital funding and capital payouts ($9,500) for the birth of two or more children.

But Russia's population will fall to 135 million by 2016, from the current 142.2 million.

Social upheaval, low birth rates, the proportion of families with only one child, high male mortality rates, mainly caused by accidents, and a decline in internal migration were the main reasons for the population decline.

However, the average life span for Russians had increased from 64.9 years in 2003 to 65.3 years in 2005, but was far less than in Japan, the US, China and some European countries.

The government is implementing programs to increase the birth rate and attract more migrants. rw doclink

Life Expectancy in Russia Much Lower Than in Developed States

February 21, 2007   TASS (Russia)

Life expectancy in Russia is lower than in developed countries. Men in the USA, France and Japan outlive Russian men by 15 to 20 years, women - by 7 to 13 years. The number of suicides in Russia has grown to 40,000 cases a year.

Low birth rate and high mortality is the most acute problem for the country. In many regions up to twice as many people die than are born. Low standards of living, insecurity and uncertainty of the future give rise to violence in families, neurotic and psychiatric disorders and aggravate somatic diseases.

These problems demand adequate measures and mechanisms. The federal program for 2007-2011, will give an opportunity to concentrate resources on priority directions which includes reduction of illnesses and mortality related with diabetes, tuberculosis, a total of 22.5 deaths per 100,000 cases, HIV infection and cancer. Attention will be paid to treatment of mental troubles, sexually transmitted infections, viral hepatitis, high blood pressure as well as vaccines.

76.4 billion roubles are allocated for that five-year program, including 35.1 billion roubles from the federal budget. In 2005, an average life span was 58.9 years for men and 72.3 years for women. rw doclink

Russia Bids to Boost Birth Rates

February 19, 2007   BBC News

Under a new scheme introduced this year, a woman can apply for a government hand-out of about two years' income for most Russians - simply because she has more than one child.

This is the government's response to a decline in the population.

Low birth rates and high death rates mean that this country could lose 40 million people by the middle of this century and the decline could accelerate. The money can only be used for university education, the mother's pension or towards buying a home. And it will only be available once the second child is three years-old.

A good nursery costs $120 a month. There was a cynical view in the maternity ward of Samara's main regional hospital. People don't trust the government and rely only on themselves to provide for their children.

The majority of families stop after having one baby but officials insist they had seen an increase in the birth-rate recently. This they believe, is linked to increasing prosperity and stability, but the numbers are still very low.

The government has not even begun to deal with the the high death rate.

The death-rate is estimated to be almost a third higher now than in the late 1980s.

The average life expectancy for Russian men has gone down to less than 59.

In the European Union, it is more than 75.

Alcohol-related deaths have become common, taking a toll of tens of thousands of people every year, particularly men. Poor health and suicide are also major problems. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: men drink because they can't find a job and women don't get married because they can't find a man with a job. Under these circumstances, is it prudent to add more people to the job market?

Safe Sex Among Young People in Czech Republic Declining

February 07, 2007  

Increasing numbers of young people in the Czech Republic are not protecting themselves against HIV.

A survey among 139 young people 16 to 19 found that most do not take precautions during sex to avoid contracting sexually transmitted infections. Two-thirds said that they fear HIV but do not believe they can acquire the virus.

39% insist on using condoms during sex. "The disease is no longer discussed and, Czech young people believe that it curable. The country has recorded 920 HIV cases, although some doctors say the number country could be five times as high. rw doclink

Buoyed by Strong Economy, Estonians Make More Babies

January 23, 2007   Age

Estonians' confidence in the economy means more couples are having children. There were 500 more births last year than the previous year, putting the population at 1.342 million.

Women feel they can't postpone having a child any more because of their age, and they are encouraged by the positive development of the economy. Estonia's population has dropped by 14.6% from 1.57 million in 1991. But since Estonia became a member of the EU with economic growth in the double digits, the population has grown.

A sense of economic security has pushed families to have more children.

The improved parental benefit system has also helped. Estonia is a small country and needs to pay special attention to this matter to ensure its future viability. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: there is nothing wrong with increasing population growth IF the larger population can live sustainably. If there are not enough resources in Estonia to meet citizens' needs over the long run, then their economy is not sustainable.

Islam Thrives as Russia's Population Falls

December 05, 2006   The Star Russia

The Sobornaya Mosque is one of only four in Moscow serving a Muslim population of 2.5 million. It was the only Islamic house of worship during the Soviet period, usually empty due to religious repression.

Today, it overflows with worshippers on Fridays and holy days. In the Soviet period, people were forbidden from practising their religions. Now, they are embracing their faith again.

Russia is in the midst of transformation. Islamic faith is thriving and if current trends continue, more than half of Russia's population will be Muslim by mid-century.

Tensions are already high between the country's ethnic Russian population and the diverse group of nationalities that make up the Muslim community. Attacks on mosques are not uncommon and angry mobs have chased Chechens and other migrants from the Caucasus out of the northwestern town of Kondopoga.

Spurring on the mob was Alexander Belov, head of the Movement Against Illegal Immigration, an increasingly powerful lobby group. "Russia is historically a Slavic, Orthodox Christian land and we need to make sure it stays that way," he said. "Muslims, no matter what their citizenship, should be restricted from living in "traditional Russian lands."

Many Russians associate Islam with religious extremists from Chechnya. Some are newly arrived immigrants from the former Soviet states of Central Asia; others are from Muslim-majority regions that remained part of Russia. Russia's Muslim communities boast higher birth rates than those of the country's Christian Orthodox, ethnic Slavs with some communities averaging as many as 10 children per woman. Since 1989, Russia's Muslim population has increased by 40% to about 25 million. By 2015, Muslims could make up a majority of Russia's conscript army and one-fifth of the country's population by 2020.

If trends continue people of Muslim descent will outnumber ethnic Russians. The country's Muslim leaders look on the population spurt, and media coverage, with apprehension.

The image of Muslims presented in the media is very distorted and sensing the nationalist mood, Russian authorities have begun to crack down.

Four regions introduced mandatory classes in Orthodox Christianity in all schools. A new law will ban foreigners from working in retails stalls and markets next year. The growing anti-Islamic sentiment threatens to push Russian Muslims further into the arms of radicals.

People who know they are Muslims but don't know what that means could be radicalized, especially if they feel excluded from Russian society. At the Sobornaya Mosque, one bearded young man, who refuses to give even his first name, anticipates a day when large chunks of Russia can be broken off into Islamic states. rw doclink

1.5 Million Abortions Performed Annually in Russia; 1.6 Million Childbirths Registered

November 30, 2006   Age

There are 1.5mln abortions annually in Russia and about 1.6mln births. A trend of decreasing number has been seen but some maintain that 10%-15% of abortions made at private clinics are not registered. About 120,000 women annually fall ill after abortion, suffering from sterility, endometriosis, etc. 404 died after they gave births in 2005; maternal mortality is 24.4 per 100,000 births in Russia and 15 per 100,000 in Europe.

Russian women annually loose 160,000 pregnancies including 70,000 because miscarriage which, which could be prevented in 95% of cases. To save one such pregnancy costs about $1,500. About 60,000 premature births happen annually.

A federal program on preservation of female reproductive health should be created in Russia. If a woman decides to give birth at the age of about 40, she should know that risk of fetus pathologies increases by 16 times. rw doclink

Polish Parliament Approves Law Offering Payments to Families Who Have Children

November 28, 2006   Associated Press

Poland's parliament passed a new law that foresees a one-time payment to women for each child they have. The government is to pay 1,000 zlotys (260; US$310) to women for each birth. Supporters hope that, by encouraging more births, they can help stave off a population decline in Poland, a country with one of Europe's lowest birth rates. But the vote was only a partial victory for the government which had previously backed a version that would offer payments only to poor women. The minority government was forced to broaden the law to apply to all women to get it through. rw doclink

Sixty Percent of Estonian Children Born Out of Wedlock

November 28, 2006   Agence France-Presse

Estonia leads the EU with 60% of children born to unmarried parents. In the enlarged EU, the average percentage in 2004 was 31.6%. In Estonia, the main reason why so many children are born out of wedlock is that young parents lack the money to make their own home, so they postpone formal marriage. People think that the formalisation of a partnership is not important and society has tolerated this approach. The proportion of young mothers in Estonia who work while raising their children has increased, as has the average age of first-time mothers. This year, 330 more children had been born in Estonia compared with the first 11 months of 2004. But despite an increase of around eight% in the birth rate over the past two years, population growth continues to be negative, with 3,000 more deaths than births this year with a population of 1.3 million. rw doclink

Infant Mortality in Russia Down 31%

November 06, 2006   RIA Novosti

Infant mortality in Russia has dropped 31% in the first 10 months of 2006 against the same period last year. In the first 10 months of this year, 11,120 infants died in Russia's maternity hospitals, compared with 16,125 in 2005. Russia's population has been in steady decline since the market reforms and economic hardships of the 1990s. In his annual address to the nation, President Putin said the country's population was falling by about 700,000 each year, and pledged financial incentives for women with larger families. rw doclink

Estonia;: TFR Increasing in Part Because of Incentives to Have Children

October 20, 2006   Kaiser Network

Estonia's total fertility rate (TFR) has increased to 1.5 children per woman from 1.3 in the late 1990s. This could be the result of a government initiative for providing women who have children with monthly stipends.

The initiative was pushed after a report by the UN showed Estonia as "one of the fastest-shrinking nations on earth." Estonia provides employed women who have children with their salary, up to $1,560 monthly, over a 15-month period and unemployed women with $200 monthly. The average monthly salary in Estonia is $650. Many employed women could not afford to have children and taking time off could have a negative impact on job security. Some other factors include advances in birth control and ideas about personal freedom and happiness.

The Estonian government plans to continue strategies, such as expanding pre-abortion counselling and subsidizing child-care providers and private day care Estonia needs a TFR of 2.1 children per woman to maintain its current population. rw doclink

Russia;: Gov't Promises 9,000 Dollars to Help Mothers Raise Second Child

October 12, 2006   TASS (Russia)

In 2007, the Russian government is planning to begin payment of maternity capital worth 250,000 roubles to women who give birth to a second child.

The promised sum will be annually revised, taking into account inflation rates.

Mothers will be paid the maternity capital three years after a second child is born; by 2010 the government will have to allocate 131 billion roubles.

In 2007, some 570,000 - 580,000 women in Russia would be entitled to the maternity capital.

The program will have a positive effect on the situation in Russia, ensuring population growth by 30,000- 40,000 people per year. The bill maternity capital can be denied to women deprived of maternity rights or mothers who deliberately encroach on a child's life or health.

The bill envisages that Russian women who give birth to a second child or another child to follow will be paid 250,000 roubles from the Pension Fund, and that mothers will be able to use these funds for improving housing conditions or education of children.

The government has also approved a bill that relieves maternity capital of income tax, so as to relieve maternity capital, of income tax. rw doclink

In Shrinking Bulgaria, Where Are the People?; Population Decline is Killing Its Cities

October 11, 2006   International Herald Tribune

Lucky Bulgaria was founded in 1959. Today the population is 4,000, down from 10,000 in 1990. Only two of the five lead-zinc mines still operate. The streets are tidy and organized and many of the public buildings are freshly painted. Only people are missing. There is no work and all the young people have left.

Bulgaria has a population decline considered to be one of the most severe. The 20 main cities all have lost population since 1989, except for Sofia, the capital.

Bulgaria's population will decline by 34% from 2005 to 2050, from 7.7 million to 5 million.

The the only country likely to lose more of its people was Swaziland, where 38% of the population has HIV.

The problem in Bulgaria is made more complicated by the low standard of living. A national strategy is being started to improve living standards so that Bulgarians have more children. In Bulgaria, there are 1.5 workers for every 2 pensioners and the ratio is getting worse. The population decline began during the Communist era and accelerated when the old system ended in 1989 and the economy collapsed. The fertility rate is now 1.3 in Bulgaria. About 800,000 Bulgarians emigrated from 1989 to 2004. 144 villages have no population and 337 villages have 10 or fewer residents. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says? The article says nothing about the sustainability of living in Bulgaria. Why are living standards low? Can the area support the existing population?

Romania;: Fewer Abortions, Birth Rate on the Rise After 15 Years of Family Planning

September 25, 2006   Bucharest Daily News

One of 3 Romanian women ages 15 to 44 now uses a modern method of birth control. Fewer women rely on abortion, while birth rates have begun to rise.
Maternal mortality rates are falling. U.S. Ambassador Nicholas Taubman praised Romania's Ministry of Public Health for supporting family planning, attributing the achievements to the strong partnerships between international donors, the Romanian Government, and the civil society. Romania's Family Health Initiative is funded by the U.S. Government through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). rw doclink

Average Age of Russian Women Having First Baby Rises to 35

September 18, 2006   Age

The average age of a Russian woman having her first baby rose to 35 years. Researchers suggested that material support be given to families having their first and second children when the parents are younger than 40 . Until now, such support was given to parents younger than 30. rw doclink

A Sickness of the Soul; Russian Health and Demography

September 08, 2006   Economist

Mr Putin's aim is to boost Russia's birth rate, and reverse Russia's population decline. Despite a large influx of ethnic Russians from elsewhere, the population has fallen by 6 million since the Soviet Union collapsed. But Mr Putin's plan is unlikely to halt the slide, partly because the trend is an old and accelerating one. In a way, wealth is not even a contributor: Western lifestyles have spread into Russia and, by European standards, the birth rate is not outlandishly low. Maternity bribes have produced a short-term baby rush but have little long-term effect.

The reason for scepticism is Russia's death rate, which has leapt as fertility has crashed, and is now more than twice western Europe's. At less than 59, male life expectancy is around five years lower than it was 40 years ago, and 13 years lower than that of Russian women. Russia leads the world in a range of scourges and vices. The heart-disease rate may be the highest anywhere. The suicide rate is more than five times Britain's. Russians are four times more likely to die in traffic accidents than Britons. Murder is 20 times more common, and so on.

The culprit is the Russian taste for strong spirits, sometimes not fit for human consumption. Heart disease and violence are alcohol-related. Alcohol poisoning killed 36,000 Russians last year. Other factors include smoking, pollution, including radioactivity, and a corrupt health system. Some see the stress and inequality brought on by the Soviet Union's fall as the cause. But a disregard for their own lives has persisted even as the economy has turned round. AIDS arrived late, and the response was lackadaisical. The federal AIDS budget is around 3.3 billion roubles ($124m) with extra funding coming from abroad, piffling by international standards.

In Irkutsk, young people do not use condoms, only 200 people in a city of 600,000 are on anti-retroviral drugs.

Some 20,000 will get drugs by the end of 2006, up from 4,000, but still low. The best guess for the number of HIV-infected Russians is around 1 million. AIDS-related deaths are of hard to measure, partly because of Russia's level of tuberculosis. Irkutsk's infection rate reflects its big drug problem; but 70% of new female patients contract HIV from sex.

The immediate result is a huge toll of tragic and needless early deaths. The population is ageing and sickening: the workforce is shrinking. Yet, Russians are ill-disposed towards the new immigrants their economy increasingly needs.

Some have gone so far as to prophesy the death of the nation itself. In Irkutsk the big fear is the "yellow peril". Those who remain fret about Chinese hordes swarming across the border, intent on annexation.

It is an ancient Russian anxiety. Many of the Chinese are shuttle traders rather than colonisers. Russia's demographic course will render it a different country, and probably a more ungovernable one. rw doclink

Czechs, Others Sterilize Gypsies; a New Draft UN Report and Rights Activists Say a Soviet-era Campaign to Sterilize Romany Women Continues

September 06, 2006   Christian Science Monitor

Human rights activists say that the fall of communism 16 years ago did not put an end to a Soviet-era practice that targeted Romany women for sterilizations as a means of population control.

A draft report from the UN says the Czech government failed to answer to the charges of more than 80 Romany women who said they were sterilized without informed consent.

These cases, from 1986 to 2004, formed the basis for a report released in December after a yearlong investigation. It concluded that the cases had merit, and urged the government to change legislation involving sterilizations and compensating victims.

The Health Ministry says it is investigating the cases in the public defender's report but calls charges of forced sterilization in recent years "misleading and without merit." Activists say the sterilization of Romany women was regionwide. But researching allegations is difficult, because doctors and hospitals balk at releasing information. Most charges are reported by the marginalized Romany populations.

Many of the country's roughly 12,000 Roma are in Ostrava, a city with high unemployment. Children abound, within a culture that values family above all.

Last year, an Ostrava court said doctors failed to get informed consent when they sterilized a woman in 2001, and ordered the hospital to apologize. The hospital is now appealing.

Ten years ago, information provided to a patient was on a different level than it is now. Women must wait at least six weeks after childbirth before being sterilized. rw doclink

Europe;: Plunging Birthrates Spread Eastward

September 04, 2006   New York Times*

After a decline, birthrates in European countries have reached a historic low. European women, better educated and integrated into the labor market than ever before, say there is no time for motherhood and that children are too expensive.

The number of elderly increasingly exceeds the number of young. The EU estimates that, if birthrates remain this low, the bloc will have a shortfall of 20 million workers by 2030.

Immigration from non-European countries would not fill the gap even if Europe's countries were willing to embrace millions of foreign newcomers.

These developments could pose barriers to achieving the EU goals of full employment, economic growth and social cohesion.

The free fall in births is most recent and precipitous here in Eastern Europe, where Communist-era state incentives that made it economical to have children have been phased.

EU put the rate at 1.2 children per woman in the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Latvia and Poland, far below the rate of 2.1 needed to maintain population.

Eastern Europe is faced with a plummeting birthrate combined with emigration to Western Europe. Almost all governments are increasing baby bonuses.

The Czech Parliament voted to double the payment given to women on maternity leave.

In the Czech Republic, the population is projected to drop by 20% over the next 40 years, to 8 million from 10 million. In Brussels, the EU has asked that all new European policies be evaluated for their effect on demography.

France has long encouraged larger families through incentives; it recently offered women about $960 a month for a year if they had a third child.

With greater educational and professional opportunities available, the average age of first-time mothers has risen from the early 20's to around 30.

Most Communist countries provided housing, education and child care. In Prague, the only way a young couple could be allocated an apartment was to wed and have a child. But such policies and services were abolished with the fall of Communism. At the same time, women are better educated and their jobs more demanding. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: The article does not explore whether life in Eastern Europe is sustainable. Is there enough water? enough materials to build homes? Enough fuel for transportation? Enough soil to grow food? Will there be enough in 20 years? Is the Czech footprint bigger than the land can support?

Population Decline Slows Significantly in Hungary

August 28, 2006   Hungarian News Agency

Hungary's population decline slowed in the first six months of 2006. The country's population was estimated at 10,070,000 at the end of June, dropping by 3.7 per thousand in the first six months of 2006 compared to 4.6 per thousand during the same period of 2005.

In the January-June period, 48,149 babies were born, while there were 66,411 mortalities and 17,742 marriages.

The positive effects of international migration added to the number of residents, so the country's population declined by merely 7,000.

In Budapest, the KSH reported 8,204 births or a 5.5% birth rate increase in the January-June period , and 11,411 deaths or 6.8% drop in the mortality rate than 2005. rw doclink

Russian Population Falls to 142.4 Million

August 24, 2006   Agence France Presse

Russia's population fell in the first half of 2006, by 348,700 people, to 142.4 million. Death rates slowed, with 1.13 million people dying in the first six months of 2006, 53,500 less than in the first half of 2005. Fewer children were born in the first half of the year 715,400, than during the same period in 2005 721,900.

Russia's population has shrunk since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, when the population stood at 150 million.

President Putin announced a multi-billion-dollar project to tackle the crisis by paying mothers for bearing more than one child. Positive effects might be evident by 2009-2010. rw doclink

Former Soviet Republics;: One Leak's Notice

July 31, 2006   New York Times*

As global oil production nears its peak, the tension between supply and demand has become so taut that the slightest perturbation can wreak havoc. A Russian pipeline to central Europe sprung a leak temporarily shutting down a route that supplies an eighth of Europe's imported oil. Estimates of the amount spilled ranged from 550 gallons to 11,000; the pipeline resumed function yesterday. News of the leak instantly cranked oil prices up to $74.04 a barrel but as the small impact was reported, prices then dropped. rw doclink

Czech Republic;: Forced Sterilization of Roma Women Continues

June 23, 2006   Feminist Daily News Wire

Women's advocates charge that the Czech government has failed to stop coercive sterilization on Roma (Gypsy) women. In December of 2005, a report cites dozens of cases of sterilization of Roma women between 1979 and 2001 in which no consent was given that would be free of error and fully unrestrained. The Czech Health Ministry acknowledges sterilization procedures were not followed properly, but refuses to provide compensation to victims and many hospitals deny that their actions were illegal, claiming medical reasons for sterilization. Many Roma women are taking their cases to court. In 2005, Helena Ferencikova became the first Roma woman to sue the hospital that sterilized her. The District Court ruled that the hospital should acknowledge malpractice and must issue her a formal apology. The hospital denied Ferencikova's demand for compensation, and both parties are appealing. rw doclink

Russia Faces Demographic Disaster

June 07, 2006   BBC News

Russia's population is declining by 700,000 people each year and may halve by the middle of this century.

Official Russian forecasts predict a decline from 146 million to between 80 and 100 million by 2050.

But the decline was likely to accelerate and the Russian leadership should accept the population had reached a "tipping point".

Birth-rates in many developed countries are stagnant or declining. But when this is combined with very low life-expectancy and an increasingly unhealthy population, the term "catastrophe" reflects reality. In Russia, people have children earlier than in Western countries. But the percentage of potential parents of child-bearing age is so small that state-funded efforts, can bring only temporary results.

The Soviet government in the 1980s produced a mini "baby boom", lasting just two or three years, before the long-term decline reasserted itself.

The seriousness of this problem has led to an urgent, debate in Russia about ways to tackle the problem.

Many medical specialists berate the government's apparent inaction over the country's health crisis. It is estimated that a third of Russian men abuse alcohol, while smoking rates are among the highest in the world. The rapid spread of HIV compounds the situation

One commentary suggested Russian sociologists making the gloomy predictions were in the pay of western organisations committed to destroying Russia.

Economists have suggested a programme of controlled immigration, to encourage workers from the former Soviet republics to come to live in Russia. This appears to have been rejected at the very top.

President Putin said "no sort of immigration will solve Russia's demographic problem".

At the same time, some officials have begun to use the loaded term "differentiated birth-rates".

It reflects concern that while ethnic Russians fare so badly, there are other, predominantly Muslim, population groups that are experiencing very rapid growth.

The last Soviet census (1989), showed 611 Chechens for every 100,000 population. The most recent Russian census (2002) showed that figure had increased to 937 - an increase of more than 50%. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: People in Russia are not getting married because the men do not have jobs and thus cannot support a wife, let alone a family. It sounds like life in Russia is not sustainable. Is this a population problem? I don't know, but it does not make sense to be having children you cannot afford.

Hungary: Sterilization Law Debated

June 01, 2006   The Budapest Sun

The board of Hungarian gynecologists has protested against a ruling which rejected restrictions on sterilization. Previously, only women over 35, or those who had given birth to at least three children, were allowed to be sterilized.

Now, any woman over 18 will be able to opt for sterilization. The annual number of abortions is higher than the EU average, with 94-96,000 births per year. The number of births should be as high as 130-150,000 per year.

The opposition parties last week said they would propose that sterilization be granted when a woman is in poor health and pregnancy would endanger her life. rw doclink

Hungary: Population Decline Slows in Q1, 2006

May 29, 2006   Agence France Presse

Hungary's population decline slowed in the first three months of 2006, as deaths fell more than births compared to the same period of 2005. Hungary's population was 10,074,000 at the end of March.

In the Jan-March period, 23,951 babies were born, and there were 33,763 deaths and 5,500 marriages.

The number of new-borns fell 0.4% in Jan-March while the mortality rate was down 9.3%.

There were more marriages in March this year than in the same month of last year, but the percentage of marriages in Q1 remained the same. rw doclink

Russian President Changes Route of Siberian Pipeline to Protect Lake

April 26, 2006   RIA Novosti

President Putin said that the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline should pass outside the drainage basin north of Lake Baikal. Environmental groups welcomed the move. Putin said the pipeline should run beyond a proposed line 40 km to the north of the lake. Academy of Sciences Vice President Nikolai Laverov proposed that the pipeline should run along the line of the watershed to the north of Baikal.

The leader of the Green Party of Russia, said Putin's statement was "a great victory for public pressure. It will save Baikal."

Transneft chief executive said that the length and cost of a new route line could be estimated within two months. He said he had been unprepared for Putin's decision, but that the project would go ahead as scheduled. Construction would start simultaneously from both ends and that Transneft would draft a new feasibility study and conduct an environmental study for the new route. Transneft's previous plans included a stretch of pipeline running 800 meters from the shore of Baikal. Environmentalists said any leaks could cause irreparable damage to the lake.

Head of conservation programs with the World Wildlife Fund in Russia, said the decision could signify that Russia would not follow the example of countries where state monopolies are more important than parliamentary opinions.

The pipeline is slated to carry up to 80 million metric tons a year from Taishet in the Irkutsk Region to Perevoznaya Bay in the Primorye Territory and could also supply oil to the Asia-Pacific region. Putin said construction of an oil refinery in Russia's Far East would help derive maximum profits from the pipeline and open up new markets.

The Ministry of Economic Development estimated the cost of the refinery between $2.19 billion and $2.92 billion, and Rosneft could start construction next year. rw doclink

Kazakhstan: As a Sea Rises, So Do Hopes for Fish, Jobs and Riches

April 06, 2006   New York Times*

In dozens of villages in Kazakhstan, water now laps against long-abandoned harbors, and fishing vessels retrieved have been put back to sea.

The Aral Sea, which has this year taken on millions of cubic feet of new water years ahead of schedule, surpassing the predictions made when a new dam was completed last summer.

The Aral Sea's 155-square-mile retreat from its original shoreline was a consequence of the Soviet-era policy of diverting the Aral's two main tributary rivers to irrigate cotton plants across Central Asia.

The sea shrank and became a mineral stew that has brought disease and poverty to the villages and cities in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan that once lived off its bounty. The sea has even split in two. Hoping to save the small northern Aral, the World Bank and the Kazakhstan government commissioned the Kok-Aral Dam and a series of dikes designed to create spillways to allow the flushing of excess salt from the sea while improving overall water levels.

A sluice sends any excess water to the big Aral Sea.

Eventually, the project will repair a damaged second dam, dig a channel to connect the two Arals and provide additional water management structures, some able to harvest hydroelectric power from the water flows.

The $85.8 million project, is to be completed in September.

The dam has caused the small Aral's sea level to rise to 125 feet, from a low of less than 98 feet, with 138 considered the level of viability.

The small Aral's surface area has already expanded by 30%, with 350 million cubic feet of water.

The Aral was once the fourth largest lake in the world, and was a major provider of fish for the entire Soviet Union.

On a good day now, a fisherman can earn $85, an astronomical sum in a region where many people survive on a few dollars a day.

With the disappearance of the sea, fish and the ecologically interconnected freshwater lakes that supported livestock, many people in the region migrated to larger cities.

Many are now returning. One village's population has more than doubled, to more than 1,700, in the past two years.

For many in the Aral region, the new water is confirmation that the Aral's past is prologue. Kudaibergen Sarzhanov, a former Soviet minister of fisheries for Kazakhstan, plans a 2009 release of 30,000 fish native to the Aral, that he has been incubating at home, financing his project from a small UN grant and money from his local government.

"It's going to take decades to solve this problem," said Murat Abenov, the deputy mayor, of the large Kizbilordinsk region abutting much of the Aral.

He said the fishing should be encouraged "even if it's going to be in five years that they see results."

Kazakhstan has huge oil reserves, and oil revenues now provide 90% of local government budgets, he said.

Many still predict that the big Aral will disappear. rw doclink

Population Decline Continues in Bulgaria in 2005

March 30, 2006   Age

Last year in Bulgaria, 1,189 more children were born than in 2004, but the natality rate remained 0.5% and at the end of the year there were five Bulgarians less in each 1,000.

The number of children born outside a marriage soared to a record level of 49%.

Most of the children were born by couples who are not interested in registering their relationship, but 19.6% were born to an unknown or an undeclared father. rw doclink

Russia's Population May Decrease by 30 % by 2035

March 14, 2006   TASS

The demographic situation in Russia is critical because of the high mortality rate which reached 16.1 deceased per 1,000 population in 2005, as well as the low birth rate that fails to ensure simple reproduction. So intensive the depopulation processes in the country are that if no measures are taken, Russia's population will decrease to dangerous limits in the coming decades. As of January 1, 2006, it totaled 142.3 million, and may drop to 100 million by 2035. The state should make it a national priority. rw doclink

Russia to Build Oil Pipeline Within Half-mile of World's Deepest Lake

March 06, 2006   Houston Chronicle

A 2,550-mile-long oil pipeline is set to be built within 900 yards of the world's deepest lake. Lake Baikal lies along the cheapest route for Russia to expand the oil exports to Asia. Scientists have warned of erosion, water pollution, and the possibility that earthquakes, which happen regularly in the area, could rupture the pipeline and cause oil to flow into the lake. A government commission of experts was increased by 34 members and asked to review the project again, after which they approved it. rw doclink

Romanian Population to Drop Consistently

March 2006   Bucharest Daily News

Romania's population may drop to nearly 17 million until January 1, 2051 which is 3.7 million less than the total number of people currently living in the country. A study conducted in January 2004 recorded 21.7 million Romanians. By 2051, the birth rate is expected to drop lower than the death rate. Also, about half a million Romanians are expected to immigrate to other countries in the next half a century. rw doclink

Russia: Health Ministry Considers Solutions to Population Decline

February 28, 2006   Radio Free Europe website

Russia's population, around 143 million, is shrinking by 700,000 every year. This has economic, and geopolitical implications. Russia may have too few people to control its territory. The main factors are a low birth rate, a high mortality rate, short life expectancy, and a growing number of deaths from "unnatural causes." Russia's death rate per 1,000 people has reached 16. In comparison, the rate in the European Union is 5, in the US 6.5, and in Japan 3.4. Of the over 150,000 people a year who die from "unnatural causes," 46,000 were suicides, 40,000 were killed in traffic accidents, 36,000 alcohol poisoning, and 35,000 murdered. Also a high maternal mortality rate, 23.4 per 100,000 mothers, and an infant mortality rate of 11 per 1,000 births, compared with 8 in the US and 5 in the EU. In 2005, Russian women had 1.6 million abortions, although unofficial estimates put this as high as 4 million. Russia's male life expectancy is around 58 years for men and 72 for women and 30% of Russians do not reach pension age. Russia's birth rate of 1.34 children per woman is less than the 2.14 children required to turn around the trend. Some experts suggest the depopulation is the result of the cataclysms of the 1990s. Liberal economic reforms were badly planned and led to societal insecurity and to families having less children. Others argue that this is part of a wider trend. Russian experts stressed that the birth rate also depends on values and societal outlook and a liberal immigration policy could address the population decline. But Zurabov said that this is unrealistic. Last year, Russia's migrant population increased by only 107,000, not enough to reverse the trend. However some estimate that Russia could be home to 5-10 million illegal immigrants. Zurabov suggested stimulating the birth rate, reducing infant mortality rates, and enhancing the reproductive health and quality of life of the population. He said his ministry will prepare a new demographic development concept that will set out goals such as increasing the average life expectancy and the birth rate. But just how to do that remains unclear. The chairman of the Duma health commission called for the improvement of pediatric health care and for the increase of the child-birth allowance by the end of 2006 to 10,000 rubles ($357). Other Duma deputies were unimpressed. Vladimir Nikitin said that the reasons for the low birth rate and high mortality rate are identical, the low living standards of 80% of the population. rw doclink

Russian Population Falls by Almost Six Million Over 12 Years

February 22, 2006   Agence France-Presse

High male mortality rates and a low birth rate have led the Russia's population to drop by 5.8 million people over the last 12 years. In 2005 there were 142.7 million people living in Russia, whose mortality rate of 16 per 1,000 is higher than in Europe and the US. Mortality rates are high among men of working age. Some 30% of Russian men die before their retirement age. Average life expectancy in Russia is 58.8 years for men and 72 for women. rw doclink

Russian Government Says Infant Mortality Down

January 27, 2006   RIA Novosti

Infant and maternal mortality rates in Russia have been falling in the past four years, but have not reached the European average. Infant mortality in 2005 was 11 deaths per 1,000 births, as compared with 11.6 deaths in 2004, 12.4 deaths in 2003, and 13.3 in 2002. The average rate for the European Union was 4.5 in 2004, according to Eurostat. Maternal mortality was 23.4 deaths per 100,000 newborns in 2004 and 31.9 deaths in 2003, he said. The southern republic of Daghestan posted the highest birth rate in 2005 when 40,695 babies were born here. The figures indicate a reverse of the infant and maternal mortality rates following the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991. The rise was largely attributed to poverty, alcoholism, and Russia's ailing health care system. rw doclink

Czech Birth Rate Hits Record High in 2005

January 22, 2006   Associated Press

The Czech birth rate hit a record high, but the country depends on immigration to keep its population numbers growing. The country took in 28,000 immigrants this year, helping boost the country's population by 26,000 people over the first nine months of the year to more than 10 million. The country's largest immigrant communities have come from the former Soviet Union and Asia. The country also saw a record number of births at 78,000, the highest number in a decade. Some 80,000 people died over the same period. Approximately 30% of the children were born to unmarried mothers. One in two marriages in the Czech Republic ends in divorce. rw doclink

Kyrgyzstan: Women Face Uphill Battle for Property Rights

January 19, 2006   IRIN News (UN)

While gender discrimination has decreased in Kyrgyzstan, the rights of women, who make up 52% of the population, are violated. Levels of discrimination are high in rural areas where 66% of the country's 5.1 million inhabitants live. Women participate in many projects, but when it comes to political power, financial resources and the distribution of land, women are not to be seen. The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), launched a unique project entitled: "Women's Rights to Land in Kyrgyzstan". The project was initiated by the local NGO Women Entrepreneurs Support Association (WESA) in 2002 following problems with land reform and the failure to include women's rights in rural areas. In the beginning, the project offered only legal consultations, but began offering advice on women profiting from land, gender expertise, gender budgeting, the participation of women in local budget planning, monitoring of women's rights for land, as well as an information component involving TV, radio and print media. According to UNIFEM, relations with local administrative officials are getting better, while four or five years earlier there was much resistance to their work. With offices throughout the country, the project provides free legal consultations and organise trips to remote villages and areas to help people on a monthly basis. But the majority of problems remain, particularly with regard to contradictions between the country's land code and civil law. Land and property disputes can languish in the court system for up to four years. rw doclink

Chechen Leader Proposes Polygamy for Population Problem

January 16, 2006   Agence France-Presse

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov put forward polygamy as a solution to the diminishing population in his republic, and perhaps the whole of Russia. There are 10 percent more women than men in the republic and there are men who have two or three wives. Since Chechens are Muslims, religious law allows them to have four wives. Polygamy is an unwritten law in the Russian Caucasus republics and has become more popular since the break-up of the Soviet Union. Polygamy is failing to develop for economic reasons, not for fears of penalties. The former president of the republic of Ingushetia authorised men in 1999 to have up to four wives. But the local parliament voted to annul the measure in 2001 at the request of Moscow, which said that it went against the constitution and the Russian family code. rw doclink

Pollution in the Caspian Sea

January 4, 2006   Persian Journal

The Caspian Sea is in environmental danger and gets 80% of the pollution from Russia. Azerbaijan is producing some of the worst kinds of pollutions because of their outdated oil installations. Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan are after Azerbaijan in the pollution production. Untreated waste from the Volga River, into which half the population of Russia and most of its heavy industry drains its sewage, empties directly into the Caspian Sea. Oil fields, refineries, and petrochemical plants have generated large quantities of toxic waste. Radioactive solid and liquid waste deposits near the Gurevskaya nuclear power plant in Kazakhstan are polluting the Caspian as well. The Caspian's sturgeon catch has decreased from 30,000 tons in 1985 to 2,100 tons in 1994. Each year an average of 60,000 metric tons of petroleum byproducts, 24,000 tons of sulfites, 400,000 tons of chlorine and 25,000 tons of chlorine are dumped into the sea. Thousands of seals have died in Caspian Sea connected to oil pollution. An encouraging sign has been a move towards greater cooperation in protecting the Caspian. rw doclink

Lithuanian Population Shrinks by More Than 18,000 Over 10 Months

December 30, 2005   Baltic News Service

Lithuania's population shrank this year. There were 3,406,000 residents in Lithuania in early November, 18,500 people fewer than at the beginning of this year. The data shows that 25,604 babies were born over the January-October period, 51 babies fewer, year-on-year. Meanwhile, 36,026 people died over the ten months, 1,851 people more, year-on-year. The majority of deaths are caused by vascular system diseases (19,577), malignant tumors (6,675), external reasons (4,537). There were 639 marriages and 190 divorces more over the 10 months of this year than over the same period last year. Some 13,681 people left Lithuania over the January-October period of this year, 1,160 people more, year-on-year. The number of people arriving in Lithuania is on the rise as well. A total of 5,584 people came to the country over the ten months of this year, 1,022 people more, year-on-year. rw doclink

Abortion Agreement with Vatican May Deny Freedom

December 28, 2005   Czech News Agency

The agreement about the right to conscience, to be signed by Slovakia and the Vatican, probably denies the principles of freedom, democracy and respect to human rights advocated by the EU. The draft gives the right to reject acts in conflict with Christian principles to any Slovak. Doctors may refuse to be involved in abortion. Lawyers say that if law allows for abortions, the state must ensure that they are "accessible" to any woman. The daily highlights an alternative solution: a doctor who refuses abortions should inform the patient about another doctor or clinic where it can be carried out. However, the Vatican agreement does not include the right to the information. As many as 70% of Slovaks are Catholics. The European experts say the agreement may discriminate against the people of other denominations but it is not in conflict with human rights as defined by international agreements. The Vatican has agreements with other countries but they mostly do not include the conscience clause and none of these agreements takes precedence over the constitution in these countries. If the agreement is passed by parliament, the state will not be entitled to ask church hospitals to make abortions, artificial insemination or prescription of contraceptives. Teachers would be allowed to refuse to teach sexual education and employees would not be allowed to punish the employees who refuse to work on Sundays for religious reasons. The conscience clause is not to be applied if it may threaten human lives or health. Anyone can refuse the national service, experiments with human organs and embryos, euthanasia, human cloning and sterilisation for religious reasons. Slovakia pledged to introduce the rules in 2000 by its Treaty with the Vatican, but some politicians and NGOs are against it. rw doclink

Short, Nasty and Brutal -- the Life of Russia's Disappearing Men

December 25, 2005   Agence France-Presse

Over 17,500 unidentified bodies were discovered in Moscow over the last five years. About two thirds are male. They are mostly drunks and poor immigrant workers from ex-Soviet countries who were killed in the winter weather. The 3,000 unidentified bodies are the tip of a wider and potentially disastrous tendency in Russia. Russian men have "short, brutal lives" due to heart disease, alcoholism and traffic accidents and that the country faces an "alarming population decline." Just 143 million people live in the world's biggest country, down 6 million from 1992, because average male life expectancy is only 58 years, 16 less than in western Europe. Fertility rates have plummeted from 2.0 to 1.3 children per woman and last year there were more abortions than births. Their life expectancy is 72 - better than for men, but still low by Western standards. Throw in an HIV pandemic and a mortality rate for traffic accidents - it is almost double that in big Western countries and the statistics portray a country heading toward disaster. Explanations include the stress of existence for many in the wake of the Soviet collapse, an inefficient, poorly equipped health service, and above all, a centuries-old love affair with heavy drinking. Alcohol is linked to 30% of all deaths in Russia. Graphic artist Sergei Ivanov, 33, said that the stress of having to adapt to capitalism was the real killer. "In Soviet days, you got paid and you knew that tomorrow you'd get the same amount. Now you have no idea whether you'll be fired the next day. Disrespect for human life has penetrated male society. There is a culture of not looking after your own health, your life or security." With each early death, Russia approaches the day when it will have trouble finding men to protect its borders and workers to pay the elderly's pensions. By 2050 Russia's population could fall by a third to about 100 million people. To recover, the birthrate would have to jump to three children per family at least. Every 21 seconds a new birth is recorded. Every 14 seconds, another death. rw doclink

Demographic Crisis Poses Serious Danger to Russia's Future

November 24, 2005   Pravda

A Russian public opinion showed 75% said that a raise of family allowances could provide more or less acceptable living conditions for young Russian families. The majorities said that the population does not face extinction, although it does experience demographic problems. 44% said that they viewed the situation as critical. The death rate in Russia is 1.7 times higher than the birth rate and the Russian population will reduce by 2050 to 80 or 10 million. 37% believe the crisis is connected with alcohol and drug addiction. The decreasing number of able-bodied citizens was pointed out as serious problems by 14%. Sexually transmitted diseases exacerbates the crisis 9% said. The growing amount of immigrants is considered a negative trend, according to 5%. 40% are certain that the conditions have been caused with the Yeltsin era. 31% look for the problem in declining public morality. 75% said that government needs to raise family allowances to young families. 45% said that one should develop the social infrastructure (schools, kindergartens, etc). 24% said they believed in the effect of healthy lifestyle propaganda. Very few pointed out the need to introduce the Orthodox culture. Financially secure and wealthy Russians do not think that a problem of depopulation exists. Up to 60% of Russians are elderly people, children and disabled individuals. It seems that the Russian government does not do anthing to stop the crisis despite the depressive results of the poll. The current economic policy bears some resemblance to the 1960s, when Nikita Khrushchev allowed women to make abortions, which relieved many of maternity burden and attracted them to the national economy. rw doclink

Czech Court Rules in First-ever Case Heard on 'Coercive Sterilisation' of Roma Women

November 14, 2005  

Helena Ferencikova was sterilised against her wishes, after giving birth to her second son. The regional court of Ostrava ruled that the hospital which performed the sterilisation owes Mrs Ferencikova an apology. The court's decision would be the first finding in any Eastern European court of legal violations concerning the coercive sterilisation of Roma women. From the 1970s, Roma (Gypsy) women were routinely sterilised in Communist Czechoslovakia following an official policy in place to curb the birth rate of that minority group. Social workers were authorised to give state money to women who underwent sterilisation and are alleged to have used the threat of enforced foster care to get reluctant women to agree to the operation. This policy was decried by the Czechoslovak dissident initiative Charter 77. Human Rights Watch concluded that the practice ended in mid-1990, but human rights groups in the Czech Republic and Slovakia have unearthed evidence that doctors and hospital staff continue to pressure Roma to undergo sterilisation. Doctors claimed they were right to sterilise Helena Ferencikova because, after two caesarean sections, a third would have endangered her health. The hospital intends to appeal the court decision. Mrs Ferencikova says she was in labour and would have signed any paper; she didn't understand its contents and doctors ignored her request to consult with her husband. Lawyer Michaela Tomisova is representing nearly seventy Roma women who have filed complaints over sterilisations allegedly carried out without their consent. She says just because a woman signed a release form, doesn't mean the procedure was legal. Helena Ferencikova was the first to have her day in court. Dozens more cases are certain to follow. Last year, Health Minister Milada Emmerova appointed a commission to investigate the women's claims. In nearly every case, hospitals had failed to follow elementary legal procedures and made "serious errors" in the paperwork. rw doclink

Kyrgyzstan: Rising Teen Pregnancy Blamed on Ignorance

November 08, 2005   Kyrgyzstan Development Gateway

Sex education remains a controversial topic in Kyrgyzstan, where abortion is usually the solution to unwanted pregnancies. When 15-year-old Myskal left rural Kyrgyzstan she found a boyfriend and, just six months later became pregnant. The baby's father disappeared and Myskal opted for an abortion. Myskal was ignorant; she did not know what sex is at all. One in every ten women has at least one termination, as the operation is available on demand during the first three months of pregnancy. Those on the frontline like gynaecologist Kubanychbek Askuliev blame the rise in teenage pregnancy and the abortions on a lack of information about safe sex and contraception. Girls from the country, who are ignorant, come to us in the early stages of pregnancy. Sex education is non-existent in Kyrgyz schools and any attempts to deal openly with the issue are met with embarrassment by many in society who feel the girls themselves are to blame. Secondary school teacher Tattygul Samudinova admits teenage pregnancy is a problem but teachers blush at anatomy lessons in the 9th class and sex education is given in one to two lessons once a year. There have been efforts at sex education including the Healthy Lifestyle book published two years ago for use in Kyrgyz schools. But the book caused a storm of controversy and was called depraved by groups including the conservative Committee for the Protection of Honour and Dignity who said "Our children are being taught depravity: anal, oral and other types of sex. This book goes against the Kyrgyz mentality, traditions and customs." Kyrgyzstan's ombudsman, Tursunabi Bakir uulu, said “Children shouldn't be told about this". The authors of the book used real cases from the lives of Kyrgyz teenagers, many of whom had been raped several times. How can we say no to such topics as AIDS, rape and undesired pregnancy? It is long overdue to forget about embarrassment and time to learn. In the past women stayed home to look after their children, but today are forced to go out and earn a living. A housewife and mother of four, said, “No one brings up the children. The mother and father are busy earning money. Children are left to themselves, on the street and watching television." While the head of the society of Muslim women Mutakalim urges a national family planning campaign to address the problem, others think restricting access to abortions is the answer. "This type of medical services will simply go into the shadows, even more than it is now," said the deputy head of the department of gynaecology and obstetrics at the Medical Academy. rw doclink

Slovenia Ranks Last in Fertility Rate Among EU Countries

October 25, 2005   Xinhua General News Service

Slovenia ranked last in fertility rate among the EU countries in 2004, with its women having only 1.22 children in their lifetime. Home to 1,997,600 people, Slovenia saw a 0.012% increase in population last year. The rate of natural increase (births) in Slovenia was negative at -0.7 per 1,000 inhabitants, a drop from 5.8 per 1,000 inhabitants in 1980. With 43.5% births outside marriage, it trails only behind Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, Latvia and France. Population across the EU 25 countries increased by 2.3 million to 459.5 million, but is the result of migration rather than birth rates. rw doclink

Ukraine Faces Population Crisis

October 20, 2005   For_UM

Fertility in Ukraine reduced twice for the last years, with the divorce rate 160-165 thousand annually. As a result, more than 150 thousand children live with one parent only and is not compensated by second marriages. The number of families which do not want to have children due to social, financial or psychological reasons, increased for the last years. As a result, there is population decrease and worsening of its qualitative characteristic. This is the result of state education. Socialism teaches equality between men and women. It's from Carl Marx - it's not natural and is against the Bible. A man and a woman have a different role in the family. It is the result of economic policy of Ukraine and low living standards plus the minimum care from the state. Women are not going back to the kitchen and why should they. Biblical or not- who cares - especially if you're not Christian. Get over it. Birth rates will continue to fall until men take an equal active role in the day to day caretaking of their children and household chores. rw doclink

Interesting opinion, we offered it here to understand various attitudes towards population and women's equality.

