World Population Awareness

Socio-Economic Impacts from Unsustainable Population Growth

Children, Street Children, Child Labor, Slavery

Stunting From Malnutrition Affects 1 in 4 Kids Worldwide

May 15, 2013, NPR National Public Radio

UNICEF reports that stunting in kids -- a sign of poor nutrition early in life -- has dropped by a third in the past two decades, there is still much progress to be made. A quarter of kids under the age of 5 were stunted worldwide in 2011, with nearly 75 percent of them living in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

In East Asia and Latin America stunting has decreased by a whopping 70 and 50%, respectively. Even very poor countries, like Ethiopia and Nepal, have quickly made progress against malnutrition and stunting.

Stunted kids are more likely to get sick, and they tend to have a harder time in school, which can translate to lower paying jobs later in life.
. . . more doclink

In Niger, Child Marriage on Rise Due to Hunger

September 16, 2012, Silicone Valley Mercury News

51% of Niger children are stunted. One of three children die of hunger. Their graves dot the landscape.

One of every three girls in Niger marries before age 15, one of the highest birth-rates in the world. By marrying off their daughters at such young age, it's one less mouth to feed and it brings in a dowry from the groom's family, money desperately needed to feed the mouths of the many other hungry souls.

In the small hamlet of Hawkantaki (pop. 200), between the harvest of last year and this spring's planting, 9 of 10 girls between the ages of 11 & 15 were married or engaged. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Girls whose bodies have not yet developed have many more problems giving birth to a healthy baby. The problem is greatly magnified by malnourishment.

Tracking What it Means to Be Born From Unwanted Pregnancy

April 21, 2012, Durango Herald

First published in the Durago Herald, by Richard Grossman MD

The prevention of unwanted pregnancy is more important than ever for the well-being of the family.

One of my strongest memories from medical school was a delivery I assisted with. This was the mother's fifth child and a quick birth. I proudly held up the newborn boy to show him to his mother. She turned her head away and cried.

I don't remember the names of the mother or baby, who would be about 44 years old now. How his life has gone is only conjecture, but the likelihood is that his path has not been an easy one.

We generally assume that all adults are cut out to be parents, but that is not true. Forced parenthood can have unhappy consequences for the adults, and especially for the children. This column examines the outcomes of children of unwilling parents. Next month's column will include the words written by a person who, herself, was born unwanted.

The biggest and best analysis of children born unwanted was done in Czechoslovakia at a time when women had limited access to legal abortion. An American psychologist, Dr. Henry David, collaborated with Czech counterparts. Czech women had two chances to request an abortion in the 1960s. The first chance was at a local clinic. If the woman were turned down, she could apply again at a regional level, the last resort for a legal abortion. Unfortunately, the many advantages of adoption were not considered in this study.

One of the Czech psychologists had a list of women who had been twice denied for the same pregnancy. Because of the excellent record keeping of that country, the children born to these women with unwanted pregnancies could be followed for many years. They were carefully matched to children who were desired-same age, same socioeconomic class, same school etc. All the families lived in Prague, the country's capital.

These people, both those who were unwanted before birth and the "normal" controls, were examined and tested at age 9, in adolescence and again in their early 20s. The investigators also looked at records, interviewed parents and spoke with teachers.

The two groups of people ended up significantly different despite growing up in very similar circumstances. Compared to the people who resulted from pregnancies that were planned (or at least accepted), those born unwanted did not fare so well in life.

Specifically, the babies who had been unwanted were not breastfed as long, and did not achieve as well in school even though their intelligence tests were as good as the more desired children. They were more likely to be less social and more disruptive and hyperactive, and were more likely to have criminal records. When asked as adolescents, the children who had been unwanted believed their mothers showed less maternal interest than did the control group.

The young adults in their 20s were asked how they felt about their lives. Again there was a significant difference, with the people who were unplanned being less satisfied with their lives, with their love relationships, with their own mental health and with their jobs. It is interesting that their sexual debut was at an earlier age and they had more sexual partners than control people. Thus, these people were more likely to beget another generation of unwanted pregnancies.

There are exceptions to the general rule, fortunately. Dr. David's research found three groups of women who requested abortions but were denied. Some had temporary motivation for wanting to abort, such as financial reasons. These women usually accepted the pregnancy and both mother and child did well. For other women the pregnancy resulted from a poor relationship, and they did not do so well with childrearing. The third group of women apparently realized from the beginning that they would not be good parents, and the study, unfortunately, bore this out. Both the women and their children did not fare well.

The Czech study was of women who were denied legal abortion. Those who were allowed to have abortion must have had even more compelling reasons to not parent. If they had been forced to bear their unwanted kids, presumably these children would have had even more severe problems.

What does this mean? A person resulting from an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy starts off life with a handicap, like the baby I delivered in medical school. This can have consequences for society, too. There is a controversial theory, popularized in Freakonomics, that the downturn in serious crime in the USA noted in the early 1990s was due to the decrease in unwanted pregnancies after the legalization of abortion in 1973.

An unwanted pregnancy can be devastating. Sometimes things work out well, but delivering and raising an unwanted baby may be traumatic for the parent(s), and scar the child. doclink

One Billion People Forgotten in the Global Fight Against Poverty: UNICEF Report Reveals How Adolescents Have Been Marginalized

March 4, 2011, Guardian (London)

This year's UNICEF's State of the World's Children report focuses on adolescents. There are, in the world, 1.2 billion 10- to 19-year-olds, who are pivotal in global efforts to reach the UN millennium development goals targets by 2015.

Adolescents are often marginalized in development budgets and programs, which, if not corrected, investment in global poverty, health, education and employment goals will be compromised.

As babies or young children when the MDGs were established in 2000, many adolescents will have been the direct beneficiaries of the big global gains in child survival, primary education, access to safe water and sanitation. Infant mortality has dropped 33% in 11 years.

But this investment and support will taper off because development programs are not sufficiently making the link between an investment in early childhood and the need to consolidate these gains into early adulthood.

While millions of children have been vaccinated against dangerous diseases, a third of all new HIV cases worldwide involve 15- to 24-year-olds. In Brazil, 26,000 children under the age of one were saved between 1998-2008, but in that decade 81,000 teenagers were murdered.

Adolescence is the time when young people are at the highest risk of dangers such as child marriage, forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. But child protection resources and assistance will not reach them.

Adolescence is the pivotal decade where poverty and inequality pass on to the next generation, and this is especially true when poor adolescent girls who become mothers.

Almost half the world's adolescents do not attend secondary school. Girls are still far less likely to attend secondary education than boys. Educated adolescent girls are less likely to marry early or get pregnant, and have a better knowledge of HIV/Aids and health issues.

Adolescence is also a time when other cultural forms of gender discrimination come into play, and is the best time to confront and challenge institutionalised attitudes and behaviours. In some countries younger girls are more likely to excuse violence as older women.

In a world that is gripped by social and political insecurity, spiralling food prices and rising unemployment, a stronger focus on adolescents is crucial.

81 million young people are unemployed and 15- to 24-year-olds make up one-quarter of the world's working poor. This will have a significant impact on future economic recovery and growth.

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), more than 20% of international companies consider inadequate education of the potential workforce to be a significant obstacle to higher investment and faster economic recovery.

While the Mid East is a "star performer" in terms of development indicators such as health and education, unemployment among 15- to 24-year-olds stands at over 25%. With two-thirds of the region's population now below 24, young people are not being absorbed into the economy and employers are complaining of poor education and low skills.

Youth unemployment and a lack of political voice are not included in prominent measures of development.

The global fight against poverty, inequality and discrimination will be compromised if this doesn't change. doclink

Condition of Adolescents in India Among the Worst

February 25, 2011, Press Trust of India

Twenty per cent of the world's adolescent population live in India, which has one of the worst track records in health and education, according to UNCIEF in its 'State of the World's Children' report.

47% of girls from 11 to 19 are underweight. 56% of girls and 30% of boys in the same age group are anaemic which places the country along with the least developed African nations.

This same age group comprises 25% (243 million) of India's population. Almost 40% of the section is out of school and 43% get married before the age of 18, out of whom 13% become teenage mothers.

86% of those 11-13 and 64% of 14-17 year olds attend school.

Fortunately the number of girls getting married before the age of 18 years has decreased from 54% in 1992-93. But the figure is the eight highest in the world and Pakistan fares much better with just 25% of girls getting married before the age of 18 years.

6,000 adolescent mothers die every year and there is a 50% higher risk of infant deaths among mothers who are under 20 years.

Correct knowledge of HIV/AIDS is held by 35% of adolescents boys and 28% of girls.

One-third of adolescents report physical abuse and and the same number report sexual abuse.

A representative said "health and reproductive services and knowledge" must be provided to every person in this age group. doclink

For Albanians, It's Come to This: a Son for a TV

November 13, 2003, New York Times*

Since the collapse of Stalinism in Albania, an estimated 6,000 children have been sent abroad in begging and prostitution rackets, or sold for adoption. A majority come from a group of 300,000 Albanian-speaking Gypsies who have fared poorly. More than 1,000 children are in Greece, working as beggars. One or two are arrested every day and sent home. This is part of a trade including East European women for prostitution, and an outgrowth of the organized crime in this clannish society. In Albania most cases of child trafficking have involved older children who are sold or rented to minders (pimps), who take them to Greece and Italy, where they work as beggars or child prostitutes. Many families believe that their children will gain better lives abroad and to send a child abroad is a success and not exploitation. The Albanian government has introduced campaigns to alert families to the dangers of such decisions. Laws penalizing child trafficking have been enacted, and policing stepped up. doclink

Infant Mortality Rate High in Uzbekistan

August 21, 2003, Report

Infant mortality in Uzbekistan remains high compared to other countries of the Commonwealth of Independence States and Eastern Europe. The level decreased from 38.1 cases per 1,000 in 1989 to 18.3 in 2001. The best figure was in Czech Republic - 4 per 1,000 births and the worst in Turkmenistan 20.1 per 1,000. Rates in Caucasus and Central Asia are five times higher than those in Central and Eastern Europe and 12 times higher than in developed countries. The most common reasons were poverty, poor health, insufficient feeding of pregnant women, infectious diseases and low-quality medical services. Uzbekistan has achieved full vaccination of children against hepatitis B and improved treatment of respiratory infections and diarrhoea. Mortality rates in Uzbekistan could be higher than the data because the country uses Soviet methods of definition of infant mortality. The Uzbek government has agreed to introduce the WHO system. doclink

August 28, 1999, Werner Fornos

It is well-known that high infant and child mortality in poor countries, where 97% of world population growth occurs, is a principal reason that women in less developed regions give birth to two and three times as many children as do women in industrialized regions.

Women in poor countries tend to believe that the more children they have, the greater their chances that the number they actually want will survive. It is a tragic commentary on the health risks to infants and children in developing regions, among them: births too closely spaced, air and water pollution, lack of nutritious food and a shortage of medical supplies and personnel. doclink

U.S.: Congress Debates Legislation to Prevent Child Marriage

Population Institute

In July the Human Rights Commission held a hearing on child marriage where Melanne Verveer, the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues urged Congress to pass the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act (H.R. 2103 S. 987).

If passed, the State Department would be required to come up with a multi-year strategy to prevent child marriage and promote the empowerment of young girls who are at risk of child marriage.

Child marriage is a recognized violation of human rights, an average of 25,000 girls a day become child brides, and unless something is done to change this trend within the next 10 years, over 100 million girls in the developing world will become child brides.

Child marriage is a concern in 64 of the 182 countries that were surveyed. It is most common in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. These girls are often prevented from continuing their education and frequently become pregnant before they are physically capable of having a safe pregnancy. Child brides also face a significantly greater risk of domestic violence and HIV infection. Because of their unequal ages and social status, child brides are frequently unable to negotiate with their husbands about sex, contraception, and birth spacing. They often encounter difficulties in finding employment outside the home because schooling is interrupted.

The children of child brides are also victims. Their mothers often die early, or suffer life- threatening illnesses, due to pregnancy-related causes. Children born to child brides also have higher rates of low birth weights, infant mortality, and premature birth than those of children born to older mothers.

The Population Institute has sent letters to both the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urging them to take action on the legislation. doclink

Slavery in Haiti

July 6, 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

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!

Children in Poor Countries Need Help

International Herald Tribune

2.2 billion of the world's people are under 18 years old, with 2 billion from developing countries, according to UN University Vice Rector Ramesh Thakur and UNICEF Japan Director Manzoor Ahmed. 30,500 children under 5 years old die every day of preventable diseases such as diarrhea, pneumonia and malnutrition.

Every month, 50,000 children under 15 are infected with AIDS. Of all children in developing countries, 20% of those ages 5 to 15 are engaged in child labor in hazardous and harmful conditions, 30% under 5 are underweight, nearly 40% suffer from stunted growth, and over 50% are malnourished. Foreign aid dropped to a historic low in 1998 of 0.2% of the GPD of the OECD countries, well below the internationally agreed target of 0.7%. Ironically, income jumped and aid declined by 30% from 1992 to 1997. More children today live in poverty than 10 years ago, and more children find themselves in a more violent and unstable environment doclink

Children's Parliament Advocate Family Planning in Nigeria

June 26, 2007, People Daily

The Children's Parliament of Nigeria has advised parents to adopt family planning, to have the number of children they can care for. According to the parliament, adopting family planning by parents reduce the menace of child trafficking. A lot of parents bear too many children they cannot cater for, and this has often led to poverty, which makes them traffic their children for money.

Child trafficking was a violation of children's rights and a setback for the development of Nigeria.

The parliament also called for the proper training of security personnel to enable them to protect children from the menace of child trafficking.

It urged governments to provide job opportunities for people at the grass roots to tackle the problem of poverty.

It also called for the registration of orphanages and motherless babies' homes. The Children's Parliament of Nigeria is a nonpolitical and nonreligious children organization.

The theme for this year's celebration is "combat child trafficking."

The Day set aside by the African Union (AU), is observed annually across Africa in remembrance of the massacre of innocent children in Soweto, at the height of racist apartheid regime.

Hundreds of young boys and girls were shot. doclink

Botswana: Domestic Violence Bill Sails Through Parliament

February 19, 2008, Mmegi Online

Parliament passed the Domestic Violence Bill presented by the MP for Kweneng South, from Gladys Kokorwe as a private member.

The proposed law is to give protection to people who are abused at home and it received overwhelming support. Children who are brought up in abusive families end up being abusers. Once the bill is law, there will be a need to educate members of the public about it.

Once the bill becomes law, a police officer can accompany an abused person to his or her home to take his or her clothing to seek refuge elsewhere.

An applicant may make an application for an interim or restraining order. An interim order may direct a police officer or deputy sheriff to remove the applicant from the residence. The court may authorise arrest of the respondent where it is satisfied that the applicant or child is under imminent danger. doclink

The State of the World's Children 2008

January 29, 2008, UNICEF

The State of the World's Children 2008 assesses the state of child survival and primary health care for mothers, newborns and children today. These issues serve as sensitive barometers of a country's development and well being and as evidence of its priorities and values. Investing in the health of children and their mothers is a human rights imperative and one of the surest ways for a country to set its course towards a better future. Follow the link to the full report (a PDF file) doclink

Africa: Children Lose Out as NGOs Mushroom

February 19, 2007, Africa News Service

A conference was organised by the Hope for African Children Initiative (HACI), and explored ways to ensure the most effective use of resources in child HIV management. Delegates called for new ideas to deal with the duplication of services and gaps in HIV service delivery.

Only 1 in 10 children needing antiretroviral treatment were receiving it, while those who had lost both parents were less likely to attend school.

Cases of children who have no access to help for lack of information are too many and through ignorance of their entitlements, lose out on services to wily NGOs. Inadequate resources, poor coordination and a shortage of skilled workers in most sub-Saharan African countries have denied children critical services.

The slow response to children's needs is the top-down approaches favoured by most African states. They contain loopholes that need to be sealed if children are to access the services they were entitled to.

In Zambia, caregivers are trained at the grassroots and equipped with knowledge and skills.

A Kenyan delegate said duplicated and overlapping agendas, combined with reluctance by some organisations to collaborate, had deprived children of humanitarian.

There are cases where HIV programmes have not been implemented because organisations have clashed over implementation or budget.

An Ethiopian representative said proliferating community-based organisations had given rise to NGOs that abused donor funds. Sub-Saharan Africa had two million children under 15 living with HIV in 2005, while about 12 million children under the age of 17 had lost one or both parents to AIDS. doclink

Girls at U.N. Meeting Urge Global Action

March 3, 2007, Associated Press

More than 200 young people attended a meeting of the U.N. Status of Women, which is focusing on discrimination and violence against girls. The most important message is that governments should ensure that every working child gets a free education.

Golfidan, 18, of Jordan, described the discrimination against girls in her country and the shortage of programs that focus on girls' participation.

One girl urged the international community to bring those responsible for crimes against girl soldiers in Congo to justice.

So far only one Congolese warlord has been ordered to stand trial before the war crimes tribunal on a charge of sending children into battle.

All the girls out there should know that they have their own rights and it is time to stand up and speak out. doclink

India: Child Marriage Ban on the Rocks

October 22, 2006, Telegraph

New Delhi: The Centre has decided not to declare child marriages void, as women's groups say "social traditions" are propping up the practice.

The law is now more of a call to the community for "restraint". When the Prevention of Child Marriage Act replaces the Child Marriage (Restraint) Act of 1929, officials would be appointed with the sole job of preventing child marriages.

Women activists are urging the government to "abolish" child marriage, so that unions involving under-18 girls or under-21 men become invalid.

But the conservatives believe this will be seen as "divorce", which carries a stigma in Indian society and will make it difficult for the girl to get married later. The act is likely to allow a child bride or groom to seek divorce on the ground of being married while underage.

The current law is silent on whether child marriages are valid, though it prescribes punishment for the groom, the families and the priest.

The UN says 50% of Indian girls are married before 18.

One reason for India's high maternal mortality rate is child marriage, activists say. Young girls get pregnant at an age when it poses a health risk. Child marriage also robs girls of education.

A UNDP report looked at child marriage as an indicator of the extent of violence that exists in that society. doclink

Violence Against Children Widely Accepted: UN Study

October 12, 2006, Reuters

Violence against children is accepted as normal around the world, and at least 106 countries allow physical punishment in schools. About 147 countries have not banned the punishment of children in care settings and up to 275 million children witness domestic violence annually.

Violence against children is a violation of their human rights, a disturbing reality of our societies.

It is estimated that in 2002 some 150 million girls and 73 million boys were subjected to forced sexual intercourse and other forms of violence, while 53,000 were killed.

ILO data showed that in 2004 there were 218 million child laborers of whom 126 million did hazardous work. WHO estimates up to 140 million women and girls have undergone genital mutilation. doclink

Ralph says: I do not believe that we should include school discipline in this category. Many years ago when I went to a "boys only" school, caning was an accepted punishment and was in fact preferred to other punishments such as additional sessions in class or more homework. In those days it could be applied by teachers as well as other boys, (prefects). Karen Gaia says: In same cases a child has a choice between working or starvation. This should not be considered violence. Also, my parents used spanking occasionally. I do not consider it violence. This should not be lumped in with boxing a child's ears or other 'violent' punishments. Not being allowed to watch TV is a punishment, but can hardly be called violence. Also, we in the U.S. practice circumcision. Should we consider this genital mutilation? The U.N. report would be much more believable if it refrained from lumping every adverse action under the category of violence.

Organic Food Fends Off Pesticides

February 20, 2006, ABC

Researchers found that pesticide levels in children's bodies dropped to zero after a few days of eating organic produce and after they switch back to a conventional diet, the levels go up. But organic food is often more expensive than conventional food, and the health risks of the pesticides in question aren't clear. It has been difficult to figure out exactly how much pesticide residue children are exposed to. A new study examined pesticide levels in 110 children and only found one child who regularly ate organic food was pesticide-free. The study looked at two pesticides known as organophosphorus whose use in residential areas is banned, but they're still used by growers. In 2003, researchers recruited 23 children aged 3-11 and monitored levels of malathion and chlorpyrifos in their urine during a 15-day period in which they alternated between regular diets and organic products. The researchers found that the pesticide levels dropped immediately when the children started eating the organic foods. The staying power of the pesticides was relatively short. Scientists don't know exactly how the pesticides affect the body over time. High doses can cause serious symptoms because they are toxic to the nervous system and there is a suggestion that low doses can hurt the developing brain. Kids should eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, regardless of whether they are organically grown, because the benefits outweigh the risk, Graber said. Parents should not feed their children less nutritious foods out of fear of pesticides. Foods that are vulnerable to pesticide residue include strawberries, nectarines, peaches, apples, pears and cherries. Bananas and oranges aren't as vulnerable. doclink

Another School Torched in Afghanistan

February 21, 2006, Agence France-Presse

Suspected Taliban rebels set ablaze a school in southern Afghanistan. Armed men stormed into the school and set fire to classrooms, burning chairs, desks and studying materials. Three of the classrooms were totally destroyed. The attack was blamed on remnants of the Taliban regime. At about the same time suspected militants blew up a primary school in a Pakistani tribal area just across the border. More than a dozen schools have been torched in the past two months in southern provinces of Afghanistan. Several teachers and education workers have also been killed. Most of the attacks have been blamed on the ultraconservative Islamic Taliban, who barred girls from going to school or working outside of the home. The rebuilding of the education sector is a key priority for the new government, where more than 70% of people aged over 15 are illiterate. About six million children are estimated to have enrolled in schools since the Taliban fell. About 60% of primary school age are still not attending lessons. doclink

Malawi: Abuse of Women and Girls a National Shame

February 1, 2006, IRIN News (UN)

Publicised cases of gender violence have raised concern in Malawi. A survey covering over a thousand school-age girls found that more than half had experienced some form of sexual abuse in schools. Urgent measures to curb violence against girls both at home and in schools were recommended. Of 1,496 respondents, 85.2% were attending school and 14.6% not, in nine districts across the country's three regions. Marriage, pregnancy and sexual abuse by schoolboys and teachers were the main reasons girls put forward for staying out of school. 90.2% were between 11 and 18 and the rest 18 years or older. Just over 94% had never been married, while 5% were married or cohabitating. Girls in schools were subjected to violence by male teachers, including sexual abuse, forced relationships, beatings and severe punishments. 5% said their private parts had been touched by teachers or schoolboys. The major perpetrators were fellow pupils, who committed 51.6% of all incidents. Friends accounted for 16%. Only 2% reported the abuse to the police, while 52.3% did not report the matter largerly beacuse they were embarrassed. President Bingu wa Mutharika warned all who committed violence against girls and women that his government would punish them. Minister of Information Patricia Kaliati stressed, "When a woman says, 'I do not want to have sex with you', it does not mean that you should beat her or force her. Government will not tolerate this kind of violence against women. Adult men are raping many children and they are given lenient punishments. We want this to come to an end." The situation in Malawi remains very serious, due to a combination of chronic poverty, bad weather, bad harvest, a high prevalence of HIV and an outbreak of cholera. About 40% of the population, 4.9 million people, are in need of food. Of these, one million are children younger than five years and pregnant women. 48% of children under five in Malawi are stunted; 5% are severely malnourished; 22% are underweight or malnourished. doclink

Scientists Debate Bill to Restrict Chemicals

January 22, 2006, Los Angeles Times

Scientists debated the health risks of two chemicals found in plastic baby products as California legislators consider a bill that would restrict one of the compounds, which has been shown in some studies to mimic female hormones and possibly interfere with boys' reproductive development. The bill would prohibit baby toys and feeding products from containing phthalates and bisphenol. No other legislative has restricted use of bisphenol A, which is considered an essential ingredient of polycarbonate. The bill has sparked a scientific debate, as well as lobbying by the plastics industry and environmentalists. If the Assembly doesn't approve the bill, the legislation will expire. Six scientists, including two sponsored by the plastics industry, testified at a joint hearing of two Assembly committees. Evidence has been mounting that phthalates and bisphenol A could be altering the hormones and harming the reproductive systems of babies, but the results are not conclusive, and some studies have been controversial. The compounds have been shown to mimic estrogen or block testosterone and feminize animals, the effects on humans are largely unknown. Industry scientists say California legislators would be acting with little evidence and would unnecessarily limit consumers' access to popular products. There is no evidence that any human has been harmed by use of these products. A reproductive biologist said the effects of low doses of bisphenol A, known as BPA, are clear as every aspect of maleness is disrupted. But a former EPA scientist told the legislators that most studies of bisphenol A have found no effects. In a published review Vom Saal reported that every test funded by industry showed no effects while more than 90% of the government-funded studies found effects. An EPA scientist said there is no debate that phthalates block male hormones, causing feminization of reproductive tracts in laboratory animals. Industry scientists said that the animal studies are conducted with much higher doses of phthalates than people are actually exposed to. Some phthalates, which are used to make plastic flexible, are banned or restricted by the European Union and at least 14 other nations, but they are not regulated in the United States. Toy sales amount to $7 billion in California. The Assembly bill would affect hundreds of companies and thousands of workers in California alone. doclink

Children Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Out of Reach

January 1, 2006, UNICEF

UNICEF said that millions of children disappear from view when trafficked or forced to work in domestic servitude. Others are excluded from services and protections. Most are shut out from school, healthcare and other vital services. Without attention, millions will remain trapped and forgotten with devastating consequences for their long-term well-being and the development of nations. In the past, UNICEF has reported on how poverty, HIV/AIDS and armed conflict are undermining childhood itself. These factors, as well as weak governance and discrimination, deprive children of protection from abuse and exploitation, and exclude them from school, healthcare and other essential services. Children who are caught in armed conflict, are routinely subjected to rape and sexual violence and are being ignored. Every year, over half of all births in the developing world (excluding China) go unregistered and are not acknowledged as members of their society. For example, unregistered children are denied a place in school when birth certificates are required. Millions of orphans, street children, and children in detention are growing up without the care and protection of their parents or a family environment. Tens of millions of children spend a large portion of their lives on the streets. More than 1 million live in detention, awaiting trial for minor offenses. Many suffer gross neglect, violence, and trauma. Hundreds of thousands of children are caught up in armed conflict as combatants, messengers, porters, cooks, and sex slaves for armed groups. Over 80 million girls across the developing world will be married before they turn 18. Children are exploited, shut away by their abusers and held back from school and essential services. Some 8.4 million children work in child labour, including prostitution and debt bondage, where children are exploited in slave-like conditions to pay off a debt. Nearly 2 million are used in the commercial sex trade, where they routinely face sexual and physical violence. Millions are trafficked into underground and illegal worlds where they are forced into dangerous and degrading forms of work, including prostitution. Discrimination shuts millions of girls out of school and blocks critical services for children from ethnic minorities and indigenous groups. An estimated 150 million children live with disabilities - many without education, healthcare, and nurturing support because of discrimination. National laws must match international commitments to children, and legislation that fosters discrimination must be abolished. Laws to prosecute those who harm children must be consistently enforced. Reform is urgently required in many countries and communities to remove barriers for children who are excluded from essential services. Actions can be taken by society, donors and the media to prevent children from falling between the cracks. Governments, families and communities must do more to prevent abuse and exploitation from happening in the first place. doclink

Poverty Kills 12 Million Under Five Children Annually

December 5, 2005, Globe and Mail

Over 12 million children in developing countries under the age of five die annually because of poverty that remains the biggest killer as people could not afford health care and social amenities. The gap between rich and poor continues to widen. While life expectancy in Zambia is 50 years while people in developed countries live up to 82 on average. Babies are not vaccinated, and clean water and sanitation are not provided. With 70% of the world's poor being women, they are more susceptible to HIV infection. doclink

Uganda's Civil War Targets Children

December 22, 2005, Associated Press

The war in northern Uganda has rebels abducting boys to replenish their ranks and forcing girls to become sex slaves. Other children are abandoned by parents who are too poor to keep their families together. Brutal tactics have forced more than 1.5 million people to take refuge in crowded camps. Food and health care provided by aid agencies mean survival but disease and hunger kill 1,000 people a week more than would otherwise be expected to die. Fearing rebel raids, tens of thousands leave their small huts and walk into urban centers every night to sleep. The insurgents have seized at least 25,000 children during the conflict. There are few conflicts where few people have had such a huge impact on so many, with one and a half million people still in camps. The cultlike Lord's Resistance Army is led by Joseph Kony, described as "erratic and vicious." During 19 years of war, his fighters have grown notorious. As families disintegrate, children are left with guardians who are either too sick, too old or too overwhelmed to offer protection or emotional support. Poor parents force young girls into early marriage to reduce the number of mouths they have to feed. Some adolescent girls accept sexual advances to satisfy the needs that parents or guardians are unable to address. This is a generation growing up without the support, love and care of the family. doclink

Millions of Children Invisible: UNICEF

December 14, 2005, Reuters

UNICEF said one-third of the estimated 150 million children born worldwide each year were not registered. Children not registered at birth may never officially exist, making it easy for governments to ignore them. It is estimated that 1.8 million children entered the sex industry, 5.7 million were sold into slavery and 1.2 million were trafficked each year. AIDS orphans and those forced into early marriages accounted for millions of children who simply disappeared. Sex trafficking was an increasing phenomenon and a global problem - not just in the developing world, because the demand often comes from the developed world. Governments had the primary function of monitoring their own populations and ensuring that they enforced their own basic laws. Civil society and communities have a huge role to play. doclink

World May Miss Child Development Goal by 30 Yrs: UN

December 9, 2005, Reuters

The U.N. Children's Fund said the world would miss by 30 years the MDG of cutting child deaths by two-thirds unless nations stepped up efforts to reduce mortality. Progress on child survival so far is unacceptable. Seven of 60 nations with the highest under-five child mortality rate were on target. The MDG goal wants nations to reduce child mortality from 93 of every 1,000 children dying before five in 1990 to 31 in 2015. Thirty nine countries, including India, have made insufficient or no progress and 14 have seen increases in under-five mortality rates. Around 1.4 million of the 10.5 million annual deaths of children under five can be prevented by vaccination against diseases like measles and tetanus. Another 1.1 children could be saved once vaccines against pneumonia and rotavirus became widely available in developing nations. doclink

Sudan: Displaced Girls Trying to Cope on the Streets

November 1, 2005, IRIN News (UN)

A study entitled Children of the Sug (market) was conducted by Save the Children Alliance, Oxfam UK, and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). It is said that 4,000 of the 34,000 children on the streets are girls under the age of 18. It wasn't until recently that there was even knowledge of girls on the streets because they were able to keep themselves concealed. It is said that 63% of the girls are working to afford their education or to buy food. The Khartoum Council for Child Welfare has centres that provide schooling, health services and counselling for the thousands of children who, after fleeing civil war and famine, were struggling to survive on the streets of the capital. The centres are more attractive for the girls because they like to do handicrafts and because the girls are more vulnerable to the dangerous conditions on the streets. They need protection and the centres can provide them with that for a few hours each day. Recent studies have also concluded that many of the girls are increasingly trading sex for money and there is an urge to increase the studies around this topic. More than 80% of the girls work in the sex industry while the other 20% sell cigarettes and other goods on the streets. There is knowledge that girls have fewer options than boys for work on the streets and most reluctantly end up as sexworkers. To reduce the amount of sexworkers on the streets, they are rounded up and sent to one of three centres. One individual stated that "we have noticed a big change in the children who have attended counselling and participated in activities at our centres because they begin to reach out and help other children." However the needs to meet everyday living such as food, shelter and protection, often are too great for many of these girls not to work. doclink