Ukraine: Chernobyl's Dangers Called Far Exaggerated

September 11, 2005   International Herald Tribune

20 years after the accident at Chernobyl, a report has found that effects on health and environment were less severe than initially predicted. Compensation for millions of victims should be scaled back in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. 4,000 deaths will probably be attributable to the accident - fewer than the tens of thousands that were predicted at the time. Fewer than 50 among reactor staff and emergency personnel can be directly attributed to radiation exposure. The remainder is due to cancers in people exposed to radiation. But for millions of other people who were exposed to radioactive particles spread by the wind, health effects have proved minimal. There has been no rise in the incidence of leukemia, except a small rise among workers who were in the plant. Nor has there been any decrease in fertility or increase in birth defects. The largest health problem is the mental health impact. Residents view themselves as victims of a tragedy they poorly understand, are beset by anxiety that has prevented them from restarting their lives. That leads to drug and alcohol use, unprotected sex and unemployment. The main health effect has been thyroid cancer in people who were young at the time and drank contaminated milk. 2,000 have come down with the disease, but only 9 have died because it is treatable. Seven million people receive benefits, from monthly stipends to university entrance preference to free therapeutic yearly vacations. Both Ukraine and Belarus still spend about 5% of their budgets on victims. Although five million people live in areas classified as contaminated the vast majority are exposed to very low doses of radiation, with levels no higher than in large areas of countries, where naturally occurring radiation is relatively high. There is still a stigma against growing or eating agricultural products from the area, but concentrations of radioactivity are generally below national and international levels. There was a core of about 200,000 people who continued to be affected by the disaster: rural dwellers who live in the few severely contaminated areas, people with thyroid cancer and citizens who were resettled but never found a home or employment in their new communities they need material assistance to rebuild their lives. The system of Chernobyl-related benefits has created expectations of long-term direct financial support and entitlement, and has undermined the capacity of the individuals to tackle their own problems. Residents should be provided with incentives to develop businesses for example. The explosion at Chernobyl sent chunks of the reactor core into fields and clouds of radioactive particles into the air. The fire released radioactive particles that settled in human bodies and homes, and contaminated fields, forests and livestock. rw doclink

Slovenia: Statistics Show Dwindling Number of Youngsters

August 16, 2005   Slovene Press Agency STA

The number of young people in Slovenia has been falling for 20 years. The share of people between 15 and 29 will fall below 20% by 2008. According to the 2002 census, 432,000 young people lived in Slovenia, representing 21.5% of the population. The number dropped from 458,000 since 1981. The data shows that more than 50% of young people are enrolled in educational institutions. The share of 17-year-olds attending school is 95%, while it drops to nearly 50% among 20- and 21-year-olds. Among those aged 29, about 20% are still in schooling. The number of female students secondary schools exceeds the number of their male peers by 50%. There are one third more females than males attending higher education. Female students are more successful in their studies than their male counterparts. About 21,000 males have at least short-term tertiary education, the number for females is over 37,000. Males enter the labour market a year earlier than females. The youth employment rate tops 50% between 23 and 24, while it is 85% at 29. Unemployment among people 20 to 29 is among the highest compared to other age groups. More than three out of four young people live with their parents. A third of young people, with families, live in consensual unions. The housing problem and postponement of births contribute to the fact that 25% of young families do not have children. Only one out of five women has given birth before reaching 29. Birth rate among youngsters up to 21 years is negligible. rw doclink

Abortion Rate Drops to Lowest Level Ever; Spread of Birth Control and Sex Education Credited with Decline in Ex-soviet Bloc

July 28, 2005   Prague Post

In 2004, Czech women had 27,574 abortions, five times fewer than in the 1980s and gave birth to 97,664 babies. It shows women have gained the freedom to plan their families. In 1989, nine in 10 pregnancies were aborted. Couples used risky methods. They wanted to have sex when their parents weren't home. The only other method was abortion. In the late 1980s Czech doctors performed about 116,000 abortions a year; by the mid-1990s the number dropped to 58,000. It has more than halved since with a corresponding rise in the use of contraceptive pills. A 29-year-old dentist says 90% of her friends take birth-control pills. It's a big freedom to decide when to have a child. Her grandmother wanted two kids, but she had three kids and two abortions. Communist leaders sought total control over citizens, and sexual liberty, discussing sexuality, wasn't welcomed. During the Cold War, limited access to contraceptives resulted in high abortion rates. In 1980s Russia, abortion rates were two times higher than birth rates, and Russian women had an average of six abortions in their lifetimes. rw doclink

Oceana

Oceana

October 16, 2012

Papua New Guinea: Family Planning and Subsistence Agriculture Key to Food Security

June 6 , 2012   IPS Inter Press Service

Papua New Guinea's high fertility rate is exerting pressure on land and food production in a country where 80% of the population lives in rural communities.

The country is a natural habitat for diverse food crops and wild plants. Most people in rural and peri-urban areas grow their own fruit and vegetables for consumption, while in rural villages selling agricultural produce can be a significant source of income.

FAO says the nation's strong agricultural sector could easily ensure food security, However it's National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) warns, "Food production is not keeping pace with population growth. Approximately 42% of the population in rural and urban areas are unable to meet the target of 2000 calories per person per day."

With a fertility rate of 4.6 children per woman, compared to the average fertility rate in developed countries of 1.7 births per woman, the National Research Institute (NRI) predicts the current population could rise to 7 million by 2014 and 8.5 million by 2024.

The UNFPA says: "In many parts of the developing world, where population growth is outpacing economic growth, the need for reproductive health services, especially family planning remains great."

Contraceptive prevalence in Papua New Guinea is 24%, far below the 62% average in all other developing countries.

Obstacles to contraceptive use are remote access and under-resourced rural health centres, the belief that children are needed to take care of parents when they get old, and the fear that the side effects of contraception might cause cancer, or that contraception might encourage infidelity.

Through the National Health Plan (2011-2020), the government aims to expand free family planning coverage and improve sexual and reproductive health for adolescents. But Russel Kitau, Chair of Public Health at the University of Papua New Guinea explained "funding for family planning is very low compared with programmes for (prevention and treatment of) HIV/AIDS. The small amount of donations and funding from development partners is not sufficient or sustainable in the long run."

Sim Sar, programme director of agricultural systems improvement at NARI says: "Agriculture in PNG is the primary source of food security," he explained. "Hence the key strategy to attain food security is the enhancement of productivity, efficiency and stability of agricultural production systems."

When questioned about challenges to productivity, 65% of growers identified pests and diseases, 32% cited the high price or shortage of fertilisers and seeds, while 22% blamed bad weather.

NARI has released 27 new farming technologies since 2003.

Most land in Papua New Guinea is held under customary tenure and has not been surveyed or registered, so there are disputes over land access and rights. Land registration and secure land titles encourage efficient land-use, provide access to competitively priced credit and create incentives for investment, thereby enhancing agricultural productivity, according to NARI.

Though 80-90% of land is under customary tenure, "not everyone has access to land due to uneven distribution (among) clan members, migration and death," Sar added. "Hence the number of landless people is increasing, particularly those residing in urban areas or those in marginalised and disadvantaged areas."

Only by investing now in family planning, agriculture and land reform will Papua New Guinea ensure a sustainable future for the next generation. doclink

Karen Gaia says social entertainment media may be the answer: from Population Media Center: PMC launched two new radio serial dramas in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in February 2011. The dramas address issues such as gender equality and women's empowerment, education, family planning, HIV/AIDs prevention, environmental protection, and other related themes.

U.S.: The Coming Mega Drought

December 31, 2011   Scientific American

Over the last decade Australia experienced the worst and most consistent dry period in its recorded history. The Murray River failed to reach the sea for the first time ever in 2002. Fires swept much of the country, and dust storms blanketed major cities for days. Australia's sheep population dropped by 50%, and rice and cotton production collapsed in some years. Tens of thousands of farm families gave up their livelihoods. The drought ended in 2010 with torrential rains and flooding.

What happened in Australia could happen in the U.S. Southwest, with devastating consequences to the region and to the nation. However, we can learn from Australia's experience.

There is a resemblence between the southwestern U.S. and parts of Australia before the drought. Both include arid regions where thirsty cities and irrigated agriculture are straining water supplies and damaging ecosystems. The Colorado River no longer flows to the sea in most years. Water levels in major reservoirs have steadily declined over the past decade; some analysts project that the largest may never refill.

In Australia average rainfall has decreased 15% since 1950, while from 1995 to 2006 average temperatures over southeastern Australia were 0.3 to 0.6 degree Celsius higher than the long-term average. The combination of higher evaporation and lower precipitation depletes soil moisture and reduces runoff, making droughts more intense and more frequent. Australian scientists forecast a 35 to 50% decline in water availability in the Murray-Darling river basin and a drop in flows near the mouth of the Murray by up to 70% by 2030.

Australians responded to this Millennium Drought with a wide range of technical, economic, regulatory and educational policies. Urban water managers in Australia have been forced to put in place aggressive strategies to curb water use and to expand sources of new and unconventional supplies. They have subsidized efficient appliances and fixtures such as dual-flush toilets, launched public educational campaigns to save water, and more. Between 2002 and 2008 per capita urban water use declined by 37%.

Other efforts include reuse of gray water, cisterns to harvest rooftop runoff, sewage treatment and reuse, and desalinization by the country's five largest cities, which will meet 30% of current urban water needs. The government has continued with plans to restore rivers and wetlands by cutting withdrawals from the Murray-Darling river basin by 22 to 29%.

The southwestern U.S. states would do well to push for these kinds of reforms before a similar disaster strikes. doclink

Papua New Guinea: Population Growth Fuels Conflict

December 21, 2011   IRIN news

Papua New Guinea (PNG) already has a history of clan violence and clashes over land, but "rapid population growth is adding to the risk of conflict," said Max Kep, director of the PNG's national Office of Urbanization, noting that various types of conflict are fuelled by limited resources, fighting over smaller plots of land and clashes between swelling urban areas are clashing with nearby owners of traditional land.

PNG's population is nearly seven million, comprised of nearly 700 ethnic groups speaking some 800 languages. 40 percent of PNG's population is under 15 and nearly half are under 20.

The country's population has more than tripled over the last 30 years and is expected to double in another 25 years. The average total fertility rate of 4.4 births per woman remains one of the highest in the Pacific region, says the UN.

"It's like having wild grass lying around waiting to be struck by lightning for a brushfire," said Helen Ware, a professor at the University of New England in Australia, noting the risk of so many idle, underemployed men.

Migrants - drawn to towns and cities for jobs and services - are fuelling population growth in urban areas, which are now growing at an average of 4.5-5% a year.

Around 97% of the country's land is reserved for traditional land owners who are often unwilling to release land for urban growth, so PNG's cities have nowhere to expand, according to the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT). The city of Goroka, for example, is facing critical land shortages which have caused rapid and informal urbanization.

Kep said a government initiative to encourage landowners to lease their land to municipalities is aimed at empowering them, with increased income and access to government services.

Many young people migrate to urban areas, but there are few job opportunities when they arrive, so they often turn to crime.

In addtion, in rural areas, "Villages which once were separated are now bordering one another, and conflicts are definitely arising through competition for resources," said Chris Turner, from Marie Stopes International, an NGO providing family planning and reproductive services in PNG.

In and around Goroka, fighting between families is also turning violent. One woman told of her family of five siblings, and more than 15 offspring arguing over smaller and smaller pieces of property. doclink

Population Media Center says: Learn about how PMC's radio drama in Papua New Guinea is addressing these issues! http://www.populationmedia.org/where/papua-new-guinea/ .



Population Connection says: Islands are useful for demonstrating the concept of carrying capacity. When populations keep growing and the ability to spread out is hampered by ocean on all sides, it is glaringly obvious why population stabilization is a necessity--in island countries like Papua New Guinea and on planet Earth. After all, Earth is like a giant island--once we fill it up, there's nowhere else to go.


Karen Gaia says: It happens not just on islands. In many countries farm families outgrow their land when births exceed deaths, a modern day phenomonon, and at least some grown children of the family must leave, or, worse, some children become indentured servants or street children, or girls are married off early.

The Idiocy of Endless Growth

May 30, 2011   Age

Soon the world will reach 7 billion people. Global population has tripled in the author's lifetime, and the UN predicts 10 billion in 2100. Australia will not be immune from the impacts.

No one can confidently predict where we will find the food, energy, water and resources needed to supply even the basic needs of so many people. We are already using up far more than we can replenish, literally exhausting the environment on which we rely for our survival.

Overpopulation is barely mentioned in the media, and is rarely discussed in relation to, say, climate change or the looming global refugee crisis. Yet ignoring it condemns billions of people to lives of poverty and injustice.

Australia has missed the chance to deal realistically with the challenges of an ever-growing population. The federal government's population strategy is long on rhetoric and short on action. It mentions the word "sustainable" dozens of times, yet never defines what this overused word means.

The report does not say where we should be aiming in terms of our numbers in coming decades. Without this how can we plan for the future. The government's target of a 60% reduction in carbon emissions by mid-century is meaningless if we have no idea how many people we will have making those emissions?

The strategy suggest that people to settle in regional areas, ignoring that nearly all new migrants choose to settle in our major cities. Federal Labor backbencher Kelvin Thomson described the report as a missed opportunity to map out a direction for Australia's future.

The report fails to deal with the impossibility of endlessly expanding our economy and population in a finite world. No politician or business leader dares mention that there are natural limits to growth, and that the evidence suggests we are already hitting against many of them.

Australia's economy is based on two especially precarious principles: extracting as rapidly as possible mineral resources that have taken millions of years to accumulate, while propping up our housing and retail markets with a continuing influx of extra consumers.

The global economy is already five times larger than it was 50 years ago, and as China and India's people demand more of what we have been keeping for ourselves, this explosive expansion is accelerating.

Despite this growth, the numbers in extreme poverty, currently 3 billion, continue to rise. The world's poorest 20% consume just 1.5% of its resources.

The growing disparity between rich and poor is a recipe for conflict and chaos.

Australia's neighbour, Papua New Guinea, will see its population double to about 15 million in the next 25 years. The desperate young Melanesians, denied opportunities at home, will likely look enviously across the Torres Strait for a better life. doclink

Australia: The Spin-doctors Are at it Again

April 21, 2011   Marc O'Connor blog

The spin-doctors of the Business Council of Australia are demanding rampant population growth for Australia -- "to around 30 million in 2030 and 36 million in 2050". And they are trying to present this selfish demand as reasonable and they are calling this "Moderate Population Growth the Best Path to Prosperity," in its submission to Tony Burke, the Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities on how to achieve a sustainable population for Australia. On its cover-page: Improving the quality of life of all Australians within prosperous, secure and liveable communities requires well-managed population growth over the first half of this century.

Myth: Australia's current annual rate of population growth, and/or those demanded by business lobbyists, are "moderate" or "balanced". Comment: Not so! They are higher than those of many third world countries (Indonesia 1.2% a year). Our recent range of 1.7% to 2.1% is 4 to 6 times the average of industrialised countries. We are headed for close to 100 million Australians by the end of the century.

While it is easy to import population growth it is very difficult to go in the opposite direction. Hence we need to remember that Australia's population growth is effectively not reversible.

Myth: Big Business has made a good case for continued population growth. Comment: Not so. The list of the world's most prosperous countries is dominated by those with under 20 million people.

Myth: Science and technology will save us, so there's no need to cap population. Comment: People who say this are rarely scientists. Mostly they are growth economists brought up on an ideology that there are no limits to growth, or else persons with a vested interest in growth.

The Australian Academy of Science back in 1994, before Peak Oil or Climate Change were widely accepted, warned government that 23 million was Australia's safe upper limit.

Myth: We in Australia have plenty of resources. Comment: Not so. The 3rd Inter-generational Report notes that our oil - the commodity on which our civilisation depends - will be gone by 2020.

Fertiliser price is directly linked to energy prices. Many business plans will not survive, and economic downturn is likely. To add more people to a low-energy future is foolish. Our iron ore, LPG gas and many other resources are fast running out.

Myth: Sustainable means keeping our businesses going. Comment: No, human sustainability means above all being prepared for Peak Oil. doclink

Population Media Center in Papua New Guinea

February 23, 2011   Population Media Center

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a Pacific Island north of Australia, about the size of California. It is both culturally and biologically diverse. With an estimated 5% of the world's biodiversity, about 1,400 square miles of PNG's rainforest is cleared for agricultural use every year. PNG's population growth and related poverty is contributing to widespread environmental pressures.

With a high illiteracy rate and 864 unique languages spoken throughout the country, an extremely mountainous terrain, and many tribes isolated from the outside world - with radio often the only link - Population Media Center (PMC) faces a communications challenge, yet it has launched two new radio serial dramas in PNG in February 2011. The dramas address issues such as gender equality and women's empowerment, education, family planning, HIV/AIDs prevention, environmental protection, and other related themes.

PNG's population is 6.4 million people; it's total fertility rate is 4.4 children per woman.

Most men and women in PNG know of a source of modern contraceptives, but current use is about only 25% due to the desire for more children and lack of information. To change social norms with regard to ideal family size, acceptability of family planning, and self-efficacy with regard to decision-making about family matters, and to provide correct information regarding the relative safety of contraception compared to early and repeated childbearing, two carefully designed nationwide Sabido-style radio serial dramas - one in Pidgin and another in English - are being broadcast. In addition, PMC has prodcuced a weekly talk show on each of the provincial radio stations where listeners can call in and discuss issues raised in the dramas. The purpose of these talk shows is to make the stories and information more accessible and relevant to life in each of the provinces.

Exploitation of marine and other natural resources is a reflection of traditions that were sustainable when PNG was less populous. Ignorance and poverty lead people to adopt unsustainable practices, such as overfishing. Role modeling sustainable livelihoods and practices can bring about changes in behavior to reflect the reality of life in PNG today and what must be done to preserve its resources.

PMC's Papua New Guinea project has been adopted under the UN Communications Strategy which means that PMC is a partner for part of the UN's Millennium Development Goals Campaign.

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Population Services International (PSI), BeMobile, Colgate-Palmolive and The United Nations are contributors to PMC's project in PNG. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Population Media Center is one of my favorite NGOs to donate to.

Doctors in Population Push: More of Us, Less for All

February 08, 2011   Age

In Australia, the 500-strong Doctors for the Environment Australia in have joined entrepeneur Dick Smith's new campaign targeting general practitioners (GPs) and their patients.

A poster titled "Advancing Australia Fairly!" was sent by the group to about 24,000 GPs this week to outline the health impacts of the nation's increasing population.

The poster shows an oversized boot crushing a tree. On the sole of the boot is the statement "Population growth, more of us, less for all". The poster asserts that "population pressure impacts on cost of living, food and water security, traffic congestion, productive farmland, social cohesion and quality of life".

A spokesman for the group said Australia's population growth rate exceeded that of India and Cambodia and was "harming our quest for liveable communities". The campaign coincides with the federal government seeking feedback on the challenges and opportunities stemming from Australia's growing population.

The group was annoyed that the federal government's issues paper on a sustainable population strategy did not include a scientific review of what an ideal population for a healthy Australia would be.

Australia's population is predicted to rise from its current 22 million to 35 million by 2050. doclink

Australia: Population: How Much is Too Much?

January 11, 2011   Australian Geographic

Near where the author lives, in the NSW Southern Tablelands of Australia, there's a 400 hectare rain forest reserve in a gorge. On weekends its car parks are often full and a stream of visitors make the hour-long pilgrimage along a sturdy boardwalk to a waterfall.

Rain forest like this once covered nearly 23,000 hectares in the area. But after the cedar-getters and cattlemen came, three-quarters of it is gone and much of what's left is in poor shape. Former NSW premier Bob Carr wrote 10 years ago: "Over the next 100 years treasures like these will be erased from the planet, outside a few struggling game parks or tourist-trampled reserves." ... "Forests torn out, grasslands ploughed under, to meet the demands of this vastly expanded human presence."

From the time our ancestors took up farming, population expansion has been unstoppable. Whenever we came up with an innovation, such as domestication, new crop varieties or irrigation, the numbers jumped; each advance made our food more abundant, its supply more dependable and our lives more secure. From an estimated 5 million souls when humankind began farming, the global population reached 250 million about 2000 years ago. It took humanity 12,000 years or more to clock up its first billion - and just 12 to add its sixth.

The world's population is currently growing at 1.15%, or about 77 million people a year.

Since colonization, Australia's population has grown at an even faster rate than the global average. From about 1 million inhabitants in 1788, there are now nearly 22,450,000 people. It is increasing by about 470,000 people a year, mostly through immigration. The world is predicted to reach 9.2 billion by 2050. If last year's growth is anything to go by then Australia's population will head towards 36 million by 2050 and perhaps 50 million before the end of the century.

In his book Feeding the Ten Billion, Dr Lloyd Evans, says: "Feeding the 10 billion can be done, but to do so sustainably in the face of climatic change, equitably in the face of social and regional inequalities, and in a time when few seem concerned, remains one of humanity's greatest challenges."

Dr Bob Birrell, director of the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Melbourne's Monash University says corporations and governments are beneficiaries of population growth. "They like the economic dynamism associated with extra people, because it means more expansion and therefore more economic activity, measured by cranes on the skyline." The Sydney Morning Herald economics editor Ross Gittins disagrees: "Just because it's good for business doesn't mean it's good for the economy." ... "Businesses get the benefits of immigration while bearing only some of the costs. The main costs are the need for more capital equipment and...infrastructure, as well as more government services, to meet the needs of the extra people."

"Nothing more preoccupies the modern political process than economic growth," says Clive Hamilton in his book Growth Fetish. "Economists are relentless advocates of more growth as the solution to all problems". The billions in developing countries who can't afford our level of consumption today aspire to it tomorrow. Consumption will keep growing long after global population peaks post-2050. This in turn means we'll continue to make the planet less hospitable by felling Earth's forests, plundering its oceans, damming and draining its rivers, squandering its limited resources and allowing our megacities to metastasise across its surface.

Clive points out in the book Requiem for a Species: "Population growth will make the task of reducing...emissions much harder because food is the first item of consumption humans must have." In Australia, climate change will reduce our capacity to grow food for ourselves - just when our growing population requires us to grow more.

The Treasury's prediction that Australia's population would reach 36 million by 2050, former prime minister Kevin Rudd's welcoming of the "big Australia" that this represented, the country's population reaching 22 million in October 2009, and the appointment of Australia's first Minister for Population, all served to make Australia's demographic future an election issue.

The new Prime Minister Julia Gillard said she wasn't in favour of "Australia hurtling down the track towards a big population". Monash's Bob Birrell said "if you're concerned about the quality of life of Australian cities, the price of housing or the state of the natural environment, you're likely to believe we've already passed the optimum." Tim Flannery, one of Australia's best-known scientists and thinkers, has suggested that our nation's arid and fragile interior and fickle climate make 6-12 million a much more practical carrying capacity. doclink

Marshall Islands: If An Island State Vanishes, is it Still a Nation?

December 6, 2010  

Encroaching seas in the far Pacific are raising the salt level in the wells of the Marshall Islands. Waves threaten to cut one sliver of an island in two. "It's getting worse," says Kaminaga Kaminaga, the tiny nation's climate change coordinator.

The atoll nations of Kiribati, Tuvalu and other atoll nations beyond are also threatened.

The rising ocean raises questions, too: What happens if the 61,000 Marshallese must abandon their low-lying atolls? Would they still be a nation? With a U.N. seat? With control of their old fisheries and their undersea minerals? Where would they live, and how would they make a living? Who, precisely, would they and their children become?

For years global negotiations to act on climate change have dragged on, with little to show. Parties to the 193-nation U.N. climate treaty are meeting again in this Caribbean resort, but no one expects decisive action to roll back the industrial, agricultural and transport emissions blamed for global warming — and consequently for swelling seas.

"People who built their homes close to shore, all they can do is get more rocks to rebuild the seawall in front day by day," said Kaminaga, who is in Cancun with the Marshallese delegation to the U.N. talks.

The Marshallese government is looking beyond today to those ultimate questions of nationhood, displacement and rights and took a first step to confront these issues by asking for advice from the Center for Climate Change Law at New York's Columbia University where legal scholars worldwide will be assembled next May to begin to piece together answers.

The U.N. network of climate scientists projects that seas, expanding from heat and from the runoff of melting land ice, may rise by up to 1.94 feet (0.59 meters) by 2100, swamping much of the scarce land of coral atolls.

Long before waves wash over them the islands may become uninhabitable, because of the saline contamination of water supplies and ruining of crops, and because warming is expected to produce more threatening tropical storms.

McAdam, of the University of New South Wales, has traveled in the atoll nations and studied the legal history.

The 1951 global treaty on refugees, mandating that nations shelter those fleeing because of persecution, does not cover the looming situation of those displaced by climate change. Some advocate negotiating a new international pact obliging similar treatment for environmental refugees.

In the case of the Marshallese, the picture is murkier. Under a compact with Washington, citizens of the former U.S. trusteeship territory have the right to freely enter the U.S. for study or work, but their right to permanent residency must be clarified, government advisers say.

The wide scattering of the Marshalls' 29 atolls, 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers) southwest of Hawaii, give them an exclusive economic zone of 800,000 square miles (2 million square kilometers) of ocean, an area the size of Mexico. Tuna from those waters are the Marshalls' chief resource, exploited by selling licenses to foreign fishing fleets. "If their islands go underwater, what becomes of their fishing rights?"

Potentially just as important: revenues from magnesium and other sea-floor minerals that geologists have been exploring in recent years.

The "top priority," Kaminaga said, is to save the isthmus linking the Marshalls' Jaluit island to its airport, a link now swept by high tides.

The Marshalls' representatives will seek international aid for climate adaptation. They envision such projects as a Jaluit causeway, replanting of protective vegetation on shorelines, and a 3-mile-long (5-kilometer-long) seawall protecting their capital, Majuro, from the Pacific's rising tides.

In the end, islanders wonder, too, what will happen to their culture, their history, their identity with a homeland — even to their ancestors — if they must leave. Cemeteries along the coastline are being eroded as gravesites fall into the sea. rw doclink

Palau Debates Banning Contraceptives to Stimulate Population Growth

November 26, 2010   Top News

Palau is currently wrangling with a controversial bill that would ban the sale and distribution of contraceptives. The Population Growth Act is intended to stimulate population growth in the country, and has already been passed by the Senate on first reading.

According to the Asian Development Bank, Palau's population growth is just under 1.5%-the smallest in the region. This has raised concerns among officials, especially because young Palauans are increasingly moving overseas to pursue education and work opportunities. Senator Alfonso Diaz explained: "We're hoping when we outlaw that people will be freely having sex and then reproduce."

Many have pointed out that banning contraceptives would likely increase the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. The author of the bill responded: "Right now we don't have a problem of HIV in Palau, and the problem of transmitted disease in Palau is very minimal, not even 50 people. It's even less than that."

Health Minister Stevenson Kuartei said: "I wish we could have been consulted about the long-term effects that such a bill would entail, but we were never asked." He added: "The discussion of the discussion of well-planned family planning, the issue of choice by families or by women to manage their pregnancy, the issue of HIV and AIDS-those were not even addressed within the proposed bill."

The bill, which would impose a $500 fine or a three-month prison sentence on violators, is to be debated by the Senate in January. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: I could find no evidence that Palau's population growth is unsustainable or harmful to the environment, so this is probably not an overpopulation problem. However, all couples should be able to freely choose the size of their families.

Clinton Urges Papua New Guinea to End 'Culture of Violence' Against Women

November 3, 2010   Agence France Presse

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for an end to the "culture of violence" against women in impoverished Papua New Guinea during a lightning stop in November in the South Pacific nation.

Clinton, who was greeted by bare-chested men beating drums and face-painted women in grass skirts, announced a new initiative to help the island's women, who suffer staggering levels of violence, according to rights groups.

She also discussed ways of avoiding the "resource curse" with Prime Minister Michael Somare as PNG grapples with a huge influx of wealth from an upcoming gas project, as well as ways of fighting climate change.

"Giving women access to education, health services, economic opportunities, and the structures of power is critical for alleviating poverty and disease in every part of the world," she told an audience of mainly women during a visit to the country's parliament.

Clinton said the United States, PNG government and World Bank would bring together senior officials and business leaders from across the Pacific "to expand opportunities for women". The U.S. State Department is working with local groups to help women voters prepare for 2012 elections, hoping to ease their plight by encouraging more female MPs and is working with US energy giant Exxon Mobil and local groups on a mentoring programme "aimed at ending the culture of violence against women and girls in Papua New Guinea", she said.

Clinton, the first secretary of state to visit since 1998, meanwhile offered technical expertise to help PNG cope with the windfall of its 15-billion-US dollar liquefied natural gas project to supply Asian countries. "If not handled right a country can actually can end up becoming poorer," Clinton warned.

The plant, PNG's biggest resources project, is expected to double national income.

Several other developing countries that have experienced sudden energy investments only to become mired in corruption and political instability. rw doclink

Australia: Ads Spark Sex Fury

October 20, 2010   Herald Sun (Australia)

Clinical psychologist Alison Grundy, who works with sex abuse victims, said advertisers were reaching a dangerous new low by using sexual violence as a marketing tool, including Calvin Klein's jeans ad, which is said has connotations of gang rape.

"If we continue to subject future generations of young men to great barrages of aggressive, misogynist, over-sexualised and violent imagery in pornography, movies, computer games and advertising, we will continue to see the rates of sexual violence against women and children that continue unabated today. Or worse,' she said.

In a post on renowned women's advocate Melinda Tankard Reist's website, Ms Grundy said cases of gang rape of girls as young as 13 were increasingly being reported to professionals in NSW and that advertisers were blurring the line between rape and group sex and the Calvin Klein poster was "clearly intimating' the gang rape of a woman.

Menswear brand Roger David has also drawn fire for selling T-shirts with semi-naked, gagged women. rw doclink

Australia: Anglicans: We Have to Acknowledge and Respond to Population Issues in Order to Care for Life

October 15, 2010   Chair of the Anglican General Synod Public Affairs Commission

At a time when the Catholic church is so often in the news for appalling attitudes to population, it is heartening to see the Anglicans making informed and moral observations about the need to reign in population growth.

The General Synod has now endorsed the viewpoint of its Public Affairs Committee. We have to acknowledge and respond to population issues in order to care for life. The Anglican General Synod of Australia recently held its three-yearly meeting, at which a motion about the need to acknowledge and respond to population issues in order to care for life on our planet was warmly supported.

The Lambeth conference of bishops from the world-wide Anglican communion reaffirmed a decade ago that the divine Spirit is in Creation and human beings have a responsibility to make sacrifices for the common good of all life.

This year the Public Affairs Commission of the Australian Anglican Church presented a discussion paper on population issues which formed the basis for the attached motion recently passed by the national Synod.

The Synod has called on Anglicans to grow in understanding of global and national environmental challenges and the fundamental role of human population growth and consumption in contributing to them. It has encouraged individuals and the church to reduce their levels of consumption, and to contribute thoughtfully and prayerfully to public debate about how to achieve justice for future as well as current Australians and to nurture life on this fragile land with all its beauty and diversity. It emphasized the need to share in a world of finite resources, showing concern particularly for neighbours who live in the poorest two-thirds of the world.

The Synod called on the Australian Government to avoid any reliance on population growth to maintain economic growth; to determine a sustainable population policy for Australia; to consider carefully any incentive aimed specifically and primarily at increasing Australia's population, while continuing to support low-income families; and to contribute more generously to improving the welfare of people in the least developed nations, and other life in their environments, in particular by including support for family planning and women's reproductive health programs with aid for development. rw doclink

Anglican Church Says Overpopulation May Break Eighth Commandment

June 08, 2010   Mongabay.com

Australia's Anglican Church has linked overpopulation to the eighth commandment 'Thou shall not steal'. The governing body of Australia's Anglican Church has released a discussion paper that states "out of care for the whole of creation, particularly the poorest of humanity and the life forms who cannot speak for themselves, it is not responsible to stand by and remain silent [on the issue of overpopulation]."

The paper adds that "unless we take account of the needs of future life on Earth, there is a case that we break the eighth commandment—'thou shall not steal'."

The General Synod recommends that the federal government should no longer encourage population growth with financial incentives, such as the controversial 'baby bonus' whereby the Australian government pays a mother 4,000 Australian dollars every time she has a new baby. The bonus, which was put into effect beginning in 2004, has been linked to Australia's ongoing baby boom, the largest since the 1970s.

"In the context of unsustainable global population growth it is inconsistent and arguably irresponsible to provide financial incentives for population increase," the Australian Anglican Church says.

Currently some 6.8 billion people inhabit the Earth. Scientists estimate that by 2050 that number will rise to 9 billion before leveling out. Environmentalists say that overpopulation is leading to worsening climate change, unsustainable resource use, mass extinction, deforestation, pollution, and food and water shortages. rw doclink

Debunking the Population Myths

Overloading Australia website

There are too many myths that foster Australian population growth.

  1. Some say that it's inevitable that we grow to a vast population, but if we chose, we can stop at 23 million the figure the Australian Academy of Science has said should be our safe maximum.
  2. Some worry that the refugee intake would suffer; however, refugees are a tiny fraction of our annual migrant intake.
  3. We can plan for convenient transport systems and every imaginable public facility. When was the last time we so much as managed to build the train line before installing the suburb. we're not keeping up with population growth even now.
  4. More people means higher house prices so we'll all be richer. There's likely a connection between more people and more environmental damage. More people means higher house prices and makes a few of us absurdly rich and turns the rest into mortgage slaves
  5. We can't do anything about Australia's population problem till we've solved the world's. Australia must take care of its own problems, just like every other country should.
  6. Australia is a vast continent.Australia is a small country with big distances.
  7. We're going to have a labor ahortage. Over 100,000 young Australians dropped out of the work force last year, unable to compete with imported workers.
  8. If we stop growth, we will be faced with an ageing population. Australia's population is unusually young by first world standards. It is those too young to work, not those too old, who make the greater demands on the public purse.
rw doclink

Australia: Is Population Growth a Ponzi Scheme?

March 04, 2010   Joseph Chamie - The Globalist

The pitch of those promoting population growth is straightforward "More is better." While it may come in many guises, Ponzi demography is essentially a pyramid scheme that attempts to make more money for some by adding on more and more people through population growth.

But measures of GDP do not reflect, for example, the degradation of the environment, the depreciation of natural resources or declines in individuals' quality of life.

According to Ponzi demography, population growth - through natural increase and immigration - means more people leading to increased demands for goods and services, more material consumption, more borrowing, more on credit and of course more profits. Everything seems fantastic for a while - but Ponzi demography is unsustainable.

When the economy sours, the scheme spirals downward with higher unemployment, depressed wages, falling incomes, more people sinking into debt, more homeless families - and more men, women and children on public assistance.

That is the stage when the advocates of Ponzi demography consolidate their excess profits and gains. That leaves the general public to pick up the tab. Ponzi demography exploits the fear of population decline and aging. Without a young and growing population, we are forewarned of becoming a nation facing financial ruin and a loss of national power.

Due to population aging, government-run pensions and healthcare systems will become insolvent, Ponzi demography advocates claim, thereby crippling the economy, undermining societal well-being and threatening national security.

Low birth rates, especially those below replacement levels, are considered a matter of national concern. Without higher fertility rates and the resulting population growth, the nation, it is claimed, faces a bleak and dreary future.

So Ponzi demography calls for policies and programs to encourage couples to have more children, which will lead to the promised sustained economic growth.

In addition appeals are also made to one's patriotic duty to have children in order to replenish and expand the homeland. Ponzi demography also turns to immigration for additional population growth in order to boost companies' profits. The standard slogan in "the country urgently needs increased immigration," even when immigration may already be at record levels and unemployment rates are high.

Increased immigration, it is declared, is a matter of national security, long-term prosperity and international competitiveness. Without this needed immigration, Ponzi demography warns that the country's future is at serious risk.

Another basic tactic of Ponzi demography is promoting the advantages of an increasing population for continued economic growth. No mention is made of the additional profits they reap and the extra costs the public bears.

When confronted with environmental concerns such as climate change, global warming, environmental contamination or shortages of water and other vital natural resources, the advocates of Ponzi demography typically dismiss such concerns as unfounded and overblown.

And they obliquely stress "innovation," ingenuity and technological fixes as the only appropriate and workable solutions.

Many environmental groups are also reluctant to take up or even touch the volatile subject of population growth, especially those that have been burned on this issue in the past. Such groups fear possibly offending some members and donors, which might undercut their organizations and efforts.

Fortunately, most couples around the world have chosen to have a few children rather than many and to invest more in each child's upbringing, education and future well-being. The sooner nations make the transition from ever-increasing population growth to population stabilization, the better the prospects for all of humanity and other life on this planet. "If Norway can prosper with a stable population, why can't Australia?"

It is argued primarily that we must have an expanding population, in order to maintain "labour supply", and to counter demographic ageing. These are related but subtly different goals. A third goal, not so publicly acknowledged but the driver for the largest single source of political donations, is to maintain the inflation of property values. All three goals of growth are examples of Ponzi scheme economics, not contributing significantly to the common good but rather shifting wealth from the many to the few, from the younger to the older, and from future people to current people.

Weaning oneself off a Ponzi scheme can be an unattractive proposition. Luckily, the impact would likely be more than off-set by the dividends of population stabilisation. The diseconomies of growth rate far outweigh the benefits. By doubling our population growth within a decade, we have increase our infrastructure costs, perhaps costing hundreds of thousands of dollars per added person.

According to MIT economist Lester Thurow, it requires 12.5% of GDP to expand capacity at 1% per year. For the developed world this was over $200,000 per person of net population growth. Using these figures, if we're currently growing at 2% per year, then 25% of our GDP is currently being used to expand capacity to accommodate the people who are not yet here. This means that the GDP available per capita to serve current residents is 25% less than the advertised per capita GDP.

Against this burden, the 2010 Intergenerational Report's estimate of 4.1% of GDP needed for extra health care and aged care by 2050 pales into insignificance.

Not to mention that only 40% of this is attributable to ageing, and less than half of that could be deflected by immigration. Does it make sense that we're incurring a 25% of GDP cost to avoid less than 0.8% of GDP cost?

Ageing is touted as the greatest economic challenge facing Australia, and therefore to be minimised by whatever means we have. Conversely, we are told that growth merely requires planning and management (as if the infrastructure magically appears by virtue of having been planned). In fact, the exact opposite is true.

Growth is a virtually insurmountable challenge, becoming ever more costly as resources are spread thinner, pushing an ever increasing burden on future generations, while diluting their wealth base and inflating their living costs. Ageing, in contrast, is a modest and limited shift, back towards the sort of dependency ratio we had in the 1960s, but with much higher workforce participation than then.

So we have immigration to reduce the fiscal gap anticipated to be caused by ageing, but causing a fiscal black hole. And we have skilled immigration to solve the skills shortage but actually increasing it. And we have a baby bonus requiring a school-building program comparable to the current debt-financed economic stimulus package repeated annually to accommodate the extra 50,000 kids per year moving through the system. And, just when we should be encouraging extra saving for retirement, instead we have orchestrated oversupply of labour suppressing wages and increasing casualisation and underemployment, combined with the orchestrated housing affordability crisis, having a devastating effect on national savings.

Back in 1986, Lester Thurow concluded that no nation could move forward economically with population growth greater than 2%. Deliberate (but not coercive) fertility reduction was the primary enabler of economic development in the Asian Tigers, boosting workforce participation and allowing government efforts to move from quantity to quality of services. In contrast, Argentina famously fell back from first-world to third-world status, with the most plausible explanation being that its growth outstripped its ability to maintain quality of life. A disgruntled population and unmanageable public debt are not conducive to maintaining good stable democracies

Could Australia enter such a downward spiral? We already have many of the symptoms: widening inequality between rich and poor, declining national savings and expanding current account deficit, the selling of public assets to balance budgets, welfare systems falling behind the cost of living, intractable queues for medical services, increasing youth unemployment, fracturing social tensions erupting in ethnic violence ... the question is, will we wake up in time to arrest it? rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: this argument could apply to any developed country. My objection to Ponzi demographics is: will we have to import even more and more people as each generation of immigrants age, or did the perpetrators of this scheme hope they could get away with neglecting the immigrants when they age?

Al Bartlett Comments on Population Problems Down Under

February 2, 2010   Albert A. Bartlett

Australian Environmental Minister Penny Wong, when asked "Australia's population is projected to increase by 65%... by 2050. During the same period, the government is committed to cutting our carbon emissions by 60%. Aren't these goals or facts mutually exclusive?" answered: "Whereas the last few hundred years …growth in our carbon pollution has essentially tracked our population and economic growth…The key issue here is breaking that link, not trying to reduce population."

Australia's population growth is 1.252% per year - using the 65% figure quoted by the interviewer. To reduce emissions 60% by 2050, it would require a 2.291% reduction. This means, to accomodate the projected population growth AND to reduce overall annual emissions by 60%, the annual rate of decrease of per capita emissions would have to be cut 3.543% per year over the next forty years. In other words, the per capita annual emissions would have to be cut in half every 19.6 years!

Is Minister Wong basing her policy recommendations on Walt Disney's First Law: "Wishing will make it so."

Actually, the present rate of growth of Australia's population is quoted as being 1.8% per year, not 1.252% that the interview claimed. If this current higher rate continues, Australia's population will double by 2050 and would reach a density of one person per square meter over the whole continent in just over 700 years!

Should Australia encourage continued population growth or should the people of Australia act to stop the growth before Nature stops it? And why not stop it now while there are still some resources and some open spaces? doclink

Australia: Many in Denial Over Rising Population

December 19, 2009   Sydney Morning Heral

Population growth in Asia averages 1.1% a year. Australia should have a much lower growth rate, but our annual population growth had risen to 1.5%. According to Bureau of Statistics figures, it is now 1.7%. At this rate, our population will reach 42 million by 2051. This is far above any estimate of the population Australia could hope to feed.

This week's government white paper proposes a 5% cut in emissions, but assumes per capita cuts can outpace population growth. This is based on the assumption we are heading for 28 million people in Australia by 2051, rather than 42 million.

Some claim Australia is a big country, yet the geographer George Seddon has remarked Australia is "a small country with big distances". Our agricultural areas are not so large, or fertile, as population boosters pretend. The human as well as the natural environment deteriorates as population grows.

The reaction to any suggestion that population growth, and immigration, should be reduced was to accuse the critic of "racism". Yet most immigrants think immigration is too high.

Figures show that births each year in Australia are twice the number of deaths. Australia's safe carrying capacity in the long term may be as low as 8 to 12 million people.

In 1994, the Australian Academy of Science said that 23 million people should be our limit.

Over the years, Australians have been promised a series of points at which population growth would supposedly be capped: Bob Hawke spoke of 25 million, which might be the limit set by water resources. The minister for immigration, spoke of our population naturally peaking at some 23 million. Our current trajectory is to break 100 million by 2100.

Population increase suits governments wanting to please the business community now. There is still a way out and it is naive to think population growth can be slowed.

In the past two years, most politicians have ceased being in denial about climate change, greenhouse emissions, limits to water, and peak oil.

Our population growth is out of control. rw doclink

Australia: Overseas Abortion Aid Ban Revoked

August 21, 2009   Age

A 13-year-old ban on AusAID-funded abortion has been revoked with Foreign Minister Stephen Smith's signing of new family planning guidelines for dispensing federal funds overseas. Overseas aid can now be used to fund abortions of foetuses of up to 20 weeks in countries where it is legal.

The Howard government introduced the ban in 1996 to assuage senator Brian Harradine, a Catholic. A number of leading groups - including Oxfam Australia were instrumental in lobbying the Government for change.

Unsafe abortion is a leading cause of maternal mortality in developing countries. "This will bring a big difference to so many women's lives in the Asia-Pacific," said a regional director of Marie Stopes International, an NGO providing sexual healthcare services from Mongolia though to Vietnam and Papua New Guinea.

Australia's policy change comes after a similar decision by America's Obama Administration. doclink

Indonesia: Discrimination Over Access to Reproductive Health

July 25, 2009   Jakarta Post

Unmarried women have been discriminated against by lawmakers in a health bill with religious overtones. This bill, which precludes them from reproductive health treatments, and which requires a recommendation from a religious panelas a requirement for approving abortions in life-threatening pregnancies or for rape victims - will replace the 1992 Health Law, which does not regulate reproductive health.

"The bill is a step backwards from the current Health Law."

In Jakarta, many sexually active unmarried women have found it difficult to get professional advice about reproductive health without having to face judgmental medical workers.

There is concern that there would be more bureaucratic procedures in hospitals to access reproductive health.

The legislation would increase the psychological trauma rape victims suffer. Especially as the provided period only allows for abortions in the first six weeks of pregnancy, which is basically unrealistic because in this period, women are often not aware of their pregnancy.

In Mahayana teachings, abortion is considered murder.

One woman said: "For me, giving birth to a human without being able to be fully responsible for them is also a sin." doclink

Indonesia: Peer Educators Teach Traders About Reproductive Health

May 14, 2009   Jakarta Post

In Denpasar, 15 traders and laborers have become peer educators to persuade fellow female traders and laborers to get tested for signs of reproductive health problems.

"Reproductive health is still an alien concept for us here," one of them said.

The voluntary peer educator group was established by an NGO focusing on mitigating reproductive health problems among the city's low income population. It has also established a health clinic on the market's fourth floor, that offers affordable and free reproductive health services.

Cervical cancer is currently at the top of the peer educators' list of reproductive health problems. rw doclink

Australia: STI Increase Sparks Calls for Mandatory Sex Ed

May 04, 2009   ABC Premium News

A rise in sexually-transmitted infections and teenage pregnancy in Australia has prompted calls for mandatory sex classes in schools nationwide.

Sex education is to become mandatory in the UK.

Governments across Australia need a standardised program rather than an ad hoc approach to sex education.

Teenagers accounted for more than a quarter of the 58,000 cases of chlamydia last year, against 17,000 in 2000.

Unplanned pregnancy rates in Australia are still high in comparison to the developed world.

Disparities between governments, makes it hard to get something organised, but it's a necessary part of our teenagers' future. rw doclink

Australia: Child Abortion Fears

May 3, 2009   Sunday Times

Sex education in WA schools (Australia) will be reviewed because too many girls are getting pregnant.

In the past three years, about 100 girls aged 14 or under had abortions.

Calls from Abortion Grief Australia ask for more early intervention to stop women suffering abortion trauma.

Women who had an abortion were 3.6 times more likely to abuse hard drugs and twice as likely to be binge drinkers.

FPWA Sexual Health Services medical director renewed calls for condom-vending machines at WA high schools, and compulsory sexual health education in schools.

Opposition spokesman Roger Cook said high school principals should be allowed to give condoms to students at risk of getting pregnant.

Health Minister Kim Hames had launched a website that provided information about puberty, sexually transmitted diseases and abstinence.

"The department has also funded, the school-based sexual health curriculum and teacher training, which promotes abstinence. rw doclink

Papua New Guinea Hotels to Provide Free Condoms

March 20, 2009   ABC Premium News

Hotel guests in Papua New Guinea will soon find complimentary condoms in their rooms.

The HIV/AIDS education group BAHA has reached an agreement with more than 90 hotels and guest houses to distribute 2 million free condoms.

In Papua 2% of people are believed to be infected with AIDS.

In some areas the figure could be 10%.

Hotels have been targeted because that is where many people are infected.

The BAHA will also provide training to hotel staff.

A lot of them are scared. They say, 'We see them and we are going to be infected'.

BAHA is putting the condoms into new packages featuring the work of a local artist. rw doclink

Overloading Australia : How Governments and Media Dither and Deny on Population

March 2009   Overloading Australia

Denialist claims have changed remarkably little in 35 years. Almost all the arguments and tactics were in 1973 when the famous Australian economist Colin Clark published a pamphlet with the British Catholic Truth Society, Putting the 'Population Explosion' in 'perspective'. He followed this with a small book, The Myth of Over-Population. Conservative think-tanks and rightwing church groups remain fond of recycling its pungent assertions. Unfortunately, this exposed his errors and muddled predictions.

Clark assures his readers that carbon dioxide is harmless so long as it can be discharged into the atmosphere.' and as for greenhouse effects, it is clear that recent fluctuations in the Earth's climate 'are not due to the burning of fuel.'

Clark was sure that world food production "could easily be increased to 50 times its present level" if all suitable land "was properly farmed or grazed". He argues that most of resources, like wood pulp or fish are products of human labor. Clark could not grasp that fish-catches and lumber-extraction depend on nature's fecundity. He assures us that fish supplies are increasing faster than population.

Clark also assured his readers that serious energy problems will come only when world population is "over a million times what it is now". Clark's disciples overlook these embarrassing errors. But Clark's ignorance was not what it seems.

In Australia if the nature of our economy ensures a doubling of total consumption every 20 years or so forever, then most hopes of saving the environment and warding off climate change are lost. The present population of the Earth, plus the increases in per capita consumption, is enough to doom the Earth.

If we are serious about fighting runaway growth, then population and per capita consumption must be kept as low as possible. The larger the number of individuals to be supplied and fed, the less chance there will be of them agreeing to do so.

B.A. Santamaria informed his readers that for Australia's population not to fall rapidly the average woman must have 2 surviving children. Such view often lead to a false belief that population is falling or about to fall. When the Pope visited Sydney, Australia's Cardinal Pell told the media that Western nations faced a population crisis fuelled by "ruthless" commercial forces, and that "No country in the Western world is producing enough children to keep the population stable."

Australian women are having far too many babies to keep the population stable. Almost twice as many. In fact to just replace itself, a relatively young population like Australia's would currently need around only 1.3 children per completed family. And that's without immigration!

The replacement rate was a useful, concept when couples were having 4 and 5 children. Demographers would point out that all a couple need do to replace itself, was to have 2 children. But basically, if women in their reproductive years average two surviving children, a generation will simply replace itself, won't it?

But children don't replace parents, or even grandparents more often they replace great-grandparents. Hence if a generation of parents were to produce an equal-sized generation of children this would not mean the population had stabilized. For instance, if India achieved so-called "replacement fertility" now, with all its couples in future averaging just 2.05 children, its population would still double, adding an extra 1 billion people.

Demographers need to explain the difference between the Theoretical Long-Term Replacement Rate (TLTRR) and the Current Replacement Birth Rate (CRBR). The latter is the birth-rate that would currently produce as many births as deaths. The only replacement rate that Australia could claim to be safely below is the Theoretical Long-Term Replacement Rate (TLTRR) of just over two children per completed family. But that is the replacement rate of an already stabilized Australia, a society in which there would be equal numbers in each generation.

By rights we should distinguish birthrate from fertility rate. The birthrate is the number of babies born per thousand people per year. Replacement birthrate is that at which births per year would equal deaths. The "fertility rate" is the average number of children a woman will have in her lifetime. This is the demographers' justification for speaking of 2.05 children per woman as 'replacement fertility'.

Since fertility rates are always below 10, and birthrates may be nearer to 100, the two terms must not be confused. When you take Australia's current fertility rate of around 1.8 children per couple and factor in even a low net migration gain of just 80,000 per year, it is still the equivalent of having a total fertility of around 2.4 children per woman. That of course is well above any estimate of the long-term replacement rate. And our current net migration gain is now some 178,000 per year.

Some of the groups who try to create concern about "falling population" may be aware from their own research that population is in fact rising rapidly (1.6%), one of the fastest rates in Asia.)

Anyone who drives around Australian cities ought to be aware that population growth is extremely high! rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: Of course, it is always important to mention carrying capacity - what is unsustainable about Australia's current and projected population? I understand that it is not, but it would be helpful to have this in the article.

Australia: A Climate of Change at Lake Macquarie

December 26, 2008   Newcastle Herald

Lake Macquarie residents are becoming aware of climate change issues and the underlying causes. The council was "taking a lead role in planning for sea-level rise due to climate change" and had committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. There were signs of people changing their behaviour to help the environment.

People were buying smaller cars. 161,535 vehicles were registered in Lake Macquarie, a 2.25% increase on the previous year.

The rate of native vegetation clearing had been "substantially reduced" to 58 hectares.

But Lake Macquarie's population is expected to grow by 60,000 to 70,000 people in the next 25 years and will create demand for 36,500 new dwellings.

An expanding population means an increase in the consumption of resources. Residential electricity use in the city had decreased by 3.9% in 2007-08 compared with the previous year, but business electricity use had increased by 1.8%. rw doclink

Australia: Population Bomb Ticks Louder Than Climate Change

July 22, 2008   Canberra Times

Population growth is a bigger threat to the world's food production and water supplies than climate change. Overpopulation's impacts are potentially more destructive than those of climate change.

Climate change is overshadowed by the amount of water, land and energy needed to grow food to meet the projected increase in population. We are facing a crisis.

The price of rice in Thailand had risen from $A200 a tonne to $A800 a tonne, and India had banned rice exports in a bid to ensure the country had sufficient supplies of this food.

Australias needs smarter ways to improve water efficiencies so we can continue to grow those crops.

Many politicians are out of touch with crucial issues facing rural Australia, particularly poverty and the loss of jobs in communities built on wealth generated by irrigated food production.

Irrigators are trying to make a living for their families, and have made a lot of effort to achieve water efficiencies. Australia must also think about the future social and environmental implications of its "population footprint".

It has to be a decision about geographic spread and location, about benefits for indigenous communities, for river systems and wetlands. It's a big exercise and needs to be done very carefully. rw doclink

Ralph says: Not only in Australia! Water will continue to be a problem in many countries. Remember, ----More People Need More Water, and there is a limit to the water available.

Australia: Pope Issues Tough Warning Over Pop Culture, Environment

July 18, 2008   AFP

Pope Benedict XVI warned Catholics in Australia of the perils of pop culture and pillaging the earth's resources.

The pontiff told hundreds of thousands of pilgrims that "something is amiss" in modern society.

"Our world has grown weary of greed, false idols and piecemeal responses, and the pain of false promises," the pope said.

He told youths from around the world, that humanity was squandering the earth's resources to satisfy its appetite for material goods.

The pope spoke poetically of his 20-hour flight to Australia, saying the views from his plane evoked a sense of awe. But the pontiff told his audience that the planet's problems were easier to perceive from the sky.

We come to acknowledge that there are scars, erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world's mineral and ocean resources. Prime Minister Rudd.

The pontiff hailed Prime Minister Rudd's apology to Aborigines for past injustices. "Concrete steps are now being taken to achieve reconciliation based on mutual respect," Benedict said.

There was confusion over whether the pope would deliver an apology to Australian victims of sex abuse by Catholic clergymen. Benedict indicated to journalists on the way to Australia that he would apologise but a Vatican official raised doubts over the issue.

The pope later toured the city in his bullet-proof "popemobile". rw doclink

New Zealand: Protecting Our Ocean Resources

June 26, 2008   Scoop.co.nz

From New Zealand's State of the Environment Report, Environment 07 - Environmental indicators are a valuable tool as part of our work towards carbon neutrality and a sustainable New Zealand. Environment 07 measures the impact of transport, energy, waste, and our consumption on the environment. New Zealand research, based on a survey of 1000 people, found that the most popular sustainable actions New Zealanders are taking included recycling 92% and composting 54%. The least popular actions were transport and water use.

The government is advancing new proposals including: The creation of a waste levy to to encourage recycling; regulation including recognition of existing industry sponsored schemes; funding public recycling stations under the brand name "Love New Zealand".

The provisions for product stewardship aim to get businesses to create their own solutions to protect the environment. The public sector programme is aimed at government agencies sharing their knowledge and experience. Antarctica New Zealand reported a 24% reduction in water consumption at Scott Base and Inland Revenue reported savings of $100,000 per annum through their energy monitoring programme. The Ministry of research, Science and Technology reported a 79% reduction in their waste sent to landfill.

The Carbon Neutral Public Service programme is designed to be useful for the private and non government sectors seeking to reduce their carbon footprints.

It was a huge achievement to have calculated the carbon footprint of the core public service, equivalent to 159,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2006/07.

Six agencies have a target of carbon neutrality by 2012 and are doing well. The government is developing an online database to provide guidance on the eco-labels and eco-standards that are in use in New Zealand.

An important part of sustainability includes managing our water resource.

The proportion of the population receiving drinking water that complies with guidelines has increased significantly, and pollution from point source discharges has decreased due to improved management.

The National Environmental Standard for Sources of Human Drinking Water has just come into force, and will contribute to keeping pollution out of our water supplies, rather than just relying on treatment at a later stage.

In the Exclusive Economic Zone, the EEZ, will encourage investment in sustainable offshore activities. rw doclink

Australia: Fears for Penguin Colony

April 22, 2008   Age

A penquin colony living in St Kilda will not get increased protection from the contaminants that will be disturbed this week by the channel deepening project, which includes a removal of the riverbed including an underground sewer owned by Melbourne Water.

With dredging in the contaminated parts of the Yarra River to begin, the environment group Earthcare at St Kilda has stepped-up calls for the Port of Melbourne and the Government to increase monitoring of the penguins.

Earthcare said that the sediments contain lead, mercury and DD. Planning Minister Madden recommended the St Kilda penguins be given extra protection. A Department of Sustainability and Environment spokeswoman said a monitoring program on penguins at Phillip Island was deemed sufficient, they will be monitored by weight, and other studies of the primary source of food for the penguins and that research showed that the St Kilda colony would not be adversely affected by dredging. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: same old thing: technology will fix it. But always overlooking that technology takes money and the money isn't always available.

Australia: Lighten the Load on the Planet

April 18, 2008   The Australian

The environment is the top topic for one in three Australians and represent the most challenging streams of discussion at this weekend's 2020 Summit. Of the nearly 10,000 submissions more than 1300 touch on the topics covered by the sustainability stream.

Many of the background notes focus on cities and urban design. Growth in single person households is increasing demand for power and water. The suburbs keep expanding new demands for fuel and new exhaust emissions. The triumph of the McMansions are raising our cities' energy demands.

Discussion of cities and talk about population go hand in hand. Our population has grown at 1.3% a year during the past 10 years, with Queensland and Western Australia growing much more rapidly.

Climate and water appear to be the core sustainability issues for 2020. The environment is viewed as the most important issue facing Australia now and in five years.

Australians believe the environment, the economy and then water are the three most important issues facing the country.

Drought and the water restrictions apply to almost 80% of Australian homes and have changed our attitudes to sustainability.

Rainfall has decreased around all big population centres. Sixteen of the past 18 years in Australia have been warmer than the long-term average.

Australians produce more carbon per capita than other Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development countries, with the exception of the US and Luxembourg. The Government's top adviser on climate change has warned of the price impact of an emissions trading scheme. What is required to increase clean energy production, increase energy efficiency and better manage demand? How do we encourage households to be involved in reducing emissions and waste? rw doclink

Australia: State of Environment Report Highlights Challenges Ahead

April 15, 2008   Media Newswire

A new report says that the potential impacts of climate change on Queensland's natural environment presents challenges for the biodiversity, lifestyle and economy.

The State Government has implemented several key policies to address these challenges.

But the environment is under increasing pressure from a rapidly growing population that is consuming more land, energy and water, generating more waste and impacting on the systems that support life.

Among the key findings are, the ecological footprint for the average Queenslander is nearly three and a half times higher than the world average; the state's average temperature increased by one degree Celsius between 1910 and 2006; in the five years to March 2007, nearly all of Queensland received below average or well below average rainfall; Queensland's air has become cleaner; cattle and sheep graze approximately 85% of the state's land; while crops account for only about 2%; fresh water habitats are under increasing pressure from drought, floods, climate change and Queensland's burgeoning population; agriculture is the major user of surface water using 67% of the total water; the Queensland Government bore capping program has saved 130,000 megalitres of water each year, the loss of remnant vegetation hasn't changed significantly since 2003; trawl fishers trailing by catch reduction devices have reported reductions greater than 20% in the eastern king prawn, tiger prawn and scallop fisheries; almost half the flora and fauna species living in Queensland aren't found anywhere else in the world; there are more native plants and animals living in Queensland than any other state of Australia; there has been a reduction in the number of presumed extinct flora species; there was a 26% decline from 1997 to 2005 in the koala population due to urban expansion; pest animals cost Queensland $110 million a year by preying on livestock, causing crop losses, competing for pasture and spreading disease; invasive weeds cost Queensland an estimated $600 million a year in lost primary production and control; public transport patronage in south-east Queensland increased by 9% in 2004-05 and 11% in 2005-06 and in 2004-05; Queenslanders generated 314 kg of domestic waste per capita, with only about 50 kg per capita recycled.

The Queensland Government had introduced initiatives to meet the challenge of climate change and to build resilience into the environment to cope with the range of activities associated with human habitation.

An important component is monitoring the state of the environment so that any deterioration can be rectified. rw doclink

Australia: Climate Change Likely to Dominate Debates

April 08, 2008   Age

This climate scenario is likely to hit Australia before the globe warms by between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees.

It's 2012. Energy costs have skyrocketed in the two years since businesses were forced to buy permits to emit greenhouse gas.

The poor pay about $600 extra a year for electricity, so goods are more expensive, especially food and transport. Water costs more as we develop ways, to increase its supply.

This is the picture former Victorian deputy premier John Thwaites will paint at the environment session at Kevin Rudd's 2020 Summit. "There needs to be some support that assists with higher energy and water bills. But the primary goal has to be to get them to reduce emissions through energy efficiency and housing being upgraded."

The climate debate it is likely to feature in half the summit sessions, including health, rural Australia and the economy.

The full title of the environment session is ambitious Population, Sustainability, Climate Change, Water and the Future of our Cities.

What impact will climate change have on our water supplies? Projections suggest that water demand will exceed sustainable supply by 2025.

There are also important issues including better planning for the predicted increase in extreme weather events. It is likely to require a program encouraging more volunteers and better preparing households. rw doclink

Australia: Do We Need a Population Policy?

April 04, 2008   Webdiary

Australia experienced an annual population growth rate of 1.5% for the year ending September 2007. The increase of 318,500 people saw Australia's population rise to 21,097,000. People are ready to grasp the argument that the unsustainable growth in population numbers is degrading our planet and that Australia must begin to think of itself as a country with a population problem. Any Australian population policy must recognise that the Australian economy is strongly inter-linked with the global economy.

We can feed 25 million people without irreparable damage to our resources. All population growth - or even stationary population - does something to change the environment. If Australia is to become purely pantheistic and turn its back on the achievements and arts of civilisation, we have much to lose. Population increases from immigration should, be limited to maintain social and political stability.

The cost of housing is soaring and rents are predicted to rise by 50% in the next four years. There are water restrictions on many of our major cities and our rivers are running dry, but still we keep the immigrants pouring in. If we are to meet our green house gas commitments we cannot keep on growing our population. It is high time we decided just what is the optimum population level for Australia. rw doclink

Australia: Biofuel Bill Should Not Proceed

April 03, 2008   Scoop.co.nz

Australian population grew 1.5% for the year ending September 2007. The increase saw Australia's population rise to 21,097,000. People grasp the argument that the unsustainable growth in population numbers is degrading our planet and that Australia must begin to think of itself as a country with a population problem. The human population on the Earth cannot continue to grow without destroying our life-support systems. The Australian economy is inter-linked with the global economy. We export to many other countries. It is by no means certain that controlling the Australian population will preserve our environment.

We can feed 25 million people without damage to our resources. All population growth, or even stationary population, does something to change the environment. If Australia is to turn its back on the achievements and arts of civilisation, we have much to lose. The shutting of the immigration gates would prevent enrichment of our society. Population increases from immigration should be limited to maintain stability. A large immigration from countries with different cultural backgrounds would risk divisiveness as seen in other countries.

The cost of housing is soaring and rents are predicted to rise by 50% in the next four years largely due to the large number of migrants coming to Australia. There are water restrictions on many of our major cities and our rivers are running dry, but still we keep the immigrants pouring in. If we are to meet our green house gas commitments we cannot keep on growing our population. rw doclink

Australian One Stop Sex Shop

April 02, 2008   Gold Coast Sun

Gold Coast Family Planning has called for a one-stop sex advice clinic where teenagers can get all the information. Youth services on the Gold Coast were lacking and there was concern about the fundamentalist church groups which spread messages of sexual abstinence.

Evidence shows that young people who know how to make choices are more likely to have sex in a safe way. While it may be ideal that you only have sex when you are married, but it's not a one size fits all situation. The ideal might initially stop young people having sex, but when they do become sexually active, they tend to have more sexual partners, and they are less likely to practice safe sex. There is need for a youth-friendly clinic, a one-stop shop where young people can get information about sexual and reproductive health, diet, body image, lifestyle and skin. In 2006, 262 Gold Coast women aged between 15 and 19 were mothers. Family Planning 's office has two full-time and two part-time staff to cater for the sex education needs of 61,000 under-20-year-olds. About 50% of unplanned pregnancies involved women under 25. rw doclink

Australia: Population Soaring Across Country

April 1, 2008   The Australian

Australia's population is racing ahead with growth of 1.5%, or a record 315,700 extra people, during 2006-07.

Growth is across all Australia except for parts of western NSW and western Queensland.

Growth is slightly stronger on the edges of capital cities, in the inner cities, and in seachange areas, particularly along the east coast.

The overall growth rate of 1.53% was up from 1.48% the previous year.

In terms of raw numbers, the extra 316,000 people in 2006-07 represents the biggest increase ever.

A breakdown of the growth shows there were 10,000 extra births (273,000, up from 263,000) and 31,000 extra people gained through migration (178,000, up from 147,000), there were also 1000 more deaths (135,000, up from 134,000).

Migration is high because of the skills shortage and the need to fill jobs to keep the mining boom going.

The Gold Coast and Brisbane remained the fastest-growing areas, with an extra 17,000 and an extra 16,000 people respectively, Brisbane local government area's population now exceeds a million.

After these, the big growth areas were on the edge of major cities, with Wanneroo, on the northern outskirts of Perth, and then Wyndham and Casey, on the outskirts of Melbourne, being fastest-growing.

Another high-growth group were the Tweed-Byron area of northern NSW and the "surf coast" area of Victoria around Torquay among the boom areas.

The population of Melbourne grew by an extra 62,000 people, while Sydney grew by only 51,000, well up on the 36,000 recorded previously.

Moree and Narrabri in NSW and Banana and Duaringa in Queensland had the biggest losses, but they amounted to a few hundred people.

In Tasmania, population growth of 0.7% was concentrated around Hobart, with Brighton, Sorrell and Latrobe being the fastest-growing municipalities.

South Australia's total growth of 16,000 was the highest recorded since 1974-75, with the inner city of Adelaide recording the fastest population growth in the state. rw doclink

Abortion as Uncommon as it was in Grandma's Day

March 20, 2008   AAP Newsfeed

Young Australian women are as unlikely to have an abortion as their grandmothers. Researchers credit increasing condom use and the nation's enthusiasm for having children. Less than 5% of women born in the 1980s have had an abortion, a drop from 14% 10 years ago.

The study involves about 4,500 women of all ages whose reproductive history was mapped over their lifetime.

Women born before 1945 had below 5%, but this increased rapidly with the legalization of abortion, the sexual revolution and the pill.

We've seen is a dramatic downturn for the latest group born between 1976 and 1990.

These women were past the 20 to 25 peak when women were most likely to abort.

The findings were linked to changing attitudes to safe sex.

Probably more significantly, the occurrence of HIV and AIDS has vastly increased condom use. The drop could be linked to the recent rise in the birth rate, seen mostly among older women. rw doclink

Australia: What Kind of Future Will Our Kids Inherit?

March 11, 2008   Sunshine Coast Daily

Respondents to the Sunshine Coast Daily's recent survey expressed concern about the rate of growth and the impact on their quality of life.

A study pointing out the appropriate population distribution for Australia, including impacts of climate change and peak oil, must now become a priority.

There is no escaping the limits of the world's resources. The laws of physics trump the laws of economics every time.

Global demands on natural systems exceeded their sustainable yield by an estimated 25%.

With some exceptions, policy makers have allowed sustainability to be an environmental issue away economic development.

Yet we have drawn upon the Earth's non-renewable resources as if they were limitless, and create an economy that demands cheap energy to sustain the movement of food and goods and water and people in ever greater numbers.

Queensland government Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation Andrew McNamara called for the building of a new economy powered by renewable energy, backed by a transport system, and that uses and re-uses everything.

And he warned of the dangers of exponential population growth. "The rampaging monster loose upon the land is over-population. In its presence, sustainability is but a fragile theoretical construct."

Let's throw away the notion that Australia is an empty space waiting to be filled up. Our rivers, our soils, our vegetation won't allow that to happen without an enormous cost to those who come after us.

The conservation of soil, forests, stream flows and natural biological is one of the most important and urgent tasks which faces us today. rw doclink

Australia: Survey Unveils Coast Future No-One Wants

March 01, 2008   Sunshine Coast Daily

This year, the Sunshine Coast Daily, Seven Local News, Thedaily.com.au and the University of the Sunshine Coast joined forces to present a survey to guage what matters to you on the eve of a new era for our region. The Your Coast Your Say Survey attracted 1582 entries and three clear messages emerged. * We do not want high rises. * We do not want to be another Gold Coast. * We don't want our environment and lifestyle ruined by overpopulation.

The biggest the question was whether population growth was a concern, to which 77% said yes and only 13% answered no.

The Sunshine Coast's influential players met to discuss the formation of a committee for the Sunshine Coast.

The bipartisan committee consisting of members from community groups, business and development sectors and environmental agencies, would develop innovative and practical ideas. The state predicts an extra 180,000 people will move here in the next 20 years. The South-East Queensland Plan has allocated $13.2 billion to Sunshine Coast projects.

The plan includes 11 new schools for $437 million, the Kawana hospital at $940 million, the $1.7 billion Traveston Crossing Dam and $564 million Northern Pipeline Interconnector.

The government is planning a multi-modal transport corridor to cope with growth. Each council has drafted a Strategy to cater for proposed growth, but have not been signed off at a state level.

Caloundra's LGMS predicts the population will grow by another 70,000 people in the next 20 years. Maroochy's LGMS projects 53,000 new homes.

Only one in five think these plans will contribute to a better Sunshine Coast by 2020.

Look at the Gold Coast and you look at the Sunshine Coast and we're 10 years behind. To stop that from happening, maybe the new regional council might be able to have a whole of region approach, where some of the good things that have happened up in Noosa can be applied around the region.

Dr White believes public transport will be the major issue in the near future.

Public transport needs to be improved dramatically, and certainly that is on the cards, but we're spending huge amounts of money to make it easier for people to drive cars. It would be good to see light rail across the Coast, tram systems and buses that run on gas rather than diesel.

Only 20% chose public transport as their preferred mode of transport for the future. Recycled water is the most preferred option to address the coming water crisis, whereas, the Traveston Dam has lost support since last year's survey from 12% approval to 8%.

In last year's survey, the biggest crime concern was drink-driving. This year, 67% were listed street violence as the most significant problem. Daylight saving gained more support with 61% for it, compared to less than half last year. rw doclink

Australia: Let's Get Serious About Public Transport

February 27, 2008   Age

There is a solid economic reason for public transport: the rail backbone of Melbourne's public transport system is critical to the survival of Melbourne as an economic entity.

In cities without public transport, three times as much space must be made available for car parking as is required by office and retail workers. US experience suggests that when an all-car city grows beyond a population of about 400,000, it chokes on car traffic. If we converted Melbourne to an unplanned, all-car city, at least two-thirds of its value would be destroyed: the loss of rental income in the Central Business District (CBD) would be greater than the entire operating cost of the public transport system.

Every worker who uses public transport frees up sufficient car parking space to provide office accommodation for three further workers and doubles the value of the land converted from parking to production.

This has led American cities such as Dallas and Los Angeles to invest heavily in both light and heavy rail projects, reversing the urban blight that turned large areas into car parks.

This same logic causes Melbourne's planners to concentrate on increasing the speed and efficiency of the radial train network. By making long-distance commuting cheaper, the CBD and St Kilda Road can draw on a larger pool of workers, while shortening travel times will make commuting to the city attractive to workers who might otherwise take suburban jobs. rw doclink

Fiji: Fund Defends Condom Use

February 11, 2008   Fiji Times (Australia)

A UNFPA representative for the Pacificsaid it was the mandate of their organisation to promote the right of everyone to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity.

Women and men have the right to plan the size of their family and family planning helps them do this.

He said when used correctly and consistently condoms could be a contraception that protects against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV.

An increase in condom usage should be encouraged to prevent unplanned pregnancies, HIV and STIs. It was something council members would reconsider in their province because of a decline in the number of children attending their schools.

There were 15 schools in the province and the number of children attending had dropped implicating the decrease in the number of births.

To increase fertility they would ban yaqona for the latter two weeks of every month as married men and women were spending too much time consuming it and going straight to sleep, and also discourage the use of condoms.

Ministry of Health Director Dr Timaima Tuiketei said the prevalence of the use of contraceptives in the Lomaiviti sub division had increased from 2004-2006 but there was no specific connection to link yaqona with family planning. rw doclink

New Zealand: Clean and Green? Well, Yes and No

February 01, 2008   The Nelson Mail

Clean and green isn't the full story, as a new report issued by the Ministry for the Environment on Thursday points out. Environment New Zealand 2007 comes a decade after the first report on the state of the environment. To be produced every five years, it is a measuring tool that will help in decision-making as New Zealand moves towards sustainability. It shows that there is no room for complacency if clean and green is going to be permanently secured. New Zealand is a long way from losing its claim to a special environmental image, and progress has been made in greater use of public transport, protection for some land and waters, better pest management, improvements to waste management and a higher level of recycling.

Since 1995 the amount of solid waste disposed of at landfills has fallen from 3.18 to 3.16 million tonnes, but converted to tonnes of waste per thousand dollars of GDP, there has been a 26% drop. The number of landfills has fallen from 327 to 60, most with better environmental controls. The report notes that part of the cause is the introduction of user charges to dispose of waste.

Greenhouse gas emissions are up 25% since 1990, partly due to a growing population and economy but the emissions represent less than 1% of the global total; New Zealand is 12th per head of population.

There has been a 39% increase in total household consumption expenditure between 1997 and 2006, compared with a population increase of around 11%. About 61% of vehicles are more than 10 years old in 2006, 4% higher than in 2001.

Poor air quality, mostly from particulates from wood and coal burned for home heating, affects 53% of New Zealanders. The expanding dairy herd went up 24% to 5.22 million cows between 1996 and 2006 and has brought a reduction in fresh water quality, affected soil health and increased some greenhouse gas emissions.

There is no room for complacency if New Zealand is to continue to profit from primary production and tourism and, more importantly to protect for future generations what has for so long been taken for granted. Staying clean and green will require effort and change. rw doclink

New Zealand: Environment Report: Key Findings

January 31, 2008   TVNZ

The report, Environment New Zealand 2007, provides the basis for future action on the environment.

It confirms New Zealand has an enviable environment compared to many countries, but is facing environmental pressures and some trends are going in the wrong direction.

Consumption of goods and services by New Zealand households has grown with the "ecological footprint".

On average, New Zealanders own more older and larger cars, and we are driving them further. Use of public transport is increasing.

An increasing proportion of our energy comes from fossil fuels but it is not increasing as fast as our economy is growing. Households are the largest users of energy.

Waste management has improved through better controls on landfills. We have reduced the amount of waste we throw away, but potentially useful materials continue to be disposed of in landfills.

About 30 locations can experience poor air quality, affecting about 53% of the population. Particulates from home heating or road transport appear to be falling in the main centres. Other air pollutants appear to have improved or stabilised.

Since 1990, greenhouse gas emissions have increased, but emissions removed from the atmosphere by forestry have increased as exotic forest cover has increased, although rates of new planting are the lowest in many decades and replanting rates have tailed off.

Ozone levels have stabilised and the levels of ultraviolet radiation have dropped over recent years.

The area in dairy pasture and the national dairy herd have both increased, leading to increases in fertiliser, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Horticultural and agricultural soils are generally in poorer condition than soils under other land uses. Demand for water is increasing, particularly in drier parts of the country, where surface waters already have high levels of water allocated for use.

Water quality is poorest in rivers, streams and lakes in urban areas, followed by farmed areas. Levels of nutrients have increased in our rivers. Pollution from a single facility at a known location, have decreased.

Fishing activity has reduced as the allowable catch for some species has reduced. Fifteen percent have been overfished and are now recovering.

Bacterial levels at monitored beaches appear to be improving.

A high proportion of New Zealand's land and sea is protected for conservation purposes. The seven monitored native bird and plant species have all decreased in range since the 1970s. Many other native species remain threatened.

The key pressures on our environment are growing as our population increases, our economy grows and evolves, and our lifestyles change.

Some pressures appear to be reducing or are being avoided because of increased rates of recycling, better pest management and an increase in areas of protected land.

Some aspects of the environment appear to be getting worse over time or have been over-exploited.

Some aspects appear to be improving. rw doclink

Report Calls for Everyone to Take Action

January 31, 2008   Scoop.co.nz

Achieving a sustainable New Zealand "is the responsibility of all New Zealanders," President Basil Morrison said today. Councils already have strategies to improve environmental indicators. However, reversing the downward trends cannot be solved by local government alone. Councils have to establish ongoing partnerships with central government, industry and community groups and take the lead in deciding how to balance community well-being with economic realities. The rate of consumption of goods and services by New Zealand households continues to grow as our population increases and our economy grows.

Households make a bigger impact than people realise but we can turn this around by making wise choices about what we consume, and in the case of waste, how we dispose of it.

Local Governments in New Zealand have been working to address household waste and consumption through recycling and the Packaging Accord, which aims to reduce the proportion of packaging in our total waste. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: no mention in the article of the need to slow down population growth.

Australia: Unplanned Pregnancy Study Sparks Call for Safe-Sex Campaign

January 30, 2008   Age

About 60% of Australian women who have unplanned pregnancies are using the contraceptive pill or condoms.

More than half do not worry about sexually transmitted infections. Almost a third of accidental pregnancies end in abortion.

Women's groups have called on the Government to fund national education programs on using contraception effectively.

One in 10 women is uncomfortable asking her partner to wear a condom.

Cases of sexually transmitted infections have risen from 17,000 in 2000 to 50,000 last year.

About 63% of accidental pregnancies were among those under 24. In countries with good education programs their unplanned pregnancy rate and STI rate is much lower. But there's no contraception that's 100% effective."

The pill is often ineffective if taken at the wrong time or used while women were on antibiotics. A survey of more than 2000 women found 51% have experienced an unplanned pregnancy. One in five were using more than one method of contraception when she conceived, while 17% believed they were infertile or would not get pregnant.

Of those with accidental pregnancies nearly half went on to have the baby, under a third opted for abortion.

About 80% of women who had an unplanned pregnancy had not sought emergency contraception.

Education campaigns should also focus on men's responsibilities, and on access to support for women in rural areas.

The Government will work to ensure provision of sexual health services.

60% of women with unplanned pregnancies were using contraception

21% were using more than one method of contraception

63% were under 24

10% felt uncomfortable asking man to wear condom

80% did not seek emergency contraception

17% believed they were infertile

49% went on to have the baby

31% had an abortion

18% miscarried

2% adopted out rw doclink

Australia: Focus on Coast's Future

January 13, 2008   Sunshine Coast Daily

The Sunshine Coast is booming with new residents. The state government has decreed that growth is good. What is the Coast's carrying capacity, can growth be slowed?

Maroochy mayor Joe Natoli suggested future growth levels were already locked in and any attempt to rein in development would result in the super council being sued into oblivion.

All the candidates profess to be in favour of sustainable development but it is clear the term means different things.

Mr Green said "When you allow exponential growth without the infrastructure to support it, the cost to retrofit that infrastructure becomes astronomical. If growth is planned for infrastructure can be provided through development levies, state government contributions and the community. But if you do it later, the community ends up carrying the bag.

Mr Christesen said at the moment some candidates would be happy to see the growth patterns of the past continue and this decision about population size has really not had the level of community debate it deserves. There is a myth about growth that it brings greater prosperity but it is generally a negative financial impost and exponential growth doesn't lend itself to smart investment," he said. rw doclink

As Australian Agriculture Adjusts To Economic, Climate Changes, Is Its Future In Jeopardy?

December 28, 2007   CattleNetwork.com

In the mid-90s, a two-year drought triggered more than $630 million (AUS) in federal farm support. With the current drought, spanning five growing seasons, the Australian government has spent $2.4 billion on relief measures. Some analysts are projecting a decline in that country's agricultural productivity.

Climate change is a driver in the downsizing of the farm sectors, although shrinking rural populations, global competition for commodity crop market share and perhaps most importantly, land-use issues. But there is no underestimating the impact of sustained drought which is linked to global warming. Since 2002 Annual grain harvest harvests have dropped from 37 million metric tons (MT) to less than 25 million MT

The national sheep herd has declined by 21%

Cattle have dropped from 27.7 million to 25.4 million

Milk production has fallen from 1.4 billion liters to 9.23 billion liters

Wool production has dropped from 645,000 MT to less than 438,000 MT

The decline has been dramatic when coupled with a surge in the financial fortunes of much of Australia's interior and western regions due to China's demand for coal and metals. Some are projecting that farming would become a mere afterthought in the 21st century.

On the measures of population and national income, farming matters less to Australia's make-up today than truck driving. It's hard to argue with the numbers. More than 50,000 ag-related jobs have been lost in the last decade and the total workforce of 360,000 people in ag, forestry and fishing sectors is now less than 3.5% of the nation's workforce from more than 5.2% in 1997.

Prime Minister Rudd was cautioning that big challenges lay ahead for the Australian farm economy.

Adapting to climate change is about tackling a major economic and agricultural reform necessary to underpin the future of Australia's food supply.

Drought is crippling our regional and rural communities, crops are failing. Feed-grain and water prices are rising. Farm debt is higher than at any other point in history and there are warnings about the impact of declining food exports and rising food prices on the Australian and global economies.

It is clear that agriculture was not at the top of the new government's "To-Do" list. Among Labor's top priorities were educational reform, action on climate change, new measures for national security, economic reforms in non-farm sectors to benefit workers and new national health-care reforms.

Even the climate change initiatives centered mostly on funding “green" power sources, implementing “clean coal" technology and increasing the country's investment in solar power generation.

Typical of the lobbying was the Victoria Farmers Federation, which called for “continued development of the Australian farm industry" and demanded increased spending to fund a review of the nation's quarantine system. New climate change initiatives; and upgrading Australia's irrigation and transport.

The New South Wales Farmers Association launched an effort to secure aid for farmers in eastern and central Australia who have been forced out by drought.

A brief “state of the industry" review reveals the impact of four consecutive seasons of below-average rainfall on the country's key ag sectors. The 2008 forecast is 5.9 million MT, down from 8.3 million MT in 2002. Australian feed and malting barley prices are forecast to remain high as a result of EU deficiencies and increased world demand.

» Grain production has dropped the 2008 sorghum forecast is 1.92 million MT, versus 2.12 MT in 2002, and the 2008 oats forecast is 10.3 million MT, versus 14.32 million MT in 2002.

Wheat estimates are for 15.5 million MT. Growers who find themselves with positions above what they will eventually deliver are exiting, which in turn is pushing prices up further.

The outlook Australian lamb industry remains reliant on an improvement in seasonal conditions. The drought has had a significant impact on the nation's sheep flock, with sheep slaughterings increasing by 12% in 2006 and 2007. Lamb numbers are down by 9%.

Dry seasons have caused reluctance among growers to sow canola.

The federal government has pledged more than $714 million (AUS) to help stricken farmers.

More than a century ago, Australia's Surveyor General, drew a line across the map dividing the country's southern region into farming lands, or grazing lands. But climate change, some say, has shifted the line south, and the region where much of the country's produce, wine grapes and cereal crops are now produced may no longer have a future in farming.

More than 40% of the farmers in South Australia receive government assistance. Many rural towns and regions have lost as much as 90% of their former farm populations.

For many farm families, seeking greener pastures has meant moving away to take jobs in cities and the mining industries farther north. rw doclink

Population and Development Curriculum Kit: a Resource Kit for Secondary School Students and Teachers

December 24, 2007   Australian Reproductive Health Alliance (ARHA)

The Population and Development Curriculum Kit is for secondary school students and teachers to learn about issues of population, development, the environment and gender equity. The Australian Reproductive Health Alliance (ARHA) is an NGO whose major function is to monitor the Australian Gov's response to the Cairo Plan of Action,. The core of ARHA's mission is to promote support for enhancement of the status of women and reproductive health rights. ARHA is also committed to provide education on issues related to sustainable development, population and the environment. ARHA has run youth conferences that are seminars which involve groups of students from several schools. Topics discussed include sustainable development, global population, HIV/AIDS, reproductive rights, gender equity and the environment. This is intended to complement youth conferences by providing ideas and resources for teachers and students. Website amd other contacts have been provided so people using the kit can continue to update the information. rw doclink

Australians Concerned with Population

November 22, 2007   Doctors for the Environment Australia

Mr. Beattie said Australia's ageing population of 21 million was too small to meet future needs. The credentials of the Queensland government to make any statement on this issue are very poor. It has failed to plan for the large numbers of Australians attracted to SE Queensland when climate change data suggested that they could not be sustained. In South Australia there are targets for a large increase in population in the face of continuing water shortage. Governments worry about the increasing numbers of elderly Australians and reason that we need more young people to pay for them. How naive, population growth in perpetuity!

No-one likes to talk about it, but population is the common denominator of climate change. Climate change cannot be arrested with an expanding population. 2 billion airline journeys each year are the fastest increasing cause of green house emissions, but the world's population creates 4 times as much carbon dioxide each year as the airlines. Add energy usage and consumption and even if the world managed to achieve a 52% cut in its 1990 emission levels it would be cancelled out by population growth. The most effective global climate change strategy is to limit the size of the population.

Now Mr. Beattie wants skilled immigrants. We support necessary immigration of refugees but not immigration that purloins skilled workers from developing countries.

Procreation is a sensitive issue. This is why it's not on the climate change agenda. But liberty is a matter of degree and in this crisis there is no right to a liberty that affects the future of the entire community. Perhaps the ultimate deterrent to procreation is whether you want to create offspring to compete for space when everywhere else is uninhabitable. rw doclink

Australia: It's Hard Being Green and Lean

November 20, 2007   Sydney Morning Herald

Saving the planet is not cheap. It's easy to spend thousands of dollars minimising your carbon footprint giving you the warm feeling that you are doing the right thing.

The average household won't have trouble insulating their homes, and switching to renewable energy sources. But people on low incomes can't take advantage of government grants, because the capital expenditure is still beyond their capacity.

Upgrading to more energy-efficient appliances presents the same problem. Low-income households can't afford to change to more energy-efficient vehicles. Access to public transport is also a problem.

In the outer suburbs of Melbourne, 90% of the population is not within walking distance of public transport after 7 on any night of the week. Australian cities are organised so the poorest live in the outer suburbs, where public transport is also the poorest.

Wealthier people could afford to live in the inner suburbs which were close to work and serviced by good public transport.

Modelling showed that if carbon is priced at $50 a tonne, then that will cost poor households an extra $1316 a year to carry out the same level of spending. In contrast, the expenditure of high-income households will only increase by 0.7% by paying an extra $2891 a year.

Low-income households have smaller carbon footprints than high income households, but carbon prices will cost poorer people proportionately more and increase the pool of disadvantaged people.

15% of Australian families are living under the poverty line, (of about $512 a week income for 2 adults and 2 children). It was argued that a national fund is required to assist low-income and other disadvantaged people to manage climate change and policy responses to it.

Community service providers were trained to identify people who use more energy and water, due to a lack of awareness, then shown simple ways to help reduce their energy and water bills.

The Phoenix Fridges project involves collecting inefficient fridges, repairing them to improve energy efficiency, then reselling them at affordable prices to people on low incomes.

Many of the rebate schemes aren't available to people who rent. We need to find ways to support this group. rw doclink

New Zealand Battles Climate Change Threat to Trade, Tourism

November 07, 2007   AFP: Google

New Zealand ,with a population of only 4.1 million and few industrial smokestacks, is facing accusations that its food and tourism industries are helping destroy the environment.

Dragging our feet on climate change would pose an economic risk to New Zealand, devastating to our reputation.

The impact of greenhouse gases from transport, especially aviation, means New Zealand's environmental credentials are coming under new scrutiny.

Environmentally-conscious tourists are being asked if they can justify flying 20,000 kilometres for a holiday on the opposite side of the world.

They are also being asked why they are eating lamb, beef and butter from New Zealand when they could be buying from local farmers.

Tourism is New Zealand's single largest export, providing one in 10 jobs and 8.9% of GDP.

Of New Zealand's 2.42 million visitors last year, 54% were from Europe, the Americas and Asia. Aircraft emissions account for around 3% of global emissions, but have increased 87% since 1990.

Tourism New Zealand said there has been no impact on long haul visitor arrivals that we can attribute to concerns over sustainability. But it is a situation we are watching closely.

A former British cabinet minister claimed that a kilogram of kiwi fruit airfreighted from New Zealand to Europe caused five kilograms of carbon to be released. The New Zealand government said that kiwifruit is always transported by ship. Of New Zealand's exports in the year to June totalling 33.4 billion dollars, the US accounted for 4.5 billion and the EU 5.2 billion. Dairy products account for 21% of New Zealand's exports and meat 13.2%. Critics in Britain and Germany in particular have been saying it is irresponsible to import food and drinks from the other side of the world.

Trade minister Phil Goff said foreign consumers would realise the flaws of the argument and focus instead on the total carbon footprint of foods.

British dairy farmers produce 31% more greenhouse gases than their counterparts in New Zealand, including the impact of transport.

New Zealand's climate means cattle eat grass all year round. Those running the food miles campaigns often represent producers which have a far greater greenhouse gas footprint than do the products they are complaining about from New Zealand. New Zealand will gradually introduce an emissions trading scheme.

The tourism industry has a new strategy focussed on environmental sustainability. Air New Zealand announced it would trial bio-fuel in association with engine maker Rolls Royce and Boeing. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: One of the things that we must do to compensate from overpopulation is to produce nearly all of our food locally.

Australia;: Condom Alarm for Under-aged Teenagers

November 06, 2007   Australian Associated Press

Hundreds of school students have received free condoms as part of a new texting service. Students who send an SMS to the number will receive two free condoms in a plain envelope. News Limited says children as young as 12 could access the condoms because the age is not needed on the SMS offer.

The promoter Marie Stopes International health organisation admits there's no age limit. But the company's chief executive says providing free condoms is not alarming because under-age teenagers can already get them at health centres. Angry parents say it encourages under-age sex.

After a week the company says it's received 400 messages adding it aims to reduce sexually transmitted infections.

The Australian Family Association says the promotion encourages children to have sex.

Parents say teenagers should be talking to and getting advice from their parents. rw doclink

New Zealand: David Parker : Developing Sustainable Societies

October 30, 2007   Scoop.co.nz

Although New Zealand has a reputation for pristine wilderness areas, we know that we are going to have to work hard to keep our waterways and skies clean. The New Zealand government has placed sustainability high on the political agenda and is implementing a long term sustainable strategies for economy, society, environment, culture and way of life.

Residential areas are becoming more densely developed with less private open space. High quality land information ensures confidence and certainty in a property rights system.

We need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and one way that we can do this is by moving to clean, renewable sources of energy. Wind farms offer a clean source of energy but there is need for accurate definition of property rights. After building the turbines for a wind farm, the remainder of the land can continue to be used for agricultural purposes. But there will be a need for rights of access to the turbines. New rural and urban land developments need to address land use, public and private property rights and the environmental challenges. New Zealand is a world leader in using technology in survey systems. The move to 100 percent electronic surveys is a first for any country in the world. New Zealand-trained survey students are held in high esteem overseas. rw doclink

Australia's Mining Future is Limited

October 26, 2007   ABC Online

Dr Gavin Mudd of Monash University says that while demand for Australia's minerals is going up, the quality of ore is going down. The mining industry is not sustainable in the long-term, and the problem is international.

At the standard of living in Australia, the amount of steel that is consumed, per person - or the amount of copper -and if we extrapolate those same standards across the whole of the global population, that's a challenge for sustainability of the world's mineral resources. Fifty years into the future, with everyone in the world at the same standard of living, there won't be any mineral resources left.

We know that ore grades will decline, and that has important implications in terms of the amount of rock to dig up, and to dig up more rock means more energy, more CO2 emissions and so on.

The mining industry has moved to improve its environmental management. The nature of rehabilitation bonding can be improved, and that way the liability and the risks and so on are not just borne by government if the company goes bankrupt.

If we extrapolate 100 years into the future it's hard to believe that we'd actually have anywhere near the same scale of the iron ore industry that we do now. rw doclink

Indonesia Says More Money Needed to Stop Deforestation

September 08, 2007   ABC Online

The Federal Government has nominated climate change as a top focus of the APEC summit. But one of the key climate change initiatives is under fire from the very country which benefits from it, Indonesia.

Indonesia is accused of being the world's third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases because of the fires across its deforested peat lands.

Jakarta regularly makes it into the top 10 lists of the world's most polluted cities. The annual fires in Kalimantan's deforested peat lands are to blame for that.

Indonesia's greenhouse gas emissions are behind only the US and China because of the tracts of deforested land where carbon-rich peat decays and catches fire every year.

It is a problem in search of a solution and Indonesia welcomed Australia's $200 million initiative which is aimed fighting climate change by preserving the world's forests.

$10 million of that money was committed to developing forest protection projects in Indonesia.

But Indonesia's Environment Minister, is questioning what in reality the scheme can achieve.

$200 million divided into so many areas over five years does not give a lot of forest aid and he would like Australia to contribute more.

Programs like the Australian initiative are challenged by the reality that the forests are worth more dead than alive. Timber and palm oil profits are greater and easier to grasp than sustainability.

With Indonesia's population of 230 million expected to grow by another 100 million in the next 30 years, Indonesia needs good reasons not to clear land. And local people need economic reasons to keep the forests standing.

Why is Australia not bold to get the technology of Australia transferred to the developing country? Indonesia wants access to the world's multi-billion dollar carbon credit market not just by planting trees but by keeping them. rw doclink

Abortion in the Philippines: a National Secret

September 05, 2007   Reuters

Backstreet abortions may become more common as a US aid program plans to stop distributing contraceptives in the Philippines in 2008. This will leave birth control under the influence of Catholic bishops who advocate unreliable natural birth control. Most women who seek abortions are married with several children and too poor to afford another baby.

The procedure, which can involve pounding the lower abdomen to trigger a miscarriage, is called a massage.

One woman refused to let her husband take her to the hospital because of the shame of what she had done and they couldn't afford the medical bills.

Before her abortion, she had no access to artificial family planning. If she had, she says she wouldn't have become pregnant.

Under President Gloria Arroyo, a devout Catholic who relies on the support of politically powerful bishops, the government promotes natural family planning methods such as abstinence when the woman is ovulating.

Poor people rely largely on USAID, the main supplier of contraceptives in the country for the past 30 years.

But USAID has started phasing out to end the donation programme in 2008, in line with Manila's goal of self-reliance in family planning.

The government's reluctance to take up where USAID leaves off will push up the country's rate of abortions, which is twice as high as in western Europe, where terminations are legal.

The natural family planning method is a good effective option, said the executive secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life.

Over half of women who have had an abortion in the Philippines were not using any family planning and of those that were, three-quarters were using natural methods. Both methods have high failure rates.

The population, of 89 million, is expected to swell to 142 million by 2040 and is straining the country's infrastructure and choking efforts to cut poverty.

Women who abort in the Philippines risk a prison sentence of up to six years; anyone assisting faces a similar sentence.

Only one in four women have a surgical procedure. The 4,000-15,000 peso cost is beyond the pockets of most women.

Over 30% ingest either cytotec, an anti-ulcer treatment they can buy in pharmacies, or herbal concoctions. Around 20% take hormonal drugs, or other medications and alcohol. Some starve themselves or fling themselves down stairs. Among poor women seeking abortions, over 20% get massages from hilots or insert catheters in their vaginas.

A lack of information about artificial contraception and myths about their side-effects was putting some poor people off using them.

Ignorance and rumours, sometimes spread by pro-life groups and members of the clergy, have led some Filipinos to believe that the contraceptive pill is made from placenta and the tablets cause cancer.

Abortion is rarely discussed in the Philippines, but nearly 80,000 women are treated in hospitals every year for complications from induced abortion.

At least 800 women are estimated to die every year from complications. rw doclink

Philippines;: Manila Promotes Natural Family Planning

August 14, 2007   Asia News

The government of the Philippines has decided to follow the Catholic Church and promote natural family planning (NFP) methods. The plan is part of the Family Planning Month launched by the Commission on Population. Its objectives are promoting responsible parenting in couples and encouraging men to be responsible partners. The Commission wants to educate at least 4.2 million couples nationwide between 2007 and 2010. Responsible parenting classes are expected to mobilise a critical mass of parents. Rural barangay (village) health workers will recruit married couples to join responsible parenting classes.

The regional director of the Commission said that whilst people are familiar with the use of condoms, vasectomy and tubal ligation, they are not much aware of natural family planning methods.