Ethiopia: Campaign Launched Against Child Trafficking

October 20, 2005, Irin News

Up to 20,000 children, some 10 years old, are sold each year by their parents to work in cities across Ethiopia. Top athletes have joined the campaign to highlight the plight of vulnerable children. There are an estimated 4.6 million orphans in Ethiopia, about 13% of the country's children. Some 200,000 are believed to live on the streets of Addis Ababa. While this is depriving children of their rights to human development, it is a growing burden on impoverished communities. Internal trafficking of children in Ethiopia was one of the highest in the world. Traffickers pay around 10 to 20 Ethiopian birr ($1.20 to $2.40) for each child. Around two-thirds are trafficked by brokers who take a percentage of the child's earnings, while one-third are trafficked by friends and family. It is believed to net those involved around $10 billion a year. The majority of children ended up as labourers, sex workers, weavers or professional beggars. Thousands of Ethiopian women were also trafficked abroad and at least 10,000 have been sent to the Gulf States as prostitutes. Increasing numbers of young women being recruited for sexual purposes. Traffickers in Ethiopia expect to earn around 7,000 birr (around $800) for each victim they send overseas. If caught, they are liable to 20 years imprisonment but few are ever prosecuted. doclink

U.N. Puts Children in Forefront of AIDS Effort

October 26, 2005, New York Times*

Only one in 20 of H.I.V.-infected children gets life-prolonging drugs. One out of 100 gets a cheap antibiotic that can halve death rates from secondary infections. Less than one in 10 infected mothers are given drugs that can stop transmission to their babies. Ten agencies of the UN announced a campaign to raise the profile of children with H.I.V. This reflects the broadening scope of efforts to tackle AIDS. As the pandemic matures, helping growing multitudes of children orphaned by AIDS becomes more pressing. Fifteen million children have lost one or both parents to AIDS. Four million infected children need the antibiotic cotrimoxazole, but only 1% get it. For $10 a year, it can halve deaths of H.I.V.-infected children who are vulnerable to secondary infections because of their weakened immune systems. There is also a need for research to develop cheaper tests to diagnose AIDS, and drugs to treat children that are easy and cheap to administer. Syrups are available, but are expensive compared with adult medicines, difficult to handle and bad-tasting. Research to help children has received less attention than that for adults. In rich countries, H.I.V. infections in children have almost been eliminated. Though children under 15 account for 1 in 6 AIDS-related deaths globally. Adults are more than three times likely to get drug treatment for AIDS than are children. An estimated 660,000 children need the drugs. The Indian manufacturer has a triple drug cocktail for children in trials in Zambia. The treatment combines three medicines, into one tablet that can be dissolved in water and given to children twice a day and will cost less than $10 per child per month. The addition of water is a problem in countries where water quality is low and water often carries disease. doclink

Children Debate Vatican's Stance on Contraception

July 4, 2005, Press Association (UK)

The Vatican's stance on contraception was discussed by 120 school children from around the world. They held workshops at which the issues of climate change and Africa were also discussed and the children came up with a number of interesting ideas that will be handed to Prime Minister Tony Blair. The youngsters felt the Vatican was a "major problem" over its stance on safe sex, which had consequences for HIV and population growth. doclink

Zimbabwe's youth need government protection

June 14, 2005, Xinhua General News Service

Youth in Zimbabwe need the protection of the government and society for the nation to develop. No nation can move forward when its young people are trapped in cycles of poverty, unemployment and anti-social habits, or have inadequate health care and limited education or are constrained by social and cultural values. The ministry's commitment is to fight HIV which has become serious among young people. A lot of child abuse cases have been reported with physical and sexual abuse topping the list. The ministry has produced a National Youth Policy, which emphasized the multi- sectoral approach to youth development. The day of the African Child has its origins in the struggle against apartheid where students from Soweto were killed in a demonstration against the enforcement of the Afrikaans language. The week also seeks to create a platform for dialogue between children and other members of the society. doclink

Africa Will Fall Short of Meeting UN Goals on Child Mortality

June 9, 2005, Push Journal

3 million more children in Africa will die in the year 2015 than if the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were reached, according to recently released figures. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) projections say that at its current pace, sub-Saharan Africa will dramatically fail to meet the MDGs on child mortality, education and poverty. Child deaths per year are projected to rise from the current level of 4.8 million to about 5.1 million in 2015. Kevin Watkins, Director of the UNDP's Human Development Report Office, said "Africa cannot afford to see the world's richest countries sleep walk their way to a heavily signposted, and easily avoidable, human development disaster." doclink

Africans Wonder Whether Live 8 Concerts Will Change Their Lives

June 10, 2005, Associated Press

In African cities and villages, they'll be questioning whether Western extravaganzas like the Live 8 concerts, however well intentioned, can help. An aid worker said that the Live 8 concerts in five Western cities will force leaders of the world's richest countries to double aid to Africa, cancel its debts and help its people trade their way out of poverty. Over half of Africa's 870 millions people live on less than a dollar a day. 12 million children are orphaned by HIV/AIDS. About 30% of African children are not in school. Debt cancellation and more aid would mean more funds for basic social services and services for children. The concerts were organized by Gedolf who has urged hundreds of thousands of people to travel to Scotland, to press world leaders to endorse the Commission for Africa programs at the G8 summit. He joined the commission President in an appeal to EU leaders to throw their political weight behind a plan to double the EU's $57 billion annual development aid for African and other poor nations. Africa and its problems offer a chance for Europe to re-describe themselves and their value system. The Live 8 concerts have had minimum publicity in most of Africa, including in South Africa, whose President Thabo Mbeki will attend the G8 summit. doclink

Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam Called Sex Tourism Hotspots

April 27, 2005, Deutche Presse-Agentur (Germany)

Victims of sex tourism in Southeast Asia are usually girls between 10 and 18 with the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam the hotspots. Abduction and false promises of jobs are among the methods used to recruit youngsters. Children of increasingly young ages are being forced into prostitution. The increasing appetite for Internet child pornography is another emerging trend. Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) pledged to fight human trafficking, especially of women and children. Globally, the US maintains that more than 1 million children are exploited annually. Singaporeans make up the largest number of sex tourists, visiting Indonesia's islands and southern Thailand and have sex with girls as young as 14 because they know the Indonesian police will turn a blind eye. Of the 300 girls the NGO has helped since 2003, a small proportion were guaranteed jobs as maids in Singapore. Instead, they were forced into prostitution. doclink

Economic Disparity Threatening Survival of Poor East Asian Children: UNICEF

April 2, 2005, Associated Press

The U.N. children's agency urged governments in the East Asian and Pacific region to tackle economic inequality that threatens the survival of young people. Big challenges remain in East Asia despite improvements in reducing poverty, slowing infant and child mortality rates, fighting human trafficking, and improving gender equality in basic education. Governments should target impoverished communities with greater public spending on health and education. The recent tsunami had orphaned many children, making them vulnerable to disease, abuse and sexual exploitation. Other problems face the region, particularly the threat of HIV that will kill more people than any natural disaster. An estimated 7,300 children in Cambodia, 7,600 in Myanmar and 12,000 in Thailand are infected with HIV from mother-to-child transmission, unsafe blood supplies or unsanitary injections. Cambodia faces an uphill battle to improve education and health services for its 14 million people. About 63,000 Cambodian children die every year from malnutrition and diarrhea. doclink

Japan Travel Industry Steps Up Efforts Against Child Sex Tourism

Agence France Presse

Sixty Japanese travel agents signed a code of conduct to protect children from sexual exploitation in tourist destinations. Travel agents are required to put a clause in contracts with local agents forbidding sexual exploitation of children and to train personnel how to avoid child sex businesses. If the major Japanese travel agents show their tough stance against child prostitution, that would have a big impact. According to UNICEF, some 1.2 million children under 18 fall victim to human trafficking annually. A 48-year-old Japanese high school teacher was arrested in Japan on suspicion of paying for sex with two 16-year-old Vietnamese girls in Cambodia in 2003. In 1999, Tokyo enacted a law to make it illegal for Japanese to pay for sex with a minor in a foreign country. The World Tourism Organization trusts that the voice of the Japanese travel trade will be added to those who are actively campaigning against this sad tragedy. doclink

Schoolchildren in Rural South Africa Struggle to Learn

February 9, 2005, Agence France Presse

Children in rural schools struggle to cope with poverty and AIDS. They are forced to deal with demands that result in a high drop-out from school. 65% of children reported that no one in the house was sufficiently educated to help them with their homework. The children also had to cope with parents suffering from AIDS and ill-health among family members was cited by 57% of parents and guardians as reasons for children missing school. HIV is subtle, insidious and erodes the education system. AIDS affects more than one in five adults in South Africa, with 5.3 million people living with HIV and AIDS. HIV among children between 2 and 18 is 5.6% and many still have to deal with AIDS on a daily basis. Children face many obstacles that prevent their concentrated attention in school. The distance from school, hunger, school fees and uniforms, ill health and HIV, disability and teenage pregnancy all involve direct costs for families. doclink

The Bride was 7; in the Heart of Ethiopia, Child Marriage Takes a Brutal Toll

December 12, 2004, Chicago Tribune

There are, according to child-rights activists, an estimated 50 million young teen or preteen girls whose innocence is being sacrificed to arranged marriages, often with older men. While humanitarian campaigns have focused attention on childhood AIDS in Africa, female genital mutilation and child labor, one of the underlying sources remains ignored. Child marriage was only denounced by the U.N. as a human-rights violation in 2001. Early pregnancies are the leading cause of death for girls age 15 to 19 in the developing world and medical relief groups believe that 2 million women are living with fistulas, from bearing children much too young. Untreated they can be fatal, and survivors are usually left incontinent. Often treated like servants, young brides are subject to beatings by their husbands and in-laws. Thousands of girls end up in the sex trade, through organized trafficking rings or by drifting from abusive marriages into street prostitution. Child marriage pries millions of young girls out of school and cheated of education, are condemned to lives of ignorance and poverty. According to UNFPA, 49 countries face a child bride problem. The epicenters of child wedlock are sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where cementing clan ties through marriage, a preoccupation with bridal virginity and fear of contracting AIDS are strongest. Ethiopia has started prohibiting early marriages yet the tradition is hard to stamp out. Among Ethiopia's rural Amhara people 82% of brides are underage. But virtually every little girl is already spoken for. Amharaland has the highest child marriage rates in the world, in some corners of the highlands, almost 90% of local girls are married before 15. And because daughters rarely inherit fertile lands, keeping them at home and feeding them are considered a folly. Better to marry them off quickly, to strengthen family alliances for the lean times. Parents push their daughters into wedlock before puberty because they fear the onset of menstruation may be mistaken for premarital sex. And the Ethiopian Orthodox Church has long played a role in early matchmaking encouraging marriage before 15, declaring that this was the age of the Virgin Mary at the Immaculate Conception. In Ethiopia, education is mandatory for both sexes until the 6th grade. But many families keep girls at home to tap their farm labor. Parents also fear for their daughters' virginity at the mud-and-wattle schoolhouse 3 miles away. Child-rights workers agree that education is the most important key unlocking the prison of child marriage. Schoolwork also gives her body time to mature before the rigors of childbirth. Convincing parents of the benefits of schooling works better than just banning child marriage. In countries such as India, secondary education has slashed child marriage rates by up to two-thirds. And across the developing world, girls who complete primary school tend to marry four years later and have two fewer children. Conservative parents distrust education as most pupils never want to go back to the farm and be their mother-in-laws' slaves. In Addis Ababa, a metal structure towers over the houses, a multistory homeless shelter made from stacked shipping containers. It is a training center for escapees from early marriages. Countless runaways end up mired in the sex trade. The plagues of HIV and child marriage go hand in hand throughout the developing world. Research shows that because their husbands are often sexually experienced and possibly carrying the virus already, child wives are more at risk of AIDS than single girls. The infection rates of child brides are even higher by the folk belief that sex with virgins can cure AIDS. A girl's highest function is to produce boys, quickly and often. Starting at 14, an Amhara girl will give birth every year for 15 years and be left with seven surviving children. For millions of child brides, initiations into sex can be traumatic. Among the minority Gurage people, brides are softened up with purgatives and fasting, and their fingernails clipped. The groom forces himself on his weakened wife and she is expected to resist. A 14-year-old schoolgirl shot dead her rapist and would-be husband with a rifle and was acquitted of murder, to the astonishment of the conservative public. In a hospital in Addis Abbaba there is the reek of feces, urine with disinfectant from the patients, women and girls whose reproductive tissues have been ripped apart by too-early childbirth. For every one of the 1,200 girls who are operated on yearly for fistulas there are at least 10 others left untreated. 2 million women worldwide suffer the devastating ailment. Husbands and families disown them. They end up as beggars or hermits. doclink

Thousands of Children Missing in Latin America Each Year Due to Poverty, Corruption, Weak Laws

January 11, 2005, Associated Press

The trafficking of youngsters is rampant throughout Latin America, where governments lack the political will to deal with the problems. Dozens of traffickers operate in Mexico, Central and South America. Authorities and children's activists say the criminals make up one part of a phenomenon that is growing amid poverty, corruption, and nonexistent laws. Activists in Mexico have drafted proposals to establish a missing children's center modeled on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children which investigates cases with the FBI and is supported 50-50 by the federal government and private donors. Currently, Mexico has scattered civilian facilities that rely on private donations. Federal authorities get involved only in cases in which they believe organized crime is involved. Few official statistics exist but the problem is clearly growing worse. They don't have that power of investigation within their law enforcement. An organized crime investigator with the Mexico state police notes that police rarely persist in tracking missing children because few authorities are assigned to such cases. In Brazil each year, about 10,000 children and teenagers disappear and many are believed to have been abducted by prostitution networks. In Colombia, 850 children were reported missing last year, including 400 kidnapped by gangs or leftist rebels seeking ransoms. In Mexico, more than 120,000 children have gone missing in the past five years and half are snatched by one parent in domestic disputes. Others run away because of violence, go missing during illegal trips across the U.S. border, or are sold into brothels by traffickers who lure them with promises of becoming models or receptionists. It is believed that an additional 1,000 children have been sold for illegal adoptions or abducted for child prostitution or labor. At least 100 Mexican children have been kidnapped for ransom over the past five years. Child thieves have posed as benefactors, would-be godparents, nurses, doctors and social workers and authorities uncovered a gang of doctors and nurses who feigned the deaths of children, then sold them for $1,415 to $1,770 each. Mexico and most of Latin America have no government-backed institutions dedicated to missing children, and few authorities to solve cases. doclink

Gangs Smuggling Yemeni Children to Saudi Arabia

January 11, 2005, Gulf News (UAE)

Saudi and Yemeni officials said gangs in Yemen are kidnapping children and sending them to Saudi Arabia as beggars. Some families "rent their children" to these gangs for want of money. Children are mostly sent to Makkah and Madinah. Over the past years, the Saudi authorities returned to Yemen more than 4,000 children. Gangs and families of other nationalities are also involved. The problem is acute during the Haj and Ramadan, that attract the largest number of pilgrims. Care centres run by charity organisations have been set up to accommodate child beggars where they are taught to read and write and recite the Quran. Saudi Arabia and Yemen have agreed on a joint committee to suggest solutions. It will focus on the guidelines and mechanism that could reduce the problem. The issue triggered controversy in the Yemeni Parliament after the Human Rights Minister disclosed that about 3,000 Yemeni children were handed over by the Saudi authorities over the past few months. The minister said the Yemeni side is serious about addressing the problem and all those involved in child trafficking would be punished. A Yemeni member of parliament said the Minister of Interior was questioned over the failure to address the problem. doclink

Nigeria: UNICEF Chief Tasks FG On Children

December 20, 2004, This Day (Nigeria)

UNICEF has called for more funding for programmes that affect children. UNICEF has an annual income of $50 million but the resources are not enough to fund programmes such as education, health care, reduction of child and maternal mortality among others. Major achievements include the passage of the Trafficking Act and the Child's right Act in 2003 as a significant step forward. Commending government for this key legislation, he said this has set Nigeria ahead of other countries. Other achievements are the eradication of guinea worm with less than 50 cases at the end of October and iodised salt in 98% of the households through UNICEF, NAFDAC and Health Ministry. There still is a lot to be done for children as there is a decline in the health status of children and an increase in the under-five mortality rate from 168/1000 births in 1999 to 217/1000 live births in 2003. More than 7 million children of primary school are out of school, and girls education remains one of the priorities. An agreement has been signed with the British Department of International Development, (DFID), for $25 million for girls education over the next three years in 7 states where the gap between girls and boys education remains high. doclink

Swedish Boy Who Survived Tsunami Feared Kidnapped in Thailand

January 4, 2005, Agence France Presse

Kristian Walker was on holiday in Khao Lak, southern Thailand with his mother, his 14-year-old brother and seven-year-old sister when the catastrophe struck. With Mrs Walker feared dead, the boy's American father Dan Walker dashed to Thailand from Stockholm, and discovered the brother and sister in a Phuket hospital. But there was no trace of Kristian, despite two doctors and a nurse who, upon seeing his photo, said they had seen him the day after the disaster, accompanied by a middle-aged European man with dark hair and a moustache. The Thai police are now convinced that the boy may have been kidnapped. Dan Walker is working with the police and said "It is a terrible situation, I believe Kristian is in the hands of traffickers and I do not think he is in the country any more." doclink

Aceh's Children to Be Registered in Effort to Stop Trafficking: UNICEF

January 5, 2005, Agence France Presse

A program to register every displaced child in Indonesia's tsunami-hit province of Aceh is underway to stop human trafficking. UNICEF is working with the government to allow the children made homeless or orphaned to be registered and kept track of. One centre was set up in Banda Aceh and another 20 as soon as possible across the province. A ban on adoption was put in place amid a number of reports that human traffickers were spiriting children out of Aceh. Members of the public would only be allowed to sponsor the orphans by providing financial aid, and children would remain under state care. They would be placed in orphanages run by the government, Islamic foundations or Muslim boarding schools. Children under 16 would not be allowed to leave Aceh without their parents. The government estimated that 35,000 children have been made homeless, orphaned or separated from their parents in Aceh. The quick response by the government and aid organisations may have curtailed the traffickers' efforts. There had been one case of a child being smuggled out of Aceh to the nearby North Sumatran capital of Medan for trafficking. UNICEF's Malaysian office had received an SMS on Tuesday advertising 300 orphans from Aceh aged between three and 10 who could be bought. There are criminal gangs based out of Medan who have been involved in this for a very long time. Authorities have in the past arrested people on child trafficking charges in Medan, where the rings are well known for selling babies for adoption to people in Malaysia and Singapore. doclink

UNICEF Lays Out Four-point Programme for Tsunami Children

January 5, 2005, UNICEF

UNICEF proposed four priorities for children, to give the tsunami devastated generation a fighting chance. Keeping children alive, clean water, adequate sanitaion, basic nutrition and routine medical care. Care for separated children must also be given high priority in the all relief plans, finding children who have lost families, identifying them and reuniting them with their extended families and communities. Efforts must ensure that children were protected from exploitation, where families wre broken apart, incomes lost and hope was in short supply. In some countries, there are reports of child traffickers moving in to exploit vulnerable children. UNICEF is working closely with local and national authorities to head off these criminals. doclink

UNICEF'S Carol Bellamy Talks About South Asian Children Being Exploited After the Devastation of the Tsunami

January 4, 2005, NPR

Tens of thousands of children were killed in the tsunami and many of the survivors lost one or both parents. In Indonesia, there are serious rumors and some confirmation that some of the adoption syndicates are attempting to place children into other countries. Indonesia will not allow adoptions in this early stage and the government will be responsible for the children in Aceh. In most countries, UNICEF is working with the governments to register the children that would allow for tracing and reunification, at least with family members. If there is no one, then the potential for adoption would present itself but first find out whether there are family members. No one's had a situation where the scale of deaths and the loss of parents by children is as great as this, but we have other instances of the trafficking of children for sex purposes, not so much for adoption. The UN is working closely with governments and other partners. First to identify the child, then to trace potential family members and reunite them with the children. This gives them a caregiver but it also allows for the child to have some of the trauma reduced. doclink

Beggar, Serf, Soldier, Child

December 12, 2004, New York Times*

UNICEF reported that half the world's children face deprivation. From Bombay to Mexico City to Bangkok, child beggars are a banal fact of life. West and Central Africa can be an appalling place to be a child. Of the 27 countries with the worst child mortality rates, 26 are in Africa. AIDS has orphaned them, poverty has driven parents to sell them as cheap labor and warlords turn them into soldiers. I have met fathers who have sent away their boys to break stones in another country and girls who will never go to school because their mothers rely on them to fetch water and firewood. In the 40 years since these countries have freed themselves from colonial rule, the plight of children has grown worse. In the 20 countries of sub-Saharan Africa, the average citizen is poorer than she was a decade ago. In sub-Saharan Africa there are 340 million children, representing 51% of the population. What has gone wrong? A mixture of unscrupulous rulers, international economic policies that stunt African producers, and a cycle of conflict. The last has forced African leaders to pay attention to the countries' children. Restive youth can be a ruler's worst nightmare. The Nigerian president with an imperious reputation, met in October with the youth militias that have wreaked havoc in the oil-rich Niger Delta. He can see the crisis that's confronting his government. In the Republic of Congo, 3.8 million people have died as a result of war. Nearly half were children under 5, who fell victim to malnutrition and preventable diseases. Many child soldiers now dig for diamonds in exchange for a daily bowl of rice. Nigeria put polio back on the map, when Islamist politicians egged on by their clerical allies, accused the West of plotting to sterilize their children with polio vaccinations. Polio cases have cropped up in 11 other African countries. Helping them will require huge amounts of international aid, but first there must be a long-term commitment to peacekeeping. In 2001, American trade barriers and fluctuation in world cotton prices cost Mali the equivalent of three years of education spending. Charity will hardly be sufficient to help the children of sub-Saharan Africa. In Senegal, poor children have long been sent to Koranic schools, where they worked on farms to earn their keep, or collected charity to feed themselves and their teachers. doclink

Child Marriage

December 16, 2004, Chicago Tribune

Before they become women, more than 51 million girls in developing countries become wives and mothers and victims of HIV, domestic violence, poverty and social rejection. The consequences of child marriage are negative and lasting. When you consider the health consequences and the human cost, this is probably the largest human rights abuse you could name. The Bush administration withdrawal of funding for UNFPA has had repercussions in the battle to fight and treat the ravages of child marriage. UNFPA officials deny that they support or participate in any program involving abortion or sterilization. But the loss of U.S. funding, 13% of UNFPA budget, has sapped the efforts in an array of maternal issues, including the treatment of obstetric fistula. They have concerns about coercive abortions in China and that's why we are working on appropriate family planning and coercion is wrong. doclink

UNICEF Says a Billion Children Now Suffer Deprivation Worldwide

December 10, 2004, New York Times*

Half the children in the world suffer deprivation because of war, H.I.V. or poverty. There have been gains in reducing the death rates, in increasing the number of children in school, but some of the progress has been offset by AIDs and wars, particularly the 55 civil wars since 1990. Nearly half the 3.6 million people killed in wars since 1990 were children. Along with war, AIDS and H.I.V. are destroying millions of childhoods, especially in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. More than two million have been infected during pregnancy, birth or through breast-feeding. Almost half a million children died of AIDS last year. From 2001 to 2003, the number of children orphaned by AIDS soared from 11.5 million to 15 million, 80% in Africa. Researchers' findings showed that one in six children in developing countries was hungry, one in seven had no health care, one in five had no access to safe water and one in three had no toilet. Over 640 million lived in overcrowded conditions. More than 120 million did not attend primary school. More than 29,000 died every day of preventable causes. More than 2 million were employed in the sex industry, while 1.2 million were trafficked. Child poverty had worsened in a number of developed countries, over the past decade, among them Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria and Italy. The U.S. had a child poverty rate higher than any of those European countries - 21.9%, down from 24.3%. Global military spending was $956 billion, while the cost of effectively combating poverty would be $40 to $70 billion. doclink

Enlisting Men in the Fight Against Fistula

November 23, 2004, Africa News Service

Cultural norms dictate that girls should get married early in Niger with the average age 13. Many pregnancies occur before the age of 19, but complications ensue by obstetric fistulas, a condition that occurs as a result of obstructed labour, when a girl's pelvis is too small to accommodate the baby. Organisations have initiatives to care for girls who develop fistulas. But what of the men who allow this. Obstructed labour cuts off the blood supply to the vagina, bladder and sometimes the rectum, causing the tissue to die forming a hole that allows the flow of urine and fecal matter. The result may lead to the girl being abandoned by her husband, and ostracized by society. It sometimes leads to infertility, and women find themselves further isolated. The condition can be repaired but surgery is too costly for girls from poor areas. UNFPA estimates that more than two million women suffer from the condition. Caesarian sections has largely eradicated fistulas, but in Niger 4% of girls have access to this procedure. A number of groups are targeting men to rid Niger of fistulas, calling upon the services of story tellers, blacksmiths, hairdressers and butchers to spread the word about the dangers of fistula. Campaigns to prevent early marriage also tend to encourage parents to keep their daughters in school - a measure that has benefits for the girls, and society at large. The rate of primary school enrollment in 2003 was 50.1% for boys and 33.3% for girls. There are few rural schools in Niger and girls become vulnerable when they leave their villages to attend secondary schools. Religion may also prove an obstacle, as misinformed Islamic leaders exercise a bad influence in the name of religion. Islam does not encourage early marriage or recommend marriage to girls before puberty. If a girl is married according to the customs of Islam, that marriage is valid but the parents must decide when the union should be consummated. doclink

One Billion Denied a Childhood

December 9, 2004, BBC News

More than half of under-18s are affected, and too many governments are making deliberate choices that hurt childhood. Half the world's children are growing up hungry and unhealthy, schools have become targets and whole villages are being emptied by AIDS. Poverty for children is less a factor of income than basic rights. More than one billion children do not have access to at least one of the following: shelter, water, sanitation, schooling, information, healthcare and food. Nearly half of the 3.6 million people killed in wars since 1990 have been children. Millions were displaced by conflict, or forced to take part as child soldiers. doclink

U.N.: Violence Against Women and Children in Darfur Increasing, Despite Government Denials

November 18, 2004, Associated Press

The surge in Sudan of violent incidents is increasing as refugees arrive at camps in Darfur. Children are witness to and victims of violent terror. They suffer deprivation and sickness in their bid to escape. Children have been loaded onto trucks and transported to a new camp without their parents and some have been injured during government attempts to relocate camps. Government-backed Arab militias are accused of targeting civilians in a campaign of murder, rape and arson. The conflict has driven 1.8 million people from their homes, and at least 70,000 have died since March because of disease, hunger and other hardships. Many have been killed in fighting since the conflict started. The only party capable of securing the lives of these people is the government. For as long as there is violence and insecurity for Sudanese children, those responsible must be brought to account. doclink

UN Fears Rising Child Sex Trade

November 9, 2004, Push Journal

The sexual exploitation of children is becoming increasingly widespread because of the internet, organised crime, economic pressures and the impact of HIV. Unless governments act on the recently-passed laws, millions more children could end up in sexual slavery. The International Labour Organisation estimates that 1.2 million children are trafficked annually while the number sexually exploited is much greater. The majority are young teenagers but it was not uncommon to find children as young as nine. The boom in internet paedophilia was not restricted to developed nations and even in places with lower connectivity exploitation is growing rapidly. Poverty was a large factor and worsening economic conditions make people more vulnerable to child sexual exploitation. doclink

Over 15,000 Indian Children Missing Every Year

September 27, 2004, Times of India

At least 15,407 children from six Indian cities go missing every year and more than 3,200 women are untraced, confirming the rate of trafficking of women and children in the country. Only 60% of cases are reported to the policer. State governments were doing little to stop trafficking, 40% of police officers did not have any knowledge about laws to prevent trafficking. Goa was the only state to have enacted a specific law to protect children from sexual exploitation. doclink

The Child-Mothers of Uganda

September 20, 2004, World Press Review

An 18-year-old war between President Museveni and the Lord's Resistance Army has created an epidemic of child-mothers. These girls became child-mothers when they were unwillingly taken from their land to Sudan. There girls between the ages of 15 and 23 were sexually assaulted, raped, and became "wives" to rebels. Now these girls have returned from Sudan, to their homes in Uganda. However, they are still induring struggles due to their abduction. Many return pregnant or with malnutritioned children to raise themselves. They also fear that they contracted sexually transmitted diseases from their torture, including HIV, with it is estimated is about 30% of those returning. The conditions they are returning to are impoverished. Most of their parents are dead, they are unable to find the father of their children prior to abduction. "Having been violated, they feel stigmatized and ashamed of themselves even though they were just victims of the war. They also feel that their own communities and relatives will reject them as unworthy of living with them." Unfortunatetly, most families are rejecting those returning because they are unable to provide a home for them. Those returning to Uganda are just as bad off financially as those currently residing there. A phenomenon has been created due to these circumstances, many women are night commuting with their children. This means that at night they travel to the city to sleep on the stoops of shops and stores, then they travel back to community during the day. They do this because of the fear of being kidnapped again, it is the night that haunts them. Government agencies are providing women with the opportunity for shelter and rehabilitation, however these services will not be provided for women for long periods of time and many find themselves in the same circumstances. "These girls are victims of the most vicious circumstances - destitute orphans, victims of rape and defilement, night commuters, who have had any chance of education taken away from them as a result of their abduction." doclink

In Fight Against Child Mortality UNICEF Chief Urges Doctors to Address Root Causes

August 26, 2004, UN News Center

At a conference for pediatricians in Cancun, Mexico, UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Carol Bellamy said that 11 million children die before the age of five every year, most from preventable causes. Pediatricians must go to underlying factors such as poverty and discrimination. Leadership must recognize underlying causes and take appropriate steps that break patterns of discrimination and enable health efforts to reach the unreached. To make progress in child survival, partners involved must understand that a healthy childhood has many facets and health practitioners understand this better than pediatricians. Keeping a child alive, healthy, well-nourished, and protected is not a job for Health Ministries alone. doclink

10,000 Nepalese Children Abused in Six Months

As Nepal battles political instability, over 10,000 minors have been affected in the last six month through child marriages, labour, deaths, trafficking and prostitution. Between January and June, 7,000 children were affected and 6,600 were abducted by Maoists for indoctrination, 77 arrested by security forces, 99 wounded in fighting between the two forces and 54 actually killed. There were at least two incidents of suicide. A boy killed himself after being arrested as well as a girl said to have Maoist links. Other child violations ranged from sexual exploitation to infanticide. 137 children had been sexually exploited, 109 were victims of domestic violence, 181 victims of labour exploitation and 324 faced torture. There were 33 child killings, 28 cases of infanticide and 41 cases of HIV infection. In total there are 8.4 million children below 14 years, 9.5 million below 16 and 10.4 million below 18. Only 31% of those enrolling in primary schools complete their education. doclink

UNICEF to Launch Survey on Street Children in Myanmar

August 9, 2004, Xinhua General News Service

UNICEF will assess children in Yangon, Mandalay and Pathein to determine their living conditions and their vulnerability to abuse and exploitation. The agency has trained social and religious workers, teachers and caretakers in the two prior cities on protecting children and those infected by HIV. A study is being made by on internal and cross-border migration in five townships, to monitor the link between migration and human trafficking. Myanmar is drafting a plan of action which includes 21 goals focusing on education, combating HIV and protecting children from abuse and exploitation. The agenda is targeted to be achieved within a decade. Myanmar became a signatory to the UNCRC in 1991 and afterwards the country enacted its child law in 1993 prohibiting child labor. doclink