For years the Filipino government has tried to reduce population growth. On occasions this has led to conflict with the Catholic Church. This time state and Church are on the same side. Mgr Pedro C. Quitorio III, spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, said that the "Church welcomed" the government's effort. rw doclink

Philippines Shifts Campaign to Natural Family Planning

August 09, 2007   Sun Star

The Population Commission (Popcom) has shifted to natural family planning after the US stopped the supply of contraceptives. Popcom supported by several NGO's had campaigned for scientific approaches to family planning. These contraceptives were given to us by USAID, but now purchased by the users, unless the Government will shoulder the cost. The regional office of the Commission on Population now gives emphasis on the Natural Family Planning (NFP) methods and organizing Responsible Parenting Movement (RPM) up to the barangay level.

With the shift of the campaign to natural family planning, it does not follow that they will also abandon the scientific method.

The shift was due to the fact that most of those who are adopting the family planning and reproductive health approach were coming from the poorest sectors and, with the pull out of the USAID, could not afford to buy one.

Popcom's emphasis on natural family planning methods will have the Roman Catholic Church as an ally. rw doclink

Australia;: Whales Steer Wide Berth

July 11, 2007   Age

Southern right whales have slowly returned to the waters off Warrnambool, where they were once hunted to the verge of extinction.

However, this year there are none, sparking fears that Santos oil and gas exploration may have caused them to avoid the area.

Santos has been conducting seismic testing off the Warrnambool coast during May and June.

Northern hemisphere research showed they avoided seismic testing activity by 25 kilometres.

The impact of noise on whales is a big unknown. There have been five sub-adult southern right whales sighted this month at Portland, 100 kilometres further west.

But Santos spokeswoman said seismic work was immediately shut down if any whales were seen nearby and there was no proof that seismic testing affected the whales.

Bowhead whales off Alaska showed strong avoidance of seismic pulses. But the Australian Petroleum Association found that seismic testing had no significant impact.

No research has been done on the impact on southern rights and the hearing range of whales varies by species. rw doclink

Fiji;: Plan for the Future Now

July 01, 2007   Fiji Times

This year, the UNFPA report features stories of young people in cities around the world and presents the challenges of urbanisation through the eyes of young people.

It reflects a growing proportion of people living in urban areas as a result of rural to urban migration.

Assifi: The situation in Fiji is not bad, however, there is a need to deal with squatter areas and provide them with access to health, education and security services as well as employment. The focus should be on youth, migrants and women with regards to employment, training, gender issues and empowerment.

The potential benefits of urbanisation far outweigh the disadvantages and can potentially help solve some of the world's most serious challenges in the 21st Century. Urbanisation is essential for economic growth, reduction of poverty, reduction of population growth and long-term sustainability. Few cities generate enough jobs for the people who seek them. Most urban growth is the result of natural increase rather than migration.

In South Tarawa, for example, those living with families are distant relatives. They are more likely to fall into poverty; a minority in such as prostitution, theft, drugs, unsafe sex, including HIV and having families when they are not ready and struggling to make ends meet.

One of the causes of the urban drift is the economic gap between rural areas and towns. This requires serious consideration on the part of policy makers.

UN agencies, together with the peoples and the governments of the Pacific island states is working to ensure that the peoples of the Pacific have access to water, adequate health care, education, housing, jobs, water, etc. UNFPA's assistance in Fiji and the Pacific focuses on promoting the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. Looking at graphic scenarios for the future makes it clear that these are only the tip of the iceberg. We have to find new ways of dealing with future urban growth and we have to do it quickly. In Fiji, many families have left their villages for squatter settlements in urban areas in search of employment. We must ensure young people are prepared to enter the labour market, stay healthy and postpone marriage and childbearing. rw doclink

Australia;: Search for Coast Site Begins

June 19, 2007   Age

The search is for land to build Victoria's $3.1 billion desalination plant. A 20-hectare site on the Bass Coast is needed for what will be one of the world's biggest desalination plants.

The project is to boost drinking water supplies to Melbourne, Geelong, Western Port and Wonthaggi by 150 billion litres a year by 2011.

Obstacles include environmental concerns and mounting pressure in the Bass Coast Shire.

But the plant will provide water supplies for the drought-stricken region, including Phillip Island, where storages are down to 7%.

In 2003, Bass Coast was regional Victoria's fastest-growing municipality. The permanent population of 30,000 is expected to double in 30 years.

Staff had started approaching landowners about sites. Under acquisition laws, people can be forced to sell their properties.

A letter was circulated in Wonthaggi after the proposal to pump a third of Melbourne's water from the ocean was made public.

The impact of a desalination plant on the coastal landscape could be an issue. South Gippsland Conservation Society expressed concern about the project impact. Melbourne Water's own feasibility study also highlighted water quality risks because of the plant's proximity to Wonthaggi's sewage treatment outfall, and economic risks from past coal mining activity that could restrict tunnelling and construction.

Noise and vibration would have to be managed with large buffer zones around the plant. The plan won support from the Australian Industry Group and the Property Council.

Environment in Victoria was also upbeat. "There are potential benefits from desalination. It can take pressure off our stressed rivers during drought."

But international conservation group WWF released a report condemning reliance on desalination because of its high energy use and possible risk to marine life.

The proposal includes an 85-kilometre pipeline to pump water into Melbourne's Cardinia Reservoir.

The feasibility study estimated the carbon dioxide emissions from the plant would be 1 million tonnes a year if it was powered by coal, but the Government promised to add 90 megawatts of renewable energy to Victoria's grid equal to the plant's power needs. rw doclink

Ralph says: A perfect example of how the ever growing population exceeds nature's resources.

Australia;: Our Pollution Shame

May 22, 2007   The Courier-Mail

Per capita emissions in Australia in 2004 were 4.5 times the global average and just below the US.

Carbon dioxide emissions are the main driver of climate change and have accelerated at faster than expected. Nearly eight billion tonnes were emitted globally in 2005, against six billion tonnes in 1995.

Whales, dolphins and porpoises are threatened by rising sea temperatures. The loss of icy polar habitats and the decline of krill populations have become critical.

Fossil fuel use had become less efficient and the problem was exacerbated by increasing population.

The US and Europe accounted for more than 50% of total accumulated global emissions for 200 years. In the past 25 years, the average growth rate of Australian emissions was about twice that of the US and Japan and five times that of Europe.

Australia was determined to meet Kyoto targets, even though the nation had not signed up to the agreement.

The Government would soon start a $4.1 million advertising campaign promoting energy efficiency.

Monash Sustainability Institute interim director said the response to climate change here and overseas was arrogant, and "there is no sign that the world is turning around the growth of carbon dioxide emissions". rw doclink

Aussie Cities Facing Big Dry Water Shortages

May 02, 2007   The Peninsula

Australia faces the most extreme climate change as millions of city dwellers try to cope with water shortages. The government has declared that farmers will receive no irrigation water from July in Australia's most fertile region if the country's drought continues. Water restrictions have been imposed across the continent and scientist Tim Flannery says the problem will only get worse. Brisbane and Adelaide would run out of water by the year's end unless the so-called "Big Dry" ended. It is the most extreme and dangerous situation arising from climate change facing any country. If there are no flows in the river system, Adelaide has only 40 days' worth of water left in storage. The drought, which has lasted a decade in parts of the country, has slowed Australia's growth by an estimated 0.75% as crops have fallen 62%. Many farmers have been forced off the land and counselling services have reported unusually high levels of suicide in rural areas. Children have water conservation messages from an early age at school and householders face hefty fines, or can have their water disconnected, if they are found to be wasting water. The Great Barrier Reef has been badly damaged by bleaching linked to rising ocean temperatures. Australia's tourism industry will be hit by a reluctance by holidaymakers to take the polluting, long-haul plane flights that are the only practical way to reach Down Under. Authorities are also considering culling some of the feral camel population after dromedaries "mad with thirst" rampaged through a remote desert community. The drought could drive Australia's koalas to extinction within a decade. Prime Minister John Howard said there would be no water for farms in the Murray-Darling river basin unless the drought broke soon. Covering more than one million square kilometres the Murray-Darling basin is the country's largest river system, almost three times bigger than Japan and four times larger than Britain. It produces more than 40% of the nation's agricultural produce, worth A$10bn a year. The Murray-Darling supports half the nation's sheep flock, a quarter of the cattle herd and three-quarters of irrigated land. We'll never prove it's climate change until after the event but a lot of farmers have said this drought has the fingerprints of climate change all over it. rw doclink

Warning as Sex-Related Disease Cases Rise Sharply

April 13, 2007   New Zealand Herald

The number of people suffering from gonorrhoea has risen sharply, particularly among the young. Antibiotic-resistant cases are increasing in Auckland as the disease charts a steady increase in New Zealand.

A third of 204 gonorrhoea cases were resistant to treatment with ciprofloxacin.

New Zealand has high rates of the disease compared with other developed countries, with a steady increase over the last five years.

In Auckland, the rate was 45 cases per 100,000 people in the first quarter of 2006, compared to around 27 cases over the same period in 2001.

In the Bay of Plenty, incidence rates over the same period have risen from 14 to 38 per 100,000.

Roughly one person in every 1000 aged 20 to 24 in Auckland had the disease in the first quarter of 2006, with 53% of infections occurring in people 15 to 24.

The incidence rate of ciprofloxacin-resistant gonorrhoea 33% was higher than lab results for Auckland 19%, which was attributed to the Auckland sexual health clinics serving a "high-risk population".

The rate of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea was hovering around 3% in the 1990s until an outbreak in South Auckland in 2001 raised the prevalence to over 10%.

Of patients diagnosed with the disease between September 2003 and March 2004, 50% were in patients under 25. Patients of Maori and Pacific ethnicity made up nearly half of all cases. 80% were heterosexual. 58% never used condoms.

The increase in ciprofloxacin resistance was worrying, as the alternative, ceftriaxone, was difficult to access in primary care.

50% of the cases were in people over 26. People should condoms or have regular checks when changing partners. rw doclink

Relocation Plan Launched to Save Tasmanian Devils

April 11, 2007   Boston Globe

Tasmanian devils are being relocated to an island off Australia to avert their extinction by a contagious cancer.

Some scientists fear the move could endanger rare birds and other animals on the island, but others say it is a last resort and should pose no problem because the devils are not predators.

The fox-like animals with powerful jaws and a bloodcurdling growl are being wiped out on the island state of Tasmania by a contagious cancer that creates grotesque facial tumors.

Within five years, there will be no disease-free population in Tasmania -- the only place in the world where the devils exist outside zoos.

Specialists plan to transfer 30 devils off Tasmania's east coast to Maria Island. The move is controversial because scientists can only speculate about the impact the introduced carnivores will have on the uninhabited island's ecology.

The director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's program said that when introducing a species to a habitat, it's "always a possibility" the animals will conflict with their new environment. The greatest risk is that the relocated species may fall victim to a disease they have no resistance to, but the plan is not overly risky because Maria Island is similar to the devils' natural habitat. rw doclink

New Contraception Device Available for Women

March 20, 2007   ABC Premium News (Australia)

There is a new form of contraception is a soft plastic ring that releases contraceptive hormone directly into the bloodstream.

The device is inserted internally and is 99% effective.

It contains half the dose of female hormone contained in the lowest dose contraceptive pills.

This ring needs to be inserted, left in place for 21 days then removed and reinserted seven days later. It is available in Australia by prescription only. rw doclink

Pacific Women Outnumber Men

March 19, 2007   New Zealand Herald

Pacific demographics showed there were 12% more women in the 25 to 29 years age group than there were men.

In New Zealand, of all women aged 25 to 29, there are only about 9% more than men.

The Pacific figure was possibly partly explained by the fact that young men were less likely to be counted on Census night or possibly more likely men than women travel and be away when a Census was taken.

But it would be wrong to assume the men were not recorded because they were overstayers and feared giving out such information. Younger people were more likely to not fill in Census forms. Higher male mortality rates could also be implicated.

In younger age groups there were about 5% more Pacific boys than girls and about equal numbers by 15 to 19 years.

Major differences of sex ratios were within the main Pacific ethnic groups.

In the 30-34 age group there were 11% more Samoan women than men, and 18% more Cook Islands women, there appeared to be about 5% more Tongan men than women.

Undercounts of fast-growing Pacific populations could create problems in developing social policy.

The Pacific undercount was estimated at 2.3% in the 2006 Census compared with a 1.4% undercount for Europeans.

But the undercount for Asian ethnicities was 5.2% and for Maori 3.1%.

The total Census undercount in New Zealand was about 2%, or 81,000 people.

The research also showed that Samoans continued to be the largest single Pacific ethnic group in New Zealand, but Tongans showed the strongest growth in numbers in the past five years, rising from just over 31,000 to 50,000. rw doclink

Samoa Census Expected to Show Population Drop

February 21, 2007   PacNews

A slump in growth of between two and three thousand people in Samoa is expected. The population at the 2001 census was 1,77,710. The slump was due to out-migration and the countrys low birth rate.

The 2006 census shows that many Samoans have migrated to New Zealand in the last five years under the immigration quota scheme. Others have moved to live in American Samoa with a small percentage of families moving to Australia. The low birth rate is the result of family planning. rw doclink

Samoa Census Expected to Show Population Drop

February 20, 2007   PacNews

A drop of 2,000 to 3,000 people in Samoa is expected. The population at 2001 was 177,710. The slump was due to out-migration and the country's low birth rate.

The 2006 census shows that many Samoans have migrated to New Zealand in the last five years. Others have moved to American Samoa with a small percentage moving to Australia. The low birth rate is the result of family planning. rw doclink

Middle East and North Africa

Middle East and North Africa

October 16, 2012

World Contraception Day: Crossing the Borders of Tradition and Religion

September 19 , 2012   Women Deliver

The topics of contraception and sexual education are largely avoided in many Muslim countries. And many countries in the Middle East have laws against the purchase of oral contraceptive pills.

However, the Holy Quran does permit contraception as long as both partners consent, it's not permanent, and it doesn't cause bodily harm. Education is needed in order to change the perception of policy makers, and this education needs to be respectful of their traditional values while reassuring them of the benefits of making contraception available to young people.

Middle Eastern traditions and Shariah (Islamic) law dictate that pre-marital sex (even between consenting adults above the age of 18) is punishable by law. This often brands all contraceptive methods as instruments for having sex out of marriage. The uses, risks, and contraindications are not discussed and are unknown to adult women. The general view is that these topics promote sexual behavior among unmarried men and women.

Doctors are an exception and can provide contraceptive advice to married couples. Unmarried men and women have no access to contraceptive knowledge and are at risk of unwanted pregnancies and STDs. Unmarried pregnant women may even attempt suicide when they feel they have no options.

Also, emergency contraception is not widely available, which has led to an alarming rise in cases of fake and often dangerous pills that are purchased online.

Progress in introducing the topics of contraception and sex education may be slow, but every step forward is significant.The significance of providing contraception and improving overall healthcare must be linked. Experts will impart knowledge and train peer educators, to construct policies and to negotiate with government agencies.

Basic awareness-raising can begin through the Friday Islamic congregational prayer and the sermons, while keeping the Islamic law according to the Quran and Hadith in the forefront.

Peer educators also need to be selected on the basis of sex, nationality, language, and communication skills so they can be specifically tailored for specific groups, particularly with the men and women separately.

Feedback from participants is also important to help educators improve their teaching, answer the relevant questions, and dispel the common myths and misconceptions about contraception. Social media and the internet can also serve this purpose.

Information must be freely available to empower youth about making responsible decisions to avoid unwanted pregnancies. doclink

Child Marriage Rising in Iran

August 24 , 2012   New Straits Times

Farshid Yezdani of the Union for Protection of Children's Rights said some 713 marriages for children under 10 were registered in the country in 2010, twice than that recorded over the last three years.

The number of marriages for girls in the 10-15 age range could be more, since only about 55% of child marriages are registered in cities and 45% in villages.

Statistics for the 2005-2011 period revealed that 37,000 marriages for children aged 10 to 18 years old ended in divorce. doclink

New Report: How the US Christian Right is Transforming Sexual Politics in Africa

August 05 , 2012   RH Reality Check

Political Research Associates have released a report, Colonizing African Values: How the U.S. Christian Right is Transforming Sexual Politics in Africa, which documents the U.S. Christian Right's attempts to push an ideology hostile to reproductive and LGBT rights on sub-Saharan African countries.

For example, in Tanzania in 2008, billboards depicted a "Faithful Condom User" as a skeleton in a blatant attempt to discourage condom use as an effective HIV prevention method. The billboard's sponsor was Human Life International (HLI), a Roman Catholic organization group based in the United States.

HLI is staunchly opposed to contraception, abortion, stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, sex education, and homosexuality. Another U.S. Christian Right group peddling corrosive reproductive politics in Africa is Family Watch International, a small Arizona-based group, which condemns the United Nations' efforts to support family planning services and reproductive health options for women. One of the groups claims is that vaccine distribution is really a secret sterilization program designed to destroy the African family.

Abortion is already illegal in most African countries, bans first passed decades ago under colonial governments, and even where there are some exceptions the complications of the law often drive women to obtain illegal and dangerous procedures, such as "drinking surf (washing powder), using wires, and poisonous herbs.

Groups like Pat Robertson-founded American Center for Law and Justice, led by Jay Sekulow (a Romney campaign favorite) and HLI are pushing for even stricter laws and constitutional bans. However, when it comes to enforcement, both police and individuals seem to shy away from invading the "personal" decisions of women who seek abortions, even when they disapprove of the procedure.

You can view the executive summary of this report at ##http://www.publiceye.org/Reports/Colonizing_African_Values/Pdfs/PRA.Colonizing.Exec.Summ.pdf

The full report is also available here (PDF): ##http://www.publiceye.org/Reports/Colonizing_African_Values/Pdfs/Colonizing.African.Values.PRA.pdf doclink

Iran, with Eye on Long-Term Economy, Urges Baby Boom

July 29, 2012   Seattle Times

In a major reversal of once far-reaching family-planning policies, authorities are now slashing its birth-control programs in an attempt to avoid an aging demographic similar to many Western countries that are struggling to keep up with state medical and social-security costs.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the country's wide-ranging contraceptive services as "wrong." Family-planning programs have been cut from the budget for the current Iranian year.

Iran's economy is stumbling under a combination of international sanctions, inflation and double-digit unemployment. Many young people, particularly in Tehran and other large cities, are postponing marriage or keeping their families small because of the uncertainties.

Ali Reza Khamesian, a columnist in several pro-reform newspapers, said the change in policy also may be an attempt to send a message to the world that Iran is not suffering from sanctions imposed over the nuclear program that the West suspects is aimed at producing weapons - something Tehran denies.

More than half of Iran's population is under 35 years old. Those youth form the base of opposition groups, including the so-called Green Movement that led unprecedented street protests after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in 2009. Some experts have said that trying to boost the numbers for upcoming generations also could feed future political dissent.

Mustafa Alani, an analyst at the Gulf Research Center based in Geneva said: "Young people are the heart of the Arab Spring, or the Islamic Awakening as Iran calls it." .. "Countries that haven't faced major protests during the Arab Spring still have to be mindful that the demands of the youth are still there."

In 1979 leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini encouraged families to contribute to a baby boom to build a "20 million member army". In 1986, toward the end of the eight-year war with Iraq, census figures show the population's growth rate reached 3.9% - among the highest in the world at the time, and in line with Persian traditions that favor big families.

But in the 1990s, leaders feared galloping population could overwhelm the economy, which led to Iran becoming a regional leader in family-planning options, including offering free or subsidized condoms and other contraceptives, and issuing religious edicts in favor of vasectomies. By 2011, Iran's population growth had fallen to one of the lowest in region - 1.3%. Recently, Khamenei said contraceptive policy made sense 20 years ago, "but its continuation in later years was wrong."

In 2005 newly-elected President Ahmadinejad called the birth-control measures ungodly and a Western import. In 2009, he unveiled proposals for each new baby to receive $950 in a government bank account and then get $95 every year until reaching 18.

"Scientific and experts studies show that we will face population aging and reduction if the birth-control policy continues," he said, a day after the Statistical Center of Iran said the country's population had reached more than 75.1 million - more than double its 33.7 million in 1976. doclink

Karen Gaia says: How can having more children help the unemployment situation?

In Morocco, More Modern Contraceptive Use Plays Key Role in Decreasing Maternal Deaths

June 29 , 2012   Population Reference Bureau blog

In Morocco there has been a 60% decline in the numbers of women who die during pregnancy or childbirth and a rapid increase in modern contraceptive use by both rural and urban women and for relatively low levels of "unmet need" for family planning - defined as the share of women who wish to delay or avoid pregnancy but are not using contraception.

Morocco's maternal death rate is now closer to the average for Central America (90 per 100,000) than the average for the North African region (270 per 100,000) or Africa as a whole (590 per 100,000).

The share of married women ages 15 to 49 who want to postpone or avoid pregnancy was about 60% in 2004 and 80% by 2011, when 67% were using contraception.

Farzaneh Roudi-Fahimi, Middle East and North Africa program director at the Population Reference Bureau said, "When a woman wants a smaller family and uses contraception effectively, she can have fewer pregnancies—reducing her lifetime risk of disability and death from complications during pregnancy and childbirth."

The nation is poised to to be on track to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goal 5 - reducing maternal mortality by 75% between 1990 and 2015. Morocco has made safe motherhood a priority and invested in increased availability of voluntary family planning services, expanded and improved maternal health care, and ensured access to obstetric care (including Caesarian birth) in part by eliminating fees.

The Moroccan government has been by focusing on household-based delivery of family planning services, making modern contraceptives available to low-income and rural women who would otherwise not have access to private-sector services.

57% of Moroccan married women of reproductive age were using a modern contraceptive method in 2011, an increase from 36% since 1992. 10% were using traditional family planning methods, compared with about 6% in 1992.

While 44% of all Moroccan women ages 15 and older are literate, 72% of young women - ages 15 to 24 - are literate, according to 2009 UN data.

A 2011 PAPFAM survey found that Moroccan women were having 2.6 children on average in 2011. The change has been particularly dramatic among women living in rural areas, whose fertility declined from 6.6 births in 1980 to 3.2 births on average in 2011.

Modern contraceptive use among married women in the poorest quintile rose from 18% to 55% - not far behind that of women in the richest quintile. Unmet need for family planning among the poorest women was cut by more than half during that time.

The 2011 PAPFAM survey results also reflect dramatic increases in health care during pregnancy and childbirth, which research has linked to improved survival of both mothers and children. These changes are partly the result of policies that increased the number of trained midwives and removed the barriers that prevented rural women from accessing health care during pregnancy and delivery, including transportation.

Between 1992 and 2011, the share of births delivered at home declined from 95 percent to 61 percent for women in the poorest fifth of the population and from 73 percent to 14 percent for women with incomes in the middle fifth.

72% of women practicing family planning rely on the pill and 16 percent rely on traditional methods. Morocco's family planning program would benefit from expanding services to include more contraceptive choices, including condoms that prevent both pregnancy and HIV.

Moroccan family planning and maternal health services tend to focus on the needs of married women and these programs should be expanded to serve unmarried couples who are sexually active. "The number of couples in such relationships is not high, but the fact that women in such relationships find it difficult to access family planning counseling and services puts their health and well-being in danger, particularly if they are young," Roudi-Fahimi said. doclink

Why Girls Are the Solution to Overpopulation

May 10 , 2012   MENAFN - Arab News

Overpopulation is at the core of many social, economic and environmental problems. It is estimated that the earth has the capacity to support and sustain approximately 4 billion people. The earth has 7 billion while the United Nations projects this to reach 9.3 billion by 2040.

Population growth is destroying ecosystems, affecting climate change and causing loss of agricultural land to residential and industrial development.

China has prevented more than 400 million births since the inception of its one child policy. However India increases its population every year by approximately 25 million. The Philippines is already beyond its carrying capacity, no longer able to feed its population, and has become the biggest rice importer on the planet.

What the Philippines desperately needs is a government-supported family planning program, but there has been lack of progress on a reproductive health bill due to corruption and the Catholic Church and meanwhile 2 million Filipino babies are born every year.

The Guttmacher Institute found that the cost of providing birth control to the 215 million women on the planet who have unintended pregnancies, is about $4.50 a year per woman. This could be the difference between having only 8 billion mouths to feed by the end of the century, instead of 15 billion.

Food reserves are at a fifty-year low and the world will require 50% more energy, food and water by 2030, says the U.K.'s chief scientist.

In Egypt, the Arab world's most populous nation, with an estimated population of 90 million, divorce is endemic; most re-marry and have more children they cannot support. And many girls are married off against their will as soon as they are old enough to bring in a dowry, usually to a much older man. Many of them are temporary, or 'seasonal' marriages, which are nothing more than a smokescreen for exploitation by wealthy married men. Within 3-6 months the girl is divorced, in most cases she is too ashamed to return home, often remaining and existing in abuse and enslavement by the first wife. This is also common practice in Yemen. While girls in developed countries have the freedom to go to school, raise their hands in class and share their opinions, girls in developing countries are burdened with chores and responsibilities from a very young age.

This is one of the many reasons for high illiteracy amongst girls in developing countries. Too often cultural and religious practices such as female genital mutilation are the cause of such unbelievable suffering, that attending school is the least of a child's worries. Mothers do not allow their girls to study until housework and other chores such as collecting water are done. When the girl's family is poor, they have to marry early, work in the fields or as domestic laborers in order to help their families put food on the table.

We need to break the vicious cycle of poverty, lack of education, lack of employment and incessant breeding which has left many aid organizations overwhelmed.

The solution starts with a 12-year-old girl. Don't take her out of school when she's old enough to bring in a dowry, provide an incentive for her family (i.e. a cow, a goat or plough), keep her there through secondary school and then connect her to a decent job.

By supporting girls, providing them with a safe environment to learn, giving them life skills, mentoring and nutrition we can affect not only the life of a child but the whole family, and whole community in the most positive way.

We all have a social responsibility to provide an incentive to poor families to send their girls to school please visit www.girleffect.org or www.globalgiving.org. doclink

Rapid Population Growth Threatens Dhamar

February 16, 2012   Yemen Times

Dhamar, a governorate of Yemen, is suffering a scarcity of resources, and a December 2011 study funded by the Dutch government said that further population growth will worsen already deteriorating economic conditions and put increased pressure on service sectors such as education, health, food, energy, water, effectively doubling expenditures.

Arable land per capita is expected to fall to 201 square meters, compared to 494 in 2009, while agricultural crops (grains) would fall from 61kg to 22kg per head - all while the growing population will actually need more land and grain to meet demand.

Water availability - which is falling across Yemen - will decline in the governorate from 102 cubic meters to only 42 if the current levels of water produced in the region remain the same.

"More awareness of reproductive health and family planning are needed," it was concluded. The demand for birth control methods is still low due to a lack of awareness - particularly in rural areas - and fears among families of any side effects and risks. Religious views on contraception are also a factor.

The government must offer free delivery services and family planning at medical centers. They must take actions to make families send their children to schools. "Decisions to set the marriage age at 18 and the banning of female genital mutilation have to be supported."

Studies confirm that Yemen's population will increase from 23 million in 2008 to 61 million in 2035 as a result of the high fertility rate - maintaining its position as the fastest growing Arab country. These numbers could be reduced to 46 million in 2035 if proper health and population measures are taken. doclink

Islam and Family Planning

November 25, 2011   Population Media Center

by Asghar Ali Engineer of Mumbai, Islamic scholar

Many people ask if family planning is permissible in Islam, saying the imams and ulama say Qur'an prohibits family planning and quoting a verse which says, "And kill not your children for fear of poverty - We provide for them and for you. Surely the killing of them is a great wrong." (17:31). .... This does not refer to family planning because you can only kill one who exists.

Some people suggest that it refers to the practice of burying the girl child alive when they cannot provide for them, but as Imam Razi suggests, it refers to both male and female children being kept ignorant. Not killing the body but killing the mind which is as bad as killing the body. The word used here is 'awlad' i.e. children which include both male as well as female and not only female.

In fact a large family means children cannot be properly educated by poor parents and hence parents kill them mentally by keeping them ignorant. They cannot even clothe them properly. In such circumstances one cannot have good quality Muslims and better quality is more desirable than mere quantity.

In early days the problem of family planning did not exist. It is a modern problem. Most of the nation states in third world do not have economic means to support a large population, including feeding them, educating them and also providing proper health services. These are basic duties of modern nation states.

The paucity of resources require the adoption of family planning. When Qur'an was being revealed there was neither any properly organized state nor education or health services being provided by any state agency. It is important to note that Qur'an which shows eight ways to spend zakat, does not include education or health which is so essential for the state to provide today. Thus what Imam Razi suggests is not only very correct and also enhances importance of family planning in the modern times as small family can support better education and health services.

Verse 4:3 is usually interpreted: do not marry more than one so that you may not do injustice. But Imam Shafi'I renders it as 'so that you do not have large family'.

In understanding the Qur'an, even very eminent imams and great scholars differed from each other. One should not impose one single meaning of a verse on all Muslims. It could be interpreted differently by different people in their own context and circumstances. Family planning being a modern need one should not reject it out of hand and quote Qur'anic verses out of context.

The Qur'an also suggests that a child be suckled at least for two years and it is well known that as long as mother suckles she would not conceive. Thus indirectly the Qur'an also suggests spacing of a child.

Even in hadith literature we find that the Prophet (PBUH) permitted prevention of conceiving in certain circumstances. When a person asked Prophet for permission for 'azl (coitus interrupts) as he was going for a long journey along with his wife and he did not want his wife to conceive while travelling the Messenger of Allah allowed him. In those days 'azl was the only known method for planning of birth of a child. Today there are several methods available like use of condoms.

Imam Ghazzali, a very eminent theologian and philosopher allows termination of pregnancy if mother's life is in danger and shows several methods for termination. He even allows termination of pregnancy on health grounds or if mother's beauty is in danger provided it is in consultation with her husband.. Some scholars say that verse 23:14 concludes that one can terminate pregnancy up to three months as this verse describes stages of development of sperm planted in mother's womb and it takes three months for life to begin.

However, many ulama oppose termination of pregnancy. Whatever the case one cannot declare family planning as prohibited in Islam as it in no way amounts to killing a child already born. doclink

In a Land of Few Rights, Saudi Women Fight to Vote

May 04, 2011   NPR

Saudi women feel they have the least freedom or fewest rights of any women in the world. They have no right to vote, are not allowed to drive, have little say in matters of marriage and divorce, and cannot travel without a letter of permission from their male guardian.

They must wear a black robe and veil whenever they leave the house.

The government recently reneged on a promise to grant them the vote in municipal elections this fall.

The president of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association thinks the government is using it to make concessions to the hard-line Islamic fundamentalists in the kingdom, who, among other things, run the much feared religious police here and oppose giving women more rights. They also keep Saudi citizens in check at a time when political dissent in the kingdom is growing.

Small groups of women are going to the voting places and asking for a voting card. Others have tried to defy the ban against females driving. But then they are described as whores and their husbands as pimps and they suffer reprisals at work and have their passports confiscated by the government. doclink

Iran's Family Planning Success Story

May 2011  

In just one decade Iran dropped its near-record population growth rate to one of the lowest in the developing world.

In 1979 Ayatollah Khomeini assumed leadership in Iran and launched the Islamic revolution. He dismantled the well-established family planning programs and instead advocated large families wanting to increase the ranks of soldiers for Islam in the war against Iraq.

Fertility levels climbed, pushing Iran's annual population growth to 4.2% in the early 1980s, probably the biological maximum. This enormous growth began to burden the economy and the environment, the country's leaders realized that overcrowding, environmental degradation, and unemployment were undermining Iran's future.

In 1989 the government restored its family planning program. In May 1993, a national family planning law was passed, encouraging smaller families. Iran Broadcasting raised awareness of population issues and of the availability of family planning services. 70% of rural households had TV sets. Religious leaders crusaded for smaller families. 15,000 health clinics were established to provide rural populations with health and family planning services.

Iran introduced a variety of contraceptive measures, including vasectomy and sterilization, all free of charge. Couples were required to take a course on modern contraception before receiving a marriage license. In addition Iran launched an effort to raise female literacy, raising it from 25% in 1970 to over 70% in 2000. Female school enrollment increased from 60% to 90%. Women and girls with more schooling are likely to have fewer children.

Family size in Iran dropped from seven children to fewer than three. From 1987 to 1994, Iran cut its population growth rate by half.

The bad news is that in July 2010 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared the country's family planning program ungodly and announced a new pronatalist policy. The government would pay couples to have children, depositing money in each child's bank account until age 18. doclink

Today Iran's fertility rate is 1.88, according to the CIA Factbook - https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ir.html

PRB Discuss Online, April 26, 2011: "Child Marriage in Yemen"

April 21, 2011   Population Reference Bureau

Take part in PRB's upcoming Discuss Online: "Child Marriage in Yemen" on Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 1-2 p.m. (EDT) (GMT-4), with Dalia Al-Eryani, Program Coordinator for the "Safe Age of Marriage Project" at Pathfinder International. Go to: http://discuss.prb.org One in three women ages 20 to 24 were married before their 18th birthday in Yemen, which still has the highest rate of early marriage in western Asia.

The USAID-funded "Safe Age of Marriage Project" was designed to change social norms around early marriage, girls' education, and children's rights. Community educators work to increase awareness about the dangers of early marriage and early childbearing and to communicate the benefits of delaying marriage and keeping girls in school. doclink

Smart Planning for the Global Family

April 12, 2011   Earth Policy Institute

The United Nations has projected that world population will 9.2 billion by 2050. This is the middle projection, the most likely one. However, if fertility rates come down slower than expected, world population could reach 10.5 billion by 2050. If the goal is to eradicate poverty, hunger, and illiteracy, then we have little choice but to strive for the low projection of 8 billion (and peaking) by 2042, which assumes that the world will quickly move below replacement-level fertility.

Slowing world population growth means ensuring that all women who want to plan their families have access to family planning information and services. 215 million women, 59% of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian subcontinent do not have this access. These women, along with their families, represent about 1 billion of the world's poorest, for whom unintended pregnancies and unwanted births are an enormous burden.

A former USAID official said that often "women live in fear of their next pregnancy. They just do not want to get pregnant." UNFPA and Guttmacher estimate that meeting the needs of these 215 million women who lack reproductive health care and effective contraception could each year prevent 53 million unwanted pregnancies, 24 million induced abortions, and 1.6 million infant deaths.

A universal family planning and reproductive health program would cost an additional $21 billion in funding from industrial and developing countries. In Bangladesh analysts figures that it would cost the government $62 to prevent an unwanted birth and save $615 in expenditures on other social services.

When countries move to smaller families, growth in the number of young dependents - those who need nurturing and educating - declines relative to the number of working adults. Removing the financial burden of large families allows more people to escape from poverty. At the national level, the demographic bonus causes savings and investment to climb, productivity to surge, and economic growth to accelerate.

Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Thailand, and Viet Nam have been helped by earlier sharp reductions in birth rates. Although this effect lasts for only a few decades, it is usually enough to launch a country into the modern era. No developing country (except for some oil-rich countries) has successfully modernized without slowing population growth.

Many developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America were successful in quickly reducing their fertility within a generation or so after public health and medical gains lowered their mortality rates. But others - including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Yemen did not follow this path and have been trapped in the demographic cycle of poverty (Large families are a greater financial burden on both parents and governments, and more impoverished people and societies tend to produce larger families.) These countries face the compounding of 3% growth per year or 20-fold per century. Limited land and water resources are strained. With large "youth bulges" outrunning job creation, the growing number of unemployed young men increases the risk of conflict. This also raises the odds of becoming a failing state.

Governments can help couples reduce family size very quickly when they commit to doing so. In just one decade Iran dropped its near-record population growth rate to one of the lowest in the developing world. Iran's success story involves: government's desire to lower population growth, raising public awareness through television, outreach to rural populations, health clinics, access to an array of birth control methods, female literacy and school enrollment. doclink

Demographic Trends Undermine Hope for a Better World Future

CAPS

Former Australian politician Dr. John Coulter, vice-president of Sustainable Population Australia, recently chided commentators and pundits covering the riots in Northern Africa and the Middle East:

"No mention was made of the very large and growing population of Egypt, its extremely small arable land area which is being rapidly covered by houses and roads, the total dependence now on food imports to sustain the population or the rapidly falling oil exports with which the Egyptian Government has hitherto paid for food imports and also subsidized both food and petroleum and natural gas used by the native population."

Egypt's population tripled in 48 years: from 27.8 million in 1960 to 81.7 million in 2008 and is growing at a rate of 2% a year (double in 36 years). Egypt is a desert, getting only about 2 inches a year and only 3% of it's land is arable. Arable land per capita: 0.04 Ha (an area just 20 by 20 meters). Egypt imports 40% of its food and 60% of its grain. Oil production has peaked and declined 26% in 2009. The price of oil and food are rising.

Very large numbers of young people in Egypt are still to enter their reproductive years that underlies Egypt's unsustainable and socially disruptive trajectory. Rapid population growth will crush the prospects of sustainable improvements in human dignity and standard of living.

Almost four decades ago, the classified National Security Study Memorandum (NSSM) 200 was completed. Commissioned by President Richard Nixon, it said: "Rapid population growth creates a severe drag on rates of economic development otherwise attainable, sometimes to the point of preventing any increase in per capita incomes." ... "Adverse socio-economic conditions generated by rapid population growth in less developed countries may contribute to high and increasing levels of child abandonment, juvenile delinquency, chronic and growing under employment and unemployment, petty thievery, organized brigandry, food riots, separatist movements, communal massacres, revolutionary actions and counter-revolutionary coups." ... "In a broader sense, there is a major risk of severe damage to world economic, political, and ecological systems and, as these systems begin to fail, to our humanitarian values."

There are an alarming rise in the number of "failed states" and nation-states on the verge of sliding into the maelstrom of failure. Somalia, Chad, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Pakistan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Nepal and Uganda are examples. Almost without exception, each of these countries is staggering under hyper population growth. doclink

Saudi Women Sore Over Men-only Polls

March 31, 2011   Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)

In Saudi Arabia, women have been banned from voting in this year's municipal elections. The first municipal elections were held in 2005, but they were men only. Dr Mohammad Al Zulfa, former member of the Shura Council and woman's rights advocate said that not having women take part in the first municipal elections could be justified but after five years of the experiment, depriving women from the elections is unjustifiable.

The elections will be held on September 22. The reform process was initiated by King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz. Lack of readiness at the polls will make it impossible for women to participate this year, the voting commission said. Also foreign organisations would not be allowed to monitor the elections.

"Women will be allowed to take part at the appropriate time," Election Commissioner Abdul Rahman Al Dahmash said.

A number of Saudi women activists and men advocating women rights described the decision as "unjustifiable and unacceptable". Saudi women have realized significant achievements at the local and international levels and so they are capable in being candidates and voters in the upcoming municipal elections. "We are looking for a political decision from King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz to have women, who constitute 49% of the Kingdom's population, take part in the forthcoming municipal elections," said Suhaila Zain Abdeen, a Saudi woman and human rights activist. doclink

The Fight Against Child Marriage

March 21, 2011   Glamour

by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Nujood Ali was a nine year old girl who was forced by her own family to marry a man three times her age. She had to drop out of school against her will, and was physically abused. To avoid further misery and suffering, Nujood boarded a bus and found her way to the local courthouse.

Nujood told the judge she wanted a divorce. Female attorney Shada Nasser took Nujood's case and others like it. Today, thanks to Shada's work, girls across Yemen have been given their childhoods back. They are back in school, where they belong.

More than half of the poorest one-fifth of girls in Yemen marry before the age of 18.

Stopping child marriage is not just a must for moral or human rights reasons-it lays the foundation for so many other things we hope to achieve. Primary education. Improved child and maternal health. Sustainable economic development that includes girls.

Child marriage is both a consequence and a cause of poverty. In some cases, girls are sold into marriage simply to resolve a debt. Once married, child brides often lack status and power within their marriages and households. Their youth leaves them even more vulnerable to domestic violence, marital rape and other sexual abuse. They become isolated from their family, friends and community. On average, child brides become less healthy, and their kids grow up less healthy and poorer.

We are reaching out to women and girls, fathers and brothers, religious leaders and all who can help us to convince societies that this particular tradition is better left behind. Governments, too, are taking steps to raise the minimum age of marriage. We need to make our case far and wide to plant the seeds that will one day convince the rest.

In some places rights of women means ensuring that daughters as well as sons have enough to eat. In others, it means demanding equal pay for equal work. Societies cannot flourish if half their people are left behind. They are leading the fight to protect and promote human rights and opening up the doors of opportunity for everyone.

I often say that one of my goals as Secretary of State is to help people everywhere live up to their God-given potential. Few have fought as hard for it as Nujood Ali and Shada Nasser. I'm honored to know them. We all should share their cause. doclink

The Birth of a Revolution

February 26, 2011   Ottawa Citizen

The recent Arab rebellion began rising three decades ago as a neonatal bulge rippling across the Middle East and North Africa.

In the villages of Bahrain and Algeria and the streets of Cairo, Damascus, Tunis and Sanaa, fertility rates rose and experts warned countries to brace for an unparalleled "youth bulge" that would some day demand skills training, jobs, homes and prosperity.

Autocrats who failed to harness the advancing multitude with economic opportunities risked rebellion.

There are a record 100 million young people aged 15 to 29 in the Arab world - and tens of millions of younger ones behind them.

People of all ages are complaining about high unemployment, poor living conditions, food inflation, police brutality, gender inequality, corruption, and despotic rule.

But it is the region's tilted demographic forces and the rebellious soul of youth that is driving the resentment, frustration and anger into the streets and the history books.

In Tunisia, 26-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi, street fruit vendor, set himself ablaze to protest government harassment. He was one of 5.3 million Tunisians under 30 - half the total population - and was struggling to earn $140 a month to support his family in a country where the youth unemployment rate is 27%.

At least in Tunisia the 15-29 age group has peaked and the fertility rate is low and falling. Tunisia's prospects for social and political stability, and even the likelihood of achieving and maintaining democratic governance, are better than many of its neighbours.

Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Iran are not expected to reach a more balanced age demographic for another decade.

Iraq, the West Bank and Gaza, and Yemen face the greatest challenges. Yemeni women each have an average of half a dozen children and 55% of the population is under the age of 20 and 73% is under 30. The population is expected to triple to at least 61 million by 2035.

In the entire world, 3.6 billion of the population is under 30. A 2007 research project found that during the 1990s, countries with a very young structure were three times more likely to experience civil conflict than countries with a mature age structure.

With the Internet being available to many young people in the developing world frustrations accumulate when they see what they don't have: affluence, political inclusion, advanced education systems, freedom of speech, promise.

Mass grievances can lead people to rise up and speak out, but can also incite armed rebellion.

"If you don't have access to good jobs, to be self-sustainable, the 'opportunity costs' of joining a rebel movement or uprising is lower because there's little else that you're giving up," says Madsen, co-author of The Shape of Things to Come: Why Age Structure Matters to a Safer, More Equitable World.

A work by the Brookings Institution, Generation in Waiting: The Unfulfilled Promise of Young People in the Middle East, found that:

1) While previous generations of youth in the Middle East have benefited from free education and public sector job guarantees, demographic pressures have strained these institutions and are no longer available to those born in the 1980s and later.

2) Despite the fact that countries in the Middle East have made significant gains in increasing enrollment in primary, secondary and tertiary education since the 1970s, the quality of education remains substandard in many countries.

3) Unemployment rates in the area are at nearly 11%, and for young people it is between 20 to 25%, and even worse for young women.

4) Poor job prospects have led to delayed marriage and difficulties securing housing.

Population Action International reports that between 1970 and 2007, only 13% of countries with very young age structures were rated as full democracies, compared to 81% of countries with mature age structures. And countries in which more than 60% of the population is younger than 30 are more likely to face restrictions on political freedoms and civil liberties and experience corruption, weak institutional capacity and regulatory quality. doclink

Karen Gaia says: It is difficult to see where the jobs are going to come from. This is an area that must feed a bulging population, and the world's food supply is on the decline.

Freedom Will Not Chase Away the Arab World's Triple Crisis

February 19, 2011   Daily Star

Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions were incited by economic want and inequality as much as political repression. A mere change of government will not make these countries' economic problems go away. The converging effects of population growth, climate change, and energy depletion are setting the stage for a looming triple crisis.

The Arab world has 6.3% of the world's population but only 1.4% of its renewable fresh water. Twelve of the world's 15 most water-scarce countries are in the region - Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Israel and Palestine. In eight of these countries there are less than 250 cubic meters of available fresh water per person per year.

Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey hold 75% of the region's fresh water. From 1965 to 1997, population growth drove demand for agricultural development, leading to a doubling of land under irrigation, and linking water consumption to industrial agriculture.

One-third of the overall population is below 15 years old, and large numbers of young women are reaching reproductive age, or soon will be. By 2030 the population of the Middle East will increase by 132%, and that of sub-Saharan Africa by 81% generating an unprecedented "youth bulge." This will only worsen their predicament.

The World Bank's Water Sector Assessment Report on the Gulf countries, published in 2005, predicts the availability of fresh water to halve, possibly leading to inter-state conflict. Competition to control water is already happening between Turkey and Syria; Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority; Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia; and between Saudi Arabia and its neighbors, Qatar, Bahrain and Jordan.

Economic growth, along with greater urbanization and higher per capita incomes, translates into greater demand for fresh water. By as early as 2015, the average Arab will be forced to survive on less than 500 cubic meters of water per year, a level defined as severe scarcity. Shifts in rainfall patterns will certainly affect crops, particularly rice.

In addition, global average temperatures could rise by 4 degrees Celsius by mid-century, causing crop yields to fall by 15-35%, depending on the strength of carbon fertilization.

It would take trillions of dollars to build an infrastructure capable of responding to the intensifying water crisis, and its development would itself be energy-intensive, and would only mitigate the impact of scarcity on richer countries. Hydrocarbon energy depletion will complicate matters even more.

The International Energy Agency in its World Energy Outlook for 2010, claimed that conventional oil production worldwide probably peaked in 2006, and is now declining. World oil production has been undulating but gradually falling since around 2005.

While the IEA argued that the shortfall will be made up from greater exploitation of unconventional oil and gas reserves, it would be at far higher prices, owing to the greater environmental and extraction costs. It could be that the IEA's optimism about unconventional sources is misplaced.

While the six biggest Middle Eastern oil-producing countries claim around 740 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, British geologist Euan Mearns says these reserves may be at only around 350 billion barrels. The U.K. government's former chief scientific adviser, David King, claimed official world oil reserves had been overstated by up to one-third - implying that we are on the verge of a major "tipping point" in oil production.

Within the next decade or so, major oil-producing countries will struggle against costly geological constraints, and by 2020 - even as early as 2015 - the Middle East oil contribution could become negligible, causing loss of state revenues for the oil-producing Arab countries, rendering them highly vulnerable to the compounding consequences of existing water shortages, rapid demographic expansion, climate change, and declining crop yields.

Reviving conservation, management and distribution efforts could reduce water consumption and increase efficiency, but these measures need to be combined with radical reforms to speed the transition away from oil dependence to a zero-carbon renewable-energy infrastructure. Concerted investments in health, education and citizens' rights, especially for women, are the key tools for alleviating population growth in the region and diversifying its economies.

Arab governments that fail to implement such measures urgently are unlikely to survive. doclink

Ahmadinejad Calls on Iranian Girls to Marry at 16

November 22, 2010   Christian Science Monitor

Iran's populist President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is urging Iranian girls to marry as young as 16, in a bid to reverse decades of family planning policy that turned revolutionary Iran into a UN-recognized model of curbing population growth in the Islamic world.

The Iranian president wants to bolster the nation's population of 75 million, saying Iran can sustain 150 million citizens, and since July has supported a program of financial incentives for every new baby born.

Seeking more "soldiers of Islam" after the 1979 Islamic revolution, family planning centers of the pro-West Shah were taken down on the grounds that Islam and Iran needed a large population." But as population growth rose to 3.9% per year - among the highest in the world - it became clear to Iran's leaders that such growth was unsustainable. By 1986 the population had jumped in a decade from 33 million to nearly 50 million.

Family planning courses became required for newlyweds, birth control services emerged in the most remote villages, and sterilization procedures for men and women were provided free of charge.

Subsidies were cut to large households, and regime policy held that that the "ideal" Islamic family had two children. Condoms were subsidized, and the Islamic Republic's state-owned factory produced 45 million a year by the late 1990s. By 2001 it was producing 70 million.