Afghanistan: Poverty Forces Children to Quit School to Work

June 28, 2004, IRIN News (UN)

An estimated 40,000 children are working on the city's streets in 10 populous districts of Kabul. Many lost their breadwinners or were put to work, most as shoeshine boys or porters, washing cars, burning incense, selling small items or collecting metal. Others resort to begging, but rarely admit it, considering such acts shameful. The children often assume the duty of earning income for their families. While hazardous child labour had not been as commonplace as in other countries, UNICEF is concerned that children do not have access to education and health care. Since 1995, NGO's has trained 2,600 street children in a variety of fields including carpentry, painting and mechanics. Afghanistan needs a strong social care system. The country needed more long-term support to tackle child labour in the country. doclink

Study Blames Under-Nutrition for Half of Child Deaths Worldwide

July 18, 2004, Planned Parenthood

Under-nutrition is the underlying cause of 53% of child deaths. Providing children with an adequate diet could save more than 2.5 million lives per year. Poor nourishment leaves children so weakened that non-fatal diseases can kill them. Under-nutrition is responsible for 60% of deaths from diarrhoea, 57% from malaria, 52% from pneumonia and 45% from measles. doclink

WHO Says Pollution Kills 3 Million Under-five Children Yearly

June 23, 2004, Panafrican News Agency

Environment hazards kill more than three million children under 5 every year, WHO said from the use of chemicals and environmental degradation. Old and understood threats are responsible for killing most children: unsafe water, lack of sanitation, malaria and indoor air pollution. 10% of the world's population is under five, yet 40% of the environment- related diseases falls on them, because they have a higher intake of harmful substances in relation to body weight, and have less strength and knowledge to protect themselves. Children are the main sufferers of environmental hazards. We must act now for a sustainable and brighter future. According to WHO, unclean water causes diarrhoea, which kills an estimated 8.1 million people each year, 1.6 million are children under 5. Unclear water is responsible for cholera, dysentery, guinea worm, typhoid and intestinal worms. 68% of wastewater in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 65% in Asia, is discharged untreated. Nearly one million children die each year from air pollution inside their homes, while 75% percent of households in most Asian and African countries cook with as wood, dung, coal or crop waste, which produce a black smoke that may cause or worsen pneumonia and respiratory infections. doclink

Third of Europe's Child Deaths Environment-related

June 17, 2004, New Scientist

Unsafe environments cause a third of all child deaths in Europe. 100,000 young Europeans die every year from exposure to pollution or unsafe living conditions, such as a lack of clean drinking water. Accidents were the biggest killer, accounting for three quarters of the 100,000 annual deaths. In the poorest countries, pneumonia caused by indoor air pollution and diarrhoea from a lack of sanitation and clean water were also major causes of death. The toll from traffic rose as children got older and spent more time away from the home. Drownings and fire deaths predominated in housebound infants. Injuries accounted for a third of all deaths each year in the prosperous zone. Suicides were higher in the richer countries. Children in poorer regions pay a heavy price for breathing polluted air, drinking unclean water and absorbing lead contamination. Lack of clean water claims around 13,500 lives a year, from diarrhoea. Indoor air pollution claims 10,000 lives a year, in countries where people burn coal and wood. Most victims are infants who develop pneumonia. An estimated 9000 lives could be saved by moving to cleaner liquid or gas fuels. doclink

Breaking the Cycle of Child Marriages

June 17, 2004, Straits Times

In most nations 18 is the legal minimum age for marriage. Yet in the next decade, 100 million girls will marry before they are 18, many against their will. UNFPA seeks to focus concern about adolescent girls from their fertility and health, to the skills they need for their lives. Income can provide them with autonomy, mobility and freedom from gender roles. Drastic action must discourage child marriages such as: Highlighting the risk of HIV for young girls who marry older men. Fostering dialogue about dignity and rights of all persons, and the health threats from forced or early marriage. Helping girls to complete their education and working to address poverty and discrimination against girls. Designing effective education, and opportunities for unmarried girls to assist them in deferring marriage. Child marriages are a custom in many countries where ties between families are strengthened by arranged marriages. As one girl explained: "I was promised to a man before I was 10 and when I saw him I realised he was older than my daddy." Child marriages bring health risks as pregnancy is a leading cause of death for women 15 to 19. A long and difficult childbirth can cause an obstetric fistula and sufferers are unable to control normal functions. Girls are at risk of HIV since they are often married to older men with more sexual experience. Studies show that teenage brides are contracting HIV at a faster rate than their unmarried counterparts. 7.3 million young women are living with HIV compared to 4.5 million young men and nearly two-thirds of newly infected youth are female. 1.2 billion people are between 10 and 19. The health of young girls today will have a major impact on the overall social and economic health of our world tomorrow. doclink

Better Diet 'Would Save Millions'

June 17, 2004, Push Journal

Poor nourishment leaves children underweight and weakened and usually non-fatal illnesses, such as diarrhoea, can kill them. Giving all children an adequate diet could save over 2.5m lives a year. A million deaths from pneumonia, 800,000 from diarrhoea, 500,000 from malaria, and 250,000 from measles could be prevented. 52.5% of all deaths in young children were attributable to under-nourishment. Malnutrition does not have to be severe to have a significant impact on child health and survival, even children whose weight would not classify them as malnourished, were twice as likely to die. Save the Children managing director of emergencies and crisis, warned the crisis in Sudan was likely to escalate. doclink

U.K.: The Rise in Child Trafficking Needs a National Response

May 18, 2004, The Independent

A study at Heathrow identified that nearly 2,000 unaccompanied children entered the UK over three months last year. A third were found at risk as domestic servants or prostitutes, twelve have vanished. The study looked only at unaccompanied children, non-EU passport holders, and was limited to one London port of entry. A new child protection team will be limited to Heathrow and the Eurostar terminal at Waterloo. Many minors end up in domestic slavery, runners for criminal gangs, or enter Britain in the company of adults purporting to be aunts or uncles. Social workers are unequipped to identify children at risk, investigate their circumstances or verify the relationship between guardians or sponsors. doclink

Madagascar: Concern Over Rising Child Trafficking

April 29, 2004, IRIN News (UN)

Malagasy authorities are concerned over the increase of child trafficking following the arrest of eight men accused of running an illegal adoption ring. Police found 11 babies being sent abroad. Children, mostly infants, were stolen and sent to illegal adoption centres, mainly in Europe, where they were then sold for about US $800 each. Poverty is the main reason why girls who have babies give them up or sell them as they don't have the means to keep them. But there is the stigma single women with children face from their neighbours and family members. Madagascar is one of the poorest countries in the world, with most people surviving on less than a US $1 per day. doclink

In the case of many countries, poverty - and large families that parents are unable to care for - are a vicious cycle. Children are the victims.

The Rebuilding Starts with Children

April 16, 2004, International Herald Tribune

2.5 million Angolan children are forced to work as a result of massive poverty, a devastated education system and shattered social services from one of Africa's longest civil wars. After the guns fell silent, Angola has engaged in nation-building, but daily life for children remains backbreaking. 60% of Angola's population is under 18. In border regions impoverishment forces children toward exploitation and child trafficking. In Luanda, reports of sexual abuse of children have increased and land mines ruin children's lives. In a land of 14 million people, three million children were displaced by the conflict, 45% under 5 suffer from malnutrition, and millions are out of school. One of four children dies before the fifth birthday. In border areas, impoverishment forces children toward exploitation and the risk of child trafficking. The suffering can be alleviated if the international community lends a hand. The Angolan government and UNICEF are working by training border police, opening thousands of schools, and working with families and communities to promote child rights. Strides have been made with Angola's health, education and immunization campaigns, vaccinating seven million children against measles and putting one million back in school. The foundations are being laid for better services, industrial growth, agricultural development, and free and fair elections. Angola has Africa's second largest oil reserves, and before the land mines, had actally exported food. A healthy Angola would benefit beyond its borders. Angolan children must be given the means to become teachers, farmers and doctors. Angolan children are eager for a future their parents never had. doclink

Ugandan Children Pawns of War, Official Says

April 15, 2004, Los Angeles Times

The Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda abducted 10,000 children in the last 18 months for fighters and sex slaves. The rebel group has waged an 18-year war against the Ugandan government and has driven more than 1.5 million people from their homes in northern and eastern Uganda. The movement, led by former altar boy Joseph Kony, says it is fighting the forces of Ugandan President to defend the rights of the northern Acholi people and the establishment of a government based on the Ten Commandments. Most of the soldiers and victims are children, terrorized into attacking their own villages. Kony relies on Christian symbolism and traditional magic to lead his child followers. A girl told how she and other captives had been forced to tear apart a child who had tried to escape. 40,000 children and mothers have to walk from their villages to nearby towns every night to stay safe. The Ugandan government and the international community had done little to help. Governments have pledged 10% of this year's U.N. appeal for $127 million in humanitarian aid for the region. doclink

Kristof Responds: Child Labor

April 7, 2004, New York Times*

The push by Democrats for international labor standards is well intentioned, but oblivious to third world realities. But the Western attitude sometimes makes things worse. Consider two American efforts to ban imports produced by child labor: In 1993, when Congress would have blocked imports made by children, garment factories in Bangladesh fired 50,000 children and many ended in jobs like prostitution. In 1996 there was a cry against soccer balls stitched by children in their homes, in Pakistan. The balls are now stitched by adults, in factories under international monitoring, but many women are worse off. Conservative Pakistanis believe that women shouldn't work outside the home, so stitching soccer balls is off limits for many. Bad publicity about Pakistan led China to grab market share with machine-stitched balls, Pakistan's share of the market dropped to 45% from 65%. Jagdish Bhagwati,a trade economist, says in his book, "In Defense of Globalization," that protesting child labor doesn't address the poverty that causes it. On the other hand, many children attend less than four years of school. In the village of Toukoultoukouli in Chad, 17 girls and 31 boys learn in the two-room school. Many children, especially girls, never attend school, which ends after the fourth grade. So a 12-year-old boy has got all the education he can get. Westerners should channel getting all children into school for at least four years and it could perhaps be achieved by bribery. The U.N. offers free meals to children in poor schools and a bribe of grain for girl students to take home to their families. Providing food raises school attendance, particularly for girls. School feeding costs 19 cents per day per child. So to university students: Instead boycotting Nike or pressing for barriers against child labor, sponsor school meals in places like Toukoultoukouli. Officials at the World Food Program would be thrilled to have private groups or individuals help sponsor school feedings. doclink

Malnutrition, Starvation

Zimbabwe Cops Brunt of El Niño and Declares State of Disaster

February 8, 2016,   By: Megan Palin

Zimbabwe has declared a state of disaster after a super El Niño, similar to the ones in'97-98 and'82-83, severely impacted Zimbabwe, devastating crops and causing some families to go up to two weeks without a decent meal. Starving cattle wander over parched riverbeds in the region

The phase is caused by warmer sea temperatures in the Pacific sucking warm, moist air over North America while leaving southern Africa and Australia hot and dry.

One quarter to the 13 million Zimbabweans are in need of urgent food aid, according to the World Food Program.

Once known as a regional breadbasket, Zimbabwe is suffering a declining economy and rising unemployment. With mines and other industries closing because of economic problems, people can't afford to buy rice, maize, cooking oil. and other food imported from South Africa.

Some villagers trade maize for fish.

Most Zimbabweans rely on agriculture for a living. The government plans to import 700,000 tons of maize to distribute to the needy, but there are fears from many that corruption will keep them from getting any. Only those close to the district councillor get to eat, said one person.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project cited 135 cases of "food violations" from September to December 2015.

In January, dozens of villagers from rural Mutasa district reportedly stormed a government grain warehouse, demanding an end to the politicisation of food aid.

The United States and the European Union said last month that they are increasing humanitarian funding. doclink

Ancient Baby Boom Holds a Lesson in Over-population

June 30, 2014, Science Daily   By: Eric Sorensen

Washington State University researchers have found that, from 500 to 1300 A.D., southwestern Native Americans experienced a centuries-long baby boom due to success in farming and food storage. Birth rates likely 'exceeded the highest in the world today,' the researchers write.

The study looks at a century's worth of data on thousands of human remains found at hundreds of sites across the Four Corners region of the Southwest. The stone tools found there reflect an agricultural transition from cutting meat to pounding grain.

Maize, also know as corn, was grown in the region as early as 2000 B.C. But, probably because of low productivity, the population took awhile to realize the benefits, said co-author Tim Kohler, WSU Regents professor of anthropology. However by 400 B.C., the crop provided 80% of the region's calories. Crude birth rates consequently rose, mounting steadily until about 500 A.D.

Around 900 A.D., populations remained high but birth rates began to fluctuate. Then in the mid-1100s one of the largest known droughts in the Southwest occurred. The region likely hit its carrying capacity, with continued population growth and limited resources similar to what Thomas Malthus predicted for the industrial world in 1798.

By 1280 all the farmers had left but birth rates remained high, possibly because of the high amount of conflict. "Why not limit growth?," Kohler said. "Maybe groups needed to be big to protect their villages and fields."

"It was a trap," said Kohler. "A Malthusian trap but also a violence trap." doclink

Karen Gaia said: Malthus never predicted cataclysmic worldwide famine. He predicted regional periodic famine.

Quarter of Djibouti Population Desperate for Drought Aid, Says UN

June 12, 2014, Modern Ghana

Nearly a quarter of the population in drought-hit Djibouti is in desperate need of aid, with malnutrition and a dramatic lack of water causing a mass exodus from rural areas, the UN said on Thursday.

"Persistent and recurring droughts have resulted in a general lack of water for both people and livestock," said the UN's Djibouti coordinator Robert Watkins.

The crisis, which has dragged on since 2010, has left 190,000 of the country's 850,000 residents in need of humanitarian assistance.

They include 27,500 refugees, mainly from neighbouring Somalia.

The appeal comes amid warnings from Britain on Thursday that Somalia's Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents were planning further attacks in the tiny and traditionally tranquil Horn of Africa country.

Shebab suicide bombers hit a crowded restaurant in Djibouti last month, killing at least one, in an attack apparently linked to the country's participation in the African Union force in Somalia.

Djibouti's port also serves as a key base for international anti-piracy operations off the Somali coast.

18% of the population is considered acutely malnourished, rising to 26% in some areas -- well above the 15% emergency threshold. doclink

Families Struggling to Afford Food in OECDCountries

More than one in five individuals with children had trouble in 2013
May 30, 2014, Gallup World   By: Andrew Dugan and Nathan Wendt

The 10 Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries that have the highest incidence of individuals reporting difficulty in buying food in the past 12 months are generally the OECD's poorest members. Turkey, for instance, has the second lowest GDP in the OECD per capita in 2012 dollars, and, in 2013, had the highest percentage of individuals, with or without children, struggling to buy food.

Individuals with young children were particularly vulnerable, with more than one in five such individuals struggling to buy food.

Asia and the former Soviet Union saw declines or no changes in the percentages of people reporting difficulty buying food between 2007 and 2013, while in the OECD -- which consists of countries mostly concentrated in Western Europe and North America, the percentages rose. However, OECD countries generally report the lowest percentages of individuals struggling to buy food in the past 12 month worldwide. The Middle East and North Africa, plagued by recent unrest, saw the highest increase in the percentage of people with children struggling to buy food.

Overall growth in gross domestic product (GDP) for the OECD declined by nearly 4% in 2009 and fell below 2% for the past two years. For the first quarter of this year, growth disappointed again, registering at 0.4% for all OECD nations. Some OECD member countries such as Greece and Portugal have seen consecutive years of negative growth.

In the U.S. around a fifth of individuals report having difficulty buying food in the past 12 months. The U.S. is the world's largest economy and has a per-capita GDP of nearly $52,000, well above the OECD average of just over $36,000. The U.S. performs worse than many other OECD countries in terms of its residents being able to afford food.

Hungary and Turkey saw the largest increase in OECD in food buying difficulties doclink

India: The Last Taboo

June 1, 2012, Mother Jones   By: Julia Whitty

Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is home to about 5 million people, at a population density of 70,000 per square mile -- 2.5 times more crowded than New York City. Another 9 million live in the urban agglomeration, bringing the population of greater Kolkata to 14 million. Kolkata's fertility rate is only 1.35, well below the global replacement average of 2.34. Instead, the city's growth is fueled largely through migration from a poorer and more fertile countryside.

Three hundred miles north of the city rises the mighty Himalayas, which contain earth's greatest freshwater reserve, supplying the outflows of some of the globe's mightiest rivers -- water for one in seven people on earth. Fifty miles to the south of Kolkata lies the Bay of Bengal, where 3 million tons of seafood are netted, hooked, and trawled annually. In highlands to the north and south lie the seams of coal that fuel the city.

Survival lies in the depth of the snowpack in the Himalayas, in the sustainable tonnage of fish caught in the Bay of Bengal, in the inches of topsoil remaining on the Indian plains, and in the parts per million of coal smoke in the air. The root cause of India's dwindling resources and escalating pollution is the continued exponential growth of humankind.

In 1965, the world's population of 3.3 billion used only 70% of the earth's biocapacity each year. In 1983, 4.7 billion people reached "ecological overshoot," when they began to consume natural resources faster than they could be replenished, according to the Global Footprint Network, a California think tank. Last year, 6.8 billion of us consumed the renewable resources of 1.4 earths.

The only known solution to ecological overshoot is to decelerate our population growth faster than it's decelerating now and eventually reverse it -- at the same time we slow and eventually reverse the rate at which we consume the planet's resources.

This will solve our most pressing global issues: climate change, food scarcity, water supplies, immigration, health care, biodiversity loss, even war. We've already come from a global fertility of 4.92 children per woman in 1950 to 2.56 today. This was accomplished by trial and sometimes brutally coercive error, but also a result of one woman at a time making her individual choices.

But it's not enough. And not fast enough.

In India the dynamics of overpopulation and overconsumption are most acute, where the lifelines between water, food, fuel, and 1.17 billion people -- 17% of humanity subsisting on less than 2.5% of the globe's land -- are already stretched dangerously thin.

Paul Ehrlich, 42 years after he wrote his controversial book, The Population Bomb, said: "We don't talk about overpopulation because of real fears from the past-of racism, eugenics, colonialism, forced sterilization, forced family planning, plus the fears from some of contraception, abortion, and sex. We don't really talk about overconsumption because of ignorance about the economics of overpopulation and the true ecological limits of earth."

Kavita Ramdas of Global Fund for Women said "In the developing world, the problem of population is seen less as a matter of human numbers than of Western overconsumption. Yet within the development community, the only solution to the problems of the developing world is to export the same unsustainable economic model fueling the overconsumption of the West."

India's population is projected to add 400 million citizens between now and 2050, surpassing China's by 2030 in a country only a third China's size. But a slight uptick in fertility it could reach a staggering 2 billion people by 2050. Here, more than anywhere else on earth, the challenges of 20th-century family planning will become a 21st-century fight for survival.

In 1881, there was an understanding that human population was growing, thanks to Malthus, a political economist who argued that humans were destined to grow geometrically, while food production could increase only arithmetically, guaranteeing that famine would cinch the growth of humankind.

150 years after Malthus, hunger had killed millions: perhaps 50 million Chinese in multiple famines of the 19th century; upwards of 20 million Indians during a dozen major famines in the latter half of the 19th century; a million in the Great Famine of Ireland between 1845 and 1852; one-third of the local population in the Ethiopian Great Famine of 1888 to 1892; 3 million in Bengal in 1943.

Malthus opposed government assistance to the poor on the grounds that it enabled more people to reproduce without the means to support themselves. He advocated that the surplus population be allowed to decrease of its own accord or improved via eugenics.

Malthus believed families needed to limit their numbers of children, yet he opposed contraception, and many agreed with him. Only the "temporary unhappiness" of abstinence was acceptable. Other methods of birth control "lower, in the most marked manner, the dignity of human nature," he wrote. "It cannot be without its effect on men, and nothing can be more obvious than its tendency to degrade the female character."

Yet what Malthus put in motion could not be stopped. Fears of overpopulation spawned by his essay, combined with fears within families of too many hungry children, drove a 19th-century technological boom in contraceptives (including the invention of the first rubber condoms), known for a time as Malthusian devices.

Birth control was not new, there are many instances in history. Condoms were used in the 1500s to protect against syphillis. Coitus interrruptus was used in the 1800s, lowering family size up until the baby boom following World War II. Even in Malthus' time vaginal sponges were in high demand by European and American women who did not wish to rely on condoms or men. In 1871 an underground book gave advice on how to prevent pregnancy by douching after sex.

India today is the world's hungriest country, with one of every two underfed people on earth living there. 40% of Indian children under the age of five are underweight and stunted. More than 4% of babies born there die within their first month of life. Worse, India's underfed are increasing. And 53% of Indians are in poverty.

In The Population Bomb, Ehrlich predicted mass starvation by the 1970s or 1980s -- particularly in India. Instead, American agronomist Norman Borlaug's "Green Revolution" brought dwarf wheat strains and chemical fertilizers to increase India's crop yields 168% within a decade. This monumental achievement defused the bomb and earned Ehrlich the dismissive title of Malthusian. Ever since, the subject has been largely taboo.

The miracle of the Green Revolution, which fed billions, gave the world a false sense of hope. The revolution's most effective agents, chemical fertilizers of nitrogen and phosphorus, are destined to run out, along with the natural resources used to produce them. The fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that grew the food that enabled our enormous population growth in the 20th century bore expensive downstream costs in the form of polluted land, water, and air that now threaten life. Crop yields today are beginning to fall in some places, despite increasing fertilizer use, in soils oversaturated with nitrogen.

In addition, we're running out of topsoil, tossing it to the wind via mechanized agriculture and losing it to runoff and erosion. Geomorphologist David Montgomery, author of Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations calculates that human activities are eroding topsoil 10 times faster than it can be replenished. "Just when we need more soil to feed the 10 billion people of the future," he says, "we'll actually have less -- only a quarter of an acre of cropland per person in 2050, versus the half-acre we use today on the most efficient farms." There is little land that is not already in production. "We could, with crippling environmental costs, raze the Amazonian rainforests and reap 5 to 10 years of crops before the tropical soils failed. But the fertile prairies of the Midwest, northern China, and northern Europe are already plowed to capacity and shrinking."

Nearly a quarter of India'a lands are desert or in the process of becoming desert, according to a recent Indian government report. The need for water will be doubled by 2030 as drier landscapes require more water to irrigate an increasingly drier landscape to grow rice, wheat, and sugar for an increasing population . McKinsey & Co., the global management consulting firm, forecasts severe deficits in water -- and, as a result, food -- by 2030.

A 20% to 30% decline in crop yields in the next 80 years was predicted by a study published in the peer-reviewed journal Science which examined a combination of peak oil, peak topsoil, and global warming. Photosynthesis, the process needed to grow crops, declines precipitously as temperatures rise above 86 degrees Fahrenheit, making it difficult to maintain crop yields. The 2003 European heat wave that killed up to 50,000 people also slashed crop harvests by as much as 36%. The lower latitudes, including India, will see rising temperatures and drier landscapes, putting our major food crops at risk in the near future. In addition, India's "atmospheric brown cloud" (smog) could undermine crop yields by up to 40%.

History may yet remember Paul Ehrlich as the premature prophet, not the false one, his predictions off by decades rather than degree.

Two hundred million women have no access whatsoever to contraception, contributing to the one in four unplanned births worldwide and the 50 million pregnancies aborted each year, half of them performed secretly, killing 68,000 women in the process.

We have heard that poor rural couples plan to have large families because of high child mortality or to provide for their care in old age, but John Guillebaud, emeritus professor of family planning and reproductive health at University College, London says that poor people have large families simply because they, like most of us, have sex many times. "For a fertile couple, nothing is easier," he says.

Our world gains 83 million extra people every year -- the equivalent of another Iran -- all needing food, water, homes, and medicine. Eventually, most of these new people will have kids, too.

Statistician Paul Murtaugh of Oregon State University found that an American child born today adds an average 10,407 tons of carbon dioxide to the carbon legacy of her mother. That's almost six times more than the mother's own lifetime emissions. Furthermore, the ecological costs of that child and her children is 20 times greater than the combined energy-saving choices from all a mother's other good decisions, like buying a fuel-efficient car, recycling, using energy-saving appliances and light bulbs.

Murtaugh's research also found that an American child has 55 times the carbon legacy of a child born to a family in India, at current rates. While projections show India growing by 400 million people by 2050, the US will grow by 86 million. But the carbon legacy of those additional Americans will equal that of 4.7 billion Indians.

Ramdas of the Global Fund for Women says it is ironic that "just as some Americans are starting to learn to live more like traditional Indians -- becoming vegetarian, buying locally, eating organic -- aspiring middle-class Indians are trying to live more like overconsuming Americans."

The first stage of demographic transition was experienced by everyone everywhere until late 18th century: extremely high birth rates coupled with extremely high death rates, resulting in slow population growth.

Stage two in northern Europe was observed by Malthus himself: the onset of urbanization and industrialization and a true population explosion, as birth rates leveled but death rates plunged dramatically. This stage was spawned by more and better food: the superior nutrition of corn and potatoes imported from the Americas, an agricultural revolution brought on by scientific advances in farming, and a revolution in our understanding of disease, which led to better handling of water, sewage, food, and ourselves. The primary driver behind this new science of hygiene was increased literacy among women, who wrote and read health-education pamphlets, and who managed the daily cleanliness of families and hospitals.

That change that comes from empowering women -- sometimes known as the 'the girl effect' -- and it is uniting the once-divided conservation and human rights communities.

Stage three of demographic transition -- where India is today -- is when as fertility rates drop closer to death rates. This stage includes a contraceptive revolution: in Europe it occurred 200 years ago with coitus interruptus and condoms; it is occurring in India today with birth control pills and, often, sterilization after the first son is born. In this phase women typically end their isolation in the home to enter the workplace and network with other women. Wage-earning women claim more responsibility for childbearing and child-rearing decisions, leading to a revolution in children's lives, as the decision is made to pay for schooling -- a costly choice necessitating smaller families. This choice is strongly influenced by female literacy, since women who can read even slightly are more likely to send their daughters to school.

But only only 54% of women in India are literate compared to 75% of men. Fertility and literacy seem to be closely correlated. In the state of Bihar the literacy rate is 60% for males and 33% for females and the fertility rate is four children per woman. In the state of Kerala, 94% of males and 88% of females are literate, while the fertility rate is only 1.9 children per woman.

Of the more than 1 in 10 people who can't read or write today, two-thirds are female. Locate them, and you'll find societal strife -- civil wars, foreign wars, the wars against reason embedded in religiosity, the wars against equality ingrained in patriarchal and caste systems.

Sheryl WuDunn, the Pulitzer Prize-winning coauthor of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, tells us: "When women are educated, they tend to marry later in life, to have children later in life, and to have fewer children. In effect, you have a form of population control that's peaceful, voluntary, and efficient. Plus, educated women do better in business, raising economic growth rates, and lowering societal conflict. If we could achieve universal literacy for women, we'd have a much better shot at peace around the world."

A model of the women-empowering "girl effect", developed in Bangladesh and West Bengal, is beginning to ripple out through India's 565 million women. Microloans from Bengali microlender Bandhan enable poor women to develop small businesses. Bandhan's program has helped 2 million Indian women climb out of poverty. Concurrent with the microloan program is a Freedom from Hunger (FFH) program to treat health problems such as drilling tube wells to replace infected water, or providing sanitary toilets. Women are also educated in understanding health problems. Some of them become health care workers.

When women become involved with health care, they get involved with the HIV/AIDS issue, and this opens the discussion for sex education. Birth control also becomes part of the package, even in a Muslim culture. The curriculum covers everything from birth control to pre- and postnatal care, breastfeeding, child nutrition, maternal nutrition, and hygiene.

Bandhan recently opened an office in the extremely poor, densely populated, and predominantly Muslim city of Murshidabad where female literacy is only 36%, the fertility rate is around 10, and child labor and malnutrition are rife. The services provided by the FFH/Bandhan symbiosis -- the loans, the health forums -- may be the only means for these women to gain any control over their futures.

"Even though oral contraceptives are available for free or nearly free in Indian public health centers," says FFH's Metcalfe, "Bandhan health officers sell to more women in their homes than the government reaches. This is particularly true for Muslim women, whose lives may be more limited than Hindu women, and for whom privacy is an intensely important issue."

Whether we peak at 8 billion or 9.1, or 10.5 billion people in 2050 will be decided in large part by women's literacy and perhaps women's empowerment.

But government also plays a huge part.

Today more than half of all pregnancies in the Philippines are unplanned -- 10% more than a decade ago. The Guttmacher Institute calculates that easy access to contraception would reduce those births by 800,000, and abortions by half a million a year. Also the government would save $16.5 million a year in reduced health costs from unwanted pregnancies, including the brutal medical consequences of illegal back-alley abortions.

In contrast, Iran reached a high total fertility rate of 7.7 in 1966, then plummeted 50% between 1988 and 1996, continuing down to 1.7 today.

Iran's demographic reversal was swift, uniform, and voluntary. Information was broadcast nationwide about the value of small families, followed up with education about birth control, implemented with free contraceptives. Public education for girls was increased (over 60% of Iranian university students are women); a new health care system was established; access to electricity, safe water, transportation, and communication was provided. Similar fertility reversals have occurred in Costa Rica, Cuba, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, and Morocco-as quickly as in China but minus the brutal one-child policy.

Then there is funding. The U.S. international family planning policy has ping-ponged from one administration to another. In 1984 Ronald Reagan established the "global gag rule," also known as the Mexico City Policy, which prohibited US funding of any foreign family planning organizations providing abortions. The gag rule barred the discussion of abortion or any critique of unsafe abortions, even if these medical services were implemented with the group's own money. President Clinton rescinded the policy in 1993, but President Bush reinstated it in 2001, and before Barack Obama could rescind it again, the flow of aid to developing countries slowed or even stopped, eviscerating health care and severely undermining family planning efforts in at least 26 developing nations, primarily in Africa.

In 2004 Joanna Nerquaye-Tetteh, former executive director of the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana, told Congress: "The gag rule completely disrupted decades of investment in building up health care services," ... "We couldn't provide contraceptives and services to nearly 40,000 women who had formerly used our services. We saw within a year a rise in sexually transmitted infections and more women coming to our clinics for post-abortion care as a result of unsafe abortions."

At global gag rule's height in 2005, the unmet demand for contraceptives and family planning drove up fertility rates between 15 and 35% in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Arab states, Asia, and Africa, the UN estimates.

Two years ago, Forbes magazine voted Bandhan the No. 2 microfinance institute in the world based on size, efficiency, risk, and return. Bandhan is not the original microloan pioneer. Bangladeshi Muhammad Yunus founded Grameen ("villages") Bank in 1983. His revolutionary model was to loan to the unloanable poor-notably women-who lacked collateral, enabling them to develop their own businesses and free themselves from poverty. This radical innovation won Yunus the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. Studies now support what Yunus saw 27 years ago: Women make better loan recipients than men if your aim is to increase family well-being. Compared to men's loans, women's loans double family income and increase child survival twentyfold.

Bandhan has added the health forums and the health care worker program, as well as an initiative called Targeting the Hard Core Poor, aimed at those who can't meet the requirements for a microloan. "Rather than money, we give them an asset, a milk goat or cow or a roadside tea stall. We guide them through about 18 months of business development before they graduate into the microloan program."

The paradox embedded in our future is that the fastest way to slow our population growth is to reduce poverty, yet the fastest way to run out of resources is to increase wealth.

The business of microloans is growing exponentially. Between March 2008 and March 2009, 22.6 million people in India received them, 60% more than a year earlier, despite the worst global recession since the Great Depression. This innovative approach to development is rewriting the demographics of poverty. It's also selling the loan recipients bigger ecological shoes -- televisions, VCRs, larger homes, cars.

Rajendra Pachauri, cowinner of a Nobel Prize for his chairmanship of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warns that India's growing population can't afford increased consumption levels. "Awareness has to be raised in both the East and the West to deglamorize unsurvivable consumerism."

Europeans, Australians, and North Americans are representatives of the fourth stage of the model of demographic transition, where population is stable and aging. Fertility has fallen below replacement level and population is declining. Many aging nations introduce pro-natalist policies to keep their retired populace comfortably retired, supported by younger, working people. "But it's nutty," says Paul Ehrlich. "These highest-consuming populations are exactly the ones we need to allow to naturally shrink."

Four decades ago, Norman Borlaug warned in his Nobel acceptance speech that his Green Revolution would grant only a temporary respite from the issue of our own population: "There can be no permanent progress in the battle against hunger until the agencies that fight for increased food production and those that fight for population control unite in a common effort."

The trial ahead is to strike the delicate compromise: between fewer people, and more people with fewer needs...all within a new economy geared toward sustainability. doclink

Karen Gaia says: and now Iran has reversed its policy of promoting birth control.

Stress Levels of Major Global Aquifers Revealed by Groundwater Footprint Study

August 21, 2012, NewSecurityBeat

A study published in Nature finds that the "size of the global groundwater footprint is currently about 3.5 times the actual area of aquifers." An aquifer's footprint is the theoretical size it would need to be to sustainably support use at its current rate, so groundwater footprints being much larger than their corresponding aquifers is a sign of overuse.

Highlighted was overuse in six major aquifers: the Western Mexico, High Plains, North Arabian, Persian, Upper Ganges, and North China Plain.

Some aquifers are replenishable, like many in India, for example, but are being refilled more slowly than they are being drained. So-called "fossil aquifers" - are not replenishable, like the Ogallala aquifer in the midwestern United States and the Sana'a Basin in Yemen. Streams which once deposited water no longer reach them. Once water is depleted from the fossil aquifers, farmers must turn to other forms of irrigation or cease agricultural production altogether. Even before aquifers run dry, falling water tables increase the cost of irrigation by forcing farmers to drill deeper and deeper for access to water.

Yemen, for example, is using up water more quickly than it can be replenished, due to population growth and poor management. Experts predict the country will run out of water by 2025 - the first in the modern era.

Over-use is not universal. Many aquifers appear to be being used at sustainable rates, and some regions thought to be water scarce actually have enormous underground reserves, like those recently mapped in Africa. Then there are areas where water resources are ample, but there are limitations to its use. Northern Russia, for example, experiences harsh Siberian winters-- a natural limit to agricultural production.

The article also looks at how "bringing the world's agricultural yields to within 95% of their potential" would impact the groundwater of each region. Some experts predict food supplies will need to increase at least 70% by 2050 to meet the needs of an expanding and higher-consuming world population.

Unfortunately, many of the areas which have the most room to improve in capacity are already over-consuming groundwater, like the American Midwest, the Upper Ganges, the North China plain, and parts of Poland and Ukraine. These areas are the traditional global grain producers, but because of already-existing stress on their aquifers, "groundwater cannot be used sustainably to increase yields." doclink

In Niger, Child Marriage on Rise Due to Hunger

September 16, 2012, Silicone Valley Mercury News

51% of Niger children are stunted. One of three children die of hunger. Their graves dot the landscape.

One of every three girls in Niger marries before age 15, one of the highest birth-rates in the world. By marrying off their daughters at such young age, it's one less mouth to feed and it brings in a dowry from the groom's family, money desperately needed to feed the mouths of the many other hungry souls.

In the small hamlet of Hawkantaki (pop. 200), between the harvest of last year and this spring's planting, 9 of 10 girls between the ages of 11 & 15 were married or engaged. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Girls whose bodies have not yet developed have many more problems giving birth to a healthy baby. The problem is greatly magnified by malnourishment.

U.S.: Food Prices + Hunger Index = Riots, Civil Wars and Revolutions

September 17, 2012, Financial Sense   By: Russ Winter

Even in the U.S. the 48 million Americans qualifying for food stamps are affected. A 35% rise in prices for people already paying 30% of their income on food has the effect of triggering civil unrest.

Egypt is the world's largest wheat importer, with 60% of what it consumes from varied global sources, is highly vulnerable to rationing and steep prices.

Wheat prices might go up with the Fed's open-opended QE announcement. It aggravates the effect of the drought and encourages speculators to pile into commodities that are already facing rationing. The Bank of Japan reported that some of the big players are substituting foodstuffs and other commodities for near-zero-percent returns at the bank, the heightened interest in these commodities goes far beyond normal economic demand which will result in a massive misallocation of capital, resulting in global hunger and social-political instability. Indeed, this is Ben Bernanke's ultimate gesture to global food consumers. doclink

Early Death Assured in India Where 900 Million Don't Eat Enough

June 13, 2012, Business Week

While the death certificate said the 3-year-old died of malaria, his doctor said it was hunger that killed him ... "he would have died the first time he ever got really sick - - from malaria, diarrhea, anything." His mother had no food to give, nothing to sell so she could feed him.

Even as India's economy has almost doubled, there has been a three-decade collapse in the country's elemental struggle to feed its people. More than 75% of the 1.2 billion population eat less than minimum targets set by the government, up from about two-thirds in 1983.

In the 2005 India National Family Health Survey, found that 46% of 3-year-olds weighed too little for their ages. In 1999, that number was 47%. 79% of children had anemia, compared to 74% in 1999; 19% weighed too little for their height - up from 16%. Anemia prevents the absorption of nutrients; as do the diarrhea and other diseases caused by poor hygiene and sanitation.

India's hungry children are likely to have lower cognitive skills, grow up to be weakened workers, suffer from chronic illnesses and die prematurely, according to the United Nations Children's Fund.

21% of all Indians are undernourished, compared to 20% a decade ago.

In 1972, minimum daily intakes were set at 2,100 calories a day for city residents, and 2,400 calories in rural areas, on the basis that tilling fields, harvesting crops and drawing water require greater exertion. But rural Indians have seen their intake slide to 2,020 calories in 2010.

A National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau study showed the average rural calorie counts falling to about 1,900 in 2005 from 2,340 in 1979. Daily protein intake dropped to 49 grams (1.5 ounces) from 63 grams.

The global average is 77 grams, according to the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization. The worldwide average daily caloric intake is about 2,800 calories a day. doclink

Karen Gaia says: some people will claim that it is just a distribution problem, not a population problem, but in reality, there has been a hunger problem in India for decades and not much has been done about it. Also, suppose Americans gave the 800 million tons of grain used for livestock - and the 300 million tons of crops used for biofuel - to India, that would leave feed the 900 million and leave 200 million as excess. Unfortunately that 200 million would soon go to feed the next generation, and then there are the hungry people in Africa to think of too.

Why is Niger Starving? We Must Address Both Poverty and Population If We Are to Avoid Future Crises

May 22, 2012, Population Matters

More than six million people in landlocked Niger, and eighteen million across West Africa, currently face real hunger, according to the Save the Children. The immediate cause is a failed harvest caused by pest infections and erratic rainfall, following years of drought. This is made worse by high food prices, regional conflict, weak governments, child marriage and chronic poverty.

We should respond to the immediate crisis. However, this follows widespread food shortages in 2010 and 2005. Even before the current crisis, one in five children under two in Niger was malnourished. So, we also need to take action to prevent future crises. On one widely accepted measure of development, the United Nations Human Development Index, Niger ranks at 186 place, second from the bottom. It has the world's highest child mortality rate, due to poor nutrition and lack of heath and maternal education services. It also has the world's highest birth rate, with an average of 7.2 births per woman. The results have been dramatic. The population, only 2.5 million as recently as 1950, has increased six-fold in the last sixty years, and now stands at 15.5 million.

The future looks grim. Niger and West Africa as a whole are gravely exposed to the effects of climate change, which will increase the already high temperatures and make rainfall even less predictable. And with half the population under 15 years of age, the population will keep growing. The UN predicts that the population will grow a further three fold to 55 million by 2050 and nine fold by the end of the century to 139 million. Even this enormous increase is limited by the assumption that the birth rate will fall to two to three children per woman by that time.

In the most recent survey of Niger, only one in twenty women was using a modern contraceptive method and only one in ten was using any method at all. One in six women would like to delay or prevent another conception but had no access to family planning.

Commented Simon Ross, Population Matters chief executive: "Niger is an extreme case but the story is similar across many of the world's poorest countries. They face multiple issues and need help with development across the board. However, slowing population growth is critical. As we approach the Rio+20 Earth summit on sustainable development, we ask delegates to accept that only by funding the additional $3.6bn cost of meeting the unmet need for family planning and by promoting the case for smaller families, can we avoid future crises." doclink

Karen Gaia says: the cost of funding in developing countries comes to about $4.60 per woman or couple.

The Doughnut of Justice: a New Way to Think About Growth; Can We Live Within the Donut?

February 22, 2012, Grist Magazine

Kate Raworth, Senior Researcher at Oxfam Great Britain introduces her discussion paper "A Safe and Just Space for Humanity: can we live within the doughnut?"

Growth is a paradox: it seems to improve humanity's quality of life and drive ecological overshoot at the same time.

Economic growth leads to poverty reduction, better health, technological innovation, and (local) environmental improvement. On the other hand, it has pushed us into the red zone on climate and a number of other global ecological indicators. Humanity's lot steadily improves while biophysical systems are pushed closer to the edge.

How can we reconcile the two poles of growth? Researcher Kate Raworth of Oxfam International proposed a new framework for understanding how human development and ecological boundaries fit together. It looks like a doughnut, or a life preserver.

Around the outside ring are nine biophysical systems, identified by a team of scientists in a seminal study in Nature in 2009. Each system is involved in keeping planetary conditions in roughly the stable equilibrium they've been in during the time humanity developed agriculture and through present day. For each system, there is an "environmental ceiling" past which large and possibly irreversible changes may be triggered.

We are past the threshold of safety on three biophysical systems and heading toward it on several others.

Around the inside of the doughnut are 11 social indicators, which form a "social foundation." They are drawn from countries' submissions to the Rio+20 conference on sustainable development. It shows there is a long way to go to bring the world's expected 9 billion people up to a minimum standard of health and dignity.

In the "safe and just space for humanity," every human has access to at least a minimum level of dignity and health, but ecological overshoot is avoided. Good policy will raise up social indicators into the doughnut without pushing ecological indicators out of it, or vice versa. Bad policy will push one side at the expense of the other.

You might think there's no way for 9 billion people to be middle class without driving the planet off a cliff. But Raworth claims the following:

God could gather up resources in a big pile and parcel them out, putting 9 billion people in a decent state. But attempts at wholesale redistribution haven't worked out very well in the real world. Virtually all gains for the developing poor these days come in the context of economic growth that disproportionately benefits the wealthy and drives ecological overshoot. It might be possible in theory to have growth in living standards without ecological degradation, but thus far no country has pulled it off. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Excellent concept. However more detail needs to be supplied for the statement "13% of the world's population facing hunger would require just 1% of the current global food supply". Does this take into account the future population, like 8 billion in just 13 years? Does Raworth understand that arable land is running short?

Children Are Being Let Down by Lack of Family Planning

February 15, 2012, Population Matters

The recent Save the Children forecast on child hunger highlights the human cost of the world's failure to invest in reproductive health. The report forecast that half a billion children could grow up physically and mentally stunted over the next 15 years because they do not have enough to eat.

Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters, commented: "This report indicates the human cost of the current lack of family planning provision. Resource prices, including food, are rising, driven by growing human numbers and global industrialisation. This will increasingly put pressure on the world's poorest. Governments and the international community should put reproductive health at the heart of their development and sustainability programmes."

There are currently 215 million women with an unmet need for family planning, according to the Guttmacher Institute. These numbers could well rise substantially as the number of people entering their childbearing years continues to increase, particularly in Africa. doclink

A Life Free From Hunger

Save the Children

One in four of the world's children are stunted. In developing countries this figure is as high as one in three. That means their body and brain has failed to develop properly because of malnutrition.

Malnutrition is an underlying cause of the death of 2.6 million children each year - one-third of the global total of children's deaths.

Progress has been very slow, falling only 0.6% per year from 1990 to 2010.

80% of stunted children live in just 20 countries.

48% of children in India are stunted.

The poorest children In the poorest countries are twice as likely to be chronically malnourished than their richest counterparts.

Nigeria (1.6 million additional) and Tanzania (450,000 additional) and five other countries are expected to see an increase in numbers of stunted children by 2015. 450 million children will be expected to be affected by stunting in the next 15 years. Adults who were malnourished as children earn at least 20% less on average than those who weren't.

While the world has been experiencing years of financial turmoil, pervasive long-term malnutrition is slowly eroding the foundations of the global economy by destroying the potential of millions of children.

A combination of global trends - climate change, volatile food prices, economic uncertainty and demographic shifts - is putting future progress on tackling malnutrition at risk. By mid-2013, it will already be too late to make a difference to the last generation of children who will reach their second birthday - a crucial nutrition milestone - by the 2015 deadline for the eight Millennium Development Goals, six of which are dependent in part on tackling malnutrition.

Malnutrition is an underlying cause of more than a third of children's deaths - 2.6 million every year.

Long-term malnutrition causes devastating and irreversible damage. Lack of nutritious food, coupled with infection and illness, means their bodies and brains don't develop properly. Most are too short for their age, they are likely to enroll at school later and to do less well academically. Iodine deficiency, for example, affects one-third of schoolchildren in developing countries and is associated with a loss of 10-15 IQ points. Stunted children are predicted to earn an average of 20% less when they become adults.

It's estimated that 2-3% of the national income of a country can be lost to malnutrition.

If current trends continue, the lives of more than 450 million children globally will be affected by stunting in the next 15 years.

The world has enough food for everyone, so putting an end to the hunger and malnutrition crisis is the right thing to do.

Improving child nutrition and reducing levels of child mortality can lead to smaller families and more sustainable societies. When children are healthier and more likely to survive, and when parents have access to voluntary family planning methods, many parents will choose to have fewer children, further apart, and to invest in the children who now survive. An added benefit is the reduction in population growth over the long term.

In 2008 the Lancet medical journal identified a package of 13 direct interventions - such as vitamin A and zinc supplements, iodised salt, and the promotion of healthy behaviour, including handwashing, exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices- that were proven to have an impact on the nutrition and health of children and mothers. This cost-effective and affordable package could prevent the deaths of almost 2 million children under five in the 36 countries that are home to 90% of the world's malnourished children, but public policy decisions and chronic under-investment in the health services needed to deliver them have hampered success.

Fortification (adding vitamins and minerals) of staple foods during production or through breeding crops that are more nutritious can benefit an entire population. Fortified food products for 6-24-month-old and the addition of micronutrient powders to traditional foods both show promise.

At a cost of just over US$1 per person per year, the World Bank has estimated that more than 4 billion people would be able to benefit from access to fortified wheat, iron, complementary food and micronutrient powders.

Poverty is one of the main underlying causes of malnutrition. A significant proportion of families in communities in Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Kenya could not afford to feed their families a nutritious diet even if they spent all of their income on food. Providing cash or food can be the best solution.

The global system by which food is produced, distributed and consumed is currently failing to meet the nutritional needs of much of the world's population. Investing in small farmers and female farmers is key - three-quarters of Africa's malnourished children live on small farms and 43% of agricultural work is carried out by women. Success depends on ensuring local markets are accessible and functioning; on improving education about nutrition; and on investing in better research and evidence. This challenge is especially urgent at a time when the world's food system is under threat from global trends, such as population growth and climate change.

The number of children not making it to their fifth birthday has fallen from 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2011. Momentum is building - in 2011 world leaders made critical progress on immunisation by pledging to vaccinate 250 million children by 2015, saving 4 million lives, and 40 countries committed to filling the 3.5 million health workers gap. At the same time we must accelerate efforts to improve nutrition, which holds the key to further progress in saving children's lives. a life free from hunger

• Of countries with reliable data, Madagascar has the highest stunting rate, with over half of children being stunted.

• The World Bank predicts an increase in poverty as families face a triple squeeze from falling incomes and remittances, rising costs, and shrinking public expenditure, including aid.

Save the Children works in more than 120 countries. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I am not sure the world has enough food. We are reaching our carrying capacity.

Drought in West Africa Threatens Millions

January 27, 2012, Globe and Mail

In the Sahel region, Niger, Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Chad, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Nigeria are suffering failed harvests and lack of rain, affecting millions of people, with up to 500,000 on the brink of starvation.

The crisis is made worse by rising food prices and the return of 200,000 migrant workers to West Africa because of the civil wars in Libya and Ivory Coast. These workers are no longer able to send money home from their foreign jobs.

Now the question is whether the world's wealthy nations will respond in time - or whether they will repeat the disaster of the Somalia famine last year, when early warnings were ignored for nearly a year and thousands died needlessly before massive aid was finally sent.

The Sahel is a vast, sprawling, arid region, with villages often in remote and inaccessible places, making it difficult to distribute food to them.

Unlike Somalia, the Sahel is not in the grip of war, and it is not controlled by a militant group blocking aid from reaching much of Somalia.

UNICEF says it needs $100-million this year to save the lives of 500,000 children in the Sahel. It wants to provide food to a million people in the region, and so far it only has the resources to feed half of them.

David Gressly, the regional director of UNICEF in West Africa said: "Everyone has learned a lesson from the Horn of Africa famine. We're acting much more quickly this time. We're going to react in time and save a large number of lives."

The latest UNICEF surveys have forecast that more than a million children will suffer acute malnutrition in the Sahel crisis. As many as 60% of malnourished children can die in a food crisis, but the death rate in the Sahel could be higher than usual because the region has still not recovered from a serious drought in 2010.

Climate change is believed to be one of the reasons for the rising number of food crises in the Sahel, but high fertility rates and rising populations are contributing to the problem by putting huge pressure on the Sahel's arid farmland, which can't support many people.

Niger, for example, endured devastating droughts in 2005, 2010, and again this year. "The death rates could be higher this time because households are still under stress. It takes households that are on the edge and it pushes them over the edge. We've seen families starting to withdraw their children from school as a coping mechanism," Gressly said.

Emergency aid for the Sahel should be followed by long-term programs to strengthen the communities and help them prevent such crises in the future. It costs $80 a day to treat a malnourished child, yet it would have cost only $1 a day to prevent the child's malnutrition if the money had been invested in development programs in advance. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Borrowing a comment from a previous article: "If you do the math, if you have a family of twelve and you can afford to feed them all, then you are not over populated; whereas if you have a family of three and you can only feed one of them, then you are over populated."

We can bring in development in the future, but until that is done, and until that is enough to feed everyone, overpopulation is a fact.

Furthermore, if the development is built on an unsustainable platform, such as the green revolution, then overpopulation remains a fact, and is the worst kind of overpopulation, especially if no effort has been made to bring family planning to famlies.

Feeding a Hotter, More Crowded Planet

August 12, 2011, NPR

In an interview by Ira Flatow with Lester Brown, author of "World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse, and president of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, it was reported that nearly a billion people worldwide don't have reliable access to food, according to United Nations estimates, and some experts worry climate change will drive that number even higher.

While the American Southwest is beginning to resemble the Dust Bowl of the Depression, cotton crops have crumbled, and it hasn't rained much in over a year, the situation is even worse in East Africa where droughts have devastated harvests, and over 11 million people there are at risk of starvation.

Climate models predict that extreme weather events, including droughts and floods, will become more common, threatening farmers' ability to produce reliable harvests. And the farmers will need to produce more of it because by the year 2050, there will be another two billion people on the planet, meaning we'll have over nine billion mouths to feed.

Brown reports that the issue has become more urgent. Crop ecologists have established that, for each one-degree Celsius rise in temperature, you can expect a 10% decline in grain yields. For example, Russia last summer had an extended heat wave and drought that cost them about 40% of their grain harvest.

More importantly, today's agricultural system evolved over an 11,000-year period of rather remarkable climate stability and is designed to maximize production with that climate system. But now that climate is changing, with each passing year, the agricultural system is more and more out of sync with the climate system.

Last year world grain stocks were drawn-down by about 40 million tons, leading to the price run-up that began late last summer. It was hoped that this year, we'd be able to rebuild stocks. But with this heat wave in the United States this year, we find that we're not only not going to be able to rebuild stocks from this year's harvest, but we're going to fall short again, and world grain stocks are going to drop further.

In addition, yesterday's estimate of the world grain harvest by the U.S. Department of Agriculture of this year's world grain harvest indicates that prices for wheat and corn, soybeans, everything is going to be even higher than they thought a month ago.

Gerald Nelson, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in D.C., reports that certainly there are indications that some parts of the world have seen pretty substantial negative effects from climate change. In Europe the yield increases that came out of the productivity work of the biologists were basically taken up by the recent higher temperatures.

While the United States managed to avoid that particular temperature increase pattern over the last few years, there are several climate models that suggest that U.S. agriculture, as well, will be hard-hit by climate change.

Gawain Kripke, the policy director of Oxfam America in Washington said they were very concerned about the food security outlook. There is a growing demand with growing population and higher incomes around the world. But agriculture productivity seems to have flattened out over the last several decades. So we don't know if our technology and our techniques are up to the challenge.

Oxfam commissioned some modeling which found that under normal circumstances, food prices are likely to increase - food commodity prices are likely to increase somewhere about 50% from now to 2030. Add the impacts of climate change and we may see food prices that might be as high as 100% higher than they are now.

Poor people spend a lot of their income on food, and if they can't afford food, they go hungry or have to sacrifice other things.

Lester Brown reported that the U.S. government is no longer paying farmers not to grow food and farmers everywhere are going full-out. There are a number of countries where grain yields, which have been increasing for decades, are no longer increasing. Rice yield per acre in Japan has been flat now for 14 years and China's may be flattening out. Wheat yields in countries like France and Germany and the U.K. are flattening out. Farmers would like to keep raising their yields, but in some countries, there are no new technologies now allowing them to do that.

In addition there are spreading water shortages. Half of us now live in countries where water tables are falling as a result of over-pumping for irrigation. And that includes China, India and the United States - the big three grain producers - along with a number of other smaller countries, many of them in the Arab Middle East.

Water is emerging as a major constraint on efforts to expand food production.

In addition, it takes 1,000 tons of water to produce one ton of grain, so countries who need water, import grain, which is a way of importing water.

Gerald Nelson told the audience that the IR8, which was the first of the green revolution rices in India grown in ideal conditions in the summertime when there's no clouds, yields - yielded about 8 to 9 metric tons per hectare. Today, the best rice yields from the International Rice Institute for the new varieties are on the same order of magnitude, slightly less. So we haven't been able to improve the yield on rice.

On the other hand, in Africa, farmers have been under fertilizing their crop land, so there is a potential to increase yields substantially in Africa. Farmers need policies that set food prices high enough that they can afford fertilizer, and building an infrastructure such as roads and ports so that the food can be moved.

When climate change blooms with higher temperature, more evaporation leads to more precipitation. The amount of irrigation in Africa is small, so there is potential for an improvement in the water situation.

While 9 billion people were predicted by mid-century, Lester Brown doubts we're going to see nine billion. Unless we accelerate the shift to smaller families, the trend that started when the number of hungry people bottomed out at about 825 million and then rose up close to a billion where it is today has nothing to reverse it. That's one of the disturbing things about the food outlook at the moment.

Brown also said: "The grain it takes to fill a 25-gallon SUV tank with ethanol will feed one person for a year at average world consumption levels. So the idea that fuel from grain is going to save us from oil depletion is not - it doesn't really have any basis in reality." We need to free up the grain that's being used for fuel now and accelerate the shift to the electrification of our transport system to all electric cars and plug-in hybrids. We have more than enough wind to satisfy electricity needs worldwide and also to run cars on it. So we don't have to use grain to fuel our cars.

Gawain Kripke noted that the equatorial regions is where you find the poorest countries and the most vulnerable people are also where you - where likely climate impacts are likely to be the worst for agricultural productivity.

Gerald Nelson thought that every farmer in the world is going to have to adapt to climate change in one way or another. There's nothing we can do today to stop climate change in the next few years. We can slow it down, and we really need to start slowing it down now. The bulk of farmers in the world will see lower yields, and in some cases substantially lower yields as a result of climate change.

Researchers have a lot of work to do to get the varieties right so that the farmers can maintain their productivity in a situation where they've got higher temperatures, changes in precipitation.

More people will be located in what we call the developing world today will have higher incomes. And so they're going to want more quantity and also more quality of food.

The FAO estimated that a 70% increase in crop production was needed to feed so many people. But there are some areas of flexibility in the system as it currently exists. And with good concerted effort, which I'm not sure we'll have, I think we can deal with the climate change outcomes that we're likely to see between now and 2050.

But if we don't slow greenhouse gas emissions now, then we're going to see temperature increases that we've never seen as a species as we move towards the 21st century. No matter how much you work on plants to increase their tolerance to heat, you're going to run out of room. And we may be pushing those limits by the time we get to the 21st century.

Also, as a part of the higher temperatures we'll get sea level rise both from just heating of the oceans and therefore some parts of the world that are productive today won't be, the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam, for example, or the Nile River Delta I in Egypt. And the glacial melt resulting from higher temperature means that the water storage that exists there that feeds the great rivers of South Asia will disappear. We could in theory replace them with dams but that would be a tremendously expensive.

Ira Flatow mentioned the old adage that world hunger problem is not one of quantity, it is one of distribution. It just doesn't get to the people who need it, but Lester Brown answered that people who don't have the income and the purchasing power are going to have trouble producing it, have trouble getting enough food. Those who live on family plots of land that are divided and subdivided again with each generation, now have plots so small that they can't make a living on it. It sounds as though there's some easy way of solving it by just distributing it differently. But the market does most of the distribution, and the market is not kind to people who have low incomes, particularly when they're spending 50% to 70% of their income on food and the price of food doubles.

Gerald Nelson pointed out that we really need to focus our efforts on the poorest and most vulnerable people - not just in distributing food but in making sure that they have the means of production, the ability to grow their own food and have livelihoods so they can access food.

Gawain Kripke added: with prices going up, there is a new interest in agriculture. But in Africa, you see these farmers working very, very hard with very little productivity because they're not getting the basics of agricultural productivity. So the international community can help a lot. There's a big role for international institutions like the World Bank and also for NGOs and individuals to try to and make a difference.

Lester Brown related that genetically modified foods have reduced insecticide use and made varieties that are resistant to herbicides, which is a mixed situation. "But what we do not have yet from genetic modification is any dramatic advance in yields for any of the major crops like wheat or corn or rice, nor do I think we will because traditional plant breeders had already done most of the things we could think of to do to raise grain yields."

Gerald Nelson pointed out that there are GM efforts to convert rice from what's called a C3 crop to a C4 crop, which is more effective in terms of its utilization of CO2, but also in terms of its water use efficiency, and also efforts to increase the amount of sunlight that can be utilized by the plant to convert it to useful plant material, but we should not count on those in the near term. Also in Africa there is need for a genetically modified version of maize that would deal with a parasitic plant called strigawould, raising their effective yields to two to three to four times.

President Obama has launched a new initiative to try to really invest more in the productivity of small producers around the world, and many other international institutions are taking up the banner. But we're all facing budget cuts at the moment and - so it's not clear that that initiative is really going to deliver much in terms of new resources. doclink

Millions Stare Death in the Face Amidst Ravaging Drought in the Horn of Africa

July 18, 2011, InterPress Service

Refugees fleeing the drought in Somalia take on average nine days in 50-degree Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) heat to travel the 80 kilometres of sandy desert Dadaab in Northern Kenya. They travel through territories of lawlessness where armed bandits and even police harass the refugees.

When they reach Dadaab, they reach a country where an estimated five million people are facing starvation because of drought, according to Abbas Gullet, the secretary general of the Kenyan Red Cross. In the northern part of Kenya, the local Turkana community is facing starvation, just like the refugees at Dadaab.

Of about 850,000 people in Turkana, more than 385,000 children and 90,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women are suffering from acute malnutrition, says UNICEF. This has increased the number of new admissions of children suffering from malnutrition to 78%.

Across the entire Horn of Africa) more than 10 million people are affected and two million children are affected, with half a million of the children suffering from severe acute malnutrition and (many are) on the brink of death," according to UNICEF. doclink

The Great Indian Paradox

April 30, 2011, Population Institute

Can India's impressive economic growth keep pace with the needs and demands of a still rapidly growing population?

Its population has reached the 1.2 billion mark, and by 2025 is projected to surpass China at 1.4 billion. Despite a continuing decline in fertility rate, India's population may not stabilize until 2050 or later.

Being the most populous nation is not as important as whether or not India's population growth will overtake its ability to feed its people, and whether its continued prosperity is sustainable.

India's per capita availability of cereal grains was 423 grams per day in 2000, but only 407 in 2009. And in recent months, India - like many other nations in Asia - has been fighting a furious battle with food inflation.

While India's grain reserves remain ample, domestic food prices in India have increased at a double-digit rate, straining the budgets of the urban poor, many of whom live on less than $1.25 a day. Many experts believe that the current rise in food prices is a sign of an emerging and chronic global food crisis.

India's farmers face falling water levels, declining runoff from melting glaciers, loss of farmland to urbanization, the effects of climate change, and the ever rising price of fuel and fertilizer.

A lot depends on the welfare and status of women and girls. If girls can be kept in schools longer, if the age of marriage can be delayed, and if girls and women can be given the access they want to family planning and reproductive health services, then India's future is more promising.

But the treatment of girls and women in rural India, particularly in the north, while improved in recent decades, still has a long ways to go. Now couples are often electing to abort girl fetuses, skewing the sex ratio. And between birth and age four, girls die at a rate that is about one-third higher than boys.

Experts are hopeful that by raising public awareness, enlisting the support of news and entertainment media, and working at the community level to cultivate the leadership of women, rapid gains can be made.

If India's quest for continued prosperity is overtaken by a global food crisis, it's not just India's urban poor that will suffer, the whole world will suffer. And much depends on whether India-and the rest of the world-can continue to improve the welfare and status of girls and women. doclink

Food Price Hikes Could Push Millions to Poverty

April 14, 2011, CNN Money

Global food prices have reached near record highs, and the World Bank has warned that further spikes could push millions more people deeper into poverty. The Bank's global food price index was up 36% in March from levels a year earlier. The increase was driven by sharp boosts in prices for corn, wheat, soybeans and other staples. The index hovers near its 2008 peak.

Already 44 million people have been driven below the "extreme poverty line," which the World Bank defines as living on just $1.25 a day. Another 10% increase in food prices would result in another 10 million people to fall below the poverty line, while a 30% spike would lead to 34 million more poor.

Crops in many parts of the world have been damaged by bad weather, including a major drought that led Russia to issue an export ban on wheat. And Canada, Australia and Argentina were also hit last year.