"No other country did such great work in such a short time," Mohamed Mosleh-Uddin, the Tehran representative of the UN Population Fund, told the Monitor in 1999. He said the rest of the developing world took "30 to 40 years to get this far." Religious support, political commitment, and a good health infrastructure all worked together.

Critics say that Iran's deepening economic problems, from unemployment and inflation to lack of resources, will only worsen with a swelling population. Currently some two-thirds of the population is under 35 years old.

Ahmadinejad in late 2006 called for a baby boom.

"Our country has a lot of capacity … for many children to grow in it," ... "Westerners have got problems. Because their population growth is negative, they are worried and fear that if our population increases, we will triumph over them." rw doclink

Arabs Face Severe Water Crisis by 2015

November 12, 2010   Science_News

Lebanon, once considered to have an abundance of water, is threatened with acute shortages as the Arab world lurches toward severe water scarcity as early as 2015.

For Lebanon, which has long neglected to take measures to conserve and manage its water resources, the crisis couldn't come at a worse time: The government is gripped by political crisis that many fear could lead to renewed civil war; the decision-making process has been paralyzed; and a 10-year water plan adopted in 2002 has ground to a halt.

The Cabinet, burdened with a $54 billion public debt, decided recently to delay all discussion on a proposal by Water and Energy Minister Jibran Bassil to build 11 dams on Lebanon's several rivers.

Fadi Comair, general director of hydraulic and electrical resources, says that enlisting the private sector is the only way to solve the worsening water problem.

The World Bank recently urged major investment in Lebanon's ramshackle water infrastructure while noting that the tiny country's water resources are equivalent to 49,830 cubic feet per capita, one of the highest in the Middle East and North Africa.

Other states in the arid region can only watch in wonder as Lebanon's government ignores a problem most would gladly take on if they had the same water resources.

The Arab world has 5% of the world's population -- an estimated 360 million people -- but only 1.4% of the planet's renewable fresh water supply.

By 2025, the Arab population will likely total around 568 million, gravely stretching shrinking natural water resources.

By the end of the century, the report noted, climate change will mean a 25% decrease in precipitation and a matching increase in evaporation rates.

The wealthier Arab states, primarily the oil producers of the Persian Gulf that have no rivers and little rainfall, rely heavily on desalination plants. They account for half the world's desalination capacity, a costly undertaking. Other states, including Egypt and Jordan, plan to develop nuclear power to drive such plants.

But that will take years to achieve. And even in the Arabian Peninsula, water consumption is rising as the population swells.

Water use there now exceeds renewable sources, and that situation is unlikely to change anytime soon.

A recent report by the Arab Forum for Environment and Development says in less than five years Arabs will have to get by on around 7,650 cubic feet of water a year each. That's less than 1- 10th of the world average of 196,800 cubic feet of water per capita.

Agriculture is a major drain on renewable water supplies because of irrigation and that could lead to states going to war over water resources in a region where sectarian and ethnic conflict as well as intrastate tensions are rife.

Yemen, the Arab world's poorest state which is gripped by terrorism, civil strife and a collapsing economy, is expected to run out of water in the next few years. rw doclink

School's Out for Egypt's Sex Education

October 07, 2010   Guardian (London)

In a surprising move, the Egyptian government has decided to scrap all content in the secondary school curriculum relating to sex education, reproductive health and sexually transmitted diseases.

There will be "activities in which the teacher will lead a class discussion on the subject" - a suggestion that is difficult to take seriously since anything remotely related to sex, really - is usually met in Egyptian classrooms with giggles. And teachers were too shy to teach it.

"The coming generation will be lacking basic knowledge in sex, STDs, birth control, hygiene - all thanks to the minister of education." An increasingly religiously conservative society is also to blame.

Even the country's leading medical school at Cairo University does not teach sex education. Ain Shams University medical school students have a "sexology" class - the "anatomical and biological aspects of sex ed, not the social and psychological ones.

While Iran and Tunisia have taken pioneering steps in reaching out to young people to address their needs, the region as a whole lacks the political commitment and institutional capacity to do so. Only Iran, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Bahrain include a reproductive health module in their national school curricula.

In Saudi Arabia, a recent study found that there is a severe need for sex education in the country and that 80% of parents surveyed approved of it. But an Emirati bestselling book on sex education, which has already earned the approval of the Mufti of Dubai, was banned in Saudi Arabia and its author has received death threats from conservatives who accuse her of blasphemy.

In Syria, the United Nations Population Fund feels compelled to reassure people on its website that sex education does not actually encourage sexual activity. Lebanon, often viewed as the most liberal country in the Middle East, had decided in 1997 to teach reproductive health to the 12-14 age group, only to have a presidential decree scrap those chapters from the school curriculum three years later.

A study reported that only 7% of adolescents had learned about sex from their fathers (while 42% of fathers said they discussed the matter with their kids); a 2006 survey by the Pan Arab Project for Family Health reported that, in Algeria, 95% of male respondents and 73% of female respondents had learned about puberty on their own, without professional or family assistance.

Television is potentially a useful source of information. With the airwaves awash with shows featuring clerics of various levels of religious knowledge and taking live telephone questions from the audience, sex and relationship questions have become a staple of the discussions - though unfortunately it is religious clerics and not sexologists who are dispensing advice.

One cable television show, presented by sexologist Dr Heba Kotb, represents the first groundbreaking effort on Arab television to respond to such queries ranging from the simplest to the more complex. A Syrian radio show - Today's Discussion - has reportedly begun to address questions of sex education.

All these programmes preach abstinence and fidelity and premarital sex is not covered by the mainstream educational media The international basic ABC programme - advocating Abstinence, Being Faithful, and using Condoms - finds its effectiveness curtailed when it stops at the first or second letter.

With local campaigns across the region planned to mark World Aids Day on 1 December, it is important to recall that, despite having some of the lowest incidence rates in the world, HIV/Aids is rapidly on the rise, with a 300% increase between 2004 and 2007, compared with 20% globally. This is a terrifying statistic whose only silver lining might be to remind that prevention is better than treatment - and that prevention starts with proper and accurate knowledge. If we want to address this, sex education in schools is the unavoidable first step. rw doclink

Dubai Faces Environmental Problems After Growth

October 2010   New York Times*

Tourists swim amid raw sewage in the the Persian Gulf off Dubai; the purifying of seawater is raising salinity levels; and despite sitting on vast oil reserves, the region is running out of energy sources to support its rich lifestyle.

Waste treatment, providing fresh water, and running major industrial projects require so much electricity that the region is turning to a nuclear future, raising questions about the risks, both environmental and political, of relying in part on a technology vulnerable to accidents and terrorist attacks.

Other countries in the gulf are seeking to emulate it, especially as they prepare for a population boom.

"Growth has been so intense and enormous, but people forgot about the environment," said Jean-François Seznec, professor at Georgetown University in Washington. "Business comes first. Now, they are seeing increased problems, and they realize they have to be careful."

Water in the gulf is undrinkable without desalination plants, which produce emissions of carbon dioxide that have helped give Dubai and the other United Arab Emirates one of the world's largest carbon footprints. They also generate enormous amounts of heated sludge, which is pumped back into the sea.

The emirates desalinate the equivalent of four billion bottles of water a day. But the region has, on average, only an estimated four-day supply of fresh water.

The gulf's salinity levels have risen to 47,000 parts per million, from 32,000 about 30 years ago. Local fauna and marine life are threatened.

Rapid growth has meant that sewage treatment operations that have struggled to keep up with development. Until August, Dubai's single waste treatment plant dealt with 480,000 cubic meters, or 17 million cubic feet, of sewage daily, nearly twice the 260,000-cubic-meter capacity it could properly handle. Some of the raw waste driven in tankers was dumped down drains that flowed to the fashionable Jumeirah suburb.

Meanwhile, hundreds of skyscrapers were built with water and electricity as afterthoughts; environmental standards were rarely applied.

Breakneck pace has stressed natural resources throughout the region. Efforts to achieve developed status within the next 20 years have "magnified" the challenges to environmental protection.

To tackle the water problem, Abu Dhabi has set up a groundwater monitoring system and is recycling by irrigating lawns and desert forests with residual waste. It has started a public awareness campaign. Last month, the government awarded contracts to start building the United Arab Emirates' first water storage facility, which could hold a month's worth of backup.

The government has also started requiring new buildings to be designed using Western-style environmental standards that set goals for water and energy consumption.

Dubai also opened part of a large treatment facility this summer, doubling capacity. Moreover, after Dubai's financial crisis hit, an estimated 400,000 laborers left, easing pressure on the treatment plants, which enjoy excess capacity for the first time.

But other hurdles loom. Major industrial projects like aluminum smelting and steel production, which require large sources of electricity, are taxing the power grid. Many of these projects produce exports that supplement the emirates' oil business and are also used to build infrastructure.

But they are fueled by natural gas from Qatar, which limits supplies to the region. Alternates like solar energy and wind power are few and far between, while other solutions, like coal, are not viable because of transportation and supply challenges.

As a result, the emirates are turning to nuclear power as a major new source of energy. The emirates signed an accord in December with Washington allowing countries to build nuclear plants that do not enrich or reprocess uranium. Abu Dhabi plans to build four plants by 2017 and to generate about 23 percent of the emirates' power by 2020. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Egypt are also studying nuclear power.

While desalination plants use less energy than the big industrial projects, Abu Dhabi is already planning to power some water treatment facilities by electricity from the emirates' nuclear reactors.

In the meantime, the administration of President Obama is trying to stop one of the emirates' neighbors, Iran, from developing nuclear power, out of fear that it intends to build a nuclear weapon. But American officials say they see the emirates' nuclear ambitions as a positive that could prod Iran along the same path of accepting proper safeguards.

From a sustainability perspective, nuclear power makes little sense, said the environmental director at the Gulf Research Center. While it produces clean energy, "it's not renewable, there's a very big problem with waste, and uranium supplies are projected to run out in 40 to 50 years — around the same time as oil," he said. "So there's little logic unless you really want to develop it for political and security reasons." rw doclink

Afghanistan: Girls Flee Homes to Avoid Forced Marriages

August 29, 2010   Pajhwok Afghan News

Many girls in northern Baghlan province opt to run away from their homes instead of accepting forced marriages, which are usually are often arranged by parents for monetary benefits.

The situation has led to concern among women rights activists.

In many cases, girls are forced to marry elderly people in exchange for money, with poverty and ancient customs playing a key role. For example, a 19 year old woman was forced to marry a 65-year-old man. Her father got 80,000 afghanis in exchange. Her husband, who had already three sons and 12 grandchildren, beat her on a daily basis. Her husband divorced her saying she had fled the house and she was sent to prison for six months, but she was happy with the verdict, saying imprisonment would give her protection from the cruel outside world.

Rahima Zarifi, Baghlan women's affairs director, said 15 forced marriage cases were registered with her department this year.

A religious scholar, Maulvi Ihsanullah, says forced marriages are against Islam. rw doclink

Put Women's Rights Back on the Afghan

August 27, 2010   Daily News Egypt

In 2004, after 11 years as refugees, we moved back to Kabul. The issue of women's freedom was still fresh, throughout the country and among the international community and aid organizations. In 2004, women were granted 25% representation in Afghanistans parliament, one of the highest in the world.

But by 2006, terrible violence broke out, pulling Afghan and international attention towards security, while women's rights, security, education and health had become secondary concerns. In recent years, just a few miles from Kabul, women and girls have once again been denied the right to go to school and some have even had their faces sprayed with acid or were subjected to other violent acts, such as kidnapping, rape and murder.

The growing focus away from Afghan women's rights, both in the Afghan government and the international community, leads one to conclude that the presence of women in public and government appears to be merely symbolic in Afghanistan; they hold no real power or influence.

The approval by Afghan President Hamid Karzai of the Shia Personal Status Law in March 2009 effectively destroyed Shia women's rights and freedoms in Afghanistan. Under this law, women have no right to deny their husbands sex unless they are ill, and can be denied food if they do. They are also denied the right to leave the home without the permission of a male family member. An August 2009 revision to the law allowed Shia women to leave their homes without permission only for emergencies.

If the Afghan government and the international community don't make women's rights a priority, the torture and oppression of women will once again become common practice in Afghan society, as it was a decade ago.

Strengthening the central government is key to establishing security throughout the country, which is especially important for women.

Imperative are educational programs that not only teach the population how to read and write, but also provide them with capacity-building trainings for jobs and workshops that include trauma healing, personal empowerment and a foundation for peace-building. Women who work in parliament or governmental organizations need relevant leadership training. rw doclink

Syria Grapples with Surging Population

June 3, 2010   Reuters

Many men in Syria say it is up to Allah whether more children arrive, even if they complaing about how much money they earn.

Syria has a population of 20 million people, with a growth rate that remains one of the world's highest at about 2.4%, but it has declined 3.2% from 1947-94.

A Syrian economist said: "We have a problem, it could be a burden on our development."

Labor has been growing 4.5% a year, outpacing job creation for .25 million youngsters on the job market every year. Perhaps in 20 years the growth rate will go down to 1.5% as in Egypt. The official unemployment rate is around 10%, but independent estimates put it up to 25% percent.

Syrian women have an average of 3.6 children each. Fertility rates are expected to fall from 2 - 2.5 children per woman now to 1.4 - 2 by 2025.

In the seven least-developed governorates, women have between 3.8 and 6.2 children and they are not expected to decline much in the next 15 years.

Urbanization and education, especially among girls and women, are the most potent forces that curb population growth.

Religion is irrelevant. Development brings education, which is a crucial factor because it increases the cost of raising children. Syria has modernized more slowly than Lebanon, where fertility is below the replacement rate.

Contact with the outside world gives people a taste for cars or other goods they can only afford by having fewer children.

Young people may be delaying marriage partly because they spend years in higher education and partly because they then cannot meet the traditional marriage costs.

In rural areas, families are often large because it is relatively cheap to raise children until they start earning money.

Until people who lack knowledge or access to contraceptives desire fewer children, family planning advice is likely to fall on deaf ears. rw doclink

Child Marriage in the Middle East and North Africa

April 2010   Population Reference Bureau

Several international human rights agreements protect children from child marriage. All call for the free and full consent of both parties to marriage, a minimum age of marriage of 18, designation of child marriage as a harmful practice, and protection for the rights of children from all forms of exploitation.

Early marriage compromises girls' development and often results in early pregnancy and social isolation. Child marriage also reinforces the vicious cycle of early marriage, low education, high fertility, and poverty. Most countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have laws on the minimum age for marriage, ranging from age 13 in Iran to age 20 in Tunisia for females, and from age 15 in Yemen to age 21 in Algeria for males (see table).

Some families take advantage of religious laws that condone an earlier marriage age, and arrange for their daughters to marry in religious wedding ceremonies, postponing the official registration until the bride reaches the legal age. Such practices further disadvantage child brides, leaving them with no legal basis to receive inheritance, alimony, or child support if the husband dies prematurely or abandons his underage bride.

With many families conducting religious ceremonies to marry off their young daughters and a low minimum legal age for girls in some countries, a significant number of girls in the MENA region still get married before age 18. In Yemen, one-third of women ages 20 to 24 are married by age 18. In Palestine, Egypt, and Iraq, significant proportions of women ages 20 to 24 were married before their 18th birthday. Among countries with available data, Algeria has the lowest percent of young women who were married before their 18th birthday - 2%.

Education is the most important factor influencing the age of marriage for women. Improving access to education for both girls and boys and eliminating gender gaps in education are important strategies for ending child marriage. Since families have great influence in their daughters' marriages, they need to be involved in the solution and encourage their daughters to stay in school and ensure a protected transition to adulthood.

Increasing the years of compulsory education may be one tactic to prolong the period of time when a girl is in school and unavailable for marriage. In addition, policies and programs should be geared toward discouraging early marriage by:

* Encouraging parents to keep their daughters in school until they finish high school and subsidizing the cost for families with limited financial resources.

* Raising public awareness about children's rights to education and protection against exploitation.

* Changing the attitudes of people who condone the practice of early marriage by targeted campaigns and use of the mass media, showcasing the benefits of keeping girls in school for their individual development and well-being, as well as for benefits to their families.

Girls who marry young are at a higher risk of domestic violence and sexually transmitted diseases, especially since sex is likely to be unprotected within marriage. Social norms often dictate that these young women produce children as soon as possible after marriage, but girls are risking their lives in doing so - young adolescents' risk of illness, injury, or death as a result of pregnancy is much higher than for women over 18.

Efforts are also needed to address concerns of those who are already married at a young age by:

* Ensuring their access to school, so they can fulfill their right to a full education.

* Decreasing the pressure on young women to conceive through advocacy and education on the dangers of early motherhood.

* Improving their access to reproductive health care, including family planning services.

* Providing them with training programs to improve their life skills and ensure that they can earn a livelihood.

* Providing services to victims of domestic violence.

The media can force policymakers to react, as happened in highly publicized cases in Yemen and Saudi Arabia where girls as young as 9 and 12 were trying to divorce their older husbands. In both countries, the publicized cases brought child and human rights advocates and lawyers together to campaign against child marriage. In Yemen, the story caused Parliament to discuss the issue and consider raising the minimum legal age of marriage for girls to 17 years. In Saudi Arabia, which has no legal minimum age for marriage, a draft law is now under discussion to set a minimum age for marriage of between 16 and 18. Until such a law is enacted, advocates are pressing for the Saudi government to ban notaries from legitimizing the marriages of girls under 18. rw doclink

Egypt Plagued with Street Children

March 30, 2010   Jerusalem Post

Egypt's 90,000 to 1 million street children find themselves on the street, usually when mother or father have no money to pay the rent or mom has to turn to prostitution.

Egypt in 2003 adopted a new national strategy for the protection and rehabilitation of street children, which tasked the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) with coordinating the efforts of NGOs and relevant governmental organizations. But the national strategy has yet to become operational in the form of an action plan.

Some say the number of births in Egypt is increasing because of illegal marriages, involving underage girls, which in turn fueled the existence of street children and child labor, adding to a national population growing by 1.5 million every year. But another said: "We don't have early marriage in Egypt because the age has risen. Many don't marry until their 30s because of the economic circumstances."

The minister said fighting school dropouts was one of the most effective ways to deal with the problem.

"If you don't eliminate poverty, you will always have street children," another said. "No number of governmental agencies and NGOs will be able to look out for this number of children."

“If you talk about one million street children in Egypt, who will marry and have children, they will send them to the streets with completely different norms and values to the society," Tibe explained. “It will cause a conflict in society itself, because the rehabilitation institution does not develop alternatives for these children to become respected people in the community. There is no way but crime."

Save the Children in Egypt said that in the past, thousands of such children were arrested, by virtue of being on the street alone, and were sent to detention centers without appropriate protection. But now the police sometimes demand money from the homeless children who are lucky enough to earn some money and even save some of it.

A UNICEF spokesman for the MENA region told said the factors include "poverty, rural migration, bad housing, school dropout, violence against children and others. Children living in the street are affected by a combination of mutually reinforcing protection risks such as child labor, trafficking, conflict with the law and abuse."

A government survey in 2009 suggested that 42% of street children in Egypt are school dropouts, and 30% had never attended school at all. Many are ignorant about health, hygiene, and nutrition and deprived of services. As children living on the fringe subsist on an inadequate diet, they are often malnourished and most of them are illiterate.

“The phenomenon is, by its nature, extremely difficult to measure," he explained, “as classical information gathering exercises such as households surveys, are not designed to capture their situation. Moreover, being in the street is a status offence for children in several countries in the region." doclink

Karen Gaia says: there are only 80.5 million people in Egypt. 1 million street kids is an amazingly high proportion!

12-year-old Saudi Girl in Divorce Battle with 80-Year-Old Husband

February 9, 2010   Times Online

A 12-year-old has been married to an 80-year-old man in Saudi Arabia, where child marriage is common. She is to receive legal assistance in order to obtain a divorce from the Government in what could become a test case for banning child marriage in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia has no minimum legal age for marriage, but there is a proposed law for a minimum age for marriage of between 16 and 18.. Activists hope that the case will be a watershed in the campaign to ban the practice.

The girl was married last year against her wishes and those of her mother.

A lawyer for the Saudi Human Rights commission said: " ... it is in the hands of the court but the commission is firmly on the child's side." If a divorce is not granted, the commission will pursue the matter through the appeals court.

Some judges and clerics have used the Prophet Muhammad's marriage to a nine-year-old girl as justification of child marriage, but Sheikh Abdullah al-Manie, a senior Saudi cleric, declared that the Prophet's marriage 14 centuries ago could not be used to justify child marriages today. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Child marriages add to the number of generations alive at one time, as well as result in more children per woman, since child brides are seldom given any options in life except produce children and keep the house. Often these young brides are too young to produce children and end up having obstetric fistulas or die in childbirth.

Saudi Arabia to Replace Oil with Sun Power for Desalination Plants

February 1, 2010   Green Prophet

Saudi Arabia is building the world's largest desalination plant on the shores of the Persian Gulf where its current 28 desalination plants rely of fossil fuel.

The Kingdom is planning to build solar energy based desalination plants in order to save on energy costs, as well as be in tune with new environmental polices. This might be to secure membership in the International Renewable Energy Agency, otherwise known as IRENA.

The Kingdom may even become an exporter of solar energy as it has been doing with oil. It takes 1.5 million barrels per day to supply drinking water to Saudi citzens. The price of desalinated water has risen as oil prices have risen.

The Kingdom is also building a high speed train network, which may help to eliminate many of the thousands of buses which are currently used. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: perhaps the Saudis are aware of the nearness of peak oil.

Fertility Rate, Religion, and Conflict

January 12, 2010   Bruce Sundquist

The 15 nations of the world with the lowest total fertility rates are predominantly Catholic countries. In addition, the data indicates that the outlook of Muslims is changing toward contraception. Imans and Mullas are more willing to put forth favorable fatawas on that issue.

All the non-Muslim nations that border on the Muslim world will be delighted, since that interface is where many of the armed conflicts are taking place, or have taken place in recent decades. Elsewhere on the website is data that shows armed conflict increases markedly with total fertility rate.

Follow the link to reach this data. doclink

Arab World in Water Crisis, Reports Jordanian Journalist

January 5, 2010   Green Prophet

75% of the surface water in the Arab world originates from outside its borders, and many people there live well below the water poverty line of 500 cubic metres annually. At a conference in Jordan, this was discussed in a conference on water insecurity.

Climate change and its further impact on poorly-available Middle East water resources was also discussed, as were increased drought and desertification, scarcity of water resources, increased salinity of groundwater and the spread of pest epidemics and diseases caused by the phenomenon.

Jordanian residents rely on bi-weekly water deliveries to their homes, that fill up tanks located on roofs or in underground wells. Climate change has caused a 30% reduction in Jordan's surface water resources, as well as a decrease in the volume of rainfall and agricultural production, both of which the country and the Arab world heavily rely on.

The three-day meeting was organised by the Arab Administrative Development Organization, and included water experts from Iraq, Jordan, Oman, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Cooperation among all Middle East countries, Arab or not, would be beneficial to curbing major foreseeable problems. NATO, for example, is already working to be the bridge between Jordan and Israel. doclink

Egypt: The Love Brokers

May 4, 2009   Business Today

9 million Egyptians (out of a population of 83 million) over the age of 35 are unmarried, even though one is not considered a good Muslim until he or she marries.

The process of marriage here can break the bank. To purchase an apartment and gold for the bride, provide the money given by the man to the bride's family, and pay for the marriage itself typically requires thousands of pounds, a hardship which has caused many Egyptians to abandon or delay the idea of marriage. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: Egypt's fertility rate is 2.66 children per woman and growth rate is 1.642%, and 5 million are street children. It is just as well that the marriage rate is slowing.

Egypt: Population: Struggle to Keep Pace with Ever Increasing Numbers

The Financial Times Limited

Happy Childhood Association is in a poor district of Cairo. Patients await their turn to see the doctor, a family planning volunteer, with a big board of colourful drawings of the female reproductive organs.

Many people, especially those in urban areas, believe in the benefits of family planning, but Egypt's population of 78m continues to grow at an annual rate of 1.9% more than 1.5m new mouths to feed every year.

The pressures on services and resources created by the fast expanding population are a source of frustration to officials who argue that the development process cannot keep pace with the growth in numbers. A third of all Egyptians is under the age of 15, generating a huge challenge in meeting the demand for housing, health services, education and jobs. President Mubarak, warned that the population could more than double to 160m by 2050. He said it was an "urgent problem" and even if measures to slow down the rate of growth were successful, there could be 100m Egyptians by 2025 and 120m by 2050.

Planning programmes and television campaigns have created a degree of public awareness but there is still a gap between the size of the family people say they would like to have and the one they actually have.

The doctor at the Happy Childhood Association is sceptical about the determination of the women at her clinic to stick to having two children only. "They are still in their 20s and 30s, she says, see how many children they have by their 40s. Female education and government-driven family planning efforts have reduced the fertility rate to 3.2 children per woman down from 7.2 in the early 1960s. But to reach a static population the fertility rate needs to drop to two children per woman, -- replacement-level. But we have a culture of three children, This exists across the board, even among the educated.

Some groups want more children. Some believe in having sons, or they are afraid of using contraception, or they believe that children provide security for their old age.

The religious establishment is supportive of family planning, but a more negative message is often received from local religious leaders. Women tend to get their contraceptives from state clinics where they have trained doctors, but once there is a problem, they often resort to private doctors in the belief that a paid service is better.

A woman could go to a government clinic and have the methods and side effects explained. If she receives good service, she will have the confidence to return if there is a problem. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: male preference will keep the fertility rate to around 3 babies per woman. Egypt needs to improve women's equality.

Helping Child Brides Break Free

September 25, 2008   CNN.com

In Yemen, a deeply conservative Middle East Muslim nation, brides as young as age 10 marrying men 3 times their age are not uncommon. Extreme poverty leads some parents to marry off their daughters, while others do it to protect the girls from spinsterhood, or from potentially shaming the family by getting involved with a man out of wedlock.

But young girls often end up beaten and raped. More than 50% of Yemeni women are married before they are 18; in some regions, 8- and 10-year-old brides are the norm.

The 1992 law that set Yemen's marriage age at 15 was later amended to allow even younger girls to wed with arental approval. However, they are not supposed to have sexual relations until they are "mature," a stipulation that's difficult to enforce.

Specialists believe that young girls giving birth at an early age has contributed to Yemen having one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, according to the United Nations Population Fund.

Activists are hoping to raise the marriage age to 18. doclink

Israel: Electric-car Visionary Would Overhaul the Way We Get Around

August 19, 2008   Grist Magazine

Over 100,000 electric cars will roll out in Israel by the end of 2011, and Denmark will provide a testing ground. This is a way that's profit able for business, cheap for drivers, and easy on the planet. Drivers purchase electricity on subscription, paying for unlimited miles, a certain number of miles per month, or pay-as-you-go. At battery exchange stations drivers swap in a fully charged one. rw doclink

Mideast Facing Choice Between Crops and Water

July 21, 2008   International Herald Tribune

The Middle East and North Africa are forced to choose between growing more crops to feed an expanding population or preserving their supply of water.

This region has drained aquifers, sucked the salt from seawater and diverted the mighty Nile to make the deserts bloom. But they used so much water that today, some countries import 90% of their staples.

The population of the region is expected to reach nearly 600 million by 2050. Then the amount of fresh water for each person will be cut in half, and could inflame political tensions. These nations are turning to expensive schemes to maintain their food supply.

Djibouti is growing rice in solar-powered greenhouses, fed by groundwater and cooled with seawater, probably the most expensive rice on earth.

Several oil-rich nations have started searching for farmland in Pakistan and Sudan, with the goal of growing crops to be shipped home.

In Egypt, officials are looking into growing wheat on two million acres straddling the border with Sudan.

Saudi Arabia tapped aquifers to become self-sufficient in wheat production in the 1980s. This year, however, the Saudis will phase out the program because it used too much water.

Egypt dreamed of converting desert into farmland. The most ambitious of these projects is in Toshka where the farm was started in 1997. But no one has moved there, and only 30,000 acres or so have been planted.

The farm's manager says the Sahara is perfect for farming, as long as there is plenty of fertilizer and water. It's a nice project, but it needs a lot of money.

Mubarak calls his country's growing population an "urgent" problem that has exacerbated the food crisis.

Adding 1.3 million Egyptians each year is a daunting prospect for a country in which 2% of citizens live in poverty.

People used to buy pasta for their kids. But now that it cost's four and a half pounds, they give them bread instead.

Economists say that, rather than seeking to become self-sufficient with food, countries in this region should grow crops for which they have a competitive advantage, like produce or flowers. A 39-year-old runs a 150-acre tomato and pepper empire in the Negev Desert of Israel. His plants, grown in greenhouses with elaborate trellises and then exported to Europe, are irrigated with treated sewer water that he says is so pure he has to add minerals. The water is pumped through drip irrigation lines covered tightly with black plastic to prevent evaporation.

Israel has become the world's leader in maximizing agricultural output per drop of water. Egypt's new desert farms now use drip irrigation.

Another 200 million cubic meters of marginal water are to be recycled, in addition to promoting the establishment of desalination plants in Israel.

Four years of drought have created "a deep water crisis," forcing the country to cut farmers' quotas.

Under a 1959 treaty, Egypt is entitled to a disproportionate share of the Nile's water, that rankles some of its neighbors. It has built canals to bring Nile water to the Sinai Desert, and to the vast emptiness of Toshka.

An adviser says that the country has little choice. All of Egypt's farms and population are now crowded onto just 4% of its land.

Egypt is establishing an estimated 200,000 acres of farmland in the desert each year, even as it loses 60,000 acres of its best farmland to urbanization. The scourge is development. rw doclink

Jordan: Social norms, gender preference hindering family planning

July 21, 2008   Jordan Times (Amman)

A survey revealed that although over 90% of married men and women in Amman believe smaller families lead to a better quality of life, only some 50% adhere to the practice.

Gender preferences and the belief that large families lead to long-term security are behind this discrepancy.

Despite campaigns promoting the benefits of having smaller families, the fertility trend has not changed.

Although many couples are content with only two children, the fertility rate has not changed over recent years, families still tend to lean towards having four children. Some 94% of married women and 90% of married men believe having smaller families leads to a better quality of life.

The percentage of those who would adhere to having a family of two children, was 44% of married women and 50% of married men.

Married women back in 2005 desired to have 4.3 children compared to 4.1 children in 2008. For married men, the number also decreased slightly, from 4.2 children in 2005 to 4.1 this year.

Married women continue to prefer boys over girls. Gender preference has an impact on contraceptive use, which showed families with more boys are more likely to use contraceptives.

About 44% of couples who use contraceptives abandon the practice after 12 months.

Social norms are steering such trends.

Sometimes women have an ideal vision of what they want but then that reality changes once they face life in the real world. It is an issue that can be addressed through dialogue and ongoing awareness, improved counselling by and education of women. Education and women's empowerment remain a key to changing society's views of women primarily as caregivers.

Families will come to see that girls equal the value that is so often placed on boys. rw doclink

The Food Chain: Mideast Facing Choice Between Crops and Water

July 21, 2008   New York Times*

Global food shortages have forced the Middle East and North Africa to choose between growing more crops to feed an expanding population or preserving their scant supply of water.

For decades nations in this region have drained aquifers, and diverted the Nile to make the deserts bloom. But those projects used so much water that it remained more practical to import food. Some countries import 90% or more of their staples.

The population of the region has more than quadrupled since 1950, to 364 million, and is expected to reach nearly 600 million by 2050. By that time the amount of fresh water available for each person will be cut in half and declining resources could inflame political tensions.

The countries of the region are caught between rising food prices and declining water availability. Losing confidence in world markets, these nations are turning to expensive schemes to maintain their food supply.

Djibouti is growing rice in solar-powered greenhouses, fed by groundwater and cooled with seawater, producing the most expensive rice on earth.

Several oil-rich nations, including Saudi Arabia, have started searching for farmland in politically unstable countries with the goal of growing crops to be shipped home.

In Egypt, where a shortage of subsidized bread led to rioting in April, government officials say they are looking into growing wheat on two million acres straddling the border with Sudan.

Nutritional self-sufficiency presents challenges that are not easily overcome. Saudi Arabia tapped aquifers to become self-sufficient in wheat production in the 1980s. This year, the Saudis said they would phase out the program because it uses too much water.

Egypt, too, has for decades dreamed of converting huge swaths of desert into lush farmland. When the Toshka farm was started in 1997, the Egyptian president, compared its ambitions to building the pyramids, involving roughly 500,000 acres of farmland and tens of thousands of residents. But only 30,000 acres or so have been planted.

The Sahara is perfect for farming, as long as there is plenty of fertilizer and water. "You can grow anything on this land, but it needs a lot of money."

Adding 1.3 million Egyptians each year to the 77 million squeezed into an inhabited area roughly the size of Taiwan is a daunting prospect. Economists say that countries in this region should grow crops for which they have a competitive advantage, like flowers, which do not require much water and can be exported for top dollar.

Israel has become the world's leader in maximizing agricultural output per drop of water, and many believe that it serves as a viable model for other countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Israeli government strictly regulates how much water farmers can use and requires many of them to irrigate with treated sewer water, pumped to farms in purple pipes. Another 200 million cubic meters of marginal water are to be recycled.

Egypt has the Nile and is entitled to a disproportionate share of the river's water, a point that rankles some of its neighbors. It has built canals to bring Nile water to the Sinai Desert, to desert lands between Cairo and Alexandria and to the vast emptiness of Toshka.

Egypt is establishing an estimated 200,000 acres of farmland in the desert each year, even as it loses 60,000 acres of its best farmland to urbanization. For farmers the new buildings not only ruin the rural tranquility of their ancient fields, but they also reduce yields. rw doclink

Yemen: Government Planning to Curb Population Growth

July 14, 2008   IRIN News (UN)

Over 80% of Yemenis know about family planning, but the problem lies in practice. The National Population Council (NPC) has approved a plan to reduce the fertility rate - one of the highest in the world.

The NPC plan will run until 2010, with the help of 22 governmental and non-governmental bodies.

The strategy needs US$8 million, half of contributed by donors and the other half by the government.

The plan involves raising awareness about population issues by training religious and community leaders, TV and radio programmes, and adding population studies to curriculums at academic institutions.

The NPC aims to reduce the current fertility rate from 6.1% to 4.0% by 2015. This depends on getting funds.

Yemen's population is increasing by 700,000 every year.

Efforts would be made to offer free family planning services. Some thought family planning would lead to health problems and was not allowed in Islam.

According to UNFPA, Yemen's population may reach 60 million in 2050 if the high annual growth rate continues at 3.01%. About 2.2 million new jobs would be needed, and 14.7 million children in primary school, requiring 490,000 teachers.

Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world and population growth poses challenges in a country which, imports 75% of its food and suffers acute water shortages. rw doclink

U.A.E.: Abu Dhabi Announces Transport Plan

May 25, 2008   XPRESS

The Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi announced a plan 2008-2012 covering aviation, maritime, public transport, and highways.

The plan aims to to deliver an effective transport system that contributes to economic growth, quality of life and environmental sustainability. The integration of all transport, and aligning it with the future needs. Abu Dhabi is witnessing growth in the economic, industrial and tourism sectors, which need to be supported by a strong and modern transport infrastructure. Department of Transport has set out priorities that come in conformity with the Government strategy following global best practice, in pursuit of a comfortable, fast and reliable transport network in and between the cities and suburbs of Abu Dhabi.

The Department of Transport priorities are:

Planning and performance management to ensure integration between transport and the transport master plan.

The expansion of the air transport network in support of the aviation growth through the implementation of the Open Skies policy. Planning to build integrated seaports following the highest global standards. Khalifa Port at Taweela will allow for the future handling of 80 million tones. New public transport solutions to connect Abu Dhabi and its suburbs to other parts of the Emirate.

The implementation of best practice of highways and its infrastructure to ensure the highest standards of safety and security.

Overseeing the quality of passenger, cargo and airline services offered at the airport. The expansion of the air transport coverage through the implementation of the Open Skies policy. tion with other transport sectors.

Ensure efficiency at sea ports in the Emirate, in environmental sustainability and integration with other sectors. The development of transport services, the connection of all cities, suburbs and regions in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Minimize the negative environmental effects of public transportion energy sources.

The priorities of the Highways Sector are the extension of the highways network throughout the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to cope with current and future urban expansion and population growth. The expansion and maintenance of the highway network to ensure seamless travel and the continuity of the highways network quality and effectiveness while implementing and following global best practice in all areas of activity. rw doclink

The Arab World Gets Serious About Climate Change

April 22, 2008   Reporter Associati

Arab environmentalists know that, when it comes to leadership to combat climate change, the Arab World was not the best example.

Arab countries that build their economies on fossil energy, and middle-income countries like Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Syria, Egypt and Morocco that depend mostly on imported oil, are not at the fore front of policies and projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Its per capita production rate of greenhouse gases is almost identical to the EU. This puts pressures on the region to start reducing its rate of greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change is a major threat to the security of the Middle East. Existing tensions over access to water are almost certain to intensify in this region leading to further political instability. In a recent report by FAO it was stated that crop growing may become unsustainable in some areas as a result of the interactions of factors. Maize yields in North Africa, could fall by 15-25% with a three degree centigrade rise in temperature.

The 19th session of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment witnessed the agreement of the all Arab countries to deal with climate change issues. The declaration stated the need for the production and use of cleaner fuels, improving the efficiency of energy use, expanding the use of cleaner production techniques and environmental friendly technologies.

The Arab world has became active in developing new technologies for reduction of greenhouse emissions. The beginning of construction of the first carbon-neutral, waste-free city in Abu Dhabi, will showcase the best available technologies for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The city will use 75% less electricity and half the water of conventional cities. The city's narrow thoroughfares will draw on the traditional architecture of the old walled towns of the Middle East.

In the last meeting of the OPEC Ministers in Riyadh four Arab Gulf countries have decided to develop a US $ 750 million research fund for Climate Change. This is to support more efficient petroleum technologies for the protection of the environment, and promote the development of technologies such as carbon capture and storage. An estimated $120 billion investment is anticipated in the industry over the next 10 years. If this package of initiatives can be linked together in a shift towards sustainability and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Arab World will be able to declare its role as an active contributor in the global efforts to save the Earth. rw doclink

Yemen: Gender Equality One Key to Sustainable World

April 01, 2008   StarPhoenix

A critical factor in environmental sustainability is the size of the human population and, for reduced population growth, the female status.

When women have the same status, rights and opportunities as men, population growth is more likely to slow and eventually end. This is based on statistics from the UN. An example of a "gender-sustainability gap" is Yemen, which is one of the poorest countries and has severe resource limitations, especially a lack of water. It also has very low female status and an extremely high fertility rate of 3.4%. The population is expected to increase from 22 million today to 71 million by 2050. Only 39% of girls are enrolled in primary school.

Yemen is a male-dominated society, with cultural and religious values that place great value on a large number of male offspring and little value on the status of girls and women.

Women must spend hours every day collecting water from rapidly dwindling sources.

In 19 of 21 of the country's aquifers, more water is being consumed than can be recharged. People must pay for water trucks to bring water to their villages.

Nearly 75% of Yemenis still live in the countryside, but a drift to the cities has overwhelmed urban water utilities.

In Sanaa, where the population has mushroomed to 2 million people from 60,000, drilling rigs are required to dig deeper, since water levels are dropping by up to 20 metres a year. rw doclink

The Cost of War

March 19, 2008   American Progress website

During the past five years America has spent $3,000,000 million US dollars on winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis. America has buried nearly 4,000 troops and there are over 50,000 wounded and disabled in daily treatment by the VA. Last week the DoD admitted that the cost of the Iraq War has been $12,000,million per month.

Cheney needed bodyguards just to move around the Green Zone, which took incoming mortar fire during Cheney's visit. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: this does not mention the Iraqi casualties. There are over 1 million deaths due to the war in Iraq.

Women: Iraq's Persecuted Majority; in the Past Five Years, Surveys Have Found a Staggering Rise in Domestic Abuse and a Precipitous Drop in the Number of Girls in School

March 18, 2008   Globe and Mail

It's one of the biggest of Iraq's many tragedies that although there are no reliable estimates, the country's Minister For Women says there could be as many as two million widows in Iraq. The figures are a testament to Saddam Hussein's murderous rule, wars and harsh United Nations sanctions; then the U.S, invasion and the violence it inspired.

Mr. Hussein's Iraq was a secular society and women and men were equal before the law.

Surveys conducted by Women for Women International found a rise in domestic abuse during the past five years, and a drop in the number of girls being enrolled in school.

Tens of thousands have been forced into prostitution. In recent months, there's even been a disturbing rise in the number of women suicide bombers.

Many women in Baghdad say they only leave their homes when it's absolutely necessary. On the occasions they do go outside, most women wear a head scarf and form-concealing dress to avoid drawing the attention of the militias, that impose a harsh form of sharia law.

Five years after they were supposed to have been liberated, the women rallied under the banner "Stop neglecting women. Stop killing women. Stop creating widows."

Security is tight around Narmin Othman, who holds two portfolios - Environment Minister and acting minister for women. She spends much of her time moving between her home and office, which are both in the fortified and in the U.S.-protected green zone. When she goes out in the city, she does so in an armed convoy.

Iraq's new constitution is remarkable for the Muslim world in that it requires 25% of seats in parliament be allocated to women, with a similar quota of positions in the senior bureaucracy. But the chaos in Iraq has allowed groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq to terrorize women who don't follow their harsh interpretation of Islam. A clause in Iraq's new constitution allows different family and divorce laws for each religious sect, something that has made sharia - which allows the man to unilaterally divorce the woman, but not vice versa, the principle in many parts of Iraq.

Her efforts to have that clause reopened have hit the conservative beliefs of her fellow ministers, including Prime Minister al-Maliki.

It Basra, now under the control of Shia militias, graffiti on the walls warn women not to wear makeup or go outside without proper Islamic dress. Police say more than 40 women have been killed in recent months for violating the dress code. In two cases, the woman's children were slain along with her.

Women for Women International, a non-governmental organization recently surveyed 1,513 women. Here's some of what they found.

10.7 % Were widowed

70.5 % Didn't know whether they had the right to move freely

52.7 % Didn't know whether they had the right to an education

76.2 % Said girls in their family were not allowed to attend school

56.7 % Found it harder for girls to attend school than before the war

52 % Didn't know whether they had the right to political participation

63.9 % Felt that violence against women was increasing

67.9 % Found it less likely now to be able to walk down the street as they please

56.7 % Found it harder now to work outside the home rw doclink

Egyptian President Says Unrestricted Rise of the Population Affects the Quality of Life

March 17, 2008   International Herald Tribune

Egyptian President Mubarak warned that the unchecked rise of the population would wipe away all country's economic growth.

Mubarak's remarks came at a meeting to address the shortages of subsidized bread that have hurt millions of the poor as well as a lack of housing. "The unrestricted growth of the population affects the quality of the citizen's life and the nation as well," Mubarak stressed the need to drop the birth rate in Egypt where the population has tripled since 1952 to 76 million. The president has often cited population growth as a major obstacle to the country's economic development. Mubarak told the government to raise awareness over the effects of a rising population on drinking water, the sewage system and hospitals and schools.

The ministers also discussed how to build new towns to absorb the increase in the population and more industrial projects to provide jobs. But many Egyptians see large families as a source of financial security.

Rising food prices, stagnant wages and an inefficient and corrupt distribution system have led to hours-long lines for subsidized bread. At least 10 Egyptians have died in incidents at bread lines this year.

Health Minister announced an $80 million family-planning campaign with the slogan "Two children per family -- a chance for a better life."

Egypt's fertility rate, 2.7 children born per woman, places it 88th. The US ranks 126th with 2.1 children per woman.

Egypt has had aggressive birth-control campaigns in the past. TV ads in the 1990s urged condom use, showing a small family ascending into prosperity and a large one descending into poverty.

People listen to the president, but they don't follow his recommendation, because it is a necessity for them to have children. rw doclink

UAE Development - Skyscrapers Built on Sand

March 11, 2008   Ethical Corporation Magazine

Gulf leaders should wake up to the environmental costs of their rush to attract wealthy visitors. News about urban developments in the UAE has been greeted with a mixture of awe and uncertainty across the world. Growth rates of 16% in the resource-poor emirate of Dubai reinforce optimism, the question remains: who is taking ownership of the sustainability agenda in the UAE?

Demand for new developments is ever increasing. In Dubai, hotel occupancy levels are at over 80% and rates are at record highs. Dubai's population is a measly 1.4 million people. And the entire UAE is home to 4.1 million, 80% of whom are foreigners.

Are Dubai's plans for 15 million visitors to contribute 20% of GDP are realistic? The strategy of Dubai authorities is "build it and they will come". But with neighbouring emirates also planning expansion, what happens if demand wanes?

What is most troubling is the damage they are causing the environment. Palm Islands has clouded Gulf waters with silt. Construction has buried coral reefs, oyster beds and subterranean sea grass, while the disruption of natural currents is leading to the erosion of beaches. rw doclink

Water Fears Lead Saudis to End Grain Output

February 27, 2008   unknown

Saudi Arabia plans to halt wheat production by 2016 because of concerns about scarce water resources. The Saudi government has not publicly given details, which comes as global cereal prices surge. Saudi Arabia will begin reducing production annually by 12.5% and will use imports to bridge the gap. The US estimates that Saudi Arabia's wheat imports will reach 3.4m tons by 2016, which could be in the top 15 largest importers of the cereal. The country at present produces about 2.5m tons annually.

The increase in demand would tighten global wheat supplies even further. The US report said that "the main reason for change in wheat production was concern over the depletion of fossil water since the crop is grown on 100% central pivot irrigation. The Saudi administration launched an agricultural development programme in the 1970s, including the establishment of irrigation networks, to become self-sufficient for some food supplies. Saudi Arabia became a net exporter and by 1991 production had reached 3.8m tons.

Demand for water is increasing rapidly as the population has swelled from 7m in 1974 to about 24m, with the government seeking to boost industry. The country has no permanent rivers or lakes and very little rainfall. The government has relied on dams to trap seasonal floods, tens of thousands of deep wells and 27 desalination plants. It is so expensive to produce water in Saudi Arabia. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: I believe this makes the case against desalination as a cure-all for the world water crisis. Saudi Arabia is a fuel-rich country, and if desalination were feasible for agriculture, the Saudis could do it.

Bahrain Accused of Population Cover-up

February 12, 2008   Arabian Business

A leading Bahraini MP accused the government of nationalising expatriates and covering up the kingdom's soaring population. Bahrain's population is made up of majority Shi'ite Muslims, but the kingdom is ruled by a Sunni dynasty. The government has been accused of naturalising Sunni Muslims in an effort to change the demography.

Sheikh Ali Salman called for the sacking of Cabinet Affairs Minister, accusing him of either failing to keep track of population growth or hiding the figures. In response a written response, revealed Bahrain's population to be 1,046,814, of which 529,446 are nationals.

We thought the population was just 750,000," Sheikh Salman said in parliament. Bahrain's local population should be 447,531 today, given the population's annual growth rate of 2.7%. "We are shocked to see it at 529,446. This shows that the increase is the result of criminal political naturalisation," he added.

Naturalisation had robbed Bahrainis of at least 10,000 jobs.

The population growth had impacted the quality of education and healthcare, increasing the average number of students in classrooms and how long people had to wait for hospital appointments.

Responding, Sheikh Ahmed said the expanding local population was due to a rise in the birth rate, which stood at 3.6% and not 2.7%.

He said the growth in the expatriate population stood at 8.8% and that the high number of foreign workers were needed for the kingdom's economic development. rw doclink

Mideast Fertility Rates Plunge

January 29, 2008   Middle East Times

According to data from U.N. Statistical Division, Arab birth rates in general are dropping dramatically, and the number of births among women under 20 is dropping more sharply. The only places in the world where high birth rates are the norm are in sub-Saharan Africa, Central America, Yemen and the Palestinian territories.

The average number of children born to women of childbearing age in Niger is 7.2. The lowest is in Hong Kong, with 1.