Food prices have also been pushed higher recently by rising energy costs, as oil prices spiked above $100 a barrel. Oil is needed to produce and transport agricultural goods.

In addition, higher oil prices have encouraged many farmers to increase production of crops used for biofuels, such as corn. Global maize prices were up 74% in March versus last year.

"The linkage between food and fuel is much tighter than it was ten years ago," said World Bank president Robert Zoellick.

In addition, increased interest by investors in agricultural commodities as "an investment class" has also contributed to the rise in food prices, he said.

Also rising prosperity in emerging economies such as China has increased demand for more expensive foodstuffs, including meat and pork, which has pushed up prices for feed stocks.

"With food prices, we are at a real tipping point," said Zoellick.

He said the G-20 is working towards a "code of conduct" on export bans, which may have exacerbated the increase in wheat prices; and the G-20 could also do more to increase food production and help developing countries manage agricultural risks. doclink

Karen Gaia says: No mention of increased demand for food due to a growing population, or of Peak Oil, also due to a growing population.

Food Prices Continue to Rise, Worsening the Food Crisis

April 8, 2011, Population Institute

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported in early March that food prices reached another record high, as the price of basic food staples continued to soar.

Wwheat and coffee prices doubled in the past 12 months, cocoa jumped 25% in two months and dairy prices were also up sharply. Unless crop conditions improve food prices could continue to rise.

The food crisis has contributed to the political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East.

"Although the recent price spikes are partially the result of short-term factors - droughts, floods, speculative investing, low reserves, and hoarding- food prices are likely to remain high as rising demand runs into supply constraints. While higher food prices will have a negative effect everywhere, they will have a particularly devastating impact on the poor, who already spend a large part of their incomes on sustenance and will be forced to spend more," warned John Bongaarts, the former chief demographer for the U.N. doclink

This makes the fourth year in a row that around a billion people are 'undernourished'.

UN 'Concerned' by World Population Growth Trends

February 3, 2011, BBC News

A new report, "World Demographic Trends", from the UN Population Division, says: to have a reasonable chance of stabilising world population, and to avoid reaching unsustainable levels, fertility must drop to below "replacement level" and then be maintained at that level for an extended period.

Replacement level is the fertility level at which a population replaces itself from one generation to the next. In high mortality countries it is 2.5 children per woman and in low mortality countries it is 2.1 children per woman.

The world population is already poised to reach 7 billion later this year and this figure potentially could double to 14 billion by 2100 if action is not taken.

"Even countries with intermediate fertility need to reduce it to replacement level or below if they wish to avoid reaching unsustainable population levels." End QuoteHania ZlotnikDirector, UN Population Division

The least developed countries in the world are growing at the fastest rate and are already the most vulnerable to famine.

In the medium range scenario, world population peaks at 9.4 billion in 2070 and then starts to decline.

In recent years, there has been widespread acceptance of the medium scenario as almost a certainty but there is "no guarantee that this scenario will become a reality because high-fertility countries may not reduce their fertility fast enough and countries with intermediate fertility levels may see them stagnate above replacement level".

"Even countries with intermediate fertility need to reduce it to replacement level or below if they wish to avert continuous population increases to unsustainable levels."

Even relatively small deviations from replacement-level fertility can lead to dramatic changes in the size of the world population. The high scenario, where fertility remains mostly between 2.2 and 2.3 children per woman, would lead to a world population of nearly 30 billion in 2300.

"Even with significant fertility reductions, Africa's population will likely increase by 150% by 2100 and many of its countries will see their populations increase four-fold or more," warns the report.

Considerable effort over the next few decades is required to make sufficient fertility reduction a reality. doclink

One Billion Go Hungry on World Food Day 2010

Optimum Population Trust

Today, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates there are nearly one billion hungry people.

Despite the decades of technological improvement in farming methods, the prediction by Malthus that food supply would not keep pace with population growth remains relevant. Demand for food is continuing to grow through both population growth and changing consumption patterns, as developing countries adopt western style diets containing more processed food and meat.

By contrast, supply of food depends mainly on agricultural land which is steadily being lost to development, desertification and overexploitation.

Modern intensive agriculture is also increasingly vulnerable due to its dependence on high levels of oil and water inputs, inputs which cannot be relied upon in the long term as oil reserves run down, natural underground water reservoirs become depleted and water supplies from glacier fed rivers declines.

Climate change is also likely increasingly to affect rainfall and other key weather patterns, creating a further vulnerability. This year's fires in Russia and floods in Pakistan indicate the impact extreme weather patterns can have.

The price spikes in key food commodities in recent years have led some countries to ban food exports for a period, showing that food supplies can be disrupted, leading to widespread suffering in developing countries and mounting concern in countries such as the UK relying on imports for its food supplies. Increasing land purchases in developing countries by wealthier nations is an indicator of that concern but also creates the potential for future conflict.

The UN median projection is for the world population to grow from under 7 billion now to over 9 billion by 2050. We believe that reducing and ultimately reversing this population growth must be considered alongside other strategies for addressing global hunger. The Optimum Population Trust therefore welcomes the recent UN led and UK supported initiatives to improve reproductive health in the developing world and help those 215 million women who currently lack access to modern contraceptive methods. doclink

Food: the Population Connection

Population Institute

Ten years ago, many experts were confident that we could, by 2015, reduce the number of chronically hungry people in the world by half, but last year the number of hungry people in the world crossed the one billion mark for the first time in history. Four years ago, virtually no one was predicting that the prices of corn and wheat would double in the next two years, and that rice prices would triple, but they did. In June of this year, with ample food reserves, no one was anticipating that wheat and corn prices would jump by 50 percent or more in the next four months, but they did. doclink

Kenya: UN Agency Sounds Alarm on Dire Food Situation

August 25, 2009, UN News Centre

Failed rains have led to a hunger crisis in Kenya, the United Nations food agency warned, appealing for $230 million to feed nearly 4 million Kenyans - nearly one-tenth of the African nation's population.

The Kenya director of the World Food Programme (WFP) said: "People are already going hungry, malnutrition is preying on more and more young children, cattle are dying". The WFP is supplying 2.6 million Kenyans with food aid and hopes to increase that number by 1.2 million. Pasture and water for livestock is quickly dwindling.

Many parts of Kenya have experienced three or even four consecutive seasons of failed rains. The Government expects the main maize harvest to fall nearly one-third below the five-year average.

Acute malnutrition rates among children under the age of five are over 20% in some areas. "WFP is aiming to help almost 1 in every 10 Kenyans to cope with this serious crisis but we can't do it without money."

The agency also hopes the influx of funds will allow it to expand its school feeding programme by 100,000 to reach almost 1.2 million children, currently the Kenyan government is providing meals to 500,000 young people.

WFP said it wants to provide food aid to 108 million people in 74 countries this year, but is experiencing funding shortfalls, including over $160 million for Somalia and nearly $100 million for Ethiopia, with an unprecedented $3 billion total budget shortfall this year, while $6.7 billion is needed. doclink

Letter to Andrew Revkin's Blog at the New York Times

New York Times*

The single biggest problem is global inequality. A "fortress" world is evolving before our eyes. Outside the fortress live people in Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Darfur. So do many tribal and minority populations. The very poorest of the global population is almost silent.

The FAO estimated that the number of people living with daily hunger is now almost one billion people. These people do not consume enough calories to work hard. Almost all of the very poor will also have been deficient in micronutrients since conception. They lack education, and lack the capacity to learn well, due not only to tiredness, but to brain damage because of chronic nutrient deficiency.

These people have the lowest control over their fertility. They have the highest birthrates, and the lowest life expectancy. It is likely that hundreds of millions of these additional people will remain locked in intractable poverty.

If the US administration can transfer some of its immense military spending towards a global campaign of hope not only for the poor but for the world as a whole. Could it not be that the pirates of Somalia, the oil raiders of Ogoniland, and even many suicide bombers are the forerunners of people attacking those within the fortress? doclink

As Indian Growth Soars, Child Hunger Persists

March 13, 2009, New York Times

Even after a decade of economic growth, child malnutrition rates are worse in India than in many countries, and stand out as a paradox in a proud democracy.

China reduced child malnutrition, and now just 7% of its children under 5 are underweight. In India, the comparable number is 42.5%. Malnutrition makes children prone to illness and stunts physical and intellectual growth.

Economists and public health experts say malnutrition rates point to a central failing of the poor. Hunger was not enough of a political priority. India's public expenditure on health remains low, and in some places, financing for child nutrition remains unspent.

Ignoring the needs of the poor altogether does spell political peril in India, helping to topple parties in the last elections.

India's sluggish and sometimes corrupt bureaucracy has only haltingly put in place simple solutions such as iodizing salt, or making sure all children are immunized against preventable diseases.

India runs the largest child feeding program in the world, but it is inadequately designed, and has made barely a dent in the ranks of sick children in the past 10 years.

The $1.3 billion Integrated Child Development Services program finances a network of soup kitchens in urban slums and villages.

But providing adequate nutrition to pregnant women and children under 2 years old is crucial and the Indian program has not homed in on them adequately. Many women here remain in ill health and are ill fed; they are prone to giving birth to low-weight babies and not to be aware of how best to feed them.

At one nursery the teacher was a no-show. At another, there were no children; instead, a few adults sauntered up with their lunch pails. At a third, the nursery worker said that 13 children and 13 lactating mothers had already come to claim their servings, and that now she would have to fill the bowls of whoever came along. "Otherwise, they will curse us."

None of the centers had a scale to weigh children and to identify the vulnerable ones. The nurseries were largely missing the needs of those most at risk: children under 2, for whom the feeding centers offered a ration of flour and ground lentils, containing none of the micronutrients a vulnerable infant needs.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development acknowledged that the program had yielded some gains in the past 30 years, but the impact on physical growth and development has been "rather slow." The report recommended fortifying food with micronutrients and educating parents on how to better feed their babies.

India remains home to more than a fourth of the world's hungry, 230 million people. Anemia is on the rise among rural women of childbearing age in eight states. Women are often the last to eat in their homes and unlikely to eat well or rest during pregnancy.

Childhood anemia, a barometer of poor nutrition in a lactating mother's breast milk, is three times higher in India than in China.

Serious rates of hunger persisted across Indian states that had posted enviable rates of economic growth in recent years. In the capital, which has the highest per-capita income in the country, 42.2% of children under 5 are stunted, or too short for their age, and 26% are underweight. 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. 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.

Rising Food Costs Further Pressure World Hunger

Wall Street Journal

The soaring cost of food increased the number of hungry people in the world by 122 million and threatens to swell the malnourished population for a decade.

According to USDA, 982 million people were hungry last year, up 14% from 2006. A year ago, USDA predicted food insecurity would shrink in every region except sub-Saharan Africa.

In the new assessment USDA project that the number of malnourished will climb to 1.2 billion by 2017.

The report warns that the hunger fight is running out of steam in Asia. Food riots have broken out in several poor countries.

The West's food-aid programs will come under increasing strain. Rich nations donated an average of 7.4 million metric tons of food aid annually. The food gap will total 54.8 million metric tons by 2017.

The biofuels boom in the U.S. and the Asian middle class's appetite for meat have drained world grain stockpiles. Since January all crop prices climbed 44%.

Scientists argue over how much food people need to survive. The USDA uses the phrase "food insecure" even though in earlier reports it was people consuming less than 2,100 calories daily. doclink

Ralph says: More people ----more hunger.

Pakistan: New Plan for Child Protection Mapped Out

July 3, 2007, Daily Times

The National Plan of Action (NPA) intends to reduce the infant mortality rate from 74-98 to 30-42 per 1,000 live births and the maternal mortality rate from 350-400 to 133 per 100,000 by 2015. Deaths can be prevented if the mothers and children are properly fed. Over 35% children under five were short for their age, over 10% underweight for their height, while over 50% were anaemic. New programmes have begun to improve healthcare facilities for children. The net enrollment rate in primary schools was 52%, retention rate 61%, while the gender gap in rural areas was significant. The NPA aims at child protection from all situations, like trafficking and abduction. It will ease the plight of children who live under difficult circumstances and ensure registration of every child at birth. Over 173,000 children under the age of five died from diarrhoea annually, while a child suffered 16 annual attacks of diarrhoea at an average.

21% children weigh below 2,500 grammes at the time of birth. This is the second plan of its kind after the first one failed. The government has set a target to reduce malnutrition among children less than five by at least 1/3 of the current rate, with special attention to children below two years of age. The target is to provide safe drinking water to 95% of the population and hygienic sanitation facilities to 82% by 2015. It aims to reduce HIV among people aged 15-24 by 25% by 2008 and 50% by 2015. This will reduce the number of infants infected with HIV by almost the same percentage. doclink

Karen Gaia: In the U.S., 50% of children are shorter than average, and 50% are taller than average. 50% weigh less than the average, and 50% weigh more. That is what average means. They must be using a different way of measuring malnutrition in this study.

Malnutrition a Silent Emergency - UNICEF

February 27, 2007, Africa News Service

Malnutrition among children under 5 in Djibouti is well above the emergency threshold and the situation is alarming. A survey attributed the poor nutritional status infants and children mainly to frequent droughts, high unemployment and food prices that were beyond the means of most people. Global acute malnutrition rate had risen to 20.4% compared with 17.9% in 2002. A nutrition project launched in February 2006 by the government and its partners had helped reduce mortality rates among the severely malnourished from 11 to 6.7% through supplementary feeding programmes.

A sound food security policy encompassing recurring drought and poverty was needed.

The government has set up a committee to formulate a national food security policy with the help of UN and donor agencies.

The decline in dietary intake combined with poor water and sanitation conditions and poor healthcare contributed to the increase in rates of malnutrition. Pastoral livelihoods had declined because of successive droughts, and would take several years and intensive programes to recover.

Two-thirds of Djibouti's estimated 800,000 people live below the poverty line; 10% in extreme poverty with 60% unemployment.

Infant mortality in urban areas is 68 per 1,000 compared with 54 per 1,000 in rural areas. The national under-five mortality rate is 94 per 1,000.

Malnutrition was highest among children 12-23 months, because that was when children are weaned from maternal milk and exposed to contaminated water, food and environment.

Since the data was collected, adequate rainfall in rural areas where the malnutrition rates were the highest has improved livestock conditions and thus improved rural food security. doclink

India: Child Nutrition Campaign Fails

January 22, 2007, BBC News

The Indian Prime minister warned that malnutrition rates for children in his country remain among the highest in the world and a massive programme to improve health and nutrition had failed.

A UN report said that half of the world's under-nourished children live in South Asia, with most in India.

Some 50 million children aged six and below are supposed to be covered under the 45bn-rupee ($1bn) ICDS scheme.

The situation calls for urgent action.

A further 110m children in the 0-6 age group remain outside the programme, which was meant to expand gradually.

Last year UNICEF said that the average malnutrition rate in some Indian states was 40%, higher than sub-Saharan Africa. A recent survey said that the number of undernourished children below the age of three had risen in some states since the late 1990s.

The ICDS scheme is one of the biggest childcare efforts in the world, providing immunisations, supplementary food and medical check-ups for pregnant women.

It is implemented by thousands of state-funded community workers in poor, rural areas. But efforts to provide nutritious food to children have been marred by corruption. India's economy has grown at over 8% over the past three years and is expected to expand close to 9% in the fiscal year ending March 2007.

But close to 300m Indians still live on less than $1 (44 rupees) a day. doclink

Half of Indian Kids Malnourished

December 19, 2006, Times of India

India's children, especially girls, are faced with lack of educational opportunities, malnourishment, infant mortality and early marriages.

Every second child under 5 years is malnourished.

The all-India average for malnourished children is 47% and the situation is unlikely to change.

Prosperous states have seen a rise in the number of malnourished children with an increase of 2% between 1991-2001. The high infant mortality rate is worse than Pakistan, China, Brazil and even Nigeria.

The all-India average is 58 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births.

Children also lack educational opportunities.

Literacy rate among girls from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is 42% and 35% respectively, lower than Muslim girls who have a literacy rate of 50%.

Only 30 of 100 girls who enter school complete their primary education.

The worst offenders are Bihar 33%, Arunachal Pradesh 33.4%, Sikkim 37.2% and Rajasthan 38.2%, the all-India average is 55.6%.

In Meghalaya female literates between 11-13 are much more than their male counterparts.

In Rajasthan, 41% girls get married between 15-19 while in Punjab, the proportion of girls married before 18 has risen from 12% to 19% 1999 to 2006. doclink

Killer Drought Forcing Kenyan Women Into Prostitution

January 13, 2006, Agence France-Presse

A searing drought across east Africa is forcing poor Kenyan women and children into prostitution. Shortages of food and water have sent prices skyrocketing for staples amid fears of a catastrophic famine. At least 40 people, mainly children. have already died of drought-related malnutrition and associated illnesses, as have thousands of livestock. 2.5 million people are expected to need food aid to survive. But extreme hunger may lead to an jump in Kenya's high HIV infection rate as women turn to prostitution. Several groups said there had been an increase in the number of sex workers along highways and streets. More and more girls are standing at the road side, many not even 13. Food reserves have run out and mothers can no longer afford to feed their children. Such prostitution accounts for between 10,000 and 20,000 new HIV infections a year. Parents are unable to provide for their families, children cannot go to school because parents have lost their source of livelihood. Now children have to contribute to the welfare of the family and the only way out is for the girl-children to venture into prostitution. About 7% of Kenya's 32 million are estimated to be infected with HIV and AIDS has killed about 1.5 million in Kenya since 1984 but the fear of the disease was not detering women from prostitution as they are faced with equally dismal prospects of dying from hunger. doclink

Ralph says: A sad sign of overpopulation that will only incrase with the growing population.

Bionic Growth For Biotech Crops; Gene-Altered Agriculture Trending Global

January 12, 2006, Washington Post

Since genetically modified crops were planted a decade ago, the acreage worldwide has been growing, last year jumping 11% to 222 million acres. The crops are gaining in countries such as China, India and Brazil, with small cotton farmers embracing a technology that allows them to grow more cotton while reducing the use of pesticides. Rice could be on the verge of a transformation. Iran has commercialized gene-altered rice and China is ready to do so. Widespread acceptance could put crop biotechnology into the hands of the millions of small rice farmers who grow nearly half the calories eaten by the human race. Commercialization of rice that has been genetically altered to resist insects has implications for alleving poverty, hunger and malnutrition for all biotech crops and their acceptance on a global basis. Proponents welcomed the findings saying it demonstrates their usefulness for farmers and society. But two groups attacked the new report disputing the impact of gene-altered crops noting that the technology is concentrated in a handful of countries, with the US, Argentina, Canada and Brazil accounting for 90% of the world's biotech acreage. The technology is used in mainly cotton, corn, soy and canola. Industry claims that the technology would alleviate poverty in Africa have proven illusory, a point echoed by a report from environmental group Friends of the Earth. Growing biotech crops can hurt farmers' export markets in countries that are skeptical of the technology. Even after a decade, biotech crops are grown on under 1% of the world's arable land. But by 2005 farmers were planting them on 222 million acres in 21 countries. Almost a third of the agricultural land in the US is planted in gene-altered crops, and more than half in Argentina and Paraguay. Brazilian farmers had been illegally planting biotech crops for years, but that country has now legalized them and the acreage there is growing rapidly. 2,000 scientists in China are working on gene-modified crops. Bacterial genes give some plants the ability to resist worms, and others gain the ability to survive heavy applications of herbicides that kill nearby weeds. But a controversy in Europe in the late 1990s had advocacy groups saying the crops posed unnecessary environmental risks. The US has been trying to open the European market, with some success. Five of 25 European countries are now growing at least small quantities of biotech crops. The US filed a complaint against Europe over the issue with the WTO and a ruling is expected soon. The European Commission ordered Greece to permit a variety of gene-altered corn. doclink

Contraceptive Access Key to Eradicating Hunger

Population Action International

For many people the holiday season is a time for overindulgence in food. But for the 850 million who suffer from hunger, it only serves as a reminder of their struggle for nourishment. A new report by the FAO concludes that the developing world is in danger of missing the target of halving the incidence of hunger by 2015. The report stresses the linkages between hunger, demographic trends, and the status of women. It notes the vital role that improving women's health, economic and educational status plays in reducing hunger. In part due to rapid population growth, the number of malnourished in Africa has skyrocketed from 88 million in 1970 to 200 million today. African countries such as Ethiopia and Niger will double in population in the next forty years. Lack of access to contraceptives results in unintended pregnancies and larger than desired family. This taxes the resources of already overburdened communities and exacerbates poverty, hunger and disease. In Ethiopia, an estimated 36% of married couples desire modern contraceptives but lack access. Greater investments in planning programs and supplies of contraceptives are crucial to meeting the needs of more than 200 million women worldwide and would help to eradicate hunger. doclink

Africa: Malnutrition As a Way of Life

November 20, 2005, Africa News Service

Over five million people in West Africa have little or nothing to eat. In Niger 2.5 million souls are starving and 32,000 children need sustenance and medical attention. In Mali, another 1.5 million people are waiting for food relief. In Burkino Faso and Mauritania a total of 1.1 million people are going hungry. There are an estimated 41,450 Central Africans living in refugee camps in Chad, and about 13,000 are threatened with hunger when relief food supplies run out within the next couple of months. In East Africa and the Horn, the food situation is desperate. Malnutrition is on the rise in Ethiopia and the number of vulnerable persons has risen to 3.8 million while about 3.3 million need emergency food assistance until Christmas and perhaps beyond. In Eritrea, malnutrition is spreading and food insecurity remains the humanitarian challenge. In Kenya, one million require food aid despite improvements in food security in areas hit by drought. Uganda is providing food assistance to a population of some 3 million in the north and northeast where armed conflict has lead to large numbers who are unable to practice their traditional farming activities. Malnutrition rates are on the rise in southern Sudan, Bahr-el-Ghazal 64% and Upper Nile 39%. Malnutrition rates comparable to those in the west of the country. Refugees go back home to areas devastated by war and lacking in infrastructure and basic necessities. In southern Africa, the situation is the bleakest as an estimated 10 million people across Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Mozambique are facing serious food shortages. A toxic combination of drought, political ineptitude and mismanagement as well as HIV/Aids has brought this about. doclink

Once again this shows how important good government is in reducing this problem. Countries that were once major food exporters are now looking for assistance because of political reasons. Just pouring in money will not solve the problem. We also need to ask why the populations continue to rise when people are living under a severe food shortage.

U.N. Appeals for Over US$55 Million for Niger, Says More Needed to Combat Hunger in Sahel

August 5, 2005, Associated Press

The emergency appeal to help Niger through December has been increased to US$80.9 million, but US$25.4 million has already been contributed. U.N. is providing food to about 50,000 people in Niger and hope with additional funds to help 2.5 million people including 32,000 severely malnourished children, 160,000 moderately malnourished children, and over 261,000 pregnant women and nursing mothers. Doctors Without Borders said that 10 to 15 malnourished children were dying every week. The country was devastated by locusts that ate everything green last year and then hit by drought until early July. Mali needs food aid for 1.1 million people, including 5,000 children suffering from acute malnutrition, in Burkina Faso, 500,000 people need assistance. In Mauritania the U.N. World Food Program has already appealed for US$30 million and more than tripled the amount of aid it is seeking for southern Niger from US$16 million to US$57.6 million. It has received US$21.6 million so far. The Food and Agriculture Organization appealed for US$4 million to provide Niger's farmers with seeds and to replenish the livestock of families. The WHO is seeking US$1.2 million for emergency health assistance and disease monitoring and the UNPF is seeking US$400,000 to assist pregnant women and nursing mothers. The first U.N. appeal got almost no response. Another appeal for US$16 million got about US$1 million. Lives could have been saved if the UN had a large emergency fund. doclink


August 25, 2005, Gregory Bungo

Niger farmers grow little besides millet, which is a very poor staple. The UN and aid organizations want the farmers to grow peanuts and beans, and to raise goats, but the farmers are reluctant. Niger has the highest fertility rate on the entire planet. The countries with the highest total fertility rates (number of children per woman) are: Niger 8.0; Guinea-Bissau 7.1; Mali 7.1; Somalia 7.0; Uganda 6.9; Afghanistan 6.8; Angola 6.8; Burundi 6.8; Liberia 6.8; Dem. Rep. of Congo 6.7; Sierra Leone 6.5. It really doesn't matter how many farmers switch from millet to beans, peanuts, and goats. Niger's population is growing by 3.4% per year, so there will always be a shortage of food. Its population is projected to rise from 14 million in 2005 to 50 million in 2050. We can expect chronic famine to prevent the population from rising to that level, but unless the birth rate is lowered, we will be reading stories about famine in Niger for the rest of our lives. doclink

Ethiopia, US Sign Three Grant Agreements

July 7, 2005, Xinhua General News Service

Ethiopia and the US signed three grant agreements, amounting to 38.9 million US dollars. Under these agreements, the largest grant, $16.2 million, will bolster private-sector economic growth, particularly in the food and agriculture. The second grant of $12.6 million is for the health sector to reduce disease, prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including TB and malaria, increase immunization for children, and expand family planning services. The third, of $10.1 million is to improve basic education system by increasing primary school enrollment, improving teacher training, and increasing the number of elementary school children who complete eight years of education. Degraded lands, poor cultivation practices, and frequent periods of drought have made Ethiopia unable to feed its population and has to rely to massive foreign aid. doclink

Ethiopia: Over 50% of Children Stunted

March 25, 2005

More than half of Ethiopian children are stunted, one in 10 children were "wasted", and just under half underweight due to poor diet and malnutrition. Ethiopian babies are more likely to die before they reached the age of 5 than in any other country. The UN and Ethiopia have launched a drive to tackle child health and involved training 28,000 health workers over the next five years. A national strategy for child survival includes the promotion of breast-feeding, immunisation programmes and the treatment of pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria. Malaria was the biggest killer. UNICEF, the health ministry and the World Food Programme have been trying to reach 6.8 million children offering measles vaccinations, vitamin A, de-worming and nutritional screening. Ethiopia needs around US $13 billion over the next decade to meet the targets set by the UN. It has an annual budget of $135 million, there are 126 hospitals with 2,000 doctors in the country of 71 million people. The health-care system is only able to provide basic services to about 64% of the population. Much of the rural population has little access to modern health care. doclink

Vitamin A Deficiency a Cause of High Child Mortality Rate in Ghana

March 21, 2005, Public Agenda (Ghana)

The proportion of children in Ghana below 5 years who are underweight has risen between 22 and 28%, resulting in stunted growth. Anaemia from iron deficiency affects 77% percent of children under 5 compared to 83.5% in 1994. Anaemic children are not able to achieve their full mental potential and perform poorly in school. Anaemia affects nearly 45% of Ghanaian women in the child bearing age and 65% of pregnant women. Vitamin A deficiency affects 72% of children under 5 and contributes to one in every 3 deaths between the ages of 6 and 59 months. Ghana has been experiencing 17,200 deaths annually attributable to vitamin A deficiency. Iodine deficiency, which leads to mental impairment, growth failure sluggishness, inability to hear and poor eye-hand coordination is prevalent in nine out of 27 districts. There are rising cases of street children from poor homes who cannot feed themselves. Almost 48% of the elderly in Accra showed a high level of malnutrition due to lack of money to buy food. In Ghana 25% of women 15-45 are over weight. Good feeding programmes must be included in the country's educational institutions. doclink

Vitamin a Deficiency a Cause of High Child Mortality Rate in Ghana

March 22, 2005, Push Journal

The Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS) has revealed malnutrition among children in the country. The Director General of Ghana Health Services said the proportion of children below five who are underweight has risen 22% to 28% in 1993 and 2003. He said anaemia affects 77% of children under five compared to 83.5% in 1994. Anaemic children are not able to achieve full mental potential and perform poorly in school. Anaemia affects 45% of Ghanaian women of child bearing age and 65% of pregnant women. Anaemia in pregnancy implicates maternal mortality as well as the birth weight of the newborn. Vitamin A deficiency affects 72% of children under five and contributes to 1 in every 3 deaths between the ages of 6 and 59 months. It is estimated that deaths from vitamin A deficiency will be 86,000 between 2001 and 2005. Iodine deficiency, which causes goitre, causes the country to lose 1% of GNP annually, since it reduces mental function and causes tiredness. Poor nutrition is also in 48% of the elderly primarily due to lack of money. doclink

Millions in Southern Africa Starving as Christmas Nears: WFP

December 22, 2004, Xinhua General News Service

Millions of people across southern Africa face the grim prospect of hunger, WFP lacks the funding to ensure adequate food supplies. WFP has been cutting rations to more than 2.8 million people over the last six months. Many are living with HIV and many are children. Most have been surviving on half of the normal ration, or less. WFP launched a 404 million US dollar three-year appeal in October to feed people in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia. It, received only 10 million dollars so far and has been forced to take 12 million dollars in loans. WFP will run out of food for Lesotho by the end of January and other countries in the region in the following weeks. WFP needs an immediate 63 million dollars to meet food aid needs in the five countries during the first quarter of 2005 and also needs 50 million dollars to feed refugees in Angola up to the end of 2005, and 3.4 million dollars to feed more than 100,000 orphans and other vulnerable children in Namibia. doclink

No Drop in World Hunger Deaths

December 8, 2004, BBC News

The FAO report says present levels of hunger cause the death of more than five million children a year - a child dies of hunger every five seconds. The number of chronically hungry people has hardly budged since 1996. But the target of halving that figure remains within reach. Hunger and malnutrition costs about $30 billion each year in medical expenses, with indirect costs costing billions more. An annual increase of $24 billion would be repaid almost five-fold in increased productivity and income. The number of hungry people remains high, progress in reaching them slow and the costs incalculably large. A worsening situation in China and India is largely blamed by the FAO for the recent rise in hunger levels. All but one of the countries with the highest levels of hunger are in sub-Saharan Africa. doclink

Global Food Prices a Warning Beacon

November 23, 2004, InterPress Service

Global demand for food will grow 60% by 2030 and the crisis in the farming sector will push the world economy to the edge as 78 million people are added to the global population each year. The current world grain stocks are the lowest in 30 years and expansion of food production faces two threats, falling water tables and rising temperatures. Rising food prices may be the first indicator to signal trouble between the world's 6.3 billion people and the Earth's natural resources. A group of experts call for implementing strategies in the agricultural sector to promote the sustainable use of resources. 26% of the planet's surface has been converted into farmland and pasture since the 1970s, causing contamination, loss of biodiversity, depletion of aquifers and the deterioration of quality of life for small farmers. Farming is the world's leading consumer of freshwater, and the groundwater tables are on the decline in the three leading grain-producing nations: India, China and the US. Increasing temperatures also exert negative pressure on crops. International prices for wheat flour this year increased 38%, maize 36% and rice 39%. 840 million people suffer hunger, and their subsistence is critical for the sustainable management of natural resources. An initiative urges government to take steps to clean production and sustainable consumption of water, energy and natural resources, technology and manufacturing. doclink


Letter to the Editor: Re: Refugee Nation

August 1, 2015, Malcom Potts   By: Malcom Potts MB, BChir, PhD, FRCOG School of Public Health University of California, Berkeley

Regarding the "Modest Proposal" to establish a new state to accommodate the rising number of refugees, it misses the point: in a few decades, today's trickle of refugees risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean in rickety boats will turn into a tsunami of involuntary migrants.

The Sahel, the semi-arid zone below the Sahara is home to 125 million people and is projected by the UN to nearly treble by 2050 to over 300 million. By that time the warming that climatologists predict will wither the crops and kill the cattle. More people than live in the USA will become ecological refugees.

To prevent such a catastrophe,we need large scale investments in voluntary family planning, girls' secondary education and helping farmers and pastoralists adapt as far as possible to climate change.

A realistic response will cost over a billion pounds a year. Failure to respond will cost many times more in emergency aid. doclink

Remittances, and the Recession's Effects on International Migration

May 26, 2011, Population Reference Bureau

The number of international migrants almost doubled between 1985 and 2010. Today, around 3% of the people in the world have lived outside their country of birth for a year or more.

Two-thirds of these, or 2% of migrants, are from developing countries. The remittances that these migrants send back home amounts to about $325 billion - larger than total official development aid, and almost as much as foreign direct investment. The Philippines, for example is home to over 1 million people working abroad, who send remittances equivalent to 10% of the country's economic output. Countries like this hope that sending workers abroad can reduce poverty and catapult them into the ranks of developed countries.

While the the 2008-2009 recession slowed migration into developed countries, not many returned. Remittances have remained resilient compared to private capital flows during the economic crisis.

Migrants usually move to nearby countries, as from Mexico to the United States or from Turkey to Germany. The largest flow of migrants, 74 million, is from one developing country to another, as from the Philippines to Saudi Arabia or from Nicaragua to Costa Rica. The second-largest flow, 73 million, is from developing to developed countries, which include most of Europe, North America, Japan, and Australia and New Zealand. Some 55 million people moved from one developed country to another, as from Canada to the United States, and 13 million moved from developed to developing countries, as with Japanese who work or retire in Thailand.

Migrants make up 10% of developed country residents. The U.S. has the most migrants, with 43 million migrants in 2010, followed by Russia (12 million), Germany (11 million), and Saudi Arabia, Canada, and France. These six countries included 40% of the total.

Gulf oil exporters have the largest share of migrants, such as Qatar with over 85% of the population as migrants; the UAE and Kuwait have 70% migrants.

Because of demographic and economic inequalities and with easier communications and cheaper transportation, international migration is likely to increase.

While remittances reduce poverty for families who receive them and can benefit workers who do not migrate, receiving remittances cannot alone generate development.

Migration across national borders is sometimes called the "third wave" of globalization, after the movement of goods (trade) and money (finance). Some groups of nations, notably the European Union, have added free movement of labor to free flows of goods and capital.

160 governments participate in The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD). Most GFMD governments consider international migration inevitable and desirable; many governments ask why their richer neighbors do not simply open doors wider to the migrants that they are likely to need as their populations age and shrink. Migrant-receiving governments, on the other hand, point to high unemployment rates for the migrants within their borders and public opinion polls that show most residents want to reduce immigration. Destination countries often try to manage migration by restricting the rights of migrants.

Managing international migration in ways that protect migrants and contribute to development in both countries of origin and destination is an increasing global challenge. doclink

The Fake Environmentalists and Their Pretend-Game

September 23, 2010, We Can Do Better website

Regional planners, under the direction of their political overlords---the proxies of developers - are trying to shove tens of thousands more people into the North Vancouver Island region. And they don't want people to grasp the full implications of their devious plans. What is transpiring here is transpiring across Canada and the continent of North America--and elsewhere. New subdivisions are sprouting up all over the map in place of greenbelts, woodlands and marshes and the people have little say in the matter.

The most frustrating thing is that fake environmentalists are able to pose as resisting this imposition. But their issue is not with population growth, but with "sprawl"---even though at least half of sprawl is driven by population growth and not by poor land-use planning. They want to 'manage' growth and steer it away from farmland, while packing the unending stream of newcomers into tighter and denser lots alongside existing residents, who are encouraged to surrender their living space in the interests of food security and the environment.

Thus people are presented with a false antithesis. Either accept growth with sprawl or so-called 'smart' growth without it. The local NDP (New Democratic Party), Greens and environmentalists tell people that population growth is something not in their jurisdiction, that immigration (or child benefits) policy is a federal matter and that nothing can prevent inter-provincial migration as guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In other words, growth out of their hands.

Yet which political parties receive top marks from the Sierra Club? The federal Greens and the federal NDP. And what is their immigration policy? To increase the absurdly high immigration intake quota of the Harper Government by 25%, while matching or besting its pro-natalist programs.

This is the pretend-game that environmental NGOs play. Either population growth is not controllable, or even if it is, they have nothing to do with it--- and in any case, it has little bearing on environmental degradation, whether farmland or species loss, or GHG emissions. "It's not whether we grow", they argue, "but how we grow". Just squeeze tighter in the sardine can so that incoming migrants can snuggle up to you. And above all, feel guilty about having extra space in the backyard for your son to play in or a nature trail at the end of your block to take your dog. If it is nature that you want, well, you can get that on the Outdoor Living Channel, can't you?

Let me confess that, whether it is the white-flight "Freedom 55s" from Alberta or California, or people from across the world, I've never felt lonely enough to want them living under my nose, and neither do most of us who chose our 'low-density" lifestyle. Some may call that selfish, I call it a human right. Is it my demand for space that is unreasonable, or the demand that I accept as reasonable a human population level that is 250% higher now than when I was born? Why are we being forced to accept population growth? Because population growth is thought to be a necessary agent of economic growth, our Great God.

The myth that continued economic growth is necessary, desirable, inevitable or even possible remains our major stumbling block, the first domino of misconceptions that must fall before we can reclaim any semblance of the quality of life that we once enjoyed. We are in a foot race with Mother Nature. If we don't stop growth, she will stop us. Time is almost up. Don't let the Pied Pipers of Fake Environmentalism lead you down a futile path. Fight growth, not the symptoms of growth. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I like low-density living also, but it is a luxury supported by high consumption of a vanishing natural resource: oil. The author should consider how difficult life will be like without it. Consumption is one of the factors of sustainability - it's not just population. On the other hand, why should we accept more and more people into our region? We end up encouraging more births in the region of origin.

Interview with Jason Bremner on Environmental Change: What Are the Links with Migration?

July 30, 2008, Population Reference Bureau

This is a long article with many more questions left unanswered than answered. Following are the points that seemed to be more certain than the rest:

  • Migration is leaving one's birth place. It may be long or short term, and includes moving cross international borders or within a country. "Climate migrants", also called "environmental refugees", result from both disasters and gradual environmental change that threatens people's livelihoods. Environmental conditions may only be one contributing factor in a person or household's decision to move.
  • Though the absolute number of international migrants is greater today than ever before, the percent of the world population living outside their country of birth has risen very little over the last 50 years. We should also consider the positive impacts that migration can have on households, their livelihoods, and sometimes the environment.
  • Restrictive migration policies usually results in changes in the favored destinations of migrants rather than actually slowing or stopping migration.
  • Rural-rural migrants can have impacts on forests and biodiversity when they move to frontier areas in search of arable land. The movement of colonists into the lowland forests of the Amazon for example has resulted in rapid deforestation in areas of Ecuador and Brazil. Migrants may also move to coastal areas to work in fishing sectors or along rural coastal areas as coastal resources are depleted. In addition, rural migrants may move to areas with poor soils, which are more likely to degrade, when little land is available elsewhere.
  • Demographers have largely ignored rural-rural migration despite the continued prominence of rural-rural migration in many developing countries, but conservation organizations have become increasingly interested in the impact of rural migration on biodiversity.
  • Rural-urban migrants can also have impacts on the environment as urban living usually results in changes in consumption patterns and energy use. Research on urbanization in China shows how resulting changes in consumption and household structure will contribute to future growth in carbon emissions.
  • Many impacts of rural-urban migration are related to changes in the number of vehicles, number of factories, etc. rather than to migration itself. Even the propagation of urban slums is probably a lack of services issue rather than an environmental issue.
  • Some examples of man-made disaster-related migration are the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine that resulted in the evacuation and resettlement of 350,000 people, the degradation of the Aral Sea and the failure of fishing livelihoods there, and the construction of the Three Gorges Dam in China's central Hubei province, which, when complete, may displace up to 4 million people.
  • Periodic drought in Ethiopia may result in households sending an adult to a city for employment as means of protecting against food insecurity. Land fragmentation, and the resulting smaller parcels of land, also contribute to the need for non-farm wages to ensure food security when crops fail.
  • Conflicts are certainly man-made and have resulted in some of the largest displacements of people in recent years. Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, have each displaced millions of people.
  • There is little evidence so far to suggest that current changes in climate have had any impact on internal movements of people within the U.S or any developed country. There is research on Hurricane Katrina and the permanent departure of residents from New Orleans, but this may not be climate change induced migration.
  • Some interesting work has been done by researchers at CIESIN looking at projected sea level rise and measuring the coastal populations at risk throughout the world. This paper can be found on the PERN website:
  • Another recent paper has looked at 1930s migration patterns in the U.S. in relation to repeated crop failures due to drought and flooding. At that time a far greater percentage of the U.S. population was dependent on the agricultural sector.
  • Migrants, even refugees of conflicts and natural disasters, face discrimination at destinations. The reasons include: cultural, ethnic, and language differences; perceived competition for jobs; and lack of local capacity to provide services.
  • Human migration can be a major dividing force in facilitating positive social and economic change and in relieving population pressure on the environment.
  • The money migrants send back home is an important source of income for developing countries and for rural areas. An estimated total of 251 billion dollars were sent by migrants to their developing countries in 2007. These remittances can be an important source of development and social mobility for rural households in areas where there are few opportunities for employment, credit, or investment.
  • In a study of the highlands of Ecuador, remittances were rarely invested into agriculture or other production activities. In the same area there is little evidence of agricultural abandonment, since often only one household member would migrate and the rest of the household would continue to farm. This is increasingly the norm as in Africa, Latin America, and Asia urban migrants often retain strong linkages with their rural origin areas. This is accomplished either by planting crops that require less labor or relying on increased labor from those that stay behind (often women and children). This latter phenomenon is resulting in some interesting rural changes in both sex and age ratios among the remaining populations.
  • There are a few examples where out-migration has resulted in less degradation than would have occurred had migrants remained; for example, the recovery of the North Eastern forests of the United States is largely a product of out-migration of farmers and loggers to more favorable lands in the midwest and west.
  • National population redistribution policies in areas like Brazil and Ecuador have had negative impacts on forests in destination areas of the Amazon as well as on the indigenous populations that were already living there.
  • Migration from rural to urban areas impacts the women and children remaining in rural areas, who usually have no guaranteed, long-term access to the means of production (land ownership, credit, agriculture extension, technology). Solutions include micro-credit lending focused specifically on women, girls' education, and a dedication to agricultural extension focused on women's needs.
  • Micro-credit lending to women's groups has been a great success in countries like Nepal and India. Furthermore, programs focused on girls' education in Pakistan are increasing the financial literacy and independence of women and over time will lead to greater access to credit.
  • Migration within a country dwarfs out-migrations and therefore climate migration is mostly of a domestic policy concern.
  • International migration costs far more than internal migration. The poorest households will be those most vulnerable to climate change's impacts, hence, we should expect that those people will also be the least able to move large distances or across borders.
  • Young women are also increasingly involved in migration but women's destinations and decisions regarding migration differ greatly from men's.
  • There is a possible relationship between environmental change, migration, and infectious disease. Climate change could increase the range of some disease vectors (i.e. malaria carrying mosquitoes). This combined with a very mobile population could contribute to the spread of infectious diseases to areas that have never seen them before.
  • Increased water demand due to urban growth will likely lead to increasing development regulations and water restrictions. This is already the case in areas such as Las Vegas.
  • doclink

    Karen Gaia says: not much is mentioned about how 9% of Mexican-born people are in the U.S., or the even higher rate for Guatamalans. Surely this has an impact, socially and politcally, for all three countries. Also, when it is claimed that "migration within a country dwarfs out-migrations," what about rural to urban migration which then turns to out-migration when jobs are hard to find in the city? This should be counted as an out-migration and not added to the total for in-country migration.

    The Earth is Shrinking: Advancing Deserts and Rising Seas

    November 15, 2006, Earth Policy Institute

    Our civilization is being squeezed between advancing deserts and rising seas. Mounting population densities, once generated by the addition of over 70 million people per year, are now also fueled by the advance of deserts and the rise in sea level.

    Expanding deserts are primarily the result of overstocking grasslands and overplowing land. Rising seas result from temperature increases from the burning of fossil fuels.

    China is losing productive land at an accelerating rate. From 1950 to 1975 China lost an average of 600 square miles to desert each year. By 2000, 1,400 square miles were going to desert annually.

    Satellite images show two deserts in north-central China expanding and merging to form a single, larger desert overlapping Inner Mongolia and Gansu provinces. To the west in Xinjiang Province, two even larger deserts--the Taklimakan and Kumtag--are also heading for a merger. Further east, the Gobi Desert is within 150 miles of Beijing. Chinese scientists report that over the last half-century, 24,000 villages in northern and western China were abandoned as they were overrun by drifting sand.

    Kazakhstan, site of the vast Soviet Virgin Lands Project, has abandoned nearly half of its cropland since 1980.

    In Afghanistan, with a population of 31 million, the Registan Desert is encroaching on agricultural areas. A UNEP team reports that up to 100 villages have been submerged by windblown dust and sand. In the northwest, sand dunes are moving onto agricultural land, from the loss of stabilizing vegetation due to firewood gathering and overgrazing. Iran, which has 70 million people and 80 million goats and sheep, is losing its battle with the desert. In 2002 sand storms buried 124 villages in the southeastern province forcing their abandonment. Drifting sands had covered grazing areas, starving livestock and depriving villagers of their livelihood.

    The Sahara Desert is pushing the populations of Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria northward toward the Mediterranean. In countries from Senegal and Mauritania in the west to Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia in the east, the demands of growing human and livestock numbers are converting land into desert. Nigeria is losing 1,355 square miles to desertification each year. While Nigeria's human population grew from 33 million in 1950 to 134 million in 2006, its livestock population grew from 6 million to 66 million. The food needs forced the plowing of marginal land and the forage needs of livestock exceeded the carrying capacity of its grasslands. Nigeria's population is being squeezed into an ever-smaller area.

    In Mexico, the degradation of cropland forces some 700,000 Mexicans off the land each year in search of jobs in nearby cities or in the United States.

    Rising seas promise to displace greater numbers in the future. During the twentieth century, sea level rose by 6 inches. During this century seas may rise by 4 to 35 inches. Since 2001, record-high temperatures have accelerated ice melting making it likely that the future rise in sea level will be even greater.

    If the Greenland ice sheet, a mile thick in some places, were to melt entirely it would raise sea level by 23 feet, or 7 meters.

    A one-meter rise would inundate many of the rice-growing river deltas and floodplains of India, Thailand, Viet Nam, Indonesia, and China. A one-meter rise in sea level would cause some 30 million Bangladeshis to migrate, internally or to other countries.

    Hundreds of cities would be at least partly inundated, including London, Alexandria, and Bangkok. More than a third of Shanghai, would be under water. A one-meter rise combined with a 50-year storm surge would leave large portions of Lower Manhattan and the National Mall in Washington, D.C., flooded. If the Greenland ice sheet should melt, it would force the abandonment of thousands of coastal cities and communities. Rising seas and desertification will present the world with an unprecedented flow of environmental refugees and the potential for civil strife.

    We must deal with rapid population growth, advancing deserts, and rising seas. Growth in the human population is accompanied by a growth of livestock populations of more than 35 million per year. The rising concentrations of carbon dioxide that are destabilizing the earth's climate are driven by the burning of fossil fuels. Reverse these trends or risk being overwhelmed by them. doclink

    U.S.: AP Investigation: Banks Sought Foreign Workers

    February 2, 2009, Yahoo News

    Major U.S. banks sought permission to bring thousands of foreign workers into the country for high-paying jobs. The dozen banks receiving the biggest rescue packages, more than $150 billion, requested visas for more than 21,800 foreign workers over the past six years. The average annual salary for those jobs was $90,721. As the economic collapse worsened the numbers of visas sought by the dozen banks in AP's analysis increased from 3,258 in 2007, to 4,163 in 2008.

    The H-1B visa program allows temporary employment of foreign workers in specialized-skill and advanced-degree positions. The government only grants 85,000 such visas each year among all U.S. employers.

    Foreigners are paid less than American workers.

    Companies can use the lower end of government wage scales even for highly skilled workers, a legal mechanisms to underpay the workers. Beyond seeking approval for visas from the government, banks that accepted federal bailout money also enlisted uncounted foreign workers. Senators Grassley, and Durbin, are pushing for legislation to make employers recruit American workers first. The issue takes on a higher profile as President Obama pushes for massive government spending to create jobs nationwide. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: nothing is said about how our resources will be stretched even further and our environment stressed by the addition of more people. Also, undercutting the U.S. economy will leave our country less able to provide aid to other countries. It is the population pressures that drives the need to leave one's own country and go to a strange country to get a job because there are no jobs to be found where you come from. Are U.S. citizens now going to be driven to work in other countries, or is the beginning of the end of our lifestyle as we know it?

    CIA Chief Sees Unrest Rising with Population

    May 1, 2008, Washington Post

    Swelling populations and immigration will present new security challenges for the US by straining resources and stoking extremism and civil unrest in distant corners of the globe. The population surge could undermine the stability of some of the world's most fragile states, especially in Africa, while in the West, governments will be forced to grapple with larger immigrant communities and deepening divisions over ethnicity and race.

    The projected 33% growth in global population over the next 40 years as one of three significant trends that will alter the security landscape in the current century. Most of that growth will occur in countries least able to sustain it. With the population of countries like Niger and Liberia projected to triple in size in 40 years, governments will be forced to find food, shelter and jobs for millions, or deal with restive populations. European countries will see particular growth in their Muslim populations while the number of non-Muslims will shrink as birthrates fall.

    The CIA director predicted a widening gulf between Europe and North America on how to deal with security threats. The US sees the fight against terrorism as a global war, European nations perceive the terrorist threat as a law enforcement problem. A third security trend was the emergence of China as a global powerhouse, pursuing its narrow strategic and political interests. If Beijing begins to accept greater responsibility for the health of the international system, as all global powers should, we will remain on a constructive, even if competitive, path. doclink

    Human Trafficking is Slavery and Must Be Battled, Celebrities and Others Say at UN Conference

    February 13, 2008, The Associated Press

    Human trafficking must not be tolerated, a senior U.N. official said.

    Dignitaries urged action at a three-day U.N. conference.

    We have the obligation to fight a crime that has no place in the 21st century," said the head of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

    Some 2.5 million people are involved in forced labor as a result of trafficking, and 161 countries on every continent and in every type of economy are affected by the crime.

    Most victims are between 18 and 24, and an estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.

    "My hope is to secure every child the right to be a child," said Martin, a five-time Grammy winner. "Human trafficking has no place in our world today."

    Estimated annual profits from trafficked, forced labor is around $31.6 million, the U.N. Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking said. doclink

    India: Sustainable Growth

    February 18, 2008, MorungExpress

    By 2050, some 6 billion people will be living in towns and cities. Never before has the world witnessed such rapid urbanization nor such a swift rise in the numbers of people migrating.

    Migration and urban growth are linked, because the majority of people on the move do so for economic reasons. And when these movements towards the growth centers intensify, such towns and cities can also be places of great misery.

    Here, the foremost concern is the infrastructure, which stems from the excessive size of most of the urban areas beyond its holding capacity. This is leading to overcrowding, traffic congestion, lack of adequate housing, mushrooming of slums and settlements, lack of civic amenities, disease and squalor.

    Surrounding green belts are slowly being devoured by concrete jungles and pollution. Further the psycho-social malignancies arising from the pressures of living in a survival of the fittest scenario, exacerbated by the loss of traditional social support systems, manifest in the high crime rates, psychotic disorders and racial and social tensions.

    Appropriate policy must be put in place so that there can be a balance between the economic rationale for growth and sustainability. As a result of the non-availability of amenities and employment opportunities, the government policy should focus on ensuring that urban centers are well planned to absorb further growth while encouraging other growth centers to develop.

    One long term solution is on improvement of rural infrastructure, the neglect of which accentuates the urban exodus. Municipal authorities have to keep pace with city growth.

    Policy makers need to wake up or the process of urbanization will become insurmountable. A holistic approach to urban and peripheral area planning with a long greater stress on rural development which will obviate the need for people to migrate to urban areas.

    The Central government has allocated huge funds including the urban infrastructure Development Scheme for Small & Medium Towns, which aims at improvement in a planned manner. For all this to materialize the State government and the concerned departments must ensure that funds are utilized properly. doclink

    Female Migration Increases, Spurs Development, Says World Bank

    November 26, 2007, Xinhua General News Service

    Women make up almost half the migrant population in the world and their numbers are increasing.

    Between 1960 and 2005, international migrants who are women increased to a total number of approximately 95 million. The fact that women now account for almost half the total migrant population is having enormous effects on development. Women migrants working in the United States, who hail from the Caribbean, East Asia, Europe, and Sub-Saharan Africa, have higher labor force participation than those from South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

    Those from Ireland, Australia and the Britain make the most money.

    Among developing countries, women from South Africa, Jamaica and India have the highest salaries while those from Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Cuba are the least successful. U.S. educated women migrants earn more than those educated at home. 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. 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.

    Climate Refugees: Global Warming Will Spur Migration

    July 3, 2007, American Progress

    Worldwide consequences from greenhouse gas concentrations will drive migration around the globe. Climate change disasters are already a bigger cause of population displacement than war and persecution. Estimates of climate refugees currently range from 25 to 50 million.

    Large numbers of immigrants to the US currently come from Mexico and the Caribbean, and with increases in storm intensity, stress on natural resources, and rising sea levels-side affecting these regions, migration will only increase. Northern Mexico's water shortages will drive immigration into the US. The rising sea levels in Caribbean Islands will increase the flow of immigrants from the region and generate political tension.

    The US cannot ignore the flow of displaced peoples. We shoulder a large responsibility for the current levels of global warming. Developing countries bear minimal responsibility for climate change, but their populations are more likely to occupy vulnerable locations. Each American citizen produces four times the greenhouse gas as an average Chinese, and unfortunately, the world will be experiencing the negative effects for years to come.

    We should direct a portion of the revenue generated by a greenhouse gas tax law toward projects to provide fresh drinking water, city construction away from areas inundated by rising sea levels, and investment in drought-resistant crop cultivation. Alleviating this debt by investing in projects to help these countries adapt to climate change will fulfill a moral obligation. Environmental stress forced more than 25 million to migrate in 1998. The scientific evidence is that climate change is remapping our planet. The stream of climate refugees will become a torrent.

    In South Asia, climate change creates too little water in some places and too much in others. The summer runoff from mountain glaciers is rapidly disappearing.

    In Bangladesh, refugees who can no longer farm on drowning coastal land are moving to cities already crammed with jobless. Governments around the world seem paralyzed by hard choices. Should they spend billions to protect unsustainable land. Can they afford to relocate populations to more valuable land?

    Individual countries and the United Nations need to aid the casualties of energy policies and consumption; they must expand treaties that protect political refugees to include those who flee the persecution of a deadly climate. doclink

    Desertification Threat to Global Stability: U.N. Study

    July 21, 2007, Population Media

    Desertification could drive tens of millions of people from their homes and put new strains on natural resources and on other societies nearby and threaten international instability. Governments are urged to work out ways to slow the advance of deserts, from the Sahara to the Gobi, caused by climate change and land over-use. Better plantings of crops and forests in nearby drylands were simple measures to help.

    Desertification currently affects 100 to 200 million people, and threatens the lives of a larger number. The loss of soil productivity and the degradation of nature pose imminent threats to international stability. About 50 million people are at risk of being forced from their homes by desertification in the next decade.

    The largest area is sub-Saharan Africa, where people are moving to northern Africa or to Europe. The second area is the former Soviet republics in central Asia.

    Improved crop and forestry plantings on drylands could slow desertification and help fight global warming. Plants absorb carbon dioxide, as they grow and release it when they are burnt or rot. Carbon markets might develop financial mechanisms to promote more vegetation in drylands.

    China is planting a 700-km "Great Green Wall" of trees and enclosed grassland to slow the advance of deserts. China was in some cases planting trees that needed large amounts of water, aggravating shortages.

    Eco-tourism could bring jobs to desert regions and help people stay.

    Even fish farms could be an option, as shown by countries including Israel, Pakistan and Egypt. doclink

    Desertification Threat to Global Stability: U.N. Study


    Desertification could drive tens of millions of people from their homes, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and central Asia. This puts new strains on natural resources and on other societies nearby and threaten international instability. Governments are urged to slow the advance of deserts, caused by factors such as climate change and land over-use. Better plantings of crops and forests were simple measures to help.

    Desertification is an environmental crisis of global proportions. The loss of soil productivity and the degradation of services provided by nature pose threats to international stability. 50 million people were at risk of being forced from their homes by unchecked desertification in the next decade. The largest area is sub-Saharan Africa, where people are moving to northern Africa or Europe.

    The second area is the former Soviet republics in central Asia. It was hard to isolate desertification from other factors, such as poverty or armed conflicts.

    International experts reckon 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been driven from their homes in four years of strife in Sudan.

    Improved crop and forestry plantings on drylands, which cover more than 40% of the world's land area, could slow desertification. Plants absorb carbon dioxide, as they grow and release it when they are burnt or rot. Carbon markets might promote more vegetation in drylands.

    China is planting a 700-km "Great Green Wall" of trees and enclosed grassland to slow the advance of deserts. Algeria is also putting up a "green wall" against the Sahara.

    Such plans can work, but also lead to problems, China was in some cases planting trees that needed large amounts of water, aggravating shortages.

    Eco-tourism could bring jobs to desert regions and help people stay.

    Even fish farms could be an option, as shown by Israel, Pakistan and Egypt. doclink

    Climate Change May Force Mass Migration

    June 12, 2007, Guardian (London)

    A billion people could be forced to leave their homes over the next 50 years as the effects of climate change worsen a serious migration crisis, according to a report from the U.N.

    Climate change is the unknown in this equation. About 155 million people have been displaced by conflict, natural disaster and development.

    This figure could be 850 million, as more people are affected by water shortages, sea level crises, deteriorating pasture land, conflicts and famine.

    The figures are uncertain, But the lack of knowledge must not lead to a neglect of what can be done now to prevent displacement. The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report said that by 2080, 1.1 to 3.2 billion people would be experiencing water scarcity; 200-600 million: hunger and 2-7 million a year: coastal flooding.

    In addition, 25 million will be displaced by conflict and human rights abuses, 25 million by natural disasters, and 105 million by large development projects, with 8.5 million refugees.

    By 2050, twice as many people could be displaced by conflict and natural disasters, but 250 million could be permanently displaced by droughts and floods, and 645 million by dams and other development projects, The growing number of disasters and conflicts linked to future climate change will push the numbers far higher unless urgent action is taken. 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. doclink

    Climate Change May Force Mass Migration

    May 22, 2007, The Hindu

    A report based on latest UN figures says conflict, large-scale development projects and widespread environmental deterioration will make life unsupportable for hundreds of millions of people, mostly in the Sahara belt, south Asia and the Middle East.

    Climate change is the unknown in this equation; about 155 million people are known to be displaced now by conflict, natural disaster and development projects.

    This figure could be augmented by 850 million, as more people are affected by water shortages, sea level crises, deteriorating pasture land, conflicts and famine. Figures are uncertain, but the lack of knowledge must not lead to a neglect of what can be done now, by reducing global poverty.

    By 2080, 1.1 -3.2 billion people would be experiencing water scarcity, 200-600 million, hunger and 2-7 million a year, coastal flooding.

    Western governments are increasingly aware of climate change as a security issue. It was an underlying factor in the Darfur crisis with the potential to escalate many other conflicts. A staggering number of people are being pushed aside to make way for large-scale development.

    About 25 million have been displaced by conflict and human rights abuses, 25 million by natural disasters, and 105 million by large development projects, with 8.5 million classed as refugees.

    By 2050, twice as many people could be displaced by conflict and natural disasters, but 250 million could be permanently displaced by climate change-related phenomena and 645 million by development projects. Between now and 2050 a total of 1 billion people will be displaced from their homes. doclink

    Desertification and Migration

    February 6, 2007, Optimum Population Trust

    The world's deserts are advancing and there may soon be few places for refugees to go. 6,000,000 hectares of productive land is lost to desertification every year. Arable land per person declined from 0.32 hectares in 1961-63 to 0.21 hectares in 1997-99,n and is expected to drop to 0.16 hectares by 2030. Population growth, with poverty and poor land management, means that more and more resources are being demanded of shrinking areas of forest and agricultural land bordering the world's deserts. The agricultural techniques which improved yields up to the 1990s are now proving less effective. Land is becoming deprived of water and stripped of vegetation, crop yields are faltering, food supplies failing, and rural populations are being displaced. About a quarter of the world's population inhabits drylands and depends on these regions for its livelihood. More than 2/3 of Africa is dryland and the areas around the Sahara are those most at risk of desertification: Deserts are advancing and there is already conflict over land. North Africa is expected to suffer severe drought by 2100, and central Africa wetter climates. But the projected increase in rainfall will not restore crops and vegetation if it is less frequent but more intense, These are also the areas of fastest population growth and greatest poverty. Niger's population is growing by 3.4% a year, with 7.9 children per woman and only 14% of women using contraception. Niger's population is projected to grow 14.4 million in 2006 to 50.2 million by 2050. Climate change and population pressure will fuel migration, yet other countries' capacity to absorb migrants is reaching key environmental limits. Other continents will only be able to take desertification "refugees" at the cost of serious damage to their own environment. The growing influx of migrants has already prompted action at an EU level and is almost certainly a taste of the future. The UN says 135 million people globally are at risk of being displaced by desertification, and 60 million people are expected to move from the desertified areas in sub-Saharan Africa. Indian agriculture is suffering water resource depletion, while it expects an extra 600m people by 2050. Half of India's population has access to contraception, yet average family size is about three children. China has spared the rest of the world by its one-child population policy - an extra 400 million people who would have needed to draw on the world's water supplies. Reversing population growth worldwide would help to relieve the global ecosystem. The first step is to provide access to contraception to some 350 million couples worldwide to whom this is currently denied. Italy has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world, at 1.3, and its population has stopped growing. With near-desertification in some parts of southern Italy, this will relieve stress on its own environment as well as that of the world as a whole. If the average worldwide total fertility rate (2.65 in 2000-2005) could be reduced to 2.15, just above the replacement rate of 2.1, world population would still reach 7.7 billion in 2050, but there would be 1.4 billion fewer climate changers and 1.4 billion fewer to feed. doclink

    Hong Kong Limits Pregnant Chinese

    December 31, 2006, BBC News

    New rules in Hong Kong limit the number of pregnant women arriving from mainland China. Pregnant mainlanders must arrange a hospital booking in advance before being allowed entry. Those more than seven months pregnant without a booking will be turned back. Hong Kong says the influx of mainland women who want to gain Hong Kong residency has strained health facilities. Hong Kong residency rights include access to its health care and education and also allows women to circumvent China's one-child policy and give them access to higher standards of medical care.

    Last year, some 12,000 mainlanders arrived to give birth, leaving Hong Kong's medical facilities struggling. Now hospitals have set up a centralised booking system and a quota for the number of mainland mothers.

    As a further disincentive, Chinese mothers will have to pay double the hospital fees of their Hong Kong counterparts.