A level of 2.1 is required to keep a population stable. Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Lebanon, are either below or very close to that stability level of 2.1. Algeria and Morocco, at 2.4, are dropping fast. Some other Islamic countries are also in this zone of population stability or decline, including Turkey (2.1), and Indonesia (2.2). Iran is listed at 2.0, but recent data suggests that it is around 1.7. The world's highest birthrate among adolescents is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with 222 births per year among teenage girls. In Britain, it is 24, in Algeria (7), Morocco (19), Oman (10), Kuwait (13), Qatar (17) the UAE (18) and Tunisia (7). While Jordan (25) and Saudi Arabia (28) are close to the British level.

The birthrate of mothers of North African origin in France drops to the local norm within two generations. The birthrate of Muslim and Arab women who did not emigrate is plummeting in a similar fashion.

These figures carry important implications. They also mean that by the middle of this century, the Middle Eastern countries will start to worry about the growing numbers of elderly pensioners that now alarm Europe and threaten to undermine its welfare states. rw doclink

U.A.E.: Abu Dhabi: Funding Fuel Alternatives

January 28, 2008   Daily Camera

Demand for energy both in Abu Dhabi and abroad is growing. Electricity demand in the UAE is growing 10% per year. Abu Dhabi, has the world's third-highest greenhouse gas emissions per capita, and is keen to improve its environment while providing energy for the emirate's growth.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi announced that the government would dedicate $15 billion to a spread of 'green' energy endeavours, including the world's largest hydrogen power plant.

The proposed 500 MW plant will be a joint venture between Masdar, and British Petroleum (BP) and Rio Tinto. based in the UK and Australia. Masdar will hold a 60% stake in the development and BP and Rio Tinto will hold shares of 20%.

Funds will also be allocated for the development of Masdar City, the world's first zero-carbon, zero-waste city. Powered by sources of renewable energy, the 6 sq km city aims to house 50,000 residents and over 1000 businesses focused on sustainability and alternative energy. The city is scheduled to be completed in 2013, with construction to begin next month. It is being designed with input from the World Wildlife Fund.

Abu Dhabi's Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) is working in partnership with Masdar to create alternative energy solutions to power new developments on Sir Bani Yas, an island that is home to the largest wind turbine in the Middle East. The 65 metre high turbine, manufactured by Vestas Denmark, has a capacity of 850 KW per hour, and helps to power facilities on the island in conjunction with the national electrical grid.

Sir Bani Yas is at the centre of a new eight-island 'eco-resort' and the developers plan to utilise solar and wind solutions.

The government hopes to position the Masdar initiative as a key component of its economic growth. According to a group statement, Masdar aims to create a new economic sector in Abu Dhabi, turning it into an exporter of technology.

Investments in the alternative energy business reached $70.9 billion in 2006. The profitability of Abu Dhabi's environmental programmes have been questioned by those who point out that the technology needed for sustainable development may not be commercially feasible. rw doclink

U.A.E.: Inflation a Major Policy Challenge

January 28, 2008   Emirates Business

Inflation in the GCC will remain the key policy challenge this year. According to a report, GCC governments see high inflation as a welfare cost and are attempting to overcome it via higher subsidies, allowances, wage increases, caps on rents, etc.

With rising costs hidden by subsidies and transfers, domestic demand will continue to grow, the report said. The Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ADCCI) said the decision by the governments to impose a 5% cap on rent increases was not likely to tackle the challenge.

What is needed is a package of measures to check inflation and resolve the problem, which has started to put pressure on the domestic economy. According to the report, high inflation poses a challenge to the sustainability of the GCC's business model. The strategy of diversifying away from an oil-dependent economy is well grounded. However, resources are still scarce in terms of human capital and physical absorptive capacity is limited.

Inflation is one enemy, as it impacts the lower income segment. We need to manage inflation.

Most of the inflation in the UAE is caused by supply bottlenecks. The UAE will obviate these supply bottlenecks through: an increasing expatriate population and mega infrastructure projects. Inflation threatens the sustainability of both of these channels. There has been some scaling back of major projects, and this could fuel inflationary pressures further.

High wage increases and transfers and subsidies are likely to erode fiscal surpluses this year.

The US Fed is likely to keep cutting interest rates, and expects Fed rates of 1% by the first quarter of next year. GCC countries will introduce a significant stimulus to their economies if they continue following US monetary policy. Policy in the Gulf would be too expansionary, as real interest rates would plunge further. GDP growth in the Gulf will slow down to 5.7% this year, from an average of 7.3%over the past five years.

Qatar has logged the region's highest average GDP over the past 5 years with a growth rate of 11%. Inflation in Qatar is the highest in the GCC.

The UAE's annual GDP growth has averaged just under 10% over the past five years, Saudi Arabia has averaged 5% per year rowth in the 5 year period post-2002.

There will be too much money chasing too few goods and services resulting in higher prices. Inflation in the GCC is driven by supply bottlenecks but we expect the GCC to spend more of its fiscal surplus in the coming years and oil prices will stay high.

Rapid population growth and a lack of human capital tighten supply bottlenecks and feed into inflation through high wage increases. The total worth of construction projects under way in the whole Middle East was almost $1 trillion last year.

Contract costs have prompted project sponsors to postpone or even cancel some of their capital projects. The number of projects has declined by 10% per cent across the region, except in the UAE.

The fiscal stance of the UAE has been prudent over the past 5 years, with revenue growth outstripping overall spending. The budget surplus is likely to have peaked at 29% of GDP last year.

The bank expects the government to use its surplus to finance its mega projects. External debt reached 50% of GDP at end-2006. The UAE is likely to have a surplus of $45bn (Dh165.1bn) last year, most of which the bank expects to be fed into the country's sovereign wealth funds.

While Qatar saw the region's highest average GDP 11% and population growth 5% annually over the past five years, it has led the region in inflation rate.

The housing supply will help lower inflation, but, Qatari inflation is broader-based. The bank forecast Qatar's average inflation at 13% for 2008.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have the next highest inflation forecast for this year. With strong capital inflows, loose monetary policy, weakening fiscal prudence and imported inflation, we expect consumer-price index inflation to further increase to 12% in 2008. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are leading the way in non-oil growth.

The non-hydrocarbon sector was 49% in 2003, it increased to 85 in 2006. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: Yes, too much money chasing too few goods and services resulting in higher prices - all created by the demands of a growing population.

What it Means Yemen's Water Crisis

January 21, 2008   Yemen Times

Yemen suffers an imbalance between annual rainfall and water demand. Average renewable water resources are 125 cubic meters per capita, approximately 10% of the amount consumed by a Middle Easterner. Yemen is among the 10 water-poorest countries in the world.

The water volume in Yemen is about 5.1 billion cubic meters. Rainwater is 93% of the total water resources, while surface water, ground water and unconventional source waters (seawater distillation, reuse of sewer water, etc.) represent 4.86%, 2.08%, and 00.01% respectively.

The total water demand is increasing from 4.5 billion cubic meters in 1990 to an estimated 13 billion cubic meters in 2020. The current demand has three main areas: agriculture (95%), households (3.2%) and industries (1.8%).

Water shortage is expected to reach 15 billion cubic meters in 2020. The problem is getting worse due to pollution from human activity which negatively impacts water quality. There is a possibility for increased untreated sewer water to make its way down to the water-bearing layer. The problem is going to exacerbate in the future, given the quick-paced population growth. Water pollution primarily affects the the poor and marginalized who are more vulnerable. They are mainly herders and small farmers whose livelihood depends on water. The shortage and low quality of water affect the poor urban centers where it is difficult to find any source of water.

The importance of water is not limited to drinking and irrigation to produce crops and food but it is important for sustainable development because water availability is linked to public health, poverty, education and development in general. Water scarcity and competition for it may be a cause for economic and social instability, especially as 53% of Yemen's workforce is employed in the agricultural sector.

Consecutive Yemeni governments have adopted improper measures for managing water affairs. Usually focused on cost management, which implies that the government provided fresh water at the lowest cost possible. It gave little attention to fair distribution of water.

Estimates indicate that the cost of facilities reached $113 million, an average of $1.20 per cubic meter, which is high by all means.

Qat, which covers some 40% of the irrigated area, consumes 60% of the usable water in Yemen and is around double the volume of water consumed by the city of Sana'a.

To maintain water resources and optimize their use could be achieved through water demand management (WDM), a package of measures to urge individuals to regulate the quantity and price of water, the way they access it and the way they dispose of it. It is necessary to adopt a comprehensive view of water as an essential component of any good governance strategy. Water issues must be incorporated into school curricula and become a subject of scientific research and knowledge transfer activities. rw doclink

Fast Population Growth Menacing Yemen's Economy

January 08, 2008   Middle East Online

Yemen's rapid population growth is hampering efforts to combat poverty and unemployment, and could threaten social stability. There was a widening gap between population growth and economic growth: Yemen has one of the highest population growth rates in the world, 3.2% per annum, but its economy is shrinking.

GDP growth between 2001 and 2007 was below what was planned: In 2001-2005 it was 4.5% instead of the planned 5.6%. In 2006 and 2007 it was 3.8% and 2.6%. Unemployment increased from 13.7% in 1999 to 16.3% in 2004: the labour force increased 4.3% per year but the number of jobs increased by only 3.7% per year.

There is a natural increment of 700,000 people a year who need health care and education. Population growth is putting pressure on the country's resources. If the situation remains, the state would not be able to meet the demands. The state cannot cover the demand for new schools. The number of students increased from two million in 1990 to 4.7 million in 2004, while 40% of children do not attend primary school.

About 45.3% of the population is illiterate, and primary education enrollment is only 62.5%. 45% of the population is under 15.

Health care services cover only 50% of the population. The infant mortality rate is 77.2 per 1,000, and 18% of infants are born prematurely. At least 65% of women have no access to health care. Reproductive health services are at 25% of health centres. Maternal mortality is 366 deaths per 100,000 births. Health care for pregnant mothers is very weak and 84% of births take place at home.

Yemen's population in 2004 was 21,385,161. The average number of people per family was 7.1, and the fertility rate for each woman was 6.1. 37% of infants were born with less than a two-year interval between births.

It is recommended that health workers be encouraged to work in remote areas and raise awareness of the dangers of early marriage. They also recommended that laws make 18 the minimum legal age for marriage, and to criminalise female circumcision.

Yemen had 2,834,437 houses but of these only 15.9% had access to a sanitary network.

Yemen's population is scattered over more than 11,000 urban and rural settlements, with 25% in urban areas. Population density is 30 persons per square kilometre.

Most settlements are small, scattered and in remote areas, which makes providing services difficult, and water resources are also problem: The population concentration in the central highlands is leading to groundwater depletion.

The urban population is growing at 7% per year, putting pressure on services and resources. rw doclink

32% of Married Yemeni Women Use Birth Control, Study Says

December 04, 2007   Yemen Times

Only 32% of Yemeni married women use birth control, though 96% of both men and women are aware of at least one type. The report, covered 1,400 men and women from 15-49 and revealed that 34% of women in urban areas use birth control, 14% of rural women. Contraceptive pills are the most commonly used with 13%, followed by the IUD with 6% and injections with 4%. 7% of married women use traditional methods such as periodic abstinence, withdrawal and breastfeeding.

The main reasons for discontinuing contraceptive use was: it is bad for health (37%), they wanted to get pregnant (28%) they were told to stop by their spouse (11%). The reasons for non-use were: not wanting to use family planning (36%), their spouse not agreeing with family planning (24%), not knowing family planning exists (10%) and perceived bad side effects (6%).

The mean age at marriage was 22 for men and 17 for women. Half of the women had up to 4 pregnancies while just under a third reported more than seven. Married women reporting a range of 1-17 pregnancies, but only 1-13 living children. There was a preference for male children.

The major reasons why women stop using FP is either because of the adverse health effects (37%), or because they want more children (28%), 11% were told to stop by their spouse. Others noted that the cost was an issue. The woman stops: "When her husband asks her to because he is the decision-maker". Women also stop FP to protect their marriage “when her husband wants to marry another woman because his financial status becomes better".

The reasons stated for currently not using a method was 36% not wanting to use family planning, 24% because of spouse not agreeing, 10% not knowing about family planning and 6% because of negative side effects of FP.

The study recommended that women especially those in the rural areas should be subject to educational campaigns and services. Outreach workers need to be well informed and able to disseminate BCC materials with correct information about how contraception works. However, accurate knowledge about the ways HIV is transmitted is not consistent with knowledge of how to avoid transmission. Education campaigns need to have clear messages that are consistently repeated through the media, such as limiting the number of sexual partners or staying faithful to one partner, using a condom at every non-monogamous sexual encounter etc.

More efforts could be focused on sensitizing men about the risks of having more than one sexual partner/wife in terms of STIs and HIV/AIDS. The use of condoms as both an STI barrier and family planning method needs to emphasized.

The ministry has put a five-year national strategy of birth control in three stages and now the strategy is in its third and final stage. The ministry announced in the beginning of last year free birth control services, available to 85% of the country.

All fathers and mothers have to know the importance of reproduction health as a result of an increasing mortality rate in Yemen because of early marriage. Marie Stopes, within nine years, could broaden its activities to reach five clinics for reproduction health, in addition to reproduction services.

The social marketing project is part of the Yemeni-Germany program for reproduction health and aims to change society behavior in regards to birth control and sexual transmitted diseases. During a survey, it was found that the rate of the people who use birth control methods increased from 13% to 25% in the year 2006 and this rate will reach 33% in the year 2013. rw doclink

'Let My Baby Live' Media Campaign a Success

November 20, 2007   Turkish Daily News

A campaign to lower Turkey's maternal and infant mortality rate reached 66% of the population.

The "Let My Baby Live" media campaign is a joint project by the Ministry of Health and the EU and brought together celebrities from the theater, film and fashion world. The campaign was carried out in 16 provinces that have limited access to health care.

Interviews were held with the households, adolescent girls, young mothers in the 15-49 aged group as well as their relatives and husbands. They were informed about the importance of the medical check-ups before, during and after pregnancy.

Maternal mortality is one of the biggest problems in Turkey. Mothers, their husbands and relatives are unconscious of the fact that women should to undergo medical examination before, during and after the pregnancy. Approximately 387 maternal deaths occur every year in Turkey and 62% of them are preventable. rw doclink

Israel;: Arab Births Down, Jewish Births Up: No Demographic Threat

November 20, 2007   Israeli National News

The demographic balance in the Land of Israel is not a threat to the Jewish majority; predictions of Arab population growth have been grossly overstated, with Jewish birthrates in pre-1967 Israel consistently increasing and Arab birthrates consistently dropping.

The claim that Jews are doomed to become a minority is in direct contradiction of demographic reality. Such a claim has yielded demographic fatalism, which has dominated Israel. It has become a basis for critical security decisions. However, demographic fatalism has been nurtured by erroneous assumptions.

In demographic information made public the decline in Arab fertility rates within the 1967 borders exceeded the ICBS's own predictions by 20 years. The latest ICBS statistics show a Jewish fertility rate that is higher than the ICBS's most generous forecasts.

According to the study, the Jewish birthrate has increased from 2.6 to 2.8 from 1996 to 2006. During the same period, Muslim Arabs have seen a drop in birthrates from 4.7 to 4.0.

Since 1948, the ICBS has tended to under-project Jewish fertility, over-project Arab fertility, ignore the scope of Arab emigration and minimize the scope of potential immigration.

A World Bank study revealed a gap between the predictions of population growth and the actual numbers of children registered for first grade. There had been an 8% drop as of September 2006 in the number of children registered for school through fifth grade. This was in opposition to the forecast of a 24% increase.

The projections published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) have been refuted, annually, by the Palestinian ministries of health and education and election commission. rw doclink

Jewish Births Lead Rise in Israeli Fertility Rates in 2006

November 13, 2007   Harretz.com

Jewish births in Israel rose in 2006, reversing the trend that saw a drop in the average number of births per woman. Fertility rates for Jewish woman in Israel increased from 2.8 children per woman in 2005 to 2.9 in 2006 while the average size of Muslim families continued to drop from 4.6 in 2000 to 4.0 in 2006.

The Christian Arab sector had the lowest birth rate in 2006 and has dropped from 2.7 in 1996 to 2.2 per woman. Overall, rate stood at 2.8 children per family, mostly as a result of Jewish growth.

In 2006, 71% of babies were born to Jewish mothers, 23% to Muslim mothers, 2% to Druze and 1% to Christian-Arab women. Another 3% were to mothers whose religious status is undetermined.

Of the 148,170 babies born in Israel last year, 51.3% were boys. The number of births in 2006 was up 3% from 2005.

This is 105.6 boys for every 100 girls. In 2006, 46% of births were to mothers over 30, compared to only 29% in 1980.

Muslim women are also the youngest mothers, with an average age of 23.2 for their first birth. 3,966 babies were born last year to women under 20, and 20% of these were a second or later birth. Birthrates among women under 20 are dropping. Out-of-wedlock births made up 5.7% among Jewish women and 5,896 in total; 62% of these were to women who had never been married. Multiple births accounted for 4.4% of the total, 96% of them twins. rw doclink

Yemen;: Family Planning Ups Chances for Happy Married Life

October 30, 2007   Yemen Observer

Few Yemeni women use contraception. A study, conducted by researchers in Sana'a University, determined the factors influencing the use of contraception among married women. There were 915 female participants in the study from the al-Hodeidah, Ibb, Sada'a and Mareb governorates. Among them, 46% came from rural areas, 60% were aged between 21 and 30 and 77% were housewives.

About 54% of women fall pregnant one to four times; 47% give birth to one to three children; and 2% have more than 10 children, 31% miscarry one to three times.

About 64% do not use contraception. The highest rate of contraception use was 43% in Sada'a , compared to 29% from Mareb governorate.

The pill is used by 47%, 24% use the coil, whilst condoms are rarely used with just 1%. About 59% of urban women use family planning compared to 40% of rural women.

About 37% of women from the Ibb, Sada'a and Mareb governorates refuse to use any contraceptive techniques because they want more children. Husbands of 36% of women from the al-Hodeidah governorate refuse to allow their wives to use any contraception.

About 22% of women use contraception to give themselves and their babies a chance of a better life.

About 52% of the women using contraception are between 31 to 40. Just 27% were between 15 to 20 years old.

But contraception use is linked to education. About 54% of educated women use contraception, compared to 26% of illiterate ones. About 52% of women using means have educated husbands.

Of the women who use contraception, 89% live within 3 miles of health centers which provide the methods. The study, recommended the government establish more health centers in both urban and rural areas, and provide such facilities with skilled nurses.

The study advised the Ministry of Public Health and Population to supply the centers with the different contraceptives and to ensure they are free. It also urged the media to raise awareness of family planning; doctors and employees to offer more advice on family planning; and couples to actively discuss family planning and contraceptive techniques.

During the time of the Prophet Muhammad, the most commonly practiced method of birth control was the withdrawal method. According to scholars, withdrawal is permissible but thought to be reprehensible, since it deprives the woman of her right to sexual satisfaction and to bear children, if she so desires. Scholars agree that withdrawal should not be practiced unless women agree to it.

Since modern methods of birth control have the same aim it can be assumed that modern birth control is also permissible.

The population of Yemen in 2003 was estimated at 20,010,000, the 51st most populated among the 193 nations of the world. In that year approximately 3% of the population was over 65, with another 48% under 15. There were 103 males for every 100 females in 2003. The annual population growth rate for 2005 is 3.52%, with the projected population for 2015 at 30,677,000. The population density in 2002 was 35 per sq km. Most of the population is concentrated in the Tihama foothills and central highlands of Yemen. Most of southern Yemen is very sparsely populated. rw doclink

Egypt Plan to Green Sahara Desert Stirs Controversy

October 08, 2007   Reuters

The lush fields of cauliflower, apricot trees and melon is proof of Egypt's determination to turn its deserts green.

Egypt is slowly greening the sand that covers almost all of its territory as it seeks to create more space for its growing population.

With only 5% of the country is habitable; almost all of Egypt's 74-million people live along the Nile River and the Mediterranean Sea. Crowded living conditions will likely get worse as Egypt's population is expected to double by 2050.

The government is keen to encourage people to move to the desert with an estimated $70-billion plan to reclaim 1,2-million hectacres of desert over the next 10 years. The government will need to tap into scarce water resources of the Nile River as rainfall is almost non-existent in Egypt.

The plan has raised controversy among some who say turning the desert green is neither practical nor sustainable.

The director of the Stockholm International Water Institute in Sweden questions the wisdom of using precious water resources to grow in desert areas unsuited to cultivation and where water will evaporate quickly.

The scope of the reclamations could add to regional tension over Nile water sharing arrangements. Egypt's project called "Toshka", would expand Egypt's farmland by about 40% by 2017, using about five billion cubic metres of water a year.

That worries neighbours to the south who are already unhappy about Nile water sharing arrangements.

Ethiopia, where the Blue Nile begins, receives no formal allocation of Nile water, but it is heavily dependent on the water for its own agricultural development.

The Toshka project will complicate the challenge of achieving a more equitable allocation of the Nile River. But other experts suggest that it may be more imperative for Egypt's government to mollify its own population rather than heed its neighbours concerns.

Overcrowding is straining infrastructure in the cities and the government is worried that opposition groups such as the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which has a fifth of the seats in Parliament, might capitalise on discontent.

A desert reclamation project last decade, south of Cairo, destroyed much of the Wadi Raiyan oasis and its population of slender horned gazelles.

A lodge, which costs $400 per night and has attracted guests such as Britain's Prince Charles and Belgium's Queen Paola, shows that the desert would be better used for ecotourism than farming.

At the Desert Development Centre, irrigation water comes through a canal connected to the Nile, about 15km away, where it is used to keep crops flourishing and grass green for hardy hybrid cows to graze.

Experts believe greening the Sahara might be Egypt's best hope of bringing prosperity to its people.

Proximity to markets in Europe and a lack of pests, which usually thrive in humid environments, make desert farming economically viable. Water supply, Tutwiler said, shouldn't be an issue at least for the next ten years. It makes sense, he says, to expand agriculture onto land that was once useless. rw doclink

UN Seeks Aid to Bolster Health of Displaced Iraqis

September 19, 2007   Reuters

Five UN agencies appealed to donors for $85 million to combat illness and malnutrition among more than 2 million Iraqis who have fled war and violence in their country. The funds would be used to improve access to reproductive and child health care, as well as treatment for cancer patients, trauma victims and amputees.

Vaccination must be reinforced in many cases, while unemployment and economic woes among the displaced had caused rising malnutrition. The health needs of more than 2 million displaced Iraqis should not be ignored. Many have serious medical conditions. Iraqis streaming into other countries over the past year had put an enormous strain on host governments. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: The impacts from population pressures are now exacerbated by conflict. And the conflict is increased by population pressures and disappearing natural resources (oil and water). Sounds like a vicious cycle and a downward spiral to me.

Youth Education Network Launched in Oman

August 28, 2007   Gulf News

The Youth Peer Education Network (Y-Peer) works in the areas of adolescent sexual and reproductive health in Oman, with the help of Oman's Scouts and Guides. After completion of this course and receiving his certificate of completion, Al Alawi was sent to Bosnia and Herzegovina for a 10-day workshop to prepare him as a Y-Peer focal point for Oman.

He then trained five male and six female participants in peer education. The workshop trained trainers to teach fellow youth community members the correct facts on reproductive health, HIV, and other health areas. The sessions at the workshop included team presentations on specific topics, theatrical representations of birth spacing, HIV, and learning how to say 'no'. Discussions followed all exercises with the trainer acting as the facilitator and encouraging debate.

There was a positive response from the participants. Most youth do not feel comfortable talking to their elders on the matter, or receiving the information out of shame or taboo. The Y-Peer network hopes to guide the youth from grassroots level, within the most vulnerable age groups, in all issues related to reproductive health. rw doclink

What Will Next Census Show? Yemen Keeps Growing and Growing

July 17, 2007   Yemen Times

Population statistics in Yemen came into existence in 1990s.

Estimates indicated that the Yemeni population was around 4.3 million in 1950, reached 5.2 million in 1960, 6.3 million in the 1980s, and 12.2 million in 1988. Yemen has seen a giant leap in the number of inhabitants in the last quarter of the 20th century and growth reached 3.7%. This increase is attributed to the decrease in the mortality rate and the increase in the fertility rate which reached 7.4% recently.

This demographic explosion would increase the pressure on economic resources especially as food production increases at a small rate.

Statistics indicate that more than 70% of the population lives in the rural area in towns of no more than 500 inhabitants.

The population density overall is of an average of 294 inhabitants per square kilometre. but reaches 4385 inhabitants per sq. kilometre in the capital secretariat.

Small sized assemblies of people are found at low density in remote areas such as in the Eastern Plateau region because of the low soil fertility the high temperature and scarcity of rainfall. Exceptions of this is the valleys of al-Jawf, Hadramout, and Huraib which enjoy seasonal rainfalls. rw doclink

Challenges and Opportunities: the Population of the Middle East and North Africa

July 03, 2007   Population Reference Bureau

The countries of the Middle East and North Africa have two-thirds of the world's known petroleum reserves. It has the world's second-fastest growing population, after sub-Saharan Africa. The rapidly growing youth population are complicating the region's capacity to adapt to social change. The people of the Middle East and North Africa have long played a volatile role in history. Three of the world's major religions originated in the region-Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Today the population is overwhelmingly Islamic, yet includes Jewish and Christian minorities. Arabic is the predominant language, but Iran, Turkey and Israel, are not Arabic-speaking. The population quadrupled in the last half of the 20th century and now stands at about 430 million. Despite recent fertility declines, the population is projected to surpass 700 million by 2050. rw doclink

Yemeni Population Increases by 700,000 Annually

July 03, 2007   Yemen Times

Population growth in Yemen isn't keeping up with requirements. It's important to educate people and include the subject of population in the curricula to increase awareness about the importance of family planning to reduce the number of family members. In Yemen, population growth is 3.4% - having dropping from 3.7%. We need double that to achieve a balance between population growth and economic sources to achieve a better living standard.

The government has a clear population policy that began in 1988. The Yemeni government has a policy with objectives and programs, all of which connect economic and social development with population. Responsibility is shared between the state and the community. Universities play a role in making people aware of the population issue, and requires teaching staff who can communicate with students.

Universities should offer references and sources to help researchers. Such are available at some universities; however, curricula should be available in all Yemeni universities and be part of student requirements. Decreasing the population requires improved health and education services, as well as public awareness about the importance of family planning. Detailed results of the 2004 population census haven't come out yet.

Tunisia has made policies concerning family planning, and succeeded in adjusting economic growth and population. In Iran, one jurisprudential reference helped follow the style of education and awareness through mosques preachers. The situation is different in Yemen. Promoting education and awareness through mosques, schools, universities and television channels is best for Yemen because everyone is responsible for this problem, not just the state.

Ppulation politics does not go against Sharia law because Islam calls us to have family planning.

There are 105 females to 100 males due to the mortality of males because of accidents and other death-causing factors. rw doclink

UNICEF Calls for Awareness-Raising Measures to Stem Spread of HIV in Iran

July 03, 2007   UN News

An official from UNICEF has called for maximum efforts to prevent HIV and AIDS from becoming a general epidemic in Iran.

Iran's experience can serve as a model for other countries, but at the same time, more action is necessary on the prevention of HIV and AIDS. UNICEF supports peer outreach education for adolescents and particular attention to the needs of the young.

Around the world, millions of children are missing parents, siblings, schooling, health care, basic protection and many other fundamentals of childhood because of the toll AIDS is taking on their societies. We must inform young people how to protect themselves from HIV. But another key ally are young people themselves through peer-to-peer education.

In Iran, UNICEF includes seminars and conferences with government officials and civil society representatives.

Iran currently has some 14,500 registered HIV cases, representing 0.16% of the population. rw doclink

Saudi Arabia - Demographic Trends to Watch for

June 26, 2007  

Population growth in Saudi Arabia grew at 3.32% from 1950 to 1974, and has slowed to 2.75% in 2004.

The dip is mainly due to a decreased influx in the expatriate workforce, but population growth amongst Saudis has declined from 3.87% in 1992 to 2.49% in 2004.

The decline can be explained by: increased urbanisation, improved literacy amongst females, and openness to the modern world through satellites and the internet. This downward trend is likely to continue. Population is expected to grow at 2.07% over the next decade, after which it will decline to around 1.54% during 2015-2025.

The growth in modernisation will push fertility down faster than these figures suggest.

Saudi Arabia covers 2.1 million square miles, 80% of the Arabian Peninsula.

Almost half is uninhabitable; hence there is a high concentration of population in some areas. Out of 119 cities in 2004, 80% of the population lives in 31 cities. More than half the population is concentrated in seven cities.

The Saudi Arabian population currently contains more than six million expatriates. More than half live in the two main cities - Riyadh 28% and Jeddah 23%.

Since 1992, the expatriate population has been stagnant at 26% and this is likely to reduce or remain static. The most pronounced feature of the Saudi national demography is its young population. More than 41% is under 14, another 18% is 15-24. It represents a fast expanding labour force. For Saudi Arabia, it is the big challenge. Unemployment is high 25% by the US Department of State. This is perplexing given the literacy rate amongst Saudis males 85% and females 75%. This is because companies shopped for the cheapest labour around the world. While unemployment amongst locals is the outcome, related job segmentation is perhaps even more harmful. The education system has not been designed to equip the youth with the skills or attitude required by a modern economy. Complacency on the part of many students, a very high proportion of university graduations being in the humanities, and the picture is stark.

Saudi Arabia needs 200,000 new jobs every year. Fortunately there is scope to say that things seem to be moving in the right direction.

With a decrease in the influx of expat workers, the job market will become competitive. The importance of a modern professional education will considerably increase, and modern educational plans better match employers' needs.

The average household size in Saudi Arabia has seen a downward trend from 7.4 people in 1987 to 5.7 in 2004, and indications show a further reduction to around 4 by 2015.

The overall decrease in household size can safely be attributed almost entirely to Saudis.

A study found a trend towards smaller families. It revealed that Saudis realise the need for smaller families, mainly due to economic reasons. Marketers will have to align their products to smaller families.

Currently, there are around four million households compared to around 1.9 million in 1987. This suggests an increase in nuclear families and demands for all kinds of household goods will increase.

Around three million people are 45 or older and this can be expected to double by 2020, becoming a huge market having different needs.

There will be an increase in the economically inactive population; currently at 1.25 million rising up to 3.5 million by 2020. In the long run, a real concern will be old age diseases. All need special and costly healthcare, hence there is an opportunity to educate and sell pension funds, old age benefit plans, healthcare plans, etc.

Saudi society has opened up. The government encourages women to work. This will have a huge impact and will change the way females see themselves and their lifestyles, creating new needs. rw doclink

Arab World Fails to Achieve Poverty Alleviation Targets

June 19, 2007   Gulf News

The Arab region has not made progress in reducing poverty and lags behind other regions in achieving the MDGs.

The eradication of poverty and hunger, the achievement of universal primary education and the promotion of gender equality and women empowerment represent major challenges. The average rate of underweight children below five in the Arab region stands at 12.7%, but in some least developed Arab countries it reaches 37.6%. Youth literacy between 1990 and 2006 increased from 66.6% to 83.4%, but 7.5 million children remain out of school. By April 2007 women held 8.7% of the region's parliamentary seats, a figure among the lowest in the world.

Gains in education since 1990 have not translated into higher female participation in non agricultural labour market. Environment sustainability and sanitation conditions are areas of key concern for the Arab region. In the least developed countries only around one quarter of the rural population has access to sanitation facilities.

Carbon dioxide emissions in the region soared to 1.2 trillion metric tonnes in 2003, an 81% increase since 1990. rw doclink

Due to Malnutrition, Anemia Threatens Maternal Health in Yemen

May 29, 2007   Yemen Times

Anemia is responsible for a considerable percentage of the mortality among Yemeni mothers - usually from either shortage of essential vitamins or nutritional imbalance.

Mothers concentrate on certain types of food while neglecting others and buy expensive medicine thinking it will compensate for a shortage of vitamins and minerals. Salads, fruits, dates and honey are important foods for mothers in particular.

Foods rich in carbohydrates and fat don't increase red blood cells; rather they bring about obesity. Mothers should practice proper nutrition during pregnancy, to ensure better health for themselves and the baby. Pregnant women need folic acid, iron and calcium in order to be safe during pregnancy and delivery. Women need 50% more iron during pregnancy in order to avoid anemia. Studies prove that iron deficiency anemia in mothers is linked to low birth weights and iron-deficient infants.

Calcium is of vital importance for both mothers and their infants. If women don't consume enough calcium, their bodies will take it from their bones, thus increasing the risk of osteoporosis. rw doclink

Middle East;: Migration Big Challenge for Gulf States

May 29, 2007   The Peninsula Qatar

In the Arab region mortality, fertility and migration are the three major components of the population projections and migration is the most difficult to tackle, in the Gulf countries, there is a high concentration of the migrant work force.

The expatriate communities in the Gulf countries are dominated by males, posing a challenge in preparing population projections. It is comparatively easy to make projections on the mortality and fertility rates, but the prevalence of HIV has led to a rise in mortality in the African countries and the fertility rate is high in this region.

Fertility rates have been declining as fertility among the expatriates is lower compared to the nationals in most of these countries.

Some advanced countries are facing a shortage of young hands due to lower fertility, but this has been compensated by the immigrant workforce. The problem exists in countries like China because of its extreme one-child policy. rw doclink

Infant Mortality in Iraq Soars as Young Pay the Price for War

May 14, 2007   The Independent

Two wars and sanctions have led to a rise in the mortality rate among young children in Iraq. Since 1990 Iraq's child mortality rate has increased by 125%.

Whether it's the impact of war, HIV or poverty, the consequences are devastating. Yet other countries such as Malawi and Nepal have shown that despite conflict and poverty child mortality rates can be reversed.

Egypt, Indonesia and Bangladesh have made the most progress in tackling child mortality, while Iraq, Botswana and Zimbawe have regressed the most.

Sanctions against Saddam Hussein's regime were imposed in 1990 and remained in place until after the coalition invasion in 2003. Precisely how many children died because of sanctions is unknown but a report in 1999 suggested that between 1991 and 1998 an additional 500,000 died.

Kathy Kelly, an anti-war campaigner said: "The punishment of children through the economic and military war against Iraq has been the greatest scandal."

Save the Children's report, State of the World's Mothers 2007, found the majority of child deaths occur in 10 countries, either those with large populations, or those with sparse health services. AIDs remains one the central factors affecting mortality rates.

"More than 10 million children under age five die each year. Almost all in developing countries. Vaccines, oral rehydration therapy and insecticide-treated mosquito nets are not expensive. Yet, many mothers and children lack these life-saving measures. rw doclink

Egypt's Child Healthcare Lessons

May 14, 2007   Christian Science Monitor

Egypt is second in making progress caring for mothers and infants. Like many women in southern Egypt, known for its poverty, Nagi credits television for helping make her second delivery smoother. Nagi is an example of an improvement that may offer lessons for other developing nations. In 1990, Egypt's child-mortality rate was 104 deaths per 1,000 children. By 2005, that number had fallen to 28. There was a 59% drop in maternal mortality from 1992 to 2000 in Upper Egypt and 52% nationwide.

In 1992 the government joined with USAID contractor John Snow to start a project focusing on women and children's health in Upper Egypt.

The proliferation of televisions in Egypt since the 1990s has been a boon to getting health messages out to even the remotest of areas.

The joint Egyptian Health Ministry and USAID focused on educating women to see a doctor during pregnancy, and having a trained medical professional with them during delivery. It also focused on improving training of doctors and nurses. Save the Children began a project in 2003 in 30 villages in Upper Egypt in pre- and postnatal care, facility improvements, as well as training local women who then give courses in their areas to other women.

Contraceptive use has risen by about 1.5% a year since 1990, reaching 60% in 2003. Many Egyptians say it is against Islam to use contraceptives. But spacing births for the health of the mother has gained traction as some religious leaders promote passages in the Koran that support the idea.

But in absolute terms Egypt has a long way to go. For example, its current 33 deaths per 1,000 children under age 5 compares with seven deaths per 1,000 children in the US, on par with Cuba, Estonia, and Poland, according to UNICEF.

Education of mothers is key, diarrhea is something the programs have helped very much.... In the past it was a killing disease but now it's considered mild. rw doclink

South and Central America, Carribean

South and Central America, Carribean

October 16, 2012

TR3S & MTV Latin America Co-Produce New Novela Thriller “Ultimo Año” - Networks Team Up with Population Media Center to Weave Social Consciousness Into Scripts

May 15 , 2012  

Tr3: MTV Música y Más and MTV Latin America announce the new psychological suspense thriller, 70-episode novela "Ultimo Año"; and teams up with Population Media Center (PMC). Researchers and writers will deliver engaging content with measureable results under new PMC methodology. Through the use of entertainment-education programming, characters will be developed to evolve into role models for the audience, encouraging the adoption of healthier behaviors to benefit individuals and their societies.

The novella takes place in the world of high school adolescence. It is filled with suspense, mystery, drama, and most importantly stories of love and relationships - a combination that will surely win over audiences and have a tremendous impact," commented Katie Elmore, Vice President of Communications and Programs for PMC.

"Social responsibility is always at the forefront of our brand, and our content continues to serve as a credible and valuable space to engage, educate and help shift the mindset of today's Hispanic Millennials," said Charlie Singer, of Tr3s. Fernando Gaston of MTV Latin America said "This new production, our third in the novela genre, will further complement our slate of premium content and reinforces our commitment of bringing entertaining programming, compelling storylines and social consciousness to our viewers."

"PMC brings forth an extensive amount of research on issues affecting today's youth and having them work closely with our creative teams is an excellent way to weave these topics into our storylines. I am certain that their expertise coupled with our creative vision will deliver an entertaining, yet compelling story that will open up a dialogue on various topics affecting our viewers," commented Mario Cader-Frech, VP of Public Affairs for Tr3s & MTV Latin America.

"By joining forces to develop this new novela, we have created a unique model that uses strong audience research to develop highly entertaining and engaging content with social and health messages that is also commercially viable," commented Katie Elmore, Vice President of Communications and Programs for PMC.

The characters in "Ultimo Año" are developed based on the realities facing youth today. PMC has put together a Program Advisory Board that has helped to identify sexual health issues affecting youth, in an effort to integrate influential messaging into the dialogue and creative of the brand's third co-production in the novela format. The issues that will be addressed include contraception, reproductive health options, peer-pressure, HIV/AIDS and STDs, gender equality, cyberbullying, and education, amongst others.

The multi-platform initiative will utilize blogs, social networks, and other transmedia extensions to stimulate discussions with the audience for quantitative and qualitative measurement. These informal discussions will be analyzed by Tr3s, MTV Latin America, and PMC to gain a deeper understanding of how the audience is relating and reacting to the storylines within the productions.

Characters are created that gradually evolve into positive role models for the audience. The emotional bonds that the audience forms with the characters and stories help inspire audiences to make positive changes in their lives. PMC's serial dramas have addressed issues such as: the use of family planning, reproductive health, avoidance of AIDS, elevation of women's status, protection of children, and related social and health goals, depending upon the relevance of each to the policies of the country in which PMC is working. Scientific research has shown that PMC's programs lead to population-wide behavior change.

Tr3s: MTV, Música y Más, owned and operated by Viacom International Media Networks, reaches 6.1 million Hispanic TV households (45% of US Hispanic Total TV HH) and 34 million total TV households. The network's programming embraces the trilogy of cultures that represents Latino life - Latin American plus American equals US Latino. Tr3s embraces the key lifestyle aspects of Latino identity -- milestones, making it and music -- as well as social responsibility through its initiative "Agentes de Cambio", which tackles issues that affect Latinos today. doclink

Petition Against Jail Time for Birth Control in Honduras

April 12, 2012   Avaaz.org

The Honduran Congress is about to vote on a proposal that would send women to jail if they use the morning-after pill -- even for rape victims. But the President of the Honduran Congress can stop this. He's concerned about his international image and his future in politics, so our massive outcry can shame him and stop this attack on women. http to sign the petition:/?cl=1718679404&v=13635 . The vote could happen any day.

Some Congress members agree that this law -- which would also jail doctors or anyone who sells the pill -- is excessive, but they are bowing to the powerful religious lobby that wrongly claims the morning-after pill constitutes an abortion.

Avaaz will work with local women's groups to personally deliver our outcry.

The emergency contraceptive pill delays ovulation and prevents pregnancy - like ordinary birth control pills. But if this new bill passes, Honduras will be the only state in the world to punish the use or sale of emergency contraception with a jail term.

Emergency contraception is vital for women everywhere, but especially where sexual violence against women is rampant, unplanned pregnancy rates are high and access to regular birth control is limited.

For more information see: Honduras, most sweeping ban on emergency contraception anywhere (RH Reality Check): http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/02/14/honduran-supreme-court-upholds-complete-ban-on-emergency-contraception-0 doclink

In Latin America and the Caribbean, Unmet Need for Contraception and Unsafe Abortion Are Widespread

January 21, 2012   RH Reality Check

On the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a landmark ruling from the United States Supreme Court that legalized abortion and changed the course of history for women in the U.S., we remember that women in Latin America and the Caribbean continue to struggle for this basic reproductive right.

95% of abortions in Latin America are unsafe, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Where abortion is illegal, women often turn to inadequately trained practitioners who employ unsafe techniques or attempt to self-induce abortion using dangerous methods. In Latin America and the Caribbean, complications from unsafe abortion results in the hospitalization of nearly one million women each year, and causes one in eight maternal deaths, according to the WHO. Poor and rural women are disproportionately affected.

Obtaining a safe abortions is difficult if there is fear of legal consequences, social stigma, high cost, or lack of access to trained health professionals. Banning abortion does not reduce the numbers of women who attempt it; in fact, the abortion rate is much higher where it is illegal.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, only 6 of the 34 countries -- accounting for less than 5% of the region's women ages 15-44 -- allow abortion without restriction.

In 2007 the Mexico City government lifted the ban on abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. There MEXFAM (IPPF/WHR) provides safe abortion services. Where the law is more restrictive, MEXFAM works to reduce the public health impact of unsafe abortion.

Nearly half of sexually active young women in Latin America and the Caribbean have an unmet need for contraception. Providing contraception will not only reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies, and the number of abortions, but also empower women by giving them the freedom to choose when and if they have children. doclink

Birth Rate Plummets in Brazil

December 30, 2011   Washington Post

Across Latin America fertility rates plummeted, even though abortion is illegal, the Catholic Church opposes birth control and government-run family planning is rare.

Migration to the cities, the expansion of the female workforce, better health care and the example of the small, affluent families portrayed on the region's popular soap operas have contributed to such a fast demographic shift that it caught social scientists by surprise. The number of children per woman when from 6 in 1960 to 2.3 by 2010.

Brazil has been particularly fascinating for demographers, it's fertility rate falling lower than in any other Latin American country except Cuba, which has state-sponsored family planning and legalized abortion. With a population of almost 200 million, there is a great gap between rich and poor, although millions have joined the middle class during Brazil's recent economic expansion.

The country's fertility rate has fallen from 6.15 children per woman in 1960 to less than 1.9 today. That is lower than the United States, which at 2 per woman is just enough for the population to replace itself.

Brazil's fertility rate took a big drop uniformly across the country. Suzana Cavenaghi, a Brazilian census bureau demographer. "We wouldn't expect that in a country that's so diverse, with a lot of poverty in so many places and so unequal, economically speaking."

Women were empowered by a pro-democracy movement that rose up against a 1970s-era military dictatorship. That dictatorship, which wanted to populate Brazil's remote areas, inadvertently contributed to fewer births by promoting industrialization. That led rural families to crowd into cities, where a brood of children could be a financial drain.

Women began to look for means of birth control, easily obtained without a prescription. Doctors in the public health service provided sterilizations, which became common, and women sought out pills that induced abortions long before those pills became the subject of controversy in the United States.

A report, "The Battle for Female Talent in Brazil," says that 59% of Brazilian women consider themselves “very ambitious" and that 80% of college-educated women aspire to upper-echelon positions. U.S. women are far less likely to give those responses.

The country's elaborate soaps, or telenovelas, have been an important factor in the drop in Brazilian fertility, researchers say. The protagonists inhabit an appealing, affluent, highflying world, whose distinguishing features include the small family. doclink

A Story of Hope in Mexico

December 16, 2011   ABC News








video platform
video management
video solutions
video player

As part of the Million Moms Challenge, 20/20 focused on maternal health in the developing world. There are five videos at the bottom of the page - click on the link in the headline above. Two are touted here. doclink

Consume Less: Costa Rica Offers a Model for Living More Simply

August 27, 2011   Durango Herald

by Richard Grossman MD, 2011

A child born in a developing country will have only a fraction of the impact that a child would have in the United States. And worldwide our numbers are increasing by 1 % per year while consumption is skyrocketing at 2 to 4 %.

Costa Rica is a good example of a nation that approaches sustainability. The income of an average Costa Rican (or "Tico", to use their nickname) is significantly less than that of an American. Our buying power is about $47,000 per person each year, but in Costa Rica it is less than a quarter of that, at $11,000. Obviously Ticos consume less than do norteamericanos.

Yet on the Satisfaction with Life Index, rates Ticos higher (13th in the world) than Americans (just 23rd).

Most Ticos do not own cars, but use their feet or public transportation to travel. On average, Ticos live a year or two longer than Americans. Tico people are physically active and fast food is uncommon.

Costa Rica is unique in the world in that it emphasizes education and health. It has no military—that's right, none! Instead it provides free health care to all citizens and free education through high school. In contrast, the USA spends a huge fraction of our finances on the military. Part of our expenditure is to support our extravagant use of petroleum, which largely comes from far away. A large portion of our military might is used to gain and protect sources of petroleum. Furthermore, our military consumes huge amounts of oil.

Contraception is free and available to all Ticos as part of their health care. Funding for family planning in the USA, however, has been shrinking when measured in real dollars, and its very existence has been jeopardized with recent political changes.

The Tico lifestyle uses much less of the planet's resources and adds less pollution to the environment. Costa Rica has also preserved a greater proportion of its land as parks than any other country in the world. Its rain and cloud forests have become a major tourist destination, and a major source of income. Almost all electricity in Costa Rica comes from renewable sources—hydro and wind—but it is affordable for all.

We cannot all move to Costa Rica. We here in the USA can, however, endeavor to reduce our consumption. People who choose "simple living" (or a lifestyle of voluntary simplicity) work less, spend less, and enjoy life more. Most important is that they are happier and have less impact on the planet. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Another reason for living simply is that our small GDP, unemployment, high food prices, and peak of natural resources is going to force us towards a more simple life style. Now is the time to develop a healthy attitude and the infrastructure necessary for a more simplistic - yet fulfilling - life.

Brazil's Girl Power: Machisma - How a Mix of Female Empowerment and Steamy Soap Operas Helped Bring Down Brazil’s Fertility Rate and Stoke Its Vibrant Economy.

August 23, 2011   National Geographic News

Not counting the stillbirth, the 3 miscarriages, and the baby who lived less than 24 hours. Dona Maria had 16 pregnancies and said she should have more than a hundred grandchildren by now, but only had 26. Her son José Alberto Carvalho has been studying the Brazilian demographic phenomenon that lowered their fertility rate to 2.36 children per family to the national average of 1.9, which is below replacement level and lower than the U.S. fertility rate.

Brazil is dominated by the Roman Catholic Church and no official government policy has ever promoted birth control. Abortion except for special circumstances is illegal there.

The decline has occurred across every class and region of Brazil. Two children is typically the desired number. When a women is done having children, we might hear her say: "A fábrica está fechada," meaning the factory is closed.

About half the world's population lives in countries where the fertility rates have dropped to below replacement rate, about two children per family. In most of the rest of the world they've rapidly fallen except for sub-Saharan Africa.

Carvalho said "What took 120 years in England took 40 years here." Central to the reasons Brazil's fertility rate has dropped so far and so fast are tough, resilient women who set out a few decades back, without encouragement from the government and over the pronouncements of their bishops, to start shutting down the factories any way they could.

Many women under 35 have already had sterilization surgery because pregnancy accidents happen too easily, pills make you fat or sick, and children are too expensive, too much work.