    These fees must be paid in advance, in order to obtain a certificate which allows re-entry into Hong Kong.

    Those over 28 weeks pregnant, who do not have a certificate will be refused entry. doclink

    U.S.: Environmental Rules Waived for Border Fence; Activists Call Homeland Security Move 'a Historic Travesty'

    January 16, 2007, Orlando Sentinel

    Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff waived environmental rules for a fence to be constructed along the Mexican border.

    The move circumvented a series of laws, from the Endangered Species Act to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and the National Environmental Policy Act.

    "Because they refuse to deal with the immigration challenge, they're taking a step to destroy the integrity of the southern Arizona's desert," Silver said. It was unclear when construction on 37 miles of traditional and virtual fencing would begin. The project includes radar, lighting, all-weather and drag roads, to cost in the neighborhood of $64 million. Openings will be made to allow the flat-tailed horned lizard to continue crossing into Mexico.

    Arizona has been the epicenter for crossings by illegal immigrants for several years. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: the article fails to mention the impact on the environment from the migration of 1000s of people through that area. And their added impact to the planet when they become U.S. residents.

    We Cannot Live by Remittances Alone, Warns Carrington; UNFPA Awards Media for Work on Population Issues

    December 5, 2006, Jamaica Observer

    Caribbean regional countries must not depend on remittances to sustain them; they need to expand their economies to meet the demands of the people.

    The loss of skilled and qualified labour could be crippling to the region's growth and development. One speaker stressed the dangers to the Caribbean of its skilled people migrating, usually in search of greener pastures.

    Caribbean countries were among the top 20 countries in the world with the highest tertiary educated emigration rates. The region was losing about 400 nurses per year to the developed nations, and Guyana had lost 80% of its tertiary-educated citizens.

    The majority of Caribbean countries have lost more than 5% of their labour force in the tertiary segment and more than 30% in the secondary education segment. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Also sad is the fact that educated migrants often are not able to use their training in the U.S.

    Bulgarians Wonder Whether EU Will Halt Population Exodus

    December 21, 2006, Age

    Many Bulgarians wonder whether membership of the EU will revitalize the economy. It is a question that worries other European nations, who have put restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian workers.

    It will be a problem to bring home the young people.

    Many went to Western Europe on three-month tourist visas and stayed on to work clandestinely. Most of the migrants are doing the low-qualified jobs that wealthy Europeans do not want.

    The Bulgarian Academy of Science estimates that more than one million people have sought work abroad since 1989. Between 1990 and 2004 the population slumped by 1.2 million to 7.76 million people and if the trend persists, Bulgaria's population could fall to 5.5 million in 2050.

    Bulgaria has 1.2 children per mother, child mortality rate is 12.3 per thousand. The country's impoverished gypsy population has the highest natality and mortality rates in Bulgaria.

    Parliament approved this year a plan to encourage births. But unemployment has been halved to 11% by restructuring the textile, brewing and quarrying industries and the arrival of tourism.

    Some 400-500 young people are leaving the region every year to seek better jobs.

    Germany became the latest EU nation to restrict the number of Bulgarian and Romanian workers. Sweden and Finland are the only members of the pre-2004 EU who will not restrict Bulgarian laborers. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: it is becoming abundantly clear that the wide disparity of wealth is one of the several factors leading to an unsustainable planet. When rich people become richer on the backs of immigrants, and then spend their wealth on overconsumption, it is a recipe for disaster.

    Migrants Shape Globalised World

    December 19, 2006, BBC News

    Doha, the capital of Qatar, is one of the world cities where more than half of the population is migrant workers.

    The majority are cleaners and builders, who on flights from South Asia, already wear the company uniform.

    The oil-rich Gulf states have a workforce willing to earn less but an income that is more than they could earn in their home villages.

    One-quarter come from India and China. Kerala, the Indian state "exports" more workers than any other and benefits by more than $5 billion (£2.6bn) from them annually. Indian accountants and managers are increasingly running things. India is one of the world's largest hosts of migrant workers, with millions coming for building and farm labouring jobs.

    The Chinese are working in industry at all levels, particularly in Africa.

    In Lesotho, Chinese foremen in a textile factory talk to local workers in the local language.

    Migrant workers are now "an essential, inevitable and potentially beneficial component of the economic and social life of every country and region".

    Remittances from migrant workers continue to be one of the major drivers of international development.

    The amount returned to developing countries by expatriate workers is far higher than the total budget spent by the developed world on developing countries. But migrants are often the forgotten victims when disaster strikes.

    While Israel attacked Lebanon this summer, 11,000 migrant workers were left stranded and needed separate funding for an emergency evacuation.

    Many migrant workers live outside the law, almost one-third of non-citizens in the US.

    There are believed to be eight million unregulated immigrants in Europe. The bodies of Africans washed up on European beaches shows the lengths to which people will go to try and move to a new life.

    But those who make it are transforming cities in the newly mobile globalised world.

    Ireland used to be an "exporter" of migrant workers.

    It is now one of the most popular countries for migrant workers to settle. doclink

    Saving Life on the Edges of the World

    October 26, 2006, IPS News

    Communities that lived off fishing and forest produce in the south of Chile for centuries have begun to leave because the environment cannot sustain many of them.

    In North Africa communities that lived around oases for centuries have begun to move out. The indigenous people of these areas are working with the environment to develop new sustenance for themselves and others.

    But as conditions become close to impossible, many of these places need help. An initiative identified about 200 agricultural systems that are threatened by climate change, rural impoverishment, exodus to urban areas, and other such dangers.

    These systems provide food security and potentially all humanity will need them in the future. 75% of rural poor are custodians of amazing agricultural methods. But globalisation is a challenge and small-scale farmers, and humanity could lose these heritages.

    The GIAHS (Globally Important Agriculture Heritage Systems) initiative has identified seven pilot sites in Peru, Chile, China, the Philippines, and at oases in the Maghreb in Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria.

    In Morocco, 36% are living below the poverty line. The increasing population pressure on the resources of the oases and the intrinsic poverty are destabilising the ecosystem.

    Over the next seven years the GIAHS project will work with indigenous communities to implement new conservation methods. The objective is building on local people and communities to recognise the importance of these systems so that they can maintain them. One site is located around Machu Picchu at 1900 metres above sea level, going up to Lake Titicaca at 3,800 metres. The path links two different municipalities and four communities of 1,800 peasant families.

    The project here is aiming to conserve ancient traditional agricultural technologies. You increase the possibility to earn from the land, you can limit migration. There has been 20% reduction of permanent migration and 50% reduction of temporary migration due to direct participation of local communities in land preservation.

    While men more and more frequently go to the big cities to work, women stay at home and rediscover the traditions which otherwise would have been lost. The GIAHS project is intended to eventually encompass 100 to 150 such systems worldwide and guarantee the sustainability of these agro-eco systems. doclink

    Somali Refugees in Kenya Could Reach 80,000

    October 16, 2006, AlertNet

    The number of Somali refugees fleeing into Kenya could reach 80,000 by the end of the year. That's a lot of people, a huge strain on the resources of the area.

    About 35,000 Somalis escaping drought, strict Islamist rule and the possibility of war have arrived in the Dadaab camps so far this year. The flow has increased to more than 1,000 a day in the past week, amid reports of advances by the Islamists and counter-attacks by the government and ousted warlords.

    Influxes have coincided with Islamist territorial gains. Aid workers fear more arrivals could overwhelm efforts to provide food and shelter.

    The Islamists have declared holy war against Ethiopia, which they accuse of invading Somalia to back its shaky government. Some refugees were complaining of the imposition of strict sharia rule.

    About 162,000 people live in Dadaab, in flimsy shacks on sandy terrain.

    The refugees are split between three sub-camps in flat, barren land strewn with thorn bushes.

    The rate of arrival will quickly exhaust the spare capacity in the camps. doclink

    Forced Departures

    September 17, 2006, Hindu (The)

    When women are compelled to leave their homes and their countries, they lay themselves open to violence and exploitation. Women move for a variety of reasons, but the choice is not an easy one. The move is often dictated by circumstances that are beyond the woman's control. Half of all international migrants are women.

    Most of the migrants from developing countries end up doing dirty, difficult, demeaning and dangerous work. With domestic work they work alone, where they can be abused, even raped, and would have no recourse to law or justice. The few stories that emerge suggest that the problem is widespread.

    Promises of jobs as domestics lure women away from their homes and some end up in the sex trade. Women of all ages are the victims. According to the ILO, there are 2.45 million trafficking victims in exploitative conditions and another 1.2 million trafficked each year within and between countries. Up to half are children. Hundreds of Indian women agree to marry men living in foreign lands without knowing them. If things go wrong, they are left completely helpless. Some have to choose between working as illegal aliens and risk being deported, or staying on in an abusive relationship. A study of educated middle class South Asian women in Boston found that nearly 35% had been victims of physical abuse. Refugee women are often victims of the worst kind of violence. These women have to deal with violence and rape in the camps where they have to live for years. A report states that 90% of the rapes reported by Somali women occurred when they were out gathering firewood or looking after their livestock. doclink

    U.S.: We Don't Need 'Guest Workers'

    March 21, 2006, Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration

    In 1964 Congress killed the seasonal Mexican laborers program despite warnings that its abolition would doom the tomato industry. Then scientists developed oblong tomatoes that could be harvested by machine and California's tomato output has risen fivefold. Now we're being warned again that we need unskilled laborers from Mexico and Central America to relieve U.S. "labor shortages." Guest workers would mainly legalize today's vast inflows of illegal immigrants, with the same consequence: We'd be importing poverty. They generally don't go home, assimilation is slow and the ranks of the poor are constantly replenished. Since 1980 the number of Hispanics with incomes below the government's poverty line has risen 162%, while the number of non-Hispanic whites in poverty rose 3% and blacks, 9.5%. What we have now is a policy of creating poverty in the US while relieving it in Mexico. It stresses local schools, hospitals and housing and feeds social tensions (witness the Minutemen). Some Americans get cheap landscaping services but if more mowed their own lawns it wouldn't be a tragedy. Among immigrant Mexican and Central American workers in 2004, only 7% had a college degree and nearly 60% lacked a high school diploma. Among native-born U.S. workers, 32% had a college degree and 6% did not have a high school diploma. The illegal immigrants represent only about 4.9% of the labor force. In no major occupation are they a majority. They're drawn here by wage differences, not labor "shortages." Most new illegal immigrants can get work by accepting wages below prevailing levels. Hardly anyone thinks that illegal immigrants will leave, but what would happen if illegal immigration stopped and wasn't replaced by guest workers? Some employers would raise wages to attract U.S. workers; others would find ways to minimize those costs. The number of native high school dropouts with jobs declined by 1.3 million from 2000 to 2005. Some lost jobs to immigrants and unemployment remains high for some groups. Business organizations support guest worker programs - they like cheap labor and ignore the consequences. Why do liberals support a program that worsens poverty and inequality? Poor immigrant workers hurt the wages of unskilled Americans. We've never tried a policy of real barriers and strict enforcement against companies that hire illegal immigrants. Until that's shown to be ineffective, we shouldn't adopt guest worker programs that add to serious social problems. doclink

    The Politics of Birth: Demographic Shifts Create Challenges Politicians Can't Ignore

    March 16, 2006, Charlotte Observer

    The US birthrate hovers at the replacement level 2.2 births per woman. In other developed nations, too few babies are born to maintain current populations. These trends give rise to long-range problems for politicians, who typically show only short-term vision. The US population is boosted by immigration and the higher birthrates among immigrant women, also by a fertility rate of 1.7 children among college-educated, non-Hispanic white women. The aging of America will put a strain on the federal budget. Only 12% of the U.S. population is 65 or older, yet the cost of their health care is higher than anywhere else in the world. The Budget Office projects a rise from 4.3% of GDP in 2000 to 11.5% percent in 2030 and 21% in 2050. America's problems pale alongside those of Western Europe, where low birthrates threaten benefits for the elderly as well as economic stability. The European Union has 15 million Muslims with a birth rate three times that of non-Muslims. If present trends continue, by 2015 Europe's Muslim population will double while the non-Muslim population will shrink by 3.5%. That has political implications for global politics, particularly on issues involving the Middle East. doclink

    Spain Posts Biggest Population Increase Ever in 2004, Government Says

    November 19, 2005, Associated Press

    Spain gained more than 900,000 residents due almost exclusively to immigration. Spain's population as of January stood at 44.1 million. The rate of increase was well above the 0.5% for the EU as a whole and 0.63% for the 11 EU countries that use the euro as their currency. Spain's growth rate is matched only in some developing countries. In April Spain's population included 3.7 million foreigners, or 8.4% of the total. The biggest immigrant community is from Morocco, followed by Ecuadorans, Romanians, Colombians and Britons. doclink

    U.K.: Migrants Boost Population

    August 26, 2005, Financial Times

    England's population has risen above 50m and the UK's to 60m, with immigration outstripping natural growth. In mid-2004 the UK was home to 59.8m people, of whom 50.1m lived in England. Given the growth rate, the population of the UK will now be more than 60m. The population rose by 281,200 in the year to mid-2004, compared with an increase of 232,000 in the previous year. The population of all four constituent countries rose in the latest year, including Scotland. In every year since 1901, with the exception of 1976, there have been more births than deaths in the UK and the population has grown due to natural change. Until the mid-1990s, this natural increase was the main driver of population growth. Since the late 1990s, migration into the UK has been an important factor. Net immigration has been above 150,000 a year - and a record 177,000 in the latest year - compared with between 60,000 and 100,000 from natural change. The latest year's population gain from migration was three times the average seen in the three decades up to 2001. The UK has an ageing population; the average age is 38.6 years, an increase of more than four years in the past three decades. In mid-2004 about one in five people in the UK was aged under 16 and one in six was aged 65 or over. Tthe figures for individual local authorities, also published yesterday, are seen by many as less reliable. Many councils were dismissive of the new estimates. The heart of the problem is perceived to be the migration figures. doclink

    Migration is Here to Stay, So Get Used to It; Dispelling the Myths

    June 24, 2005, International Herald Tribune

    By the end of 2004, there were 185 million migrants worldwide, roughly one in every 35 persons, almost half of whom were women. International migration is a feature of contemporary economic, social and political life. Modern communication and transportation ensure that more people know more about distant lands. Migration touches every country. How to manage migration for the benefit for all? Countries that traditionally receive migrants, such as Australia, New Zealand and Britain, are examining their real or perceived brain drain; Australia and New Zealand are considering options for attracting back skilled and talented emigres. Temporary labor migration is outpacing permanent immigration in some destination countries. Developing countries add more than 40 million workers to their labor force each year, while there is slow or no growth in developed countries. A key finding is that costs and benefits of migration vary widely, which makes generalizations difficult and precludes "one-size-fits-all" migration management. The one million Indians living in the US account for 0.1% of India's population but earn the equivalent to 10% of India's national income; the 50 million Chinese who live outside China earn an equivalent to two-thirds of China's GDP. The contribution of immigrants to public finances is growing, from 8.% of Britain's tax receipts in 1999-2000 to 10.0% in 2003-2004. Costs are apparent when effective management policies are not in place. Brain drain can be a significant problem when not accompanied by measures to mitigate the loss of skilled workers and to encourage their return to invest. doclink

    U.S. Opposes Forming U.N. Agency on Migration

    June 10, 2005, Associated Press

    The U.S. opposes forming a U.N. agency to deal with international migration. The U.S. favors regional approaches and is skeptical about the ability of the U.N. to address the issue effectively at the global level. There have been calls for a global solution to the problem and a commission has been studying the issue and could recommend a new U.N. agency. Representatives from 20 Jesuit schools in the U.S., Mexico, Central America and Africa, attended the forum and hope to launch a three-year center to promote curriculum, joint research, lectures and events on migration. One in 35 people is a migrant. The issue is a major concern for governments, human rights advocates and others. Migration has sparked a host of worries including human trafficking, security, and a brain drain for poor countries. You cannot deal with international migration without international cooperation. Existing bodies could be strengthened to deal with migration. doclink

    Environmental Change May Be Boosting Diseases - UN

    February 22, 2005, Planet Ark

    Environmental changes from population movement may be behind a resurgence of infectious diseases. A rise in cases of diseases and the recent crossover to humans of others, are linked to changes that create favourable conditions for their spread. Infectious diseases cause about 15 million deaths annually. In Southeast Asia and Africa, they account for two-thirds of all deaths. The Nipah virus, normally found in Asian fruit bats, is believed to have crossed over to humans as the bats lost their habitats through forest fires and the clearance of land for palm plantations. The bats were brought into contact with pigs, which in turn passed the disease to their human handlers. Dengue fever is now found in more than 100 countries, most likely as a result of growth that occurs without sanitation, water treatment and sewerage. Increased exposure to mosquitoes, rodents and other vermin provides more opportunities for diseases. Mining, the damming of rivers and increased irrigation for agriculture also give mosquitoes more standing water. In the US, cases of Lyme disease in New York and Connecticut have surged as humans have moved into forested areas where the deer that carry the ticks thrive. doclink

    U.K.: Where Seven in Ten Babies Are Born to Immigrants

    Daily Mail

    Forecasts expect immigrants and their children to account for five million of a six million population growth in the next 25 years. Babies born to immigrants are concentrated in Manchester, Bradford, Leicester, Birmingham, Cambridge, Slough and Oxford. Across Greater London 47% of babies are born to immigrants, rising to 55% for inner London. The highest proportion is in Tower Hamlets, Newham and Westminster at 68%. For 2003, of 621,429 births in the UK, 115,360 - just under 19% were to foreign mothers, mostly from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Caribbean islands. Migration Watch chairman Sir Andrew Green said that these changes are taking place without adequate consideration of the issues that such rapid change is bound to create. Opinion polls have shown concern at the rapid increase in immigration. Legal immigration has doubled in the eight years since Labour came to power. The Home Office issued 181,000 work permits last year - compared with just 30,000 a decade ago. Coupled with the influx of 130,000 people from new EU members that means almost a third of a million foreign workers and their families have been allowed into Britain since last January - not including asylum seekers. Both major parties are promising a tougher stance if elected. The Tories would set annual quotas, Labour is promising to curb the number of unskilled labourers from outside the EU. doclink

    As World Population Grows, So Too Migration; Millions Leave Their Homeland Every Year in Search of Greener Pastures

    January 30, 2005, Straits Times

    The number of migrants in the world increased from 84 million in 1975 to 175 million in 2000. By 2050, it is estimated to reach 230 million. About 2.3 million emigrate from the developing world to the developed world annually, accounting for two-thirds of the population growth in the West. Historically, more migrants have lived in Europe; 56 million accounting for 7.7% of the population. However, Asia has supplanted Europe as the continent of emigration. In North America, Asian migrants make up 13% of the population, and in Australasia, 19.1%. The world population is growing by 83 million a year, of which 82 million are born in developing countries. About 100 million migrants are workers and their families. The free flow of goods and services has broken the links between economy and states. The production workers in the manufacturing enterprises are on the decline because production is being computerised. The number of in-person servers who perform simple repetitive tasks is on the increase. Highly skilled migrants are recruited for such jobs as management and this category is also on the increase. The seasonal workers in agriculture are increasing. The number of countries employing foreign labour rose from 42 to 90 and there are 20 million migrant workers across Africa, 18 million in North America, 12 million in Central and South America, seven million in South and East Asia, nine million in the middle East, and 30 million in Europe. Temporary migration is on the rise and more women are migrating on their own. At 2000, 49% of the world's migrants are women and of the 80 to 97 million workers and their dependents no less than 15% are working illegally. Twenty-five years ago, only 6% of countries had policies to curb immigration; now 40% do. The more illegal migration is challenged, the higher the prices of traffickers. Two out of three Armenians are either migrants or decendants of migrants, and every fourth person born in Armenia currently lives outside its borders. There are three million people living in Armenia, and about 10 million Armenians living outside of Armenia, most of them in Russia because Armenians did not need visas, and they had links in the form of personal relationships. doclink

    Population Growth Slows in Netherlands as Immigration Falls

    February 9, 2005, Associated Press

    The Netherlands' population had increased by 34,000 last year to around 16.3 million, the slowest growth since 1920. For the first time in 20 years there were more people leaving than immigrants. In 2004 more than 112,000 people who left the Netherlands. The weak economy was one reason along with sharper laws concerning immigration. Since 2000, the country has tightened immigration policies, made Dutch citizenship classes mandatory and raised fees for visas and work permits by hundreds of euros (dollars). Many Muslims feel unfairly targeted. The laws were accompanied by a public debate on whether Muslims, who make up around 6% of the population were integrating with the society. New immigration had fallen by 14%, with sharper falls in immigration from Turkey, Morocco, Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. Emigration increased by 7%. doclink

    Family Issues May Impact Sustained Development

    December 7, 2004, Xinhua General News Service

    China has vowed to link family issues with the national development to ensure the sustainable and growth of the economy and society. The country's social security is under pressure from changes in family structure includung an increase in poor urban families, the rapid transformation from extended families to nuclear families, and an unbalanced sex ratio. Last year, 22 million urban people had low income levels. The status of women in both the family and society needs to be further improved. Gu Xiulian, vice-chairperson of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said the Law on Protection of Women's Rights and Benefits will give comprehensive consideration to women's rights and include provisions against family violence. There are challenges in curbing the spread of HIV and reducing unwanted pregnancies. There is evidence showing family units becoming a medium of AIDS transmission with half of the HIV carriers women, many of whom were infected by their husbands and continue to spread the virus to their children. The movement of migrants in China is unforeseen in global history and has huge implications to families affected. It is estimated that there are 120 to 140 million rural migrants which means 24 to 28 million immediate families could be affected by migration. Four changes are upcoming in Chinese family issues. First, greater attention will be paid to the impact on family growth. Second, women will play a more important role as they are empowered in economical and social issues. Gender equality will be emphasized in family development and a wider participation of males in family affairs. Highlight will be upon a relationship between economic and social growth and family development. The government will promote the leading role of mainstream Chinese culture, while giving more tolerance to other family forms. doclink

    Rural Exodus for Work Fractures Chinese Family

    December 21, 2004, New York Times*

    From the Chinese countryside, migrant workers are driving the country's economic growth and the money they send home has become essential for jobless rural China. Now migrant wages have stagnated, education and health costs are rising, the major reason the income divide is widening in China at the expense of the rural poor. Urban and rural children are growing up in different worlds. In cities, upwardly mobile couples call their only child "little sun," as in center of their universe. Children are indulged and childhood obesity is a new ill. In the countryside, millions of children are growing up without one or both parents. Grandparents work the fields and care for the children. Millions in rural China are caught in a brutal cycle. Medical costs are the leading reason that people fall into poverty and many city residents have some health benefits, but peasants now fall under a pay-for-service system. Nearly every family in Shuanghu has had someone leave. Local wages are as low as $1 a day but a migrant can make $5 or more. A few fortunate families have built concrete homes with migrant money. Central government leaders often boast of new programs to benefit China's poorest villages. One called for farmers to hand over land for reforestation in exchange for annual payments. One surrendered two-thirds of an acre for $65 a year. As yet, he has received nothing. About 50 families were named poverty households eligible to divide a $2,500 annual fund, or about $50 per family. But again, they have got nothing. So what remains is migrant work for the young and farming for the old. doclink

    Africa Needs a Million More Health Care Workers

    November 26, 2004, New York Times*

    Africa needs triple the number of its health workers to reverse plummeting life expectancies and combat disease. Money and drugs will fail unless poor countries have enough people to tend the sick. Rich countries must take steps to slow what the flow of nurses and doctors from poor African countries to Europe and North America. Wealthy nations must educate their own nationals, rather than rely on doctors and nurses whose training has been paid for by African countries. The African Union estimates that poor countries subsidize rich ones with $500 million a year through the migration of health workers. The Joint Learning Initiative called for the creation of an education fund that would pay to educate tens of thousands of health workers who are not doctors and nurses but are trained to diagnose and treat major killers in Africa as well as perform basic life-saving surgeries. Such workers are not attractive to employers in Western nations. It said rich countries should voluntarily contribute to an education fund. doclink

    International Migrants Day: Millions of Women on the Move Are Facing Risk

    December 17, 2004, InterPress Service

    About 90 million women are living outside their countries of origin and face the burden of being female, foreign and, often, working in dangerous occupations. Many are of a different race, ethnicity and religion and face discrimination on those bases. A significant number are forced migrants who flee conflict, persecution, environmental degradation, natural disasters and other situations. Many are going into domestic service, low-paid industries, begging and commercial sex. A study says migrant women boost economic development in their country of destination and at home, through financial contributions, improving their skills or helping to improve the education of the next generation. Only 27 of the 191 U.N. member states have so far ratified the convention of the protection of migrants rights. Not a single industrial country has ratified the convention for fear it may afford rights and entitlements to undocumented migrants. Nearly 60% percent of the migrants live in Europe or North America. Many go into domestic service, low-paid sweatshop industries, street begging and commercial sex work. The convention aims to provide migrant workers fundamental rights to form associations and trade unions, freedom of expression and religion, and due process, as well as equal treatment with nationals in respect of economic and social rights. Receiving countries are not bestowing a favour on foreign workers by giving them jobs, low-paid foreign workers are contributing a subsidy that provides savings and makes possible the receiving countries' levels of economic growth. As these economies expand, their labour needs increase. Sending countries are benefiting from the remittances that workers remit home that have grown with the number of migrants and are estimated to have reached 130 billion dollars in 2000. Latin American and Caribbean migrants living in the US will send 30 billion dollars to their families and friends at home in 2004. The U.N. study recommends several measures. Ratify all international legal instruments that protect the rights of migrant women and girls; Identify discriminatory provisions that undermine the rights of migrant women; Develop policies that enhance migrant, refugee and trafficked women's employment opportunities. doclink

    It would makemore sense to implement plans to stabilize the world population, we cannot continue to increase the flood of migrants.

    United Nations Says Widespread Migration Here to Stay

    November 29, 2004, Associated Press

    Global migration shows no sign of letting up - but is keeping populations from declining in Europe, stimulating economic growth in the U.S. and providing a source of foreign income for poor nations. Most countries are looking to control who and how many people immigrate, while the economic and social rewards of migration depend on integrating new arrivals and providing clear rules of transit. The first strong wave of global migration was at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, when migrants flocked to the Americas. But over 175 million people are living outside their country of origin. Migrants represent 3% of the world's population, with high proportions in the United States and Persian Gulf countries. Many of the migrants gain voting rights, as we have seen in the U.S. where the growing population of Hispanics is an important voting group. In the U.S. immigrants increased from 13.5 million - or 15% - in 1910 to 35 million - or 12% - in 2000. In the EU the population would have declined between 1995 and 2000 without new blood from abroad. In North America, migration accounts for 43% of the population increase of 10 million from 1995 through 2000. An estimated 10 million people born in Mexico are living in the U.S. Developed countries are seeking greater control of immigration. More countries want to lower immigration, and have policies controlling the qualities of who comes in. This presents a threat to developing countries, in the Caribbean and Latin America, that cannot afford to lose skilled employees and health professionals. Migration can offer benefits to countries where deaths are outpacing births and the work force is struggling to keep up with an aging population. But migration should not be the only antidote to an aging population. Efforts to integrate immigrants are welcome developments, while temporary-worker programs represent a potential tool for regulating labor supplies and encourage skilled migrants to return home. doclink

    Mass Expulsion Puts Migrants at Risk in Malaysia, Rights Group Warns

    November 23, 2004, Agence France Presse

    Malaysia's Human Rights Commission noted that many foreign women in prisons are victims of trafficking for prostitution. When Malaysia conducted mass deportations two years ago, dozens of migrant workers died of dehydration and disease while stranded in transit areas. A plan to grant authority to 400,000 civilian members of volunteer associations to conduct immigration raids and arrests was described as "an ominous move". They would receive minimal training but cash rewards for each migrant arrested. The government should identify abused migrant workers, and provide for their protection. Malaysian authorities plan to begin arresting undocumented migrants following an amnesty allowing them to leave the country. If they do not leave, they face jail sentences of up to five years or fines of up to $2,632, or both, plus whipping. Last year, 9,000 migrants were caned. Under the amnesty, which has been extended to an unspecified date, more than 80,000 migrants have left the country. There are an estimated 1.2 million illegal immigrants in Malaysia. The Indonesian government has set up shelters and services for returning migrants, but these arrangements may not be sufficient to avoid the abuses that occurred in mid-2002. There are 28,000 refugees in Malaysia, about 10,000 from the war-torn Aceh region of Indonesia, and 10,000 are members of Burma's Muslim minority. doclink

    International Migration Recognized as Development Force

    October 19, 2004, United Nations Population Fund

    International migration is perceived as a development tool and a source of capital for developing countries. The world must put migration at the centre of global development and mainstream population policy. Migration must be handled in a way that maximizes benefits and minimizes costs to sending and receiving countries and migrants. A round table was held to take stock of achievements in international migration, one of the issues that emerged a decade ago. Women constitute more than half of the migrant population, and 70% to 80% of that population in some countries. They often work in gender-segregated and unregulated sectors which exposed them to gender discrimination, violence, human trafficking and sexual abuse. Providing migrant women with legal and health services, including reproductive health, deserve increased attention. Considering migration as an asset for developing and developed countries, the speakers emphasized the need for national, regional and international policies. They also highlighted the need for human and financial help, for policy makers to plan their policies. Despite progress related to migration, many objectives remain the goals of today. doclink

    The emphasis should be placed on slowing population growth that forces people to migrate in the first place.

    U.S.: Sonoran Storm

    Audubon Magazine

    After dark the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, which shares a 30-mile border with Mexico, becomes a mini war zone. Park rangers chase armed drug smugglers and hordes of illegal migrants, who use the park as prime routes into the US. Increasing illegal traffic has scarred the landscape with tons of trash, endangered species, including the Sonoran pronghorn, and cut more than 150 miles of roads into sensitive backcountry habitat. Abandoned backpacks, blankets, plastic water jugs and food cans are everywhere and clothing lies in abandoned heaps. This is a "staging area," used by the estimated 100 to 1,000 people who every night jump a fence at the Mexican border and embark on a trek through the remote terrain to a highway where most are picked up by vans heading to Tucson or Phoenix. Last year 250 illegal migrants died in the Arizona desert. Illegal crossers are streaming through other areas of the Southwest, including Arizona's Coronado National Monument. Crushed plants and garbage tell the same story. A crackdown at the border in California and Texas has diverted migrants to remote points in the Arizona desert, many bordered by private ranches and parklands. The authorities are building a 5-foot-high, 30-mile-long barrier in Organ Pipe and another 2 miles long in Coronado, along the borders with Mexico, to cut down on the illegal vehicle traffic. In addition, the Border Patrol is stepping up its enforcement, but environmentalists believe the problem is too widespread and rooted in social and economic causes. doclink

    4,000 to 8,000 people a day cross the Mexico/U.S. border illegally.