Carvalho suggested a formula for quickly lowering a developing nation's fertility rate without official intervention from the government:

1. Industrialize dramatically, urgently, and late; force the country into a new kind of economy, one that has concentrated work in the cities, where the housing is cramped, the favela streets are dangerous, babies look more like new expense burdens than like future useful farmhands, and the jobs women must take for their families' survival require leaving home for ten hours at a stretch.

2. Make sure birth control is easily accessed: over-the-counter, without a doctor's prescription, if they can just come up with the money. Foster in these women a dismissive attitude toward the Catholic Church's position on artificial contraception.

3. Improve infant and child mortality statistics so there is no longer the need to have extra for insurance. Add a pension program, so that a big family is not needed to support them when they grow old.

4. Reward doctor for performing cesareans rather than waiting for natural deliveries and spread the word that a doctor who has already begun the surgery for a cesarean can probably be persuaded to throw in a discreet tubal ligation. Yes, the Catholic church would disapprove, but many women of faith felt in some matters the male clergy is perhaps not wholly equipped to discern the true will of God.

5. Introduce electricity and television. Depict the modern Brazilian family as affluent, light skinned, and small in evening soap operas, or telenovelas. One study found that the spread of televisions outpaced access to education, which has greatly improved in Brazil. doclink

Cuba to Copy Dutch Sex Education

July 23, 2011   Radio Netherlands Worldwide

Mariela Castro Espín, the daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro, heads Cuba's National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX). Speaking at the 20th World Congress for Sexual Health held in of Glasgow, Ms Castro praised Holland's sex education, including Love Matters, Radio Netherlands Worldwide's website that informs young people on sex and sexual health in a clear and simple way.

Dutch sex education promotes the use of contraceptives, including condoms. Combined with sex education, which is offered at most schools, this model, United Nations figures show, has led to some of the world's lowest rates in teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions. In addition, youths in Holland tend to have their first sexual encounters at an older age than teenagers in countries where sex is taboo.

Ms Castro is studying Holland's sex education model as part of her efforts to introduce changes in Cuba. "Our talks with our health ministry are progressing, but things with the education ministry are slower."

One of Cuba's main problems is the high rate of unwanted teenage pregnancies.

Ms Castro hints that Cuba's Communist Party may soon be ready to recognise gay and lesbian rights, even though her father has cautioned her that the time may not yet be ripe.

"My father ...has told me one first has to create the right conditions - and Cuban society lacks them in many areas".

With socialism "we've made a lot of progress regarding women's rights. So I'd tell my father: why don't we do the same thing with these issues? But he'd say: look, some things have such deeps roots in our culture, that you'll face a lot of resistance unless you sort out some other things first."

Sex education, experts say, has three pillars: home, school and the media. Though Cuba officially instituted sex education in 1976, it is still suffering from a number of contradictions.

"Cuban families trust a lot what children are told at school," she says. “We began commemorating days against homophobia in 2008, and now people are beginning to tell their children. They didn't in the past, thinking we were only telling them how to avoid pregnancies, or telling them about infections and biological issues. But all that is proving complicated because the national media are not helping."

As the head of CENESEX, Ms Castro has made the fight against homophobia in Cuba a personal struggle, giving countless talks and interviews. At the last Communist Party Congress, held in April, President Raúl Castro launched a harsh attack on Cuba's media. Thanks to that, Ms Castro believes, the media reported on the latest day against homophobia.

"Men should be taught to be responsible, " and have vasectomies after age 50.

Cuba has no abortion law but, since 1965, abortions have been offered as a free public health care service. This led to a significant drop in the number of deaths resulting from clandestine abortions. A key role in institutionalising abortion and promoting women's rights was played by the former president of the Federation of Cuban Women, the late Vilma Espín—Ms Castro's mother. doclink

Latin America: Families in Action Pays Mothers to Improve Health: Program Helps Poor Women Lift Families

June 8, 2011   Los Angeles Times

Families in Action, an innovative social program partly funded by the World Bank pays 4,200 poor mothers in Tunja about $100 a month as long as they attend diet and hygiene classes, get their children to school and have them undergo medical exams.

Programs like Families in Action are offered in 19 Latin American countries, costing about $12 billion. Economist Ferdinando Regalia of the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington believes that the schemes are a cost-effective means of reducing poverty and delivering health and education services.

The program helped one women leave her abusive husband, after attending "empowerment" classes where she learned she didn't have to tolerate his violent attacks and that she had a right to a look for a job. She is now pursuing a career as a hairdresser.

Besides the four required medical exams a year to check their weight and vision, as well as to test for bacterial infections, children ages 7 to 18 must be present for 80% of their school days, and adolescents must receive family planning classes or their mothers don't get paid.

An encouraging part of this program is that poor women in the program have become more politically active. And the program has helped save severely undernourished children.

The programs have grown to cover 112 million people in Latin America, or 19% of the region's population, according to United Nations figures. Columbia has 10.4 million people in the program, Brazil 51.6 million, and Mexico 23.2 million.

"The objectives are to lower poverty in the short term and raise human capital in the long term," said Helena Ribe, a World Bank economist.

There are concerns that the program may be discontinued if the region, now enjoying a commodities-fueled economic boom, suffers a downturn. However, the leaders may maintain the programs which are so popular and cost-effective to avoid political backlash. doclink

Guatemala: Hunger in a Land of Plenty as Global Elites Harvest a Banana and Biofuel Bounty

June 01, 2011   Guardian (London)

Guatema is a leading producer of food for global markets. Yet people who work on farms there often cannot afford to eat every day. Domingo Tamupsis works works 10 to 12 hours a day, six days a week, as a harvester on a sugar plantation for a firm that exports bioethanol to fill the fuel tanks of cars in the US. Some all he has to eat are the mangoes that drop from trees by the roadside.

His wife is so slight she might be mistaken for a girl. Her last pregnancy ended with a stillborn child. His two year old daughter is the size of the average European one-year-old. With a little land he'd grow food, but the promised government redistribution of unproductive land, which drew him to the area, never took place.

Oxfam says the global food system is failing, predicting that the average price of staple foods will double by 2030. It warns: "Spiralling food prices, climate chaos, rising demand on top of a collapsing resource base, and markets rigged against the many in favour of the few" are taking us into a new era of crisis in which more and more people are going hungry.

The world's poorest people spend up to 80% of their income on food and will be hit the hardest.

Half of Guatemala's children under five are malnourished - one the highest rates of malnutrition in the world, and its 14 million people live in extreme poverty, on less than $2 a day. Yet the country has food in abundance. It is the fifth largest exporter of sugar, coffee, and bananas. Its rural areas are witnessing a palm-oil rush as international traders seek to cash in on demand for biofuels created by US and EU mandates and subsidies. The money to be made from the food chain here, as in most poor countries, has been captured by elites and transnational corporations, leaving half the population excluded.

Aida Pesquera, Oxfam director for Guatemala, says: "The food is here but the main problem is distribution. Land is concentrated in very few hands. The big companies pay very little tax. ... It's a classic case of how a very productive country, .. especially among the indigenous population, cannot feed its own people."

In the 1980s a structural adjustment programme imposed by the IMF on the debt-laden nation led to the slashing of technical assistance provided by the agriculture ministry to small farmers. Guatemala, which had been self-sufficient in grain, was encouraged to pursue growth through agricultural exports. Local production of staples declined.

Oxfam believes that Cafta, the free-trade agreement between the US and Central American states approved in 2005, has undermined farmers further as subsidised US grains have poured in, making it impossible for small farmers in developing countries to compete.

More than two-thirds of productive land is in the hands of 2% to 3% of the population.

Land reform is desperately needed, but there has been much conflict over it.

More from the article at http://www.pressdisplay.com/pressdisplay/viewer.aspx doclink

Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest Has Increased

May 19, 2011   Deforestation of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest has increased

The Brazilian government was surprised to learn that deforestation increased 27% from August 2010 to April 2011, Brazil's space research institute satellite images show.

Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira said the objective was "to reduce deforestation by July" .

Last December, a government report said deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon had fallen to its lowest rate for 22 years.

The biggest rise was in Mato Grosso, which produces more than a quarter of Brazil's soybean harvest.

Some environmentalists argue that rising demand for soy and cattle is prompting farmers to clear more of their land.

But others see a direct link between the jump in deforestation and the message that "profiting from deforestation will be amnestied, that crime pays," said Marcio Astrini from Greenpeace.

The Forest Code, enacted in 1934 and subsequently amended in 1965, sets out how much of his land a farmer can deforest. Regulations currently require that 80% of a landholding in the Amazon remain forest, 20% in other areas.

Proponents say the law impedes economic development and contend that Brazil must open more land for agriculture. doclink

New Interactive Website on Adolescent Sexual Health Launches in Mexico

March 17, 2011   Population Media Center website

Over 70% of Mexican youth between the ages of 12 and 19 are using the internet, according to the National Population Council. So a new website, Sexpertos Saludables ("Healthy Sexperts"), www.sexpertos.net was launched with support from PMC and Carlos Slim Institute fo Health, Centro de Orientación para Adolescentes (CORA). It is a new interactive website in Mexico focused on improving adolescent sexual health.

The website features several interactive components geared toward youth aged 9 to 14, the centerpiece of which is several short animations featuring young Latino-style illustrated characters reminiscent of Japanese Animé. The animations follow a group of friends, three boys and three girls, navigating their way through puberty and adolescence. Segments deal with a variety of issues, including body changes, tips for surviving adolescence, gender roles, and self-examination for early detection of cancer in men and women.

The website also includes a forum and chat, the debunking of myths, games on self-esteem and responsibility, short video clips of interviews with youth leaders/role-models, an "apendisex" section where youth can get answers to commonly asked questions, and tests that look for signs that may lead to disorders or addiction. Private advice is avaiable via online chat from one of Mexico's leading psychologists. doclink

When Averages Mislead: Effects of "Graduating" Latin America From Contraceptive Support

February 15, 2011   International Planned Parenthood

Looking at the broader issue of funding for sexual and reproductive health (SRH), it was found that USAID and other providers of development assistance were reallocating aid for SRH on the basis of aggregate national statistics and consequently abandoning Latin America as they turned their sights increasingly on Africa.

Latin America countries are now considered "middle-income", but the gap in distribution of wealth and income is very, very large, especially if you look at things like contraceptive prevalence and fertility rate, comparing the top 20%, and the bottom 20% of the population. Also the rural areas are very much poorer and the indicators for indigenous populations in particular compare quite unfavorably.

IPPF/WHR and UNFPA Washington investigated the impact of this withdrawal of foreign aid for SRH and the graduation of Latin American countries from USAID population funding, focusing on Peru because it is fairly representative of many countries in the region, in that it has a rapidly growing economy, such that the aggregate data look very good, but on the other hand, it's highly unequal - rapid economic growth comes with growing inequality, and very high levels of poverty.

One of the things we focused on was "contraceptive security," a standard that USAID applies for "graduation," which means that before funding is eliminated, modern methods of contraception should be widely available to whoever wants them, and they should not only be available, but also free or for an affordable price.

In the public sector, there were no condoms to be found and also shortages of all types of contraceptives. Some had been out of stock for months, and they didn't know when the next shipment would be arriving. The whole contraceptive supply chain was in fact breaking down, and the overall profile could hardly be said to resemble anything like genuine contraceptive security.

In January IPPF/WHR and UNFPA hosted an event in Washington, DC to educating members of Congress, and to some extent a wider public, about this problem.

It's not that we disagree that there are bigger needs in Africa, we just feel that precipitous cutting of funding to Latin America and the Caribbean means that the criteria and the standards that were established by USAID itself in its graduation program are not being met. They need to take another look at the timing, and think about maintaining funding levels.

For the executive summary report, see http://www.ippfwhr.org/sites/default/files/DRAFT_EXECUTIVE_SUMMARY_PERU_.pdf doclink

Mexico's New Agricultural Crisis

February 12, 2011   Commerce News

750,000 acres of corn crops were reported destroyed after unusually cold temperatures blanketed the north of the country in January and early February in northern Mexico. Hardest hit was the northwestern state of Sinaloa, known as the "Bread Basket of Mexico," one of Mexico's major producers of white corn, the variety of maize used to make staple tortillas.

The weather-related losses were labeled "the worst disaster" in the history of Sinaloa.

Altogether 1.5 million acres of corn, vegetable, citrus and other crops were either damaged or destroyed in Sinaloa, with a preliminary economic loss of approximately one billion dollars. Sinaloa provides about 30% of Mexico's grains and vegetables, and also exports food products to the United States.

In Sonora, more than 130,000 acres were reported lost, including 45% of the acreage planted in winter wheat. In Tamaulipas, nearly 800,000 acres in corn and sorghum were impacted, while crop losses in Chihuahua were estimated at $100 million.

Armed men reportedly robbed between 18 and 20 tons of corn seed from a truck in Sinaloa.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon said it was incumbent for government agencies to cut the red-tape and get insurance payments, credit, seeds and technical support rolling out the door and into the hands of farmers. The federal Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries will release $100 million in emergency aid, while about 150,000 farmworkers will be paid $11 per day for clearing and replanting fields.

Prices for tortillas continued rising, now more than 50% higher than the 8 peso ceiling the Calderon administration pledged in 2007.

The agricultural crisis could have important political ramifications for the 2012 presidential election.

No mention was made in the latest round of news reports on any possible links between human-caused climate change and the present disaster. doclink

Amazon Drought Caused Huge Carbon Emissions

February 08, 2011   Reuters

The 2010 1.16 million square-mile drought in the Amazon rain forest was worse than a "100-year" dry spell in 2005, according to a study conducted by a collaboration between scientists at the University of Leeds and the University of Sheffield in Britain and Brazil's Amazon Environmental Research Institute

More frequent severe droughts like those in 2005 and 2010 risk turning the world's largest rain forest from a sponge that absorbs carbon emissions into a source of the gases, accelerating global warming. Trees and other vegetation in the world's forests soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide as they grow, helping cool the planet, but release it when they die and rot. The 2010 drought was a tree killer and dried up major rivers in the Amazon and isolated thousands of people who depend on boat transportation, shocking climate scientists who had billed the 2005 drought as a once-in-a-century event.

The study predicted the Amazon forest would not absorb its usual 1.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in both 2010 and 2011. In addition, the dead and dying trees would release 5 billion metric tons of the gas in the coming years, making a total impact of about 8 billion metric tons, according to the study.

In comparison, the United States emitted 5.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use in 2009.

If the droughts are driven by global warming, a vicious cycle of warmer temperatures and droughts could conceivably lead to a large-scale transformation of the forest over a period of decades and large parts of the forest could turn into a savannah-like ecosystem by the middle of the century with much lower levels of animal and plant biodiversity. doclink

Colombia Launches Large-Scale Birth Control Effort

December 12, 2010   Los Angeles Times

This fall Colombia's Congress passed a law guaranteeing all citizens access to free contraceptive drugs and surgical procedures, including vasectomies and tubal ligations. Since then, clinics have opened, especially in impoverished areas where teen pregnancy rates are high.

The benefits are only now filtering down to shanty neighborhoods such as northeast Cali, where birthrates are among the nation's highest, particularly among teenagers, health officials here said.

"The law is a real accomplishment and is already creating a lot of demand," psychologist Maribel Murillo said in her office at the Diamante health clinic, not far from shacks made of boards and plastic sheeting. "It will advance the sexual rights of women of little means, many of whom already have several children."

The new President Juan Manuel Santos, after taking office in August put it at the top of his legislative agenda.

Columbia is largely a Roman Catholic nation whose constitutional court has recently ruled to remove penalties for performing abortions.

Colombia's healthcare system is on the verge of collapse because of the constitutional guarantees of universal care, as funding from tax and other government revenue falls short. Because maternity and neonatal care are among the healthcare system's fastest-growing costs, free contraceptive medicine and surgeries could end up saving the government money.

Moreover, Colombia's birthrate, which overall has dropped by nearly two-thirds since 1950, has risen recently among teenagers. Studies show that adolescent pregnancies feed a vicious cycle of social problems, including poverty, violence and low levels of education. rw doclink

Mexico's Population Tops 112 Million, Ranking 11th in World

November 28, 2010   Digital Journal

As of June 2101, Mexico has more than 112 million people, ranking it 11th most populous country in the world, according to census results. Previous census showed 97.4 million people in 2000.

While Mexico's recent population growth is partially explained by a reluctance on the part of migrant workers to leave the country in search of work, the latest figures show an increase that is 3.6 million greater than the numbers projected by experts.

Populations worldwide are becoming too large - and humanity is running out of vital resources to sustain the daily demand. Human population globally increases by 72 people every 30 seconds, 200,000 people per day, and 78 million people every year, according to the Population Reference Bureau.

Population Media Center has been working with CORA (Centro de Orientacion para Adolescentes) to target adolescents aged 11 to 16 on issues of sexual health and education. The organization also works in many hot-spot countries, such as Nigeria, Brazil, Rwanda, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

The overpopulation issue is complex and spans social, political, religious, ethnic, and cultural divides. In the Philippines, for example, there exists a resistance to the idea that overpopulation is a national challenge. "This growth rate is not high, but the real numbers continue to grow because people finally 'stopped dying like flies'.

A recent column in The Philippine Star claimed that the average worker in the Philippines is much younger than his counterpart in most of the world, giving them a long term edge that has been lost forever in so many countries. Population controllers talk about 'exploding' numbers, without looking at the age structure, when the world's most serious problem is irreversible ageing, 'de-fertilization', 'depopulation' and 'dechristianization' now changing the face of Europe".

The UN predicts that African cities will triple by 2050 - a cataclysmic prediction for a continent that is unable to provide for such growth.

While family planning, the rights of women, and the implementation of condoms are the most common solutions put forward to tackle the problem, the options may become more grim if growth figures continue unabated. doclink

Karen Gaia says: 1/3 of the population growth in the world is due to incidental or unwanted pregnancies. Family plannning, rights of women, and contraception have not been adequately funded.

South American Transition to Low Fertility Spreads to Paraguay

Population Reference Bureau

Paraguay does not seem a likely candidate for rapid fertility decline: The population is poorer, more rural, and has lower educational levels than its neighboring countries. A large percentage of the population speaks Guarani, an indigenous language, rather than Spanish, the official language. Yet Paraguay recorded a remarkable increase in contraceptive use and a sharp decline in fertility over the past decade.

Paraguay's fertility transition through 2004 documented a fall in the total fertility rate (TFR), from 4.3 in 1998 to 2.9 in the 2001-2004 period, and suggested continued decline because younger women said they wanted fewer children. A new survey shows the TFR down to 2.5 children per woman by 2008, a faster decline than projected. The percentage of married women ages 15 to 44 using contraception increased from 57% to 79% between 1998 and 2008.

There is a wide gap in TFRs between the more modern and educated populations and the more traditional population groups. The TFR was down to 2.2 children per woman among urban residents, while it was still 3.0 among rural residents in 2002. Similarly, Spanish- speaking women averaged just 2.2 children, compared with 3.3 among Guarani- speaking Paraguayans. The most dramatic differences were by education: Women with less than five years of education averaged 3.6 children, while those with at least 12 years of education averaged just 2.0 children.

Paraguay has seen improvements in the education of girls in recent decades. Enrollment in elementary school is nearly universal, and data from UNESCO show the percentage enrolled in secondary school rising from 59% to 68% between 1999 and 2002, the most recent year statistics are available. This is well below the regional average of 92%, but a marked improvement in just a few years.

Recent increases in the education of women have been tied to greater contraceptive use up through 2004. The 2008 survey shows that acceptance of contraceptive use has spread among all education levels. Even among women with less than three years of formal education, 72% used a contraceptive in 2008, compared with just 36% in 1998. The gap in contraceptive use between urban and rural women disappeared by 2008. While there are still clear rural and education differences in actual childbearing, it seems likely that those differences will abate further in coming years. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: Let's hope that sufficient women's advancement has taken place to ensure that female babies are valued as much as male babies, otherwise the TFR will hover around 3 children rather than at replacement level.

Abortion Politics Hit Brazil Elections

October 18, 2010   Aljazeera

The issue of abortion has turned into a weapon that threatens to take away votes in Brazil, with conservative religious groups using it as a bargaining chip in exchange for their support.

The majority of voters, who are in favour of the decriminalisation of abortion, say analysts and representatives of the women's movement, criticise the use of women's bodies as a means of electoral pressure.

The question of whether abortion, which is currently punishable by up to 10 years in prison in Brazil, should be legalised has become a flashpoint issue in the campaign between Dilma Rousseff of the governing Workers Party (PT) and her rival José Serra of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB).

Earlier indications that Rousseff favoured the legalisation of abortion were seen as the main reason she failed to win outright in the first round of voting, on October 3.

As in most of Latin America, abortion is illegal in Brazil except in cases of rape or when the mother's life is in danger.

A decisive number of voters defected from the Rousseff camp to Green Party candidate Marina Silva, an evangelical Christian.

Silva, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's (no relation) former environment minister, is opposed to abortion and proposed holding a referendum on whether or not it should be legalised.

The Green candidate's strong performance was the big surprise on October 3, when she took nearly 20% of the vote, behind Rousseff, who won 47%, and Serra, who garnered close to 33%. According to a poll, Rousseff now has 48% support, compared to Serra's 40%.

In this month's campaign, Rousseff and Serra are presenting themselves as champions of the moral crusade against the decriminalisation of abortion, even though in the past both of them have expressed openness to women's right to choose.

Beatriz Galli with Ipas Brazil -- the national branch of IPAS, an international network that works for the sexual and reproductive rights of women worldwide -- told IPS she regrets that the debate has been reduced "to being against or in favour of abortion or in favour of life"...

A study by University of Brasilia professor Débora Diniz, an anthropologist and a researcher at the Institute of Bioethics, Human Rights and Gender, found that one out of five women interviewed had had an abortion before the age of 40.

And of the respondents who had undergone an abortion, 88% said they were religious -- a revealing figure in the country with the largest number of Catholics in the world, and where evangelical churches are growing at breakneck speed...

The "demonisation" of abortion in the campaign did not reflect the opinion of the majority of voters. Women resort to unsafe abortion "in order to be able to determine how many children they want and are able to have.

Oliveira and Silva both stressed that abortion has crowded out other women's issues, such as political participation, assistance for victims of violence, and equal employment opportunities. rw doclink

A World Too Full of People

August 30, 2010   Statesman

Politicians of western countries avoid talking about population control, but if we invest in family planning we might just save our planet.

A 60-year-old Bolivian woman, mother of eight, was born and raised in a mountain community in Bolivia. High above her home, a glacier is retreating three times as fast as predicted ten years ago. All but one of her children have already migrated to other parts of the country. Because of the dwindling water supply, she must spend hours hauling water and the fodder for her llamas and sheep is more difficult to find, with some of her llamas starving to death.

She and women like her are on the front line of the struggle against climate change. But her plight as a mother dramatizes an issue that was largely ignored at the UN summit last December and is missing from the agenda of the UN summit in Mexico (COP16), scheduled for late this year. It is the problem of human numbers. rw doclink

Preventing Teenage Pregnancy in Ecuador

August 27, 2010   Targeted News Service

Teens in Ecuador are often raped or abused, frequently resulting in pregnancy. Unfortunately there is terrible under reporting of sexual abuse.

An Ecuadorean programme for teenagers, sponsored by the Ministry of Health, explained that the high-risk groups for teenage pregnancy are often rural and poor, but that young people in large cities like Quito and Guyaquil are at equally high risk. Lack of access to condoms and other family planning methods are a serious obstacle to preventing teen pregnancies.

The UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, is supporting the Ministry in establishing a nationwide network of reproductive health and information services designated especially for adolescents and young people.

Teenagers often do not seek family planning services at regular hospitals and clinics because they are afraid of gossip. "In some cases girls as young as 15 are forced to get married if they become pregnant."

The health service also provides information about reproductive health to teenagers through schools in the community.

18% of children born in Latin America and the Caribbean have teenage mothers. Having children at a young age exposes girls to greater health risks and often keeps them from continuing their education. Girls under 15 who become pregnant are five times more likely to die from causes related to pregnancy or childbirth than those at 20. rw doclink

Slavery in Haiti

July 06, 2010   Toward Freedom website

As an example, a former child slave sent four of her five children into slavery because she feared they would die of hunger in her home.

There are an estimated 27 million slaves in the world, according to Free the Slaves. This is more than at any time in history, even including during the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

In Haiti, the only nation ever to host a successful slave revolution, 225,000 to 300,000 children live in servitude in a system known as restavèk. The numbers may rise dramatically due to the hundreds of thousands of children who lost their parents or were abandoned after the earthquake. In addition to likely trauma, hunger and health problems, these children usually do unpaid labor. Unprotected girls are also at risk of what amounts to sex slavery. Parents, usually from the countryside, where poverty is unrelenting, give up their child to a better-off relative, neighbor or stranger who promises to provide care and schooling. The children are as young as three, with girls between six and 14 years old comprising 65%.

Restavèk children toil long hours and rarely go to school. They are regularly abused. They usually eat table scraps or have to scavenge in the streets for their own food, sleep on the floor and wear cast-off rags.

The children usually stay because of the threat of severe punishment if they are caught trying to escape. Another reason is that they have no other source of food and shelter. Survival and safety options for street children in Haiti are not good.

The system has long been widely socially accepted, but efforts are underway to change this. doclink

More Earthquakes Or Just More People?

May 18, 2010   Californians for Population Stabilization

Earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and Turkey lead some to wonder if seismic activity is increasing, but seismologists say that improved monitoring and instantaneous news contribute to the sense of more earthquake activity.

A bigger factor though is that more people in a more populated world are now living in areas along fault lines. There are 130 cities with populations greater than 1 million, and more than half of those cities are on fault lines.

Haiti, with an estimated population of 9 million, has a fertility rate of 3.81, too high to be sustainable. It's estimated there are about 100,000 Haitians living in the United States illegally and another 30,000 who were awaiting deportation at the time of the quake. rw doclink

Growing Demand for Soybeans Threatens Amazon Rainforest

December 30, 2009   Earth Policy Institute

In 1765, the first soybeans were planted in North America. Today the soybean occupies more U.S. cropland than wheat. And in Brazil, the soybean is invading the Amazon rainforest.

For close to two centuries the soybean languished as a curiosity crop. Then during the 1950s, the demand for meat, milk, and eggs climbed. But with little new grassland farmers turned to grain to produce not only more beef and milk but also more pork, poultry, and eggs. World consumption of meat at 44 million tons in 1950 had already started the climb that would take it to 280 million tons in 2009, a sixfold rise.

In addition, animal nutritionists found that combining one part soybean meal with four parts grain would dramatically boost the efficiency with which livestock and poultry converted grain into animal protein.

In 1970 the U.S. was producing three fourths of the world's soybeans, and by 1995 the U.S. land area planted to soybeans had eclipsed that in wheat.

When world grain and soybean prices climbed in the mid- 1970s, the United States embargoed soybean exports, and Japan discovered that Brazil was looking for new crops to export. In 2009, the area in Brazil planted to soybeans exceeded that in all grains combined.

Today the U.S., Brazil, and Argentina produce four fifths of the world's soybean crop and account for 90% of the exports.

Rising incomes enabled many of China's 1.3 billion people to move up the food chain, consuming more meat, milk, eggs, and farmed fish. By 2009 China was consuming 55 million tons of soybeans, of which 41 million tons were imported, accounting for 75% of its soaring consumption.

Today half of all soybean exports go to China. Soybean meal mixed with grain for animal feed made it possible for Chinese meat consumption to grow to double that in the United States.

One tenth the 250-million-ton world soybean crop is consumed directly as food - tofu, meat substitutes, soy sauce, and other products. Nearly one fifth is extracted as oil, making it a leading table oil. The remainder, roughly 70% of the harvest, ends up as soybean meal to be consumed by livestock and poultry.

Satisfying the global demand for soybeans, growing at nearly 6 million tons per year, poses a challenge. The soybean is a legume, fixing atmospheric nitrogen in the soil, which means it is not as fertilizer-responsive as, say, corn, which has a ravenous appetite for nitrogen. But because the soy plant uses a substantial fraction of its metabolic energy to fix nitrogen, it has less energy to devote to producing seed. This makes raising yields more difficult.

Since 1950, U.S. corn yields have quadrupled while those of soybeans have barely doubled. Although the U.S. area in corn has remained essentially unchanged since 1950, the area in soybeans has expanded fivefold. Farmers get more soybeans largely by planting more soybeans. How do we satisfy the continually expanding demand for soybeans without clearing so much of the Amazon rainforest that it dries out and becomes vulnerable to fire.

The Amazon is being cleared both by soybean growers and by ranchers, who are expanding Brazil's national herd of beef cattle. Oftentimes, soybean growers buy land from cattlemen, who have cleared the land and grazed it for a few years, pushing them ever deeper into the Amazon rainforest.

The Amazon rainforest sustains one of the richest concentrations of plant and animal biological diversity in the world. It also recycles rainfall from the coastal regions to the continental interior, ensuring an adequate water supply for Brazil's inland agriculture. And it is an enormous storehouse of carbon. Each of these three contributions is obviously of great importance. But it is the release of carbon, as deforestation progresses, that most directly affects the entire world. Continuing destruction of the Brazilian rainforest will release massive quantities of carbon into the atmosphere, helping to drive climate change.

Brazil has discussed reducing deforestation 80% by 2020 as part of its contribution to lowering global carbon emissions. Unfortunately, if soybean consumption continues to climb, the economic pressures to clear more land could make this difficult.

Although the deforestation is occurring within Brazil, it is the worldwide growth in demand for meat, milk, and eggs that is driving it. Saving the Amazon rainforest depends on curbing the growth in demand for soybeans by stabilizing population worldwide as soon as possible. And for the world's affluent population, it means moving down the food chain, eating less meat and thus lessening the growth in demand for soybeans. With food, as with energy, achieving an acceptable balance between supply and demand now means curbing growth in demand rather than just expanding supply. rw doclink

To Protect Galápagos, Ecuador Limits a Two-legged Species

October 4, 2009   Puerto Rico Journal

The human population of the Galápagos doubled to about 30,000 in the last decade. Environmentalists see evidence that the growth is already harming the ecosystem that allowed the islands' more famous inhabitants - among them giant tortoises and boobies with brightly colored webbed feet - to evolve in isolation before mainlanders started colonizing the islands more than a century ago.

The government, which still welcomes growth in the tourism industry, has expelled more than 1,000 poor Ecuadoreans in the past year from the area.

Unskilled migrants say they are being punished while the country continues to enjoy the many millions of dollars tourists bring to Ecuador, one of South America's poorest nations. It seems that a tortoise is worth more than an Ecuadorean citizen.

97% of the archipelago has been put aside as a park and the United Nations put the Galápagos on its list of endangered heritage sites in 2007.

Fuel spills, the poaching of giant tortoises and sharks and the introduction of invasive species - including rats, cats, cattle and fire ants are threats to the island's native flora and fauna.

Technically, residency is granted to a limited number of people, including those born here and their spouses, people who arrived before 1998 and those with temporary work permits. But the same government that oversees the expulsions also offers subsidies to people living on the islands.

Puerto Villamil, on Isabela, the largest of the islands has one of the Galápagos's highest rates of population growth, about 9% a year.

"I earn $1,200 a month here, while I could only earn $500 a month on the continent," said one resident, a construction worker. Most migrants are lured by relatively high wages they can earn as taxi drivers and hotel maids or workers in the bureaucracy. doclink

Mexico Hit by Lowest Rainfall in 68 Years

August 20, 2009   Planet Ark

More than 1,000 cattle have been lost due to lack of rainfall, and up to 20 million tons of crops managed by 3.5 million small farmers are at risk of being lost, and the government has been forced to slow the flow of water to the crowded capital, due to a lowest in 68 years rainfall. 80 of Mexico's 175 largest reservoirs are less than half full.

The arid northwest region of Mexico has been hardest hit, along with the central part of the country surrounding Mexico City where 20 million people live.

Trucks are delivering water to some parts of the capital where cuts have made the flow of water intermittent.

In neighboring Guatemala, the government is distributing emergency food to 56,000 families whose crops have been damaged.

"How much of this phenomenon is from El Nino? How much is from climate change? The best thing is to hope for the best but prepare for the worst," a water official said. doclink

Ecuador: Almost Extinct Galapagos Tortoise Mates at 90

July 21, 2009   Reuters

in the Galapagos Islands, Lonesome George, well-known as the last remaining giant tortoise of his kind, may be a father soon, if the five unhatched eggs found in his pen produce hatchlings.

Originating on Pinta island, the tortoise had shown little interest in reproducing since 1993, when two female tortoises of a different subspecies were introduced into his pen. At age 90, George is said to be in his sexual prime. The eggs were placed in an incubator from which they will hatch in 120 days if they are fertile.

Last year the 198-pound George mated for the first time, but the eggs laid by one of his female companions turned out to be infertile.

Tortoises were hunted for their meat to the point of extinction, while their habitat has been eaten away by goats introduced from the mainland. Some 20,000 giant tortoises still live on the Galapagos. doclink

Chilean Glaciers Melting at Unprecedented Rates

June 23, 2009   Santiago Times

The latest research by NASA Scientists Chile's Valdivia-based Center of Scientific Studies (CECS) revealed that alpine glaciers in the Chilean and Argentine Andes are disappearing at much faster rates than previously anticipated by the scientific community.

Masses of ice in the Patagonia are melting in larger proportions and in much higher alpine zones than in any other part of the world, including Alaska and the Himalayas. Glacier ice accounts for around 75% of the world's fresh water.

The loss of ice mass in the higher zones is a new phenomenon, the scientists said. With ice thinning both high up and down low, loss in glacial mass in Patagonia is likely to be much greater than what has previously been calculated by scientists.

Most of Chile's 3,500 identified glaciers have experienced significant losses in volume and surface area due to climate change and are in danger of disappearing altogether.

Between 1995 and 2000, Patagonian glaciers made up 9% of the total glacier contribution to global sea levels.

The Southern Patagonia Ice Field has the third largest concentration of continental ice, after Antarctica and Greenland.

The higher temperatures associated with glacier meltdowns and climate change are largely caused by CO2 or 'greenhouse gas' emissions. Chile's failure to develop a sensible renewable energy policy has resulted in a green light to highly-polluting coal and diesel fuel energy production.

State authorities confirm that the nation's CO2 emissions will quadruple in the next 20 year if no mitigating actions are taken. doclink

Amazon Deforestation Brings Economy Boom,then Bust

June 12, 2009   Environmental News Network

Chopping down forests in the Brazilian Amazon produces a boom-and-bust economy that draws poor people to newly-cleared land but ultimately leaves them no better off, according to a study published in the journal Science. The study followed 286 municipalities at varying stages along the timeline of deforestation, development and decline.

The development that occured following the deforestation was found to be transitory, not a sustained improvement in peoples' well-being.

Human prosperity, in terms of income, education and health, were measured among settlers along the Amazon's deforested areas.

Poor, often landless people from around Brazil flock to places where initial logging occurs, and soon experience an improvement in quality of life - in income and health and education. When the timber trade gives way to farming and raising livestock, the land is fertile and productive, but it soon declines. Settlers then either stay on whatever land they have managed to possess or head for the next deforestation frontier.

"What happens afterwards is a combination of population increase ... and the over-exploitation of natural resources," said lead author Ana Rodrigues.

The Amazon and other large old-growth forests are valuable as repositories of climate-warming carbon dioxide; vegetation on farm fields and pastures does not store nearly as much. doclink

Amazon Deforestation Brings Economy Boom,then Bust

June 12, 2009   Environmental News Network

Chopping down forests in the Brazilian Amazon produces a boom-and-bust economy that draws poor people to newly-cleared land but ultimately leaves them no better off, according to a study published in the journal Science. The study followed 286 municipalities at varying stages along the timeline of deforestation, development and decline.

The development that occured following the deforestation was found to be transitory, not a sustained improvement in peoples' well-being.

Human prosperity, in terms of income, education and health, were measured among settlers along the Amazon's deforested areas.

Poor, often landless people from around Brazil flock to places where initial logging occurs, and soon experience an improvement in quality of life - in income and health and education. When the timber trade gives way to farming and raising livestock, the land is fertile and productive, but it soon declines. Settlers then either stay on whatever land they have managed to possess or head for the next deforestation frontier.

"What happens afterwards is a combination of population increase ... and the over-exploitation of natural resources," said lead author Ana Rodrigues.

The Amazon and other large old-growth forests are valuable as repositories of climate-warming carbon dioxide; vegetation on farm fields and pastures does not store nearly as much. doclink

Dry Taps in Mexico City: a Water Crisis Gets Worse

April 11, 2009  

In one of the most serious water shortages in sprawling Mexico City in recent memory, toilets remained unflushed for the quarter of Mexico City's 20 million urban residents who are without water. Officials have had to ration water of the main reservoir system due to depleting supplies.

The Mexican capital needs to seriously overhaul its water system. The biggest metropolis in the Western hemisphere is becoming an alarming cautionary tale for other megacities. Scientists have warned us about our pumping up too much water while destroying too many forests, and inviting conflict over the precious commodity.

One housewife says "We have got no toilets, I can't wash my children, can't cook, I can't clean the mess off the floor, And the worst thing is, we have got almost nothing to drink."

The thirsty city sits on what was once a great lake, where the Aztecs founded their island citadel in 1325. As the growing population lowers the well water, Mexico City is sinking about three inches a year, putting extra pressure on water distribution pipes, which are now so leaky they lose about 40% of liquid before delivering to homes.

Mexico City relies on a network of reservoirs and treatment plants that pump in water from hundreds of miles around. But rainfall is low, so the system is low. Its main basin is only 47% full, compared 70% average for early April. "This could be caused by climate change and deforestation," says the under director of the National Water Commission. In the April action, the entire system will be shut down for 36 hours.

Poor neighborhoods seem to be affected more than rich. Fleets of water trucks have been sent out. Ramon Aguirre, director of Mexico City's water department, says says the long-term solution involves teaching people to ration their water much better. "We need to educate people from when they are children that water is valuable and needs to be used wisely," he says.

The average Mexico City resident uses 300 liters of waters per day compared to 180 per day in some European cities, "Cheap subsidized water is not helping people. It is giving them a bad service." doclink

Haiti: Pregnant (Again) and Poor

April 4, 2009   New York Times*

Nahomie is an intelligent 30-year-old woman who wanted only two children, yet now she is eight months pregnant with her 10th. She lives in Cite Soleil, a Haitian slum, where she and her 10 children live in a $6-a-month rental shack. There is no food of any kind in it. Six of them sleep on the floor. They have difficulty paying school fees.

Nahomie is one of 200 million women worldwide who, according to United Nations estimates, have an "unmet need" for safe and effective contraception. They don't want to get pregnant but don't use a modern form of family planning.

This "unmet need" results in 70 million to 80 million unwanted pregnancies annually, along with 19 million abortions and 150,000 maternal deaths, according to the United Nations.

In the 1960s and 1970s contraception was advanced, but coercion in China and India and abortion politics, which led to a cutoff in American financing for the United Nations Population Fund - caused the push for contraception to wane and the result was more unwanted pregnancies and more abortions.

Family planning requires more than condoms or the pill - women in Haiti say they want fewer children - yet only one-quarter of Haitian women use contraceptives.

Nahomie's attempts at family planning were thwarted: injectables caused excess bleeding; a sexually transmitted infection meant she couldn't use an IUD, she couldn't use the pill because she has vascular problems; a family planning clinic seemed scornful of poor women; her second husband refused to use condoms (and then ran off after her 10th pregnancy).

Beyond contraception, we need more dignity for women in clinics, a greater choice of methods that are completely free - and a broad effort to raise the status of women. We need to educate girls and to give them opportunities to earn income through micro-loans, factory jobs or vocational training.

Unless family planning is more successful in poor countries, they won't be able to overcome poverty. doclink

Re "Pregnant (Again) and Poor," by Nicholas D. Kristof (column, April 5):

In 1994 at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, the world recognized "the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so."

This pledge has been honored more in the breach than in the implementation.

You have to look at the small print of the United Nations Millennium Development Goal 5, "Improve Maternal Health," under Target 2, to find this language: "An unmet need for family planning undermines achievement of several other goals."

These "several other" goals include reducing poverty, providing universal access to education, reducing infant and child mortality, empowering women, attaining environmental sustainability, and developing in such a way that improvement is not eaten up by population growth.

Giving women choices and access to education and health is the key to any acceptable future.

Jane Roberts
Redlands, Calif., April 5, 2009 .....

Those of us who are devoting our careers to improving women's and children's health were delighted to read Nicholas D. Kristof's endorsement of our effort. But Mr. Kristof could have been clearer on two points.

First, family planning saves lives. Nahomie Nercure and her children, whom Mr. Kristof writes about, are lucky that they have all survived. Over the time Ms. Nercure had her nine children, several million women died from pregnancy-related causes, often because they lacked access to family planning and safe abortion services. Infant and child mortality are also higher in poor, high-fertility families like Ms. Nercure's.

Mr. Kristof also points to Ms. Nercure's problems using current contraceptive methods. He should also say that we need more research to develop new contraceptive methods for women and men. Such work should be a priority for the National Institutes of Health and others.

Peter J. Donaldson
President, Population Council
New York, April 5, 2009

Mexico's Troubles Are Our Troubles

March 11, 2009   Oil Patch Research

Mexico is our #3 source of oil, providing 1.3 million barrels per day (mbpd), or about 6% of our total.

Mexico's largest oil field, Cantarell, peaked in 2003 at 2.1 mbpd, but its production is crashing at about 38% per year. It is now producing about 0.77 mbpd, and will probably fall to 0.5 mbpd before tailing off at a gentler rate.

Mexico's largest producing region is now the Ku-Maloob-Zaap (KMZ) complex, adjacent to the Cantarell complex. It's smaller than Cantarell, and at 0.78 mbpd it is near its planned maximum production rate.

Nitrogen injection was initiated which we indicates that Mexico would rather maximize its revenue now than worry about tomorrow.

Oil is Mexico's number-one export. With its oil revenues in decline, the state is finding it increasingly difficult to fund operations-including operations against illegal drugs. Drug cartels have grown and have now taken to open war with the authorities, who are finding themselves outgunned against better funded adversaries.

An estimated 10,000 people have died since Mexico's president Felipe Calderan took office in 2006 and began a campaign against organized crime. The atrocities include torture, beheadings, and public displays of mutilated corpses. Extortion and protection rackets are proliferating. The nation's 32 independent states, a decrepit judicial process, and an ineffective and disorganized federal police force have left the nation ill-equipped to control the cartels.

US cities along Mexican borders Texas are contending with increased violence and trade in weapons.

What does the estimated $20 billion trade in illegal drugs from Mexico have to do with energy? Mexico's exports of oil and gas to the US account for over one-third of the government's revenues, and their decline is expected to widen the country's current-account deficit to an average 3.6% of GDP in 2009-13.

The declining production of Cantarell will deprive Mexico's economy of roughly $5 billion. At the same time, a large number of migrant workers in the US are going back home as their work here dries up.

Add to that declining tourism revenues, due to poor security and a loss of income due to the falling price of oil, and you have an economy that is on the ropes.

It will be very difficult for the Mexican government to maintain order, and fight the drug cartels under such severe pressures.

It will also make it very difficult for Pemex to raise the capital to expand its oil and gas production. Mexican law prohibits foreign companies from owning its petroleum resources, so it relies heavily on debt backed by foreign issuers to fund its operations.

Given the increasing uncertainty of Mexico's future, it is hard to imagine how Pemex will continue to invest at the necessary levels, $20 billion in capital expenditures are planned for this year, to keep its oil and gas flowing to US markets.

On current trends, Mexico's oil and gas exports to the US will cease entirely within seven years.

How will the US adjust to a 6% loss in its oil supply when all of its other major suppliers are also in decline?. Our remaining reserves at home will become an important answer, and those barrels will sell for much higher prices than they do today.

Much of our unconventional oil reserves are too expensive to produce at a profit while oil is still in the $40s. rw doclink

Mexico City Braces for Water Rationing

March 2009  

Mexico City is launching a rationing plan in an effort to conserve water after development, mismanagement and reduced rainfall caused supplies to drop. Water will be cut or reduced in 10 boroughs in Mexico City plus 11 other municipalities in the state. This affects an estimated 5.5 million people and includes neighborhoods ranging from affluent Lomas de Chapultepec on the western edge of the city to poor, densely populated Iztapalapa in the southeast.

Similar cuts will be carried out every month until the rainy season begins, usually around May. "We are running out of water," a senior official with the National Water Commission, told Mexican radio.

The level at the main reservoir has dipped below 60% of capacity, the lowest in 16 years.

Experts say Mexico has failed to take actions needed to upgrade aqueducts, pipes and treatment plants and has allowed construction projects in areas that should be used for catching runoff and replenishing aquifers.

By one study, 10 million people nationwide do not have access to potable water; many must buy it from water trucks at exorbitant prices. Many Mexico City residents were filling buckets, cisterns and bathtubs to spell them through the weekend.

Polanco is a district where a building boom has stretched municipal resources.

Water is getting more complicated with all the people arriving. Water pressure is good at night, but in the day it gets very low.

Mexico City's population increased sixfold in the last half of the 20th century. Officials said rationing was a stop-gap measure and conservation and investment in water-delivery systems were necessary. rw doclink

Amid Mass Migration to Cities, Bolivians Learn to Adapt to Urbanization

February 12, 2009   Christian Science Monitor

El Alto city is at 13,000 feet, and thousands land on its doorstep each year. Over 90% of its population comes from somewhere else. According to the UN, more than half the world's population is living in cities for the first time, as people move for jobs, education, and better services. By 2050, 70% of the world's population is expected to be urbanized.

This poses challenges: creating new slums, overwhelming governments, and placing new demands on land and water. But the migrants themselves are showing resilience in adapting.

There are innovative ways that people have learned how to deal with the problems.

On a recent day, a group of indigenous women participated in a workshop to develop leadership skills. All these women had moved to El Alto for a better life. Like most migrants here, their economic status is precarious. Latin America and the Caribbean is the world's most urbanized developing region, with 78% of residents living in cities. But this search for employment challenges cities. El Alto's government runs employment programs for youths - giving them internships to work in the factories that draw so many migrants. If some migrants end up in urban poverty, they tend to be better off than the countryside.

Governments tend to blame migration on growth of slums and violence, but it is misplaced. Providing services such as electricity and water is easier in urban areas than dispersed agricultural ones. And urban migrants tend to have networks of friends and family to help them. Census numbers in El Alto reveal an almost equal ratio of women to men, women tend to migrate more permanently, while men migrate seasonally.

Women migrants are vulnerable, but living in cities gives them access to civic roles they would not have in the countryside.

Women who benefit from Pro Mujer tick off the difficulties - infidelity, violence on television, alcohol. rw doclink

A Green Tsunami in Brazil: the High Price of Clean, Cheap Ethanol

January 22, 2009   Truthout.org

Sugar cane is grown in Brazil to satisfy a demand for ethanol. Brazil hopes to supply drivers worldwide with cheap ethanol, considered an antidote to climate change, but thousands of Brazilian plantation workers harvest the cane at slave wages.

The plantations around Brazil's ethanol zone look like a war zone during the harvest, as the burning fields light up the sky. In the morning, when only embers remain, tens of thousands of workers with machetes head into the fields and harvest the cane, which is used to distill ethanol.

Cane cutters last an average of 12 years on the job before they are so worn out that they have to be replaced. There is nothing else, those who do not cut sugarcane go hungry. a million people toil on the plantations and in Brazil's ethanol factories. The power lies in the hands of militias, working for the sugar barons, who intimidate workers and drive away small farmers in support of a global vision.

"By 2030 we will be the world's largest fuel supplier," says Brazilian President In 2008 Brazil produced just under 26 billion liters of ethanol, projected to rise to 53 billion by 2017. More than 30 countries use ethanol as an additive to gasoline. The US plans to satisfy about 15% of its requirements with biofuel by 2012. Experts estimate that if every car in the world ran on ethanol, Brazil could satisfy one-fourth of global demand. Ethanol would even be cheap, with Brazil's factories producing it at a cost of about 20 cents a liter. But the nightmare of trans-Atlantic slavery began with sugarcane and this is only the beginning, with plans in place to expand production to cover 10 million hectares. The region bordering the Atlantic Ocean is called the Forest Zone. But the rain forests were cut down long ago, and it has been turned into Brazil's ethanol zone. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: when will this craziness end?

Brazil Admits Amazon Deforestation on the Rise

December 19, 2008   ScienceDaily

Amazon deforestation jumped 69% in the past 12 months as rising demand for soy and cattle pushes farmers and ranchers to raze trees. Some 3,088 square miles of forest were destroyed between August 2007 and August 2008. Brazil's government has increased cash payments to fight illegal Amazon logging, and eliminated government bank loans to farmers who illegally clear forest. The country lost 2.7% of its Amazon rain forest in 2007, or 4,250 square miles. Monthly deforestation rates have slowed since May, but environmental groups say seasonal shifts in tree cutting make the annual number a more accurate gauge.

Most deforestation is in March and April, and routinely tapers off in May, June and July.

Environmentalists argue that INPE's deforestation report was to alert the government to deforestation hot spots in time to save the land.

The Amazon region covers about 1.6 million square miles of Brazil, nearly 60% of the country. About 20% of that land has been deforested. rw doclink

Abortion Move Divides Uruguay

November 12, 2008   BBC News

The decision by the Uruguayan Congress to decriminalise abortion is being hailed as a milestone for a country where most forms of abortion have been illegal, and it's a rare step in Latin America where abortion in most countries is considered a criminal act.

Previously abortion was illegal but a woman would not face sanction in the case of rape or if her life were in danger.

The new legislation would allow a woman to terminate her pregnancy in the first 12 weeks if her health is at risk or under certain other circumstances, such as extreme poverty.

Supporters hailed this as a victory which would reduce the number of women who die or become seriously ill after an illegal abortion.

However, Uruguay's President has said he will veto the legislation. rw doclink

Profligate Water Use in the U.S. Is Fueling the Flight of Mexicans Across the Border

November 11, 2008   AlterNet

On October 21, 2008, the Secretary of the Interior inaugurated the new Imperial Valley water reservoir near the U.S.-Mexico border. The 500-acre reservoir will store surplus Colorado River water for use by coastal Southern California, southern Nevada, and central Arizona; previously this water had been used by Mexican cities and farmers.

This reservoir and a project to line a 23-mile stretch of the All-American Canal with concrete to prevent water seepage to an underground aquifer, means dire consequences for Mexico.

An estimated 67,000 acre-feet of water seeps from the canal annually. This captured seepage water will be sent to San Diego for municipal use. The triumphant U.S. water and irrigation districts are gloating over their victory. The losers are Mexican peasants and subsistence farmers which will fuel illegal migration to the US.

US water negotiators see water as a commodity in this war over natural resources. There are other nails in the coffin of Mexico's water future: a mega-drought; lack of funding for water infrastructure throughout the country; rapid development and population growth; increasing pollution; water privatization and inequality in water allocation. Government corruption, incompetence, infighting, and mismanagement of water.

Mexico's government considers deforestation and the lack of clean water two national security issues. Vicente Fox repeatedly said that water is a national security issue. Mexico's poor have had to contend with skyrocketing food prices, general inflation which also raised the price of water, a calamitous drought, rising unemployment, and increasing hunger and malnourishment.

The poor have staged street protests to protest against a 50% price hike of corn tortillas. Now the subsistence farmers have even less water to irrigate their crops. But the livelihood of those living on subsistence farming will be affected as well by drought and water scarcity. Thus, water scarcity is triggering food insecurity in Mexico, which has implications for its national security.

Northern Mexico also has been afflicted by a drought since 1992. Climate scientists have predicted that the entire region from southwestern United States to north-central Mexico will be hit especially hard by global climate change and extreme droughts. Mexico's largest freshwater lake, has been steadily shrinking since the 1970s and lost approximately 80% of its water due to development in central Mexico.

Drought and water scarcity have exacerbated Mexico's food crisis for the urban poor and for medium-size and small subsistence farmers.

Many of our illegal aliens may be, water or environmental refugees. With intensifying global climate disruptions, there will be more of this category of people in Mexico. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: what more evidence do we need that the U.S. is overpopulated and it is impacting the lives of people in other countries?

Caribbean: Island Species Among Most Threatened by Population Growth

July 3, 2008   Blue iguanas

Seven Blue iguanas were killed on Grand Cayman Island, and the incident brought attention to the plight of the iguana. The real problem posed for the species' survival - human population growth - has gone largely unnoticed. Staff writer Ben Block reports on the growing pressures facing island species. A captured breeding program has revived the reptile's population, but human overpopulation remains a leading threat.

A team of volunteers were shocked that someone had attacked the program's endangered reptiles, killing seven. this was a major blow to the recovery of the rare blue iguana, found only on Grand Cayman. Only 10 existed in 2002, but the breeding program has increased the population to about 340.

An influx of immigrants to Grand Cayman has led population size to jump 32.% since 2000. In recent decades, the iguanas were nearly driven to extinction with the construction of highways and the expansion of residential areas. Other island nations are facing similar challenges. Human populations in the Caribbean and Pacific are averaging a 1% annual growth, due to high fertility rates and poor access to reproductive health services.

The rising human populations, coupled with the pressures of global climate change and the spread of invasive species, have made island species among the most threatened in the world. Conservation drives are beginning to preserve more island territory.

The government has been negotiating an agreement that may set aside shrubland for the blue iguana, large enough to accommodate an estimated 1,000 animals to have a self-sustaining wild population. rw doclink

Ecuador's Yasuni Park: Oil Exploration Or Nature Protection?

March 21, 2008   CorpWatch.org

The Yasuni National Park is a 2.5 million acre rainforest at the intersection of the Andes, the Amazon and the Equator. It is also the heart of a struggle between oil exploration and to permanently protect one of the most biologically diverse regions of the planet.

Only 2.5 acres of this forest contains as many tree species as in the US and and is home to jaguars, woolly and spider monkeys, and harpy eagles. Some of the species live on the brink of extinction. This was the home of 16,000 Waorani, but yoday, there are no more than about a thousand. One of the key reasons is the arrival of multinational oil companies in the latter part of the 20th century. A new plan could bring a halt to this exploration.

Tasuni falls between Ecuador and Peru. The Ecuadorian government granted an environmental license for Petrobras, the Brazilian state-owned corporation, to drill for oil in Block 31 that is believed to hold up to a billion barrels of oil. The Peruvian government has approved environmental impact studies for two areas. Armed with new contracts, the companies have attempted to win over the people of the forest by offering the indigenous villagers clothes and candy in return for permission to drill.

With the tacit permission of the villagers, Petrobras started to set up the infrastructure for oil exploration on the outer edges of Yasuni. Local authorities soon started to complain about Skanska's work in the area, saying Skanska behaved in a suspicious manner. An official in the provincial environmental office in Coca says that the company refused to cooperate with them. Petrobras' permit was revoked and the company was asked to conduct an environmental feasibility study.

Villagers say that Skanska hired people from the local population to perform dangerous jobs. They are accused of having purchased food supplies in the villages, but failed to pay.

One of Skanska's regional managers, an Argentinian oil exploration veteran said that "People here are slightly backward. You never know when the barbarians are going to start shooting arrows from the bushes". Skanska engineeers pay for security guards, but the company also has an agreement with the military for support. The oil companies supply the military with infrastructure, food, fuel, living quarters and emergency medical care in exchange for protection.

Attorney Bolivar Beltran says that the contract violates Chapter V of Ecuador's constitution. The population is being exposed to health hazards related to oil spills and waste dumping while they live in fear of the companies.

Today the future of the ITT fields remain uncertain. The government would refrain from exploiting Yasuni in exchange for receiving at least $350 million annually from the international community. A number of groups have put their weight behind it, but the plan has yet to get commitments for the full sum of money. rw doclink

Jamaica: No Condoms in School, Says Holness

February 14, 2008   Jamaica Gleaner

The minister of education, says that no condoms will be distributed in Jamaican schools. He says the health and family life education programme in secondary schools is the means through which students will make healthy lifestyle decisions. There is a debate that condoms should be distributed to students in schools. The curriculum explores human sexuality and prevention of unplanned pregnancies, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

It is designed to help the students to make the best choices for themselves. Some 224 high schools have already implemented the programme. A partnership between the ministries of Health and Education was vital in the response to the HIV epidemic, particularly as it relates to Jamaican youth.

"Students 10-19 years old are at highest risk or are vulnerable to HIV infection. This is a result of socio-cultural factors, including the fact that, in Jamaica, young people start having sex early. rw doclink

Chile's Policy of Free Emergency Contraception Under Threat

February 12, 2008   Ms. Magazine

Conservative officials in Chile are threatening the emergency contraception (EC) policies with a lawsuit that would ban EC. Under the President Michelle Bachelet's administration, all forms of birth control have been free for women over 14 at public clinics since 2006.

Conservatives argue that the policy violates the Chilean ban on abortion based on the misconception that EC is a form of abortion. Despite the Catholic influence on Chile, 49% of Chileans believe that women should have the right to access EC.

President Bachelet's administration is battling pharmaceutical companies to force them to keep emergency contraception in stock. President Bachelet has enforced legislation to ensure birth control's availability. rw doclink

Brazil to Increase Monitors in Rain Forest as Illegal Clearing Spreads

January 25, 2008   Associated Press

Brazil said it would send additional federal police to the Amazon following an announcement that illegal clearing of the rain forest had jumped last year.

Authorities will also monitor areas where the deforestation occurred in an attempt to prevent anyone from trying to plant crops or raise cattle there. The clearing of Brazil's Amazon rain forest jumped in 2007, spurred by high prices for corn, soy and cattle. Officials will try to fine people or businesses that buy anything produced on the deforested land. The plan means a 25% increase in the police force assigned to the region. If the plan doesn't work, Brazil will have an environmental and economic loss.

As many as 2,700 square miles of rain forest had been cleared from August through December, and Brazil could lose 5,791 square miles of jungle by this August. That would be a 34% increase from the 4,334 square miles of forest that was cut down and burned from August 2006 through July of last year.

Although preliminary calculations prove only that 1,287 square miles of rain forest were cleared from August through December, officials were still analyzing satellite imagery and working under the assumption that the higher amount of jungle had been cleared. rw doclink

Brazil: Amazon Deforestation Seen Surging

January 17, 2008   Reuters

Deforestation of the Amazon has surged in recent months. The rise raises questions over Brazil's assertion that its environmental policies are effectively protecting the world's biggest rain forest. Nobre, whose government agency monitors the Amazon, said that 2,300 square miles of forest had been lost in the past four months.

That compares with an estimated 3,700 square miles in the 12 months ended July 31, which Brazil officials hailed as the lowest deforestation rate since the 1970s.

Policies such as more controls on illegal logging and better certification of land ownership were reducing the deforestation. But environmental groups warned that rising global commodity prices are likely to fuel more clearing of land for farms.

Nobre said the major drivers of deforestation were illegal logging and land clearing for cattle farming that remained intact, despite the recent annual declines in forest clearing.

The three years of reduced deforestation did not bring a cure for illegal deforestation.

Destruction of forests produces about 20% of man-made carbon dioxide emissions. But the government has struggled to stem deforestation, partly due to strong global demand that has made Brazil one of the world's biggest food suppliers. Infrastructure is associated with aggressive and progressive land use change. Continued high oil prices were likely to result in a surge in demand for Amazon land to produce ethanol. rw doclink

Paraguay's Traffic Hub Imperils Female Teens

January 16, 2008   Women's Enews

The central business district of this border city is lined with stalls selling counterfeit goods. Shopping centers offer seemingly everything and at the right price to a constant stream of shoppers from Brazil and Argentina and tourists on their way to the magnificent nearby Iguazu Falls.

A dollar buys a bus ticket from Puerto Iguazu in Argentina, through Foz da Iguazu in Brazil, and into Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. There is the Office of the Center for Awareness, Prevention and Companionship for Children and Adolescents in Situations of Commercial Sexual Exploitation.

Seventy percent of the cases are trafficking victims. Seventy percent of those have been trafficked internationally. All the children are female.

An important part of the charity's work is teaching skills to replace prostitution. The border area is a major hub in international people-trafficking.

Eighty-five percent is for sexual exploitation.

More than 90% of the victims are women. After women are sexually exploited, some are used to carry drugs.

The region attracts women from the countryside, mostly from Paraguay where almost a third of the population earns less than $1 a day each. Some of the young women have come following promises of work as domestic employees. Some are from local families desperate for any form of income.

In some cases, the girls and young women choose to stay so they can earn small amounts of money and send it back to their families. But many are subject to isolation, starvation and violence. With birth control proscribed by the Catholic Church, it is common to find families of eight children, all under 18, exacerbated by teenage pregnancies at the age of 13 or 14. Many of the families make the problem worse by making the children responsible for providing for the family. Another growth factor in prostitution is the influx of sex tourists drawn to the districts around the monumental Iguazu.

While the border is porous for traffickers it's tough for anti-trafficking efforts because the area requires triple-nation cooperation.

There are signs of progress. The International Office of Migration, an intergovernmental agency of 122 countries, opened an office in Paraguay's capital, to focus, on the outflow of its citizenry.

There is also a publicity campaign about the dangers of trafficking.

The problem is that some of the people involved are very high up and untouchable. It's on a very big scale. rw doclink

Bolivia's Bad Births Sit on Political Sidelines

January 15, 2008   Women's Enews

Bolivia's Constituent Assembly last month narrowly avoided adding a ban on all abortion to its new constitution. In the past two years, Nicaragua's former revolutionary government banned all abortions. The president of Uruguay has vowed to veto legal abortion. Venezuelans' push to decriminalize the procedure has come to a halt under socialist Chavez.

In Bolivia the controversy revolved around five words--"from the moment of conception" which would have outlawed all abortion in Bolivia. Abortion here was legalized in 1973 for victims of sexual assault or to prevent a life-threatening pregnancy. In practice, abortions are often performed without any legal inspection and the country has never seen an abortion provider prosecuted.

Bolivia has up to 80,000 procedures annually in a country of only 9 million people. Many are performed in more than a dozen clinics. But the average $150 fee is prohibitive, so many look for alternative methods.

At least one woman a day ends up dead in this type of swallow-hard-and-take-the-risk medical care.

But talking about abortion remains taboo here in Bolivia.

In Catholic schools, children are required to watch a video of a womb undergoing an abortion. It was church authorities who brought the conception clause to Constituent Assembly delegates when the body first began its proceedings.

Anti-abortion sentiment is widespread. "Regardless of religion, we learn that conception isn't an option, it's our function," she says. "Women who abort live with a lifetime of guilt."

Staff in medical clinics try to dissuade their patients from having abortions, telling them it is better to choose life than murder. Leftist indigenous women have, for the most part, steered clear of the issue.

Paul Bustillos, political director for La Paz-based Catholics for the Right to Choose, says that's because pro-choice leaders have not engaged the country's indigenous majority.

Many abortions are performed in rural areas where indigenous people predominate, and are called "bad births" and are followed by cleansing rituals.

Morales' ruling Movement Towards Socialism party blocked the conception clause from the final text of the constitution. Catholics for the Right to Choose went into a "state of emergency" when the conception clause was introduced. rw doclink

Costa Rica;: Fertility Rate at Record Low

December 18, 2007   Tico Times

The fertility rate reached 1.9 children per woman of reproductive age, reports Costa Rica, just below the two-child mark needed to sustain the population.

The average was 7.3 kids per household of 1960-1961. By 2003, the birth rate was 2.1 per women; in 2005 it fell to two.

The birth decline comes from a number of factors. Higher education among women and greater incorporation into the workforce, the high cost of raising children, more available contraception, changes in values.

Young people are placing less importance on maternity.

There is no difference between practicing Catholics and non- in terms of the birth rate.

Probably, the population will grow to 6 million until 2050, and will then stabilize, unless the birth rate continues to drop below 1.8, and immigration stops entirely. rw doclink

U.S.;: Sex, Science and Savings

December 02, 2007   New York Times*

President Bush's veto of Congress's main social spending bill has Democratic leaders looking for places to make trims. A small, place to begin would be to eliminate the bill's $28 million increase for abstinence-only sex education.

Spending on abstinence-only sex education has ballooned under President Bush, while evidence of the program's danger as a public health strategy has continued to mount.

A Congressionally evaluation found that students who received abstinence instruction were just as likely to have sex as students who did not get such instruction.

Last month, Virginia became the 14th state to reject federal grant money to, instead, pursue the approach supported by science and most Americans. That encourages abstinence but also arms young people with information about sexually transmitted diseases, contraceptives and pregnancy.

Expectations that the new Democratic Congress would confront the abstinence-only hoax have proved unfounded. Instead of cutting support, the vetoed spending plan increased money for faith-based and other groups offering abstinence education programs above the $113 million allotted for the current fiscal year.

The weak link is Nancy Pelosi who opposes the abstinence-only approach, but she ceded the issue to Representative David Obey, who continues to insist on using it as bait for Republican votes on a budget compromise. Forgoing principle failed to produce a veto-proof majority for the spending bill the first time. Ms. Pelosi needs to reconsider whether expanding a discredited sex education program should be on the meager list of achievements of the first Democratic Congress in a decade. rw doclink

Jamaica;: Condom Controversy- Statistics Say Condom Distribution Necessary in Schools, Government Says No

November 20, 2007   The Jamaica Observer

Officials at the St James Health department, Jamaica, Monday pointed to a dilemma involving the government's refusal to sanction the distribution of condoms in the island's high schools, despite statistics indicating the need to include this measure as part of a multi-pronged approach to curbing the spread of the deadly HIV virus.

The government's stance, According to Melanie Walcott, could place Jamaica in the same position as Sub-Saharan Africa which has the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS in the world followed by the Caribbean region.

The ever-controversial issue came up during a workshop for close to a hundred students from the island's western high schools at the Holiday Inn Sunspree resort.

The workshop hopes the participating students who were selected on the basis of their perceived leadership qualities will come up with action plans to raise awareness among their peers concerning the best way to go about curbing the spread of HIV.

Pointing out the need for condom vending machines to be placed in schools, Walcott invited the students to get proactive on the issue with an aim to engaging further public debate. Ask for condoms to be distributed in schools and then you will push the hands of the powers that be.

St James has distinguished itself as having the highest incidence of HIV cases.

When a student pointed to the need for condom distribution the response was mixed. Some participants called for the abstinence campaign to be raised instead while others pointed out that it was already deafening.

Persons who are in their teen years in school have HIV, and high rates of teenage pregnancy, herpes, gonnorrohea and syphilis that means teens are having unprotected sex. We have spent millions of dollars on abstinence campaigns in schools. Empower these persons that if you need to have sex you need to have sex but you need to at least do it safely. So we are advocating for the use of condoms in schools. rw doclink

Brazil Doles Out Morning After Pills

November 20, 2007   Christian Science Monitor

As part of a new fight against Brazil's unwanted pregnancies and illegal abortions, the country's most populous state is offering "morning after" contraceptive pills and 90% off contraceptive pills at pharmacies.

Federal Health officials are offering to train teachers to give sex education and offering condoms to pupils. The Health Ministry wants men to take more responsibility and is offering free vasectomies.

These are part of a wide-ranging and controversial new initiative to address women's health issues and reduce the number of illegal abortions and complications.

We want to give access to the poorest citizens and let them choose what course of action to take. One of the main goals is to slash the number of abortions and unwanted pregnancies. In 2004, the last year for which figures are available, 7 in every 100 Brazilian women between the ages of 15 and 19 gave birth. Accurate figures are impossible to determine because abortions are illegal in this Roman Catholic country, but the Health Ministry estimates 1 million abortions are performed each year.

Many unplanned pregnancies go to term with around 1 in 3 pregnancies unwanted.

The medical costs of back-street abortions are enormous, with 240,000 women hospitalized each year suffering from complications caused by illegal procedures. The government slashed 90% off the price of contraceptive pills in government-run pharmacies and it will spend more than $50 million in doubling the number of free contraceptive pills it gives to state clinics from 20 million to 50 million.

Sao Paulo State has made the morning after pill available at pharmacies in metro stations. One city council tried to ban the pill but was denied by a judge who ruled the ban unconstitutional.

The Catholic church has protested. Bishop Orlando Brandes, underlined that the church is "radically against" any attempts to make contraceptives easier to get. Proponents stress that they see the pill as a last recourse to avoid pregnancy. rw doclink

Doctors Fight No-Abortion Policy

November 05, 2007   Associated Press Online

Two weeks after Olga Reyes danced at her wedding, her bloated and disfigured body was laid to rest in an open coffin, the victim of Nicaragua's new no-exceptions ban on abortion. Reyes, a 22-year-old law student, suffered an ectopic pregnancy. The fetus develops outside the uterus, cannot survive and causes bleeding that endangers the mother. But doctors seemed afraid to treat her because of the anti-abortion law, said husband Agustin Perez.

Nicaragua last year became one of 35 countries that ban all abortions, even to save the life of the mother. The ban has been followed, leaving the country torn between a strong tradition of women's rights and a growing religious conservatism. President Ortega, a former leftist and a Roman Catholic, has refused to oppose the church-supported ban.

But at least three women have died because of the ban, and another 12 reported cases will be examined.

Before the ban took effect on Nov. 18, 2006, fewer than a dozen legal abortions were recorded per year in Nicaragua. They were performed only when three doctors agreed a woman's life was in danger. However, the Roman Catholic Church estimates that doctors and other medical staff carried out about 36,000 "secret" abortions a year, because under the old law they had little fear of government reprisals.

This year the Health Ministry recorded 84 deaths of pregnant women between January and October, compared with 89 for all of last year and 88 the year before.

Abortion rights groups have disrupted Congress several times, demanding that lawmakers lift the ban. The Roman Catholic Church mobilized nearly 300,000 people to march and sign petitions in support of the ban.

Law student Reyes was one of three confirmed fatalities. She knew something was horribly wrong, They were sent to Bertha Calderon maternity hospital. There, Reyes was given a cursory exam, and told to return the next day.

By that time, the bleeding and cramping were worse. Perez said he rushed her to a hospital but after she had an ultrasound that confirmed her condition, they left her in agony for hours. When a doctor at a shift change saw her condition, she was rushed into surgery. She suffered three heart attacks and an exploratory surgery.

President of Nicaragua's Association of Gynecologists and a supporter of the abortion ban, said doctors are taking the new law too far. Surgery for an ectopic pregnancy isn't the same as carrying out an abortion.

But he acknowledged that many doctors fear they will be accused of performing an abortion. Some doctors admit to carrying out what they believe are illegal procedures, while others say they won't jeopardize their careers.

Many are thinking that instead of taking the risk, it is better to let a woman die. Because the people with some medical training who used to do illegal abortions have disappeared, women more frequently take drugs or pull the fetus out on their own using wires or other crude objects.

She sees hysterectomies and severe infections that leave women sterile or dead because obstetricians can't take any action that might harm a living fetus. rw doclink

Chile Pharmacies Warned Over Pill

October 30, 2007   BBC News

The Chilean government has warned pharmacies refusing to sell the morning-after pill that they could face fines or closure.

Major pharmacy chains have argued they could not buy stocks locally.

The government has imported supplies and said the stores now had no excuse for not selling the pill.

Pope Benedict said Catholic pharmacists had the right to object to dispensing emergency contraception.

The sale of the morning-after pill is controversial in Chile and has been challenged in the courts by religious groups.

The row has been building for several weeks, with the three major chains saying they were not selling it because it was not available locally.

The government's initial response was to fine the stores and import stocks.

Deputy Health Minister warned that the government would close a pharmacy that refused to sell the morning-after pill.

One of the chains said the government's actions were a violation of its freedom of opinion about the pill which it said was abortive.

Pope Benedict XVI said that pharmacists had the right to conscientiously object to dispensing emergency contraception or euthanasia drugs.

Pharmacists must raise people's awareness so that all human beings are protected from conception to natural death, the Pope said. rw doclink

Karen Gaia says: Talking about a natural death: if our deaths were indeed natural, our lives would be shorter, and we wouldn't be needing to control our birth rate.

The Chilean Infant Mortality Decline: Improvement for Whom? Socioeconomic and Geographic Inequalities in Infant Mortality

October 16, 2007   World Health Organization

A study analysed Chilean registries from 1990 to 2005 for infant mortality by maternal education, head of household occupation, status, cause, age and location of death. Annual infant mortality rates and relative risk were calculated by maternal education and head of household occupational status for each cause and age of death. Socioeconomic inequalities were then mapped to 29 regional health services. Reductions in the national infant mortality rate were among educated mothers, while stagnation in the national rate is caused by high levels of infant mortality among uneducated mothers. These households are particularly prone to infant mortality due to infectious disease and trauma. Clustering of socioeconomic inequalities in infant mortality were identified throughout the poorer north, indigenous south and densely populated centre of Santiago. Finally, we report inequities in vital statistics coverage, with infant deaths among vulnerable households much more likely to be inadequately defined. The socioeconomically disadvantaged in Chile are at a higher risk for infant mortality by infectious diseases and trauma during the first month of life. Efforts to reduce infant mortality must target child survival for at-risk populations for specific diseases, ages and locations. rw doclink

Central America Free Trade Agreement Dividing Costa Rican Society

September 25, 2007   San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center

After more than 13 years of environmental degradation and increasing gaps between the rich and poor, the Bush Administration continues to push NAFTA.

The mistakes of NAFTA have been codified in the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which was negotiated starting in 2003 between the United States, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua--the Dominican Republic signed in 2005.

The agreement requires that 80% of all tariffs on U.S. goods entering CAFTA-DR nations be eliminated and the remaining tariffs phased out over the next ten years.

Opposition groups in Costa Rica demonstrated against the agreement, and have forced the government to acknowledge the voice of the people.

For the first time a voting population will have the opportunity to vote on a free trade agreement in a referendum. Submitting the CAFTA to a referendum in Costa Rica is perhaps the most democratic approach to a free trade agreement that the world has yet seen. This is in contrast to the manner in which DR-CAFTA was negotiated, behind closed doors under President Bush's now-expired Fast Track Authority.

CAFTA-DR would change thousands of laws that are presently in place in Costa Rica, as it has done in other countries that are party to the agreement. One of the most critical changes required are the elimination or transformation of laws protecting natural resources from foreign purchase or control.

These provisions would inhibit the power of local communities to legally prevent multinational corporations from environment pillage. This represents placing the destinies of these communities out of their hands permanently.

Among other provisions in CAFTA-DR, parties to the agreement would be compelled to consider nuclear waste as a tradable good in the eyes of the law. This could potentially mean that if a private corporation were contracted by the U.S. government to dispose of its nuclear waste in another country, the company could sue for the right to dump these radioactive 'tradable goods' in Costa Rica even if existing laws prohibit it.

CAFTA bestows the right upon companies to sue local, regional, and national governments for not allowing such dumping of toxins and other public hazards and to also collect financial compensation should the arbitration panels side in favor of the corporations.

In the context of Costa Rica, this presents the possibility of environmental racism since Costa Rica's indigenous communities and their lands were excluded from DR-CAFTA's indigenous communities' exemption clauses.

Subsidized U.S. agriculture gains duty-free access despite the fact that these subsidies keep prices of U.S. goods at artificially low levels. CAFTA-DR markets protect U.S. textiles & apparel under the 'Yarn Forward' Rule; that requries that apparel using yarns and fabric from the United States and CAFTA-DR countries qualify for duty-free benefits. rw doclink

Brazil Ethanol Seen Good for Climate, Maybe Not Environment

September 17, 2007   CattleNetwork.com

Brazil's Environmental Minister said that ethanol production is cutting the country's greenhouse gas emissions, but another ministry official said that it remains to be seen whether ethanol is good for the environment.

Reductions in deforestation and increased ethanol use has reduced Brazil's CO2 emissions by 500 million tons. Between 2003 and 2004, Brazilian agribusiness and the civilian population cut down 27,000 square kilometers of forest. the number should be around 9,000 square kilometers in 2007.

The number one contributor to deforestation is the lumber and cattle industry.

Agribusiness is responsible for 25% of Brazil's carbon emissions, due to fertilizer production and burning of sugarcane fields. Sugar and ethanol production is a contributor to greenhouse gases, despite being a force in reducing overall contributions. Ethanol isn't as green as people might like to think.

Brazil is studying whether ethanol and biofuels in general are harmful for the environment. The remedy could be worse than the sickness. Sugarcane may be harmful to the environment. The impact of sugarcane expansion on Brazil's groundwater and potassium in fertilizer could be harmful to Brazilian aquifers.

Municipalities, state, federal laws and even federal departments often have opposing views on sustainable agriculture.

Many small and midsize sugarcane industries simply break environmental laws. One concern is the environmental sustainability of Brazil's ethanol industry. Brazil's government views ethanol much the way oil-producing nations view petroleum. rw doclink

Reflections on Cuba: Health, Terror,

September 17, 2007   Dissident Voice

Cuba has more doctors per capita, 1 per 170 people, than the US, 1 per 188. In addition to its current 70,000 doctors, 65,000 new students have enrolled in Cuban medical schools since 2004. If Cuba does not already, they will soon lead the world in doctors per capita, meeting their accomplishment in teachers. Most doctors in Cuba are women, as are most philosophers. Cuba also exports more doctors and health professionals to the third world - to 68 countries - than any other country, including roughly 15,000 doctors and dentists to Venezuela in exchange for much needed oil. The paradox is partly resolved in Fidel's comment "Human capital is worth far more than financial capital."

Cuba has a three-tiered model: (1) Health guardians, that include neighborhood-based teams of physicians and nurses, who interact regularly with citizens in their community, provides childhood immunization against 13 preventable diseases. That, along with guaranteed nutrition and a real sense of belonging to a community, is a key component in Cuba's low infant mortality rate that is lower than that of the US; (2) A network of healthcare polyclinics (over 470) dedicated to integrating multi-medical-specialties (e.g. pediatric medicine, heart treatment, ophthalmology, optometry, x-rays, rehabilitation, 24 hour dentistry, minor surgery, ultrasound diagnostics, etc.); (3) Hospitals: acute care facilities spread across the island. One of these larger Cuban hospitals was featured in SiCKO.

A 400+ page US document from 2004 called "A Plan for Assistance to a Free Cuba," claims the US will apply to Cuba the lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq (Fallujah, Haditha, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, for example?) It says it will bring literacy and vaccines to Cuban children, not knowing that Cuba has a 100% literacy rate, and among the best vaccination programs for children in the hemisphere. Cuban social security will be eliminated and old people will be put to work (60 is the current retirement age in Cuba). The document proclaims that the US will abolish all Cuban social programs (schools, health care, sustainable farms, etc.) and privatize them. rw doclink

Brazil: Controversial Bill to Sterilize Younger Women

September 05, 2007   InterPress Service

A draft law to reduce the minimum age for voluntary sterilisation in Brazil's public hospitals from 25 to 18 is opposed by the government.

A Brazilian Republican Party senator and bishop of an evangelical sect, Marcelo Crivella, who introduced the draft law said it would help reduce violence, because "children who would be hungry and abandoned wouldn't be born".

The current law states that voluntary sterilisation is only for men and women over 25 years of age and have at least two living children.

The Health Ministry is against the law. Family planning is available including tying off the Fallopian tubes.

The Health Minister said he was opposed because that's not family planning, it's fertility control.

Coordinator of the Technical Area of Women's Health told IPS that tubal ligation is an irreversible contraceptive method. Studies indicate that between 2% and 13% of women change their minds, depending on age and circumstances. Among women under 30 at the time of the operation, most change their minds.

An NGO told IPS that the latest study carried out in 1996 showed that 77% of women who were married or in a stable relationship used some method of contraception. 40% had been sterilised between the ages of 15 and 49.

The study was undertaken by BEMFAM, which works on sexual and reproductive health issues in 13 Brazilian states.

The average age of the women at the time they were sterilised was 28.9 years, but 20% of them were under 25. Thirty-seven percent were aged 25 to 29, 28% were aged 30 to 34, 12% were aged 35 to 39, and three percent were aged 40 to 44.

Contraceptive methods used according to the women's age and circumstances. Many women at the height of their fertility use contraceptive pills, and when they have the ideal number of children, they choose to be sterilised.

The more education a woman has, the wider the variety of family planning methods used, and the more frequently their partners have had a vasectomy. We could do more through public policies, like giving the public more information about the variety of methods, and awareness-raising campaigns so that women can exercise birth control without resorting to a drastic measure. Sterilised women often change their minds when they begin a new relationship, or if one of their children dies.

In the context of poor populations with limited access to healthcare and education, sterilisation is often a vote-catcher. Many women who have little money or education choose to be sterilised, thinking they won't have to worry any more.

A census on family planning is being carried out by the Health Ministry to find out whether in Brazil, caesarean sections encourage sterilisations, or whether sterilisation encourages caesareans.

The new National Policy on Family Planning provides for a campaign to offer clear information and stimulate family planning, and mass distribution of educational material about contraceptive methods to schools and community centres.

It also plans to expand the supply of contraceptives to basic health clinics from 20 million to 50 million and to encourage vasectomy.

In 1960 the fertility rate stood at six children per woman, but by 1996, it had fallen to 2.3 children per woman, and in some urban centres it was 1.9.

The expert cited economic reasons for the decline in fertility, such as migration from rural areas to the cities, and women's entry into the labour market. rw doclink

Brazil Denies Amazon Logging Link

August 21, 2007   BBC News

Brazil has promised to investigate allegations that its policy of settling landless communities in the Amazon is encouraging deforestation.

Brazil's environment ministry says deforestation in those areas is falling but it will investigate the claims.

Land distribution to the poor is an important objective, but Greenpeace says it is encouraging logging and deforestation in parts of the Amazon.

Greenpeace claims the government's land reform agency, Incra, is setting aside areas for land settlement that are of value to the timber industry, instead of placing people on land that has been cleared.

Links are encouraged between logging companies and the settlers, which facilitates exploitation of the newly formed settlements.

In the state of Para, more than 30,000 families were said to have been settled in 2006.

Deforestation in the Amazon in the 12 months to July 2006 fell by 25%.

Satellite images show deforestation in settlement areas has been falling, not rising. rw doclink

Jamaica;: Women Having Less Children, Owning More Businesses

August 14, 2007   Jamaica Observer

Once you educate and liberate your women, everything else takes off, and in several decades we have seen a dramatic increase in women opting to have careers, getting educated, and becoming liberated.

Women are having one or two children, and later, due largely to Jamaica's family planning programme.

The total fertility rate has fallen, reaching 2.5 children per woman in 2002. In 1997, the fertility rate stood at 2.8 children per woman. This number continued to decline to 2.21 in 2001, 2.05 in 2002, 1.99 in 2003 and 1.93 in 2004.

20% of female-run businesses have been in existence for over 20 years, 57% are sole proprietorships or partnerships, 76% operate from well-defined business plans and 34% are college or university-educated.

The Bureau of Women's Affairs monitors government policy on women. The Association of Women's Organisations of Jamaica (AWOJA) co-ordinates women's organisations islandwide. Women's Crisis Centres help those in dire straits. The Women's Political Caucus facilitates participation in politics. The Women's Construction Collective trains women in construction. Woman Inc runs a crisis centre and shelter. rw doclink

Trinidad and Tobago;: Fertility Rates, Births Decreasing

August 14, 2007   Trinidad News

Trinidadians are not making enough children. The National Insurance Board (NIB) announced. The nation's total fertility rate (TFR) had remained around 1.76 children per family since the mid-1990s but a TFR of 2.1 was needed for each generation to replace itself.

The country was suffering from the aging population and this could have an impact on the NIS system. The future number of pension-aged persons is increasing because of increasing life expectancies and the number of children is expected to decrease. Trinidad and Tobago is expected to feel the impact of the aging population in about 20 years, when those who are in the labour market move into retirement, and there will not be enough children to fill that gap. rw doclink

Venezuela Fulfills Millennium Drinking Water Supply Goals 10 Years Ahead of Time

August 06, 2007   VHeadline.com

Venezuela has fulfilled millennium goals regarding drinking water. 94% of the urban population and more than 82% of rural communities have guaranteed drinking water supplies.

This is 10 years ahead of the United Nations goal. Achieving the goal relied on community participation via civilian organizations to analyze water problems in each region and then to present projects to resolve the situation. rw doclink

Venezuela Achieves Water Millennium Goal

August 04, 2007   Prensa Latina

Venezuela fulfilled millennium goals regarding drinking water assured the Vice Minister of Water Resources. Currently, 94% of the urban population and more than 82% in the rural region have drinking water supply guaranteed.

Achieving this goal counted on the participation of the communities through civilian organizations that analyses water problems in their region.

Projects are presented to government entities to solve the problem. It is set down in the nation's Constitution, that water is a public right.

The UN Objectives of Development call for the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, reduction of infant mortality and universal right to primary education.

These goals should be reached before the end of 2015.

Objective number seven calls for a reduction by half of the percentage of persons lacking access to drinking water. rw doclink

Chile;: Condom Use Still Limited

July 24, 2007   Santiago Times

Chileans are unwilling to use to birth control. 49% between 15 and 19 did not use birth control during their first sexual experience, or thereafter.

About 18% use intrauterine devices, 9% sterilization and 6% use condoms. Wealthier Chileans are three times more likely to use birth control than lower income Chileans.

15% percent of Chileans experience problems with alcoholism, a 2% drop from 2000. Low-income residents have the highest rate of alcoholism, 38%, followed by those 20 and 44, with a 19% rate.

Nearly half of Chile's working population dedicates over eight hours a day to their job.

44% of Chilean women do most of the housekeeping, while 8% of men do housework. 19% of couples equally share domestic duties, while 18% of men and 2% women do nothing at home.

The poll was based on interviews with 6,120 Chileans over the age of 15. rw doclink

Mexico City's Abortion Law Hits Stop-and-Go Signs

July 19, 2007   Women's Enews

Federal officials are trying to turn back the law legalizing first-trimester abortion in Mexico's capital. Mexico's National Human Rights Commission has teamed up with the federal attorney general to challenge the constitutionality of the law. The court has said it will hear the arguments but has not set a date.

While the Supreme Court resolves this matter, the secretary of health will grant all requested abortions that are within the 12-week time period. People know where to go for an abortion but often have trouble affording one. A single dose of the abortion pill costs just under $100. If a second dose is required, the cost rises another $30. Surgical abortion can run nearly $500.

The need also exists for health officials to make sure doctors are trained in the safest ways to perform abortions. Also, women need to be educated about the availability and new legality of abortion. Many doctors already perform abortions, making it legal by having the woman sign a form asserting that her life or health are in danger, but others refuse, even if the woman has been raped. The 14 city-run hospitals are all providing abortions. The federal government's social security agency, IMSS, has said it will not provide the service even in its Mexico City clinics.

In the first month of the law 1,300 women had sought abortion information and 230 abortions had been performed. Opponents of the measure argue that the law will attract women from all over the country. London, has long attracted Irish women seeking abortions. Of the 230 procedures performed in the first month after the law took effect, only a handful of women came to Mexico City from other parts of the country.

Botched abortion is the fifth-highest cause of maternal mortality. From 1990 to 2005, 21,646 women in Mexico died of maternal causes, of those, 537 were from abortion complications and badly performed procedures and 64% women who lack access to the public health system.

Latin America has the highest maternal death due to unsafe abortion. rw doclink

Brazil Gives Amazon Dams Go-ahead

July 11, 2007   BBC News

Brazil has approved the construction of two hydro-electric dams on the longest tributary of the Amazon.

The Madeira River projects have been one of the most environmentally sensitive issues.

The river is said to have one of the most diverse fish stocks in the world and environmentalists fear they could be threatened. Brazil's environmental agency Ibama took two years to reach this initial conclusion and has attached 33 conditions to the project.

The project still needs final approval. The intense debate summed up the challenge to reconcile the ambitions of a developing country alongside the need to protect the environment.

Brazil suffered extensive power cuts in 2001 and President da Silva was determined this would not be repeated.

The government believes the two dams could supply 8% to 10% of the national demand for electricity.

Critics fear it will damage the Amazon area by disturbing the flow of sediments in the Madeira River, as well as bringing thousands of workers and their families to an area where resources are already overstretched.

There are also worries that it would stir up mercury levels in the river. Thousands of families depend on the river for their income. The government says the environmental consequences will be minimised by the conditions attached to the proposed dams. rw doclink

Jamaica;: Senator Calls for Abstinence Education

July 10, 2007   Jamaica Gleaner

Jamaica Senator Donna Scott Mottley was concerned that a campaign to curb early sexual initiation should target children.

She told colleagues that information revealed that 83% of boys and 63% of girls under 15 in Jamaica have had their first sexual contact.

The age of consent for sexual intercourse is currently 16.

Public education and other non-legislative measures were crucial.

We need to educate our people as to what is appropriate conduct.

Senator Mottley wants the Office of the Children's Advocate to launch the education campaign promoting abstinence.

This would have a double impact. It would delay sexual initiation and would save many young people from sexual infections, including HIV, which, is taking the lives of a disproportionate number of young people.

Many young people 20 to 44 had died as a result of HIV. It means that many of them would have been sexually active from the age of 13. The Senator is recommending that entertainers and sports stars be engaged in the effort. rw doclink

Oil Plan Casts Shadow on Bolivia Park

July 05, 2007   BBC News

Sergio works in ecotourism in Bolivia's most national park, Madidi. This is where he and four of his 11 siblings show visitors the jungle's many treasures.

Overall, the park is sparsely populated and encompasses the Andean peaks and the tropical basins of the Amazon. Some feel that protected areas like Madidi could deliver more for the country's poor.

Farmers have seized a part of the national park near Apolo. They wanted land to cultivate crops, a road and the exploitation of its oil.

But other villagers say the land is not suitable for agriculture and that extracting oil could cause lasting damage.

The farmers have drawn back and the government is promising a military post to defend Madidi. But the Bolivian president, visited Madidi to highlight the existence of natural resources.

"It is impressive how our own mother Earth has natural resources," he said as he watched oil being extracted.

It was Mr Morales's promise to re-nationalise Bolivia's natural resources and deliver prosperity to the indigenous majority that brought him to power.

But locals fear the president does not understand life in the jungle and will not defend their interests.

The government agrees that ecotourism has potential; but it does not see it as a panacea and says people like Sergio need to be more realistic about what is best for Bolivia.

The government is also concerned that what happens in Madidi will have a domino effect on other national parks and protected areas.

Activists want sustainable development in the constitution

The protected areas belong to the people and should provide opportunities for local communities. Conservation makes no sense if it does not generate benefits for society as a whole.

Environmental groups want to see a commitment to biodiversity and conservation. Biodiversity is Bolivia's biggest competitive strength. We need to define its sustainable development. rw doclink

Halt the Deterioration of the Planet

July 03, 2007   Radio Cadena Agramonet

Humanity has been unable to halt and reverse the realities of a world facing pollution, global warming, a scarcity of potable water, the destruction of forests and other calamities.

A Cuban official said the impacts fall on the poor nations because they lack the resources to confront the situation.

He noted that by the end of the 21st Century, the Earth will see an increase in the average temperature of 1.8 degrees Celsius. He also estimated that two thirds of the world's population could face a lack of water, generating tensions of such a magnitude that could lead to new wars. He contrasted this scenario with Cuba's efforts to promote a national environmental policy based on the promotion of the nation's sustainable economic and social development. This shows he assured, what can be achieved on the path of sustainability, when the political will and the support of the citizens exists. rw doclink

Ecuador;: Have We Gone Insane? Destroying the Galapagos for Profit

July 2007   Paul Watson - Sea Shepherd

The Galapagos was described as the "far side of the world," in the early 19th Century. Now jet flights bring more tourists and workers to these once remote and islands situated 1,000 kilometres from the coast of Ecuador. There are dozens of internet cafes, and seemingly everyone has a cell phone. Despite the Special Law prohibiting more cars, the automobile population has jumped from 700 vehicles to over 1500 and there are traffic jams at rush hour. The escalating cat population is devastating native birds who have never known predators and roving dogs have mauled and killed hundreds of marine iguanas.

These islands are in deep trouble with more and more people, more eco-tourism and more resource exploitation. The corrupt Ecuadorian Navy protects the poachers and the quest for the dollar is replacing conservation.

For eight years we have intercepted poachers, cleaned up oil spills, neutered dogs and spayed cats, confiscated longlines, collected garbage from the beaches and fought corruption and violent fishermen. It is a protracted, endless struggle.

But an Ecuadorian Presidential decree recognizes the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as one of the organizations empowered to protect the Galapagos and we are in full partnership with the Ecuadorian National Police.

Tomorrow we sail off to patrol the Galapagos Corridor between these islands and the Panama Canal. This is the area where illegal shark finners operate and our mission over the next ten days is to search them out and shut them down.

We will leave the Galapagos with a month and a half of interceptions. We found and confiscated a three mile longline and released numerous sharks, fish, mantas and turtles from the lethal hooks. We raided three shark fin smuggling operations on the mainland and confiscated and destroyed illegal fins. We also raided an illegal sea cucumber operation and destroyed over 92,000 sea cucumbers to prevent them being sold. We put five poachers behind bars and cost them over $750,000 U.S. in losses.

We exposed the illegal activities of the Mayor of Vilamil on Isabela Island. He cut down a stand of mangroves to build a dock for tourism boats. He also bulldozed a beach and destroyed thousands of marine iguana eggs and he has been illegally breeding dogs. Our evidence resulted in an indictment by the National Police and he fled the islands to escape arrest.

Staying in Galapagos is our Director and his team of shark protectors and conservationists. Our ship remains in the Marine Reserve and is now approaching her 8th year of operations and has intercepted over seventy illegal fishing operations since 2000.

If we can't save the Galapagos we will not be able to save any place on Earth. It sometimes feels like every step forward forces us to take two steps backwards.

But we must stand our ground.

We need to secure another patrol boat to operate with the Environmental Police. We need to build a Latin American Environmental Police Training Centre on Santa Cruz island. We need to humanely and non lethally remove all dogs, cats and goats and other exotics. We need to limit eco-tourism numbers and we need to stabilize the human population on the islands. We need to bring poaching under control and to end corruption by the Ecuadorian Navy. In short we have a great deal to do and little time to do it. Our lives have been threatened by the industrial fishermen of Manta, the centre for commercial fishing operations on the Ecuadorian coast.

But this place is evolution's workshop, where some of the most unique animal species in the world dwell on land and waters. I took a walk today on the eve of our departure. I made my way down to the black lava beach and found myself face to face with dozens of marine iguanas. A couple snorted salt from their flaring nostrils, and as I moved all their eyes followed me . I sat on a black jagged stone and watched the surf pound against the rocks. I saw blue footed boobies dive like arrows into the azure sea and brown pelicans glide across the water in groups, their wing tips almost touching the moving water. I saw red-throated frigate birds soaring in the thermals and on the rocks around me, blood red crabs scurrying in and out of the surf.

A magnificent place! But these islands should be set apart from mankind, the one place on Earth where evolution should be allowed to proceed without our damnable interference.

The road from Baltra to Puerto Ayora is littered with the crushed and mangled bodies of hundreds of little birds run down each day by buses and cabs shuttling tourists. When I arrived here, the little Darwin finches and even the boobies would alight upon an out stretched hand and marine iguanas basked in to sun on the sidewalks. Those days are not returning, with the cancerous growth of civilization creeping across the park land and lethal hooks and lines, nets and spears penetrating and extinguishing life beneath the surface of the blue seas.

Even here in this remote place wildlife cannot escape the terror of fireworks or being stoned by kids or being splattered across the pavement as road kill by uncaring drivers.

So many sharks have perished, some 300,000 a year is the estimate, to provide soup to Asians half a world away. So many sea lions have been slaughtered for their penis bones so that some impotent man in China can use it get an erection. I would so love to sail away for good and leave all of these wonderful species in peace in a world without us but I can only do so once we have purged their killers from these islands.

We cannot leave these innocent and unique creatures to the blood and profit lust of the poachers and the smugglers, the politicians and shady military shysters. We are honour bound to defend our non-human clients so Sea Shepherd will stay until we win the right for these islands to survive or until we are violently expelled by the forces of darkness.

We must hold the line in the Galapagos. rw doclink

Ralph says: Just a small bit of what is happening to the remainder of the world . ---- TOO MANY PEOPLE.
European Union

European Union

October 16, 2012

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