    Pregnancy Tests Urged for Migrants

    July 29, 2004, Jakarta Post

    Indonesian migrant worker activist Normawati proposed to make it mandatory for migrant workers to use contraceptives and to take a urine test to minimize women workers getting pregnant while working abroad. On average 20 women workers returned with babies each month from the Middle East and this figure does not include those who got pregnant working there. Every day, 800 to 1,000 workers arrive at the Airport in Cengkareng while 1,600 to 3,000 leave each day. Workers got pregnant mostly because they were raped by their employers but some get money from employers to have sex. The government does nothing to help although it collects Rp 25,000 (US$2.8) from each returning worker. Many workers handed over their babies to orphanages for adoption because they could not bear the shame. Six million migrant workers are working in 16 countries. Indonesia is the second largest exporter of labor and the workers contributed US$1.86 billion to Indonesia's foreign exchange, a decrease from 2002's $2.3 billion. This year, the government expects $5 billion from the workers. The government has submitted a bill on labor protection that is expected to be endorsed in September. doclink

    Nations Are Urged to Fight Illegal Migration; Unfair International Economic Order is to Blame, Says Foreign Ministry Official

    August 2, 2004, South China Morning Post

    Developed countries should combat people-smuggling and human-trafficking. A senior Chinese official said the unfair international economic and irrational migration policies were the causes of illegal migration that has a negative impact on development and undermines order and security. The involvement of transnational criminal organisations and the using of fake passports were features of illegal migration. Channels for legal migration should be widened to eliminate the root causes of illegal migration, and a new world order was needed to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor. Countries should not let political factors and the abuse of asylum policies hinder international co-operation. The mainland government was firmly opposed to illegal migration. Last year, police found nearly 7,000 smugglers and arrested 230 organisers of people-smuggling. China has developed co-operation with more than 40 countries. China is playing an increasingly significant role on the international migration issue. doclink

    Rights Group Seeks to Halt Africa's Losses in Health Care

    July 13, 2004, New York Times*

    A drain of nurses, doctors and pharmacists from Africa is crippling health systems as they struggle to give people with AIDS access to medicines. A report urges wealthy nations to reimburse African countries for the loss of health professionals educated at African expense and to train more people domestically rather than recruiting abroad. It also advocates that developed countries and international organizations begin directly supporting higher remuneration for underpaid African health workers. Efforts to expand the treatment of AIDS are hampered by the shortage of skilled staff. Physicians for Human Rights advocates tough limits on the recruitment of health professionals from Africa by rich countries, but stops short of restricting their immigration as that would be discriminatory for nurses and doctors from India and the Philippines. Another difficult choice is whether H.I.V.-positive health workers should be first to get treatment with scarce drugs they otherwise could not afford as AIDS is decimating health staffs in some of the African countries. African governments are urged to ensure that health workers are informed about the treatment programs and encouraged to get tested. doclink

    Sudan: Tens of Thousands Lack Clean Water in Malakal

    June 25, 2004, IRIN News (UN)

    80% of Malakal's 120,000 residents and most of the 35,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have no clean drinking water. The town's water plant had not been operational for a month and people are taking water from the Nile, leading to deaths and diarrhoea. Incorrect water-tank construction and inadequate power supplies and piping caused the problems. Since the beginning of the year, a steady flow of IDPs has been camping or staying with relatives and friends. Until October 2003 the area had stayed out of Sudan's civil war. Khartoum then brought in Nuer militias to keep control and for the first time in many months, government forces became embroiled while militias razed villages looting and killing. Local sources say 100,000 have been displaced. Humanitarian workers had been unable to conduct assessments due to delays in granting travel permits. With the militias still at large, the IDPs cannot go back to their homes. Another concern is the arrival of more IDPs and economic migrants, once a peace agreement has been signed. The stretch along the Nile from Kosti to Malakal would become a major route to southern Sudan. Meanwhile the UN had little funding to provide food or shelter the agency for Sudan received less than 15% percent of the $510 million requested for areas outside Darfur. doclink

    Environmental Impacts of High Illegal Immigration Traffic at Organ Pipe National Monument: Eyewitness Account

    June 25, 2004

    For about 4 miles along the small town of Naco, there is a 12 foot fence to keep illegals from crossing a populated area. For several miles along the other side of the border is a plowed road. Numerous trucks were seen speeding along packed with aspiring illegal aliens. The driver dropped off his load at an abandoned ranch and later they would cross into the U.S. There are areas where illegal aliens, after walking 15-30 miles through the desert, would wait for their arranged ride. The trash left at these areas is measured in tons backpacks, clothing medicine, food, and, human waste. One woman said she went out to her barn one night and when they went back to their house, there were 6 Iranians in her kitchen making dinner! Organ Pipe National Monument is now closed to visitors because of violence from illegal aliens and drug runners who have carved 300 miles of roads through the fragile desert. A vehicle barrier was started, but may never be finished due to lack of funds. This massive invasion continues, while understaffed, overworked and underpaid Border Patrol Agents are ordered to stay parked in one spot even if illegals are passing within yards of their vehicles. "Apprehensions are down", the public will be told. A reliable source said that in the Tucson sector alone, 8,000-10,000 illegals enter every 12 hours. doclink

    The drug traffic coming through this area is tremendous. A concrete barrier is being build across the southern end of the park to keep out drug-carrying vehicles. While only some of the illegal immigrants are drug carriers, this is a dirty business for all illegal immigrants. First illegal immigrants have to break the law to come to the U.S. Then they are associated with other crimes, violence, and exploitation. Then they must work under cover and always fearful of discovery just to get slave wages. In the meantime U.S. workers are displaced. When will this human trafficking stop?

    World's Tally of Refugees Falls

    June 17, 2004, Push Journal

    The number of refugees and displaced people has fallen by 18% to just over 17 million due to increased international efforts. More than half a million people from Afghanistan returned home. Conflict in Sudan is creating a new crisis. 17.1 million people are classified as 'of concern', including asylum seekers, displaced people and the stateless. This includes 9.7m people who have sought refuge abroad. That figure fell by 10% last year. Nearly 5m people have been able to either go home or to find a place to rebuild their lives. More than half the 1.1m refugees who returned home last year went back to Afghanistan. Large numbers also returned to Angola, Burundi and Iraq. But 2.1m Afghans are looking for refuge in 74 countries. The next largest groups are Sudanese and Burundis. Pakistan remains the top country for asylum, hosting 1.1m refugees and asylum seekers. Next on the list are Iran, Germany, Tanzania and the US. The UK is in eighth place, with 276,000. doclink

    Migration a Key Concern at Global Population Forum

    May 17, 2004, UN Wire

    Many nations perceive migration as a security concern, but have failed to arrive at an consensus on the matter. According to the UN 2002 revision of its 'World Population Prospects,' the world population will surge to 8.9 billion by 2050. Most growth will occur in six countries-India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Indonesia-becoming home to half of the world's population. Developed countries will experience declining populations. By 2050, Italy's population will decrease by 22% and the former Soviet Union and Ukraine 50%. From 1960 to 2000, international migrants grew from 79 million to 175 million. Developed nations have become highly sensitive. Growing security concerns has made migration a sensitive issue. Nations must take a comprehensive look at migration, by addressing the issue with a bold vision and by committing the necessary financial and human resources. doclink

    Developed countries should also look at their future sustainability if their population should increase.

    UAE Population Crosses 4 Million at the End of 2003

    April 13, 2004, Xinhua General News Service

    The population of the UAE rose by 7.6% in 2003 to top 4 million, one of the world's highest population growth rates. The country's population stood at 4.041 million at the end of 2003, the second largest after Saudi Arabia. Males were 2.745 million and females were 1.296 million. The growth rate in 2003 was an increase of 7.6%, but the male population was higher than females. Abu Dhabi remained the most populous with 1.591 million at the end of 2003. The population was 1.204 million in Dubai, 636,000 in Sharjah, 235,000 in Ajman, 195,000 in Ras Al Khaimah, 118,000 in Fujairah and 62,000 in Umm Al Quwain. UAE's growth in 2003 and the previous 15 years was the highest in the Arab world and one of the highest in the world. The reasons include a growth in the expatriate population, a foreign influx because of business upswing, and a growth in the native population due to government incentives. Expatriates from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Iran are nearly 40% while the rest include other Arabs, Westerners, Africans and Asians. doclink

    Hungary Braces for Illegal Immigrants on Europe's New Frontline

    January 21, 2004, Push newsfeed

    Hungary has the longest borders with non-EU neighbours, 1,100 km (684 miles) shared with Ukraine, Romania, Serbia-Montenegro, Croatia. The EU is to give Budapest 148 million euros (177 million dollars) in the next three years to tighten its borders. Accession countries assume full EU border responsibilities when they join the Schengen accord that governs free movement in 13 countries of the current 15-member EU. Immigration figures indicate that accession countries like Hungary are prime targets for smuggling groups and it is expected that networks will bring trafficking activities to Hungary as the nation joins the EU. Hungary has boosted border patrols by 640 and will have more than 13,000 guards in 2004. Budapest has imposed visa requirements with Serbia-Montenegro and the Ukraine. In 2003 illegal crossings fell by 50% compared to 2002. In mid-November, Hungarian and Austrian police busted two rings that helped more than 10,000 people from southeastern Europe cross illegally into Hungary and then on to Austria over the past six years. On Hungary's border with Serbia, thousands of Iraqis and Afghans pass through annually hoping to reach the European Union. doclink

    Somalia: UN Concerned Over Plight of IDPS

    April 29, 2003, UN Integrated Regional Information

    The United Nations is concerned over the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia where they often do not have access to the basic social services, and suffer violations of their human rights, including sexual violence against women and girls. The UN estimates there are 350,000 IDPs in Somalia, mostly women and children. 150,000 live in the capital, Mogadishu, with 15,000 in Kismayo and the rest are scattered around the country. Somali leaders must reaffirm their commitment for the protection of IDPs and see that civilians were not displaced. Those suspected of violating rights of displaced persons could in future be prosecuted by the International Criminal Tribunal. doclink

    Morocco: An Agency to Tackle Illegal Migration

    November 12, 2003, New York Times*

    Morocco said that a new department and investigative force would be dedicated to combating people-trafficking. Illegal immigration is a point of friction between Morocco and Spain, which thousands of migrants try to reach by sea from Moroccan beaches. doclink

    West Africa; Traffickers Hold Thousands of Children, Women in Bondage

    November 12, 2003, UN Integrated Regional Information Network

    Tens of thousands of children are exploited for their labour and women into prostitution. Some were taken with promises that they would be taught useful skills, others in exchange for gifts and promises of payments that never came. Nigerian police indicate that 6,000-15,000 children from Benin were child labourers in Nigeria. Children from Benin and Togo are brought to Cameroon, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea where the boys are used as farm labourers and girls as domestic hands or prostitutes. The journey is hazardous, hundreds of children have perished in accidents when vessels carrying them, sank. Hundreds have been returned with the assistance of the UNICEF and the Nigerian embassies. Trafficking networks to Cote d'Ivoire were established in Mali in the early 1990s for cheap labour on cotton plantations. In Ghana hundreds of children were freed from the employment of fishermen and a draft bill has been prepared by Ghana to check the practice. In West Africa rings specialise in sending women to Europe to work as prostitutes, 60% walking the streets of Italy are from Nigeria. 19,774 Nigerians have been deported from Europe since 1999 for offences related to trafficking and prostitution. 4,835 Nigerians, mostly women, were arrested or deported for similar reasons. Women are taken across the Sahara to Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya, where they are smuggled to Europe. Every year scores die during the Sahara and Mediterranian crossings and agencies believe the trend is growing. Laws on child trafficking need to be revised to tackle this problem. It is estimated that 400,000 children are involved. Most activists say nothing will be achieved without first dealing with poverty in West Africa. A young prostitute can make as much money in six months in Italy than 10 years working in a farm. doclink

    Putin Says Migration Control Can Solve Demographic Problems

    November 10, 2003, Itar-Tass (Russia)

    President Vladimir Putin said demographic problems in Russia could be solved by controlling migration. The president said that most countries solve their demographic problems by allowing immigration and It would be expedient to select immigrants by age, profession, education and health, as Canada does. doclink

    Immigration Fueling EU Population Growth

    September 9, 2003

    Immigrants accounted for 72% of the increase in the EUs population in the past five years. Since the mid 1980s, immigration has become an important factor to compensate for plummeting birth rates. By 2000, 18.8 million foreign nationals were living in the EU countries, 5% of the population. A third are nationals of other EU members. In Belgium, Germany and Austria, 9% of the population is foreign born. The largest group in the EU, 2.4 million, is from Turkey, followed by Yugoslavia with 1.8 million. These immigrant populations are concentrated in Germany where 7.3 million foreigners live; France has 3.2 million; Britain, 2.2 million; Italy, 1.2 million; Belgium, 853,000; and Spain, 801,000. doclink

    Russians Shudder as Census Shows 3 Million Ethnic Chinese

    September 30, 2003, Chicago Sun-Times

    Russia's October 2002 census claims that Chinese are now the fastest-growing ethnic minority, growing to 3.26 million today. 2.8 million are in Siberia and Pacific coastal region, reviving fears of Chinese masses invading Siberia's mineral-rich spaces. The 3,000-mile Sino-Russia border has been opened to trade and traders, but Russia had not assumed a Chinese immigration rate of 300,000 a year. doclink

    Ministers Order Study of Population Growth

    August 12, 2003, Optimum Population Trust

    The British Government is expected to consider whether Britain should limit population growth or reduce it. Britain has the fastest growing population in Europe. The last time the Government considered the issue it concluded that Britain would do better with a stationary population. A naturally falling birth rate, low immigration and high emigration ensured a relatively stable population to the mid 1990s. The Labour Government's policy of encouraging immigration has increased population growth, now at its highest level since the 1970s, increasing at 250,000 people a year, with 75% from immigration. Sir David Attenborough is urging the Government to let the population decline naturally to reduce pressures on the environment. The Scottish Executive wanted to encourage immigration to offset a decline in population from Scots moving south. Jersey has a policy of a population of 87,000, to discourage overdevelopment. 76 countries have policies to reduce population growth, 20 countries in Europe have policies to increase population by encouraging women to have more babies. India wants to stop population growth by 2045, Pakistan by 2020. France, facing population decline, wishes to raise the birthrate. Only five countries plus the UK encourage permanent migration: the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. Canada, is increasing its population by 1% a year through immigration. Australia has 110,000 immigrants a year, but there is debate about how big the population should grow. The mayor of Sydney has called for less immigration as quality of life in the city is suffering. 60% of developing countries aim to lower fertility while 40% of the world's countries have policies to lower immigration. Three quarters of all countries are satisfied with the level of emigration. doclink

    Scotland Launches Drive to Draw in Foreign Workers

    February 26, 2003, Guardian (London)

    Scotland's population has fallen 2% since 1981 and a drive was launched to encourage foreign workers to move to Scotland. The first step will encourage foreigners seeking work permits to move to Scotland. Students from overseas who study in Scotland will be encouraged to stay when they graduate. Since 1981 young people under 15 fell 18%, people over 75 grew 29%. Scotland is one of the least racially mixed parts of Britain. Visas to Britain are expected to increase from 100,000 to 140,000 over the next few years, and a proportion of these new workers are wanted to set up home in Scotland. The Home Office is asked to look at ways of making it easier for the 13,000 foreign students who graduate each year from Scottish universities to stay. But there are refugee doctors, engineers, nurses who can't get jobs even when they have visas. Employers are put off because they don't have UK work experience, or because of the media coverage surrounding asylum seekers. doclink

    U.K.: Immigrants Push Population to 60 Million

    September 29, 2002, Sunday Times (London)

    The 2001 census will confirm Britain as the second most populous country in Europe. Immigration is the main growth factor and is certain to spark a debate. Britain will have to find room for an estimated 5 million more people by 2025, when the population is expected to top 65 million. Critics say that the levels of immigration are unsustainable. It means that the workers will be replenished as they retire - a necessity if economic growth is to be maintained. But it will add to the stress on the social services and infrastructure. Growth explains the surge in the value of property in the London area that has led to shortages of police, nurses and teachers. Demand for housing is likely to change the environment as new households are created at more than 220,000 per year, while only 160,000 new houses are being built annually. New figures are expected to show that Britain's roads are overstretched, with drivers sitting in traffic jams. The railways, energy requirements, water and waste disposal needs will be affected by increased population. The census results will also highlight the ageing of the population and fuel concern whether social services can provide care for the elderly. doclink

    Malaysia Defends Immigration Laws

    August 27, 2002, Associated Press

    Malaysia relatively wealthy compared to its poorer Southeast Asian neighbors, become a magnet for migrants. Illegal foreign workers have been subjected to whipping, crowded detention centers with little food or water, and large fines since an August 1 crackdown. Up to 600,000 illegal workers were in Malaysia before the laws were introduced. Another 300,000 fled Malaysia before the August deadline. Indonesia and the Philippines have objected to the mistreatment of their peoples. Three Filipino children died recently during deportation due to dehydration or overcrowding. One Phillipines senator, Ralph Recto, called the measures "ethnic cleansing." doclink


    Egypt's Population Growth Cause for Concern

    Abu Bakr al-Guindi says population growth needs to be reduced - 'otherwise, Egypt will not be able to feed its people in future.'
    December 18, 2016, The Arab Weekly   By: Hassan Abdel Zaher

    Abu Bakr al-Guindi, who has headed Egypt's statistics agency, CAPMAS, for 11 years, is most concerned about the population growth rate. He worries that, with the nation's limited resources, if population growth remains at its current 2.4% annual rate (i.e., over two million more people each year) Egypt will have problems feeding its people. The population now stands at 94 million, making Egypt the most populous country in the Middle East, and it is expected to reach 125 million in 2030.

    Guindi said, "population growth is a blessing only when countries have enough money to offer services, but it is a curse when they do not." He said that Egypt's population growth is five times that of China and eight times that of South Korea. "For our country to feed all these people, its economy must grow three times as much as it does now." Guindi advocates several incentives to encourage smaller families.

    Despite government efforts to form new agricultural communities in the desert, due largely to limited water resources, people inhabit only one million sq. kilometres, or 7.8% of the nation's land. The vast majority of people live in the urban centers, especially Cairo and the coastal city of Alexandria. The effect of growth on living space and educational, health and housing services is tremendous.

    The population growth rate has long been a major challenge for Egypt's governments. Former president Hosni Mubarak also warned that overpopulation would dwarf resources and keep the country struggling to feed itself. Although Egypt now spends hundreds of millions of dollars to rein in population growth, the program have met with little success. Atef al-Shitany, the head of the Health Ministry's family planning section blames early marriages, poverty and rampant illiteracy. He said that "Egypt needs to enforce positive and negative incentives to curb its population growth. We also need to convince Egyptians that small families mean better living standards."

    Egypt's economic growth shrank to less than 2% annually after the 2011 revolution that ended Mubarak's 30-year rule as deteriorating security caused an industrial slump and tourists stayed away. Although the economy is now growing 4% a year, experts say Egypt needs to add one million jobs to close its unemployment gap.

    On December 11th Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said the government does not have enough money to provide the services people need. Egypt's hospitals and schools are crowded. Millions of citizens live in slums and thousands of villages and districts lack sewage, electricity and drinking water. Some believe that population growth is not the only problem. Mismanagement of human resources and a failure to make the best use of what is available also contribute to the nation's problems. doclink

    A Physicist Solves the City

    December 7, 2010, New York Times   By: Jonah Lehrer

    Geoffrey West is a theoretical physicist in search of fundamental laws who likes to compare his work to that of Kepler, Galileo and Newton. He now studies cities since urban population growth is the great theme of modern life, one that's unfolding all across the world.

    West and Luis Bettencourt, another theoretical physicist looked at a huge array of variables, from the total amount of electrical wire in Frankfurt to the number of college graduates in Bois and discovered that all of these urban variables could be described by a few exquisitely simple equations.

    For example, if they know the population of a metropolitan area in a given country, they can estimate, with approximately 85% accuracy, its average income and the dimensions of its sewer system.

    "What we found are the constants that describe every city," says West. "I can take these laws and make precise predictions about the number of violent crimes and the surface area of roads in a city in Japan with 200,000 people. I don't know anything about this city or even where it is or its history, but I can tell you all about it."

    Instead of looking at geography and history, West tries to understand a city's deep structure, its defining patterns, which will show us whether a metropolis will flourish or fall apart. We can't make our cities work better until we know how they work. And, West says, he knows how they work.

    West saw the metropolis as a sprawling organism, similarly defined by its infrastructure. He and Bettencourt concluded that cities looked a lot like elephants and when a city doubles in size, it requires an increase in resources of only 85%. This means that modern cities are the real centers of sustainability. As a result, West argues, creating a more sustainable society will require our big cities to get even bigger. We need more megalopolises.

    At first West and Bettencourt failed to pay attention to how urban areas and organisms are "totally different." People don't migrate to urban centers to save money on their utilities; they go there because cities facilitate human interactions, as people crammed into a few square miles exchange ideas and start collaborations.

    Jane Jacobs, author and fierce advocate for the preservation of small-scale neighborhoods, like Greenwich Village and the North End in Boston says the value of such urban areas, she said, is that they facilitate the free flow of information between city dwellers. She saw the city not as a mass of buildings but rather as a vessel of empty spaces, in which people interacted with other people. The city wasn't a skyline -- it was a dance.

    Bettencourt and West found that whenever a city doubles in size, every measure of economic activity, from construction spending to the amount of bank deposits, increases by approximately 15% per capita. While Jacobs could only speculate on the value of our urban interactions, West insists that he has found a way to "scientifically confirm" her conjectures.

    West illustrates the same concept by describing the Santa Fe Institute, an interdisciplinary research organization, where he and Bettencourt work. The institute itself is a sprawl of common areas, old couches and tiny offices; the coffee room is always the most crowded place. "S.F.I. is all about the chance encounters," West says. "There are few planned meetings, just lots of unplanned conversations. It's like a little city that way."

    However in recent decades, many of the fastest-growing cities in America, like Phoenix and Riverside, Calif., have traded away public spaces for affordable single-family homes. Some of these fast-growing cities appear like tumors on the landscape, West reminds us. "They have these extreme levels of growth, but it's not sustainable growth."

    When Bettencourt and West analyzed the negative variables of urban life, like crime and disease, they discovered that the exact same mathematical equation applied. After a city doubles in size, it also experiences a 15% per capita increase in violent crimes, traffic and AIDS cases.

    West and Bettencourt refer to this phenomenon as "superlinear scaling," which is a fancy way of describing the increased output of people living in big cities. West illustrates the problem by translating human life into watts. A hunter-gatherer in the Amazon needs about 250 watts to carry on. But a city dweller needs about 11,000 watts to live. He goes on to say that the urban lifestyle is unsustainable.

    The historian Lewis Mumford described the rise of the megalopolis as "the last stage in the classical cycle of civilization." In his more pessimistic moods, West knows that nothing can trend upward forever. In fact, West sees human history as defined by this constant tension between expansion and scarcity.

    After a resource is exhausted, we are forced to exploit a new resource, if only to sustain our superlinear growth. West cites a long list of breakthroughs to illustrate this historical pattern, from the discovery of the steam engine to the invention of the Internet.

    But the escape is only temporary, as every innovation eventually leads to new shortages. We clear-cut forests, and so we turn to oil; once we exhaust our fossil-fuel reserves, we'll start driving electric cars, at least until we run out of lithium. This helps explain why West describes cities as the only solution to the problem of cities. Although urbanization has generated a seemingly impossible amount of economic growth, it has also inspired the innovations that allow the growth to continue.

    There is a serious complication to this triumphant narrative of cliff edges and creativity, however. While there used to get a big revolution every few thousand years, now it takes about 15 years between big innovations. What this means is that, for the first time ever, people are living through multiple revolutions.

    . . . more doclink

    Nigeria Records 200,000km Roads, 17m Housing Deficits

    December 10, 2014, Guardian

    Nigeria needs about 400,000 km of roads to meet its quest for infrastructure development, approximately twice the volume of the present road network cross the 36 states of the federation. Likewise, the nation's housing deficit currently stands at 17 million.

    The Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) has enlisted into the workforce about 7,000 youths from communities to carry out maintenance tasks in various federal roads nationwide as part of the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme.

    Roads are necessary in a country like Nigeria where other forms of transport are negligible, especially such huge viable options like railways, air and water transportation.

    The housing challenges were being compounded by rural-urban migration, as there is a rapid development of urban slum settlement in Nigeria, leading to such societal ailments like hydra-headed problem of building collapse, poor hygiene and health, disease, social and problems like crime.

    70% of the African population will living in cities by 2050. doclink

    Sustainababble D.C.?

    September 12, 2013, World Watch Institute   By: James Luttrell

    Does Washington, D.C.'s new sustainability plan move the city closer to true sustainability, or is it just a bunch of sustainababble? Developed out of inclusive stakeholder deliberations and extensive research, Sustainability D.C. lists goals and steps that might collectively help the city reach "true" sustainability---or at least get it one step closer. By building on ongoing sustainability initiatives, the plan strives to help D.C. overcome challenges presented by an unsustainable U.S. economy, unhealthy food and lifestyle choices, inequity and lack of diversity, and climate change and environmental degradation. doclink

    The Big Squeeze: Can Cities Save the Earth?

    April 8, 2013, NPR National Public Radio   By: Robert Krulwich

    Follow the link in the headline to see how densely packed we can get. Tremendous apartment houses fill the view in these amazing pictures. The overall effect is like staring at a frozen tidal wave of residential construction.

    Modern cities allow enormous numbers of people to spend their lives in extraordinary close proximity, piling them, literally, on top of each other, and somehow, it works! Because cities, even the ugliest ones, have an obvious efficiency. If all 7 billion of us had to live side-by-side in two story ranch houses, or yurts we'd overrun the planet; we'd strangle the forests, the meadows, the plains.

    Tim de Chant has a blog called Per Square Mile, where he thinks about population density. Suppose we could move everybody on Earth into a single city. How much space would that city occupy?

    At the website you will find a pictorial representation of 7 billion at the density of six different cities.

    Seven billion people living like Houstonians would occupy a lot more space than 7 billion people living like Manhattanites. People lumped together in One Big City will still need food, furniture, clothing, water, electricity, building materials, still need a place to store their waste. They still need water systems, farms, ranches, electricity grids, dumps, and lakes. Tim de Chant calculated that if everybody agreed to live like the average Bangladeshi, the world could exist largely people-free. But as soon as we get richer - even as rich as the average Chinese - the world can't carry all 7 billion of us. We need more planet. If we all want to live American-style, we'd need four more planets. doclink

    High Population, Poor Planning and High Unemployment Problem Fuelling Slums in Uganda

    April 3, 2013, New Vision

    In Africa it was a matter of pride for a man to build his own home at age of 18 and marry. However, with colonialism came imperialism and taxes on people's homes. To escape the taxation, people moved to urban areas where their make-shift dwellings grew into slums. These settlements which lacked proper planning,

    With an urbanisation growth exceeding 5% per annum, Uganda is grappling with rural-urban migration with its resultant effects such as high crime rates, unemployment, slums development and poor sanitation.

    At independence, Uganda's population was six million. Through the years, however, a steady growth estimated at over one million annually, increased pressure on land, forcing many to open up formerly inhabitable spaces.

    From 1964 attempts were made to provide low-income housing and access to infrastructure and services at affordable costs.

    Following the UN general assembly resolution of 1987 on the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless, the Government commenced the development of the National Shelter Strategy that was adopted in 1992.

    Uganda has been using the strategy for the last 20 years to guide the blossoming housing sector, says Agnes Kalibbala, the director of housing at the lands and housing ministry.

    "The strategy is designed to put in place an environment that enables people to access housing, cheap land, housing finance and building materials," Kalibbala said.

    Informal settlements have gone on to be a big problem, not helped by overcrowding, considering that a household in Uganda on average boasts five persons.

    Today, Uganda has 33 million people, yet land supply is fixed. It is for this reason that settlement around wetlands, forests and mountain ranges has increased, blighted by the soaring demand for land that attracts profitable returns.

    With 5.8 million in urban areas and 28.3 million in rural areas, the country has an estimated 6.82 families living in 6.2 million poor housings. Of these, 84% are temporal, while 28% are made in traditional materials, according to the 2009/10 Uganda National Household Survey.

    46% of the houses are traditional, constructed out of mud and poles, and 73% of houses have earthen floors. Iron-sheet roof cover 63%, whilst grass thatched roofs cover 35%.

    There is a backlog of 1.6 million housing units, comprising sub-standard and structures not intended for human habitation.

    To fix the housing problem in Uganda, the Government is in the final stages of developing a National Housing Policy to guide housing development, slum upgrading and prevention and repair and maintenance of existing housing stock in order to fix the runaway housing deficit.

    The policy intends to ease land access as land owners who lack the capacity to develop their property will be encouraged to enter joint-ventures with investors, land-sharing schemes or leasing, says Samuel Mabala, the commissioner of urban development in the ministry of Housing and Urban Development.

    "We expect positive development in public-private partnerships in the housing sector because the Government does not have resources to fund this," he says.

    "The Government will also provide incentives to attract housing and financial institutions and ensure housing cooperatives are started to enable people save and mobilise resources for housing development." doclink

    Kenya's Waste Management Challenge

    March 13, 2013, IRIN News (UN)

    The more the population in the city of Nairobi and elsewhere in East Africa grows, the more the solid waste management burden grows. The problem is worsened by poor funding for urban sanitation departments and a lack of enforcement of sanitation regulations.

    Nearly 100 million people in East Africa lack access to improved sanitation, says the UN.

    In Nairobi, the city council's solid waste department, like those in Kampala and Dar es Salaam, is not well equipped, with transport vehicles few and often poorly serviced, despite increasing waste quantities due to rapid urbanization.

    Solid waste is often dumped in abandoned quarries or similar sites In the Mathare slum area, residents live close to one such dumpsite, which exposes them to environmental and disease risks.

    "Burning plastic produces very toxic fumes .. which are very harmful to human beings and the environment. Most of the uncontrolled dumpsites are some of the major sources of greenhouse gases contributing to global climate change," said Andre Dzikus, coordinator of the urban basic services section of the UN Human Settlement Programme (UN-HABITAT).

    More often than not, the urban poor have to make do with living amid waste despite the health risks; child mortality in the slums is 2.5 times higher than in other areas of Nairobi, according to WHO.

    In the Mathare slums, for example, the sight of children playing among plastic bags full of human excrement, referred to as "flying toilets", is common. "We use plastic bags to relieve ourselves because the few toilets that are there are too expensive," one resident said.

    "If I have to choose between paying for the toilet and buying food, the choice is easily made."

    "I have built toilets and bathrooms several times, but every time it rains, or there is a conflict, they are destroyed. Because of the instability, I take my time before I build a new one," said a slum property owner. "Every time some of us try to keep clean, someone defecates in front of your door."

    According to WHO, open defecation was the only sanitation practice available to 33% of the population in East Africa in 2006. Diarrhea is the second biggest killer of children in developing countries, according to UNICEF.

    Many slum dwellers in East African cities pay five to seven times more per litre of water than the average North American, notes WHO.

    "One of the health risks women have is reproductive health because they use public toilets that are not properly maintained. Some of them have suffered from urinary infections," Edith Kalela, a communication officer at Akiba Mashinani Trust said.

    Slum residents often do not own the land they live on, risking eviction. doclink

    Singapore Seethes Over Population Plan

    February 17, 2013, AlJazeera   By: Katherine Landergan

    High housing prices are driving people from Singapore. One man, on moving his family to Japan said that prices in Japan are more affordable than properties in Singapore.

    Singapore transformed itself from a tiny island nation with no natural resources to one of the richest countries in the world, sustained by encouraging foreign investment and migrant laborers, and is now the third-most densely populated country in the world.

    The Singapore government is now planning to increase its total population from 5.3 million to 6.9 million by 2030. Thousand have taken to the streets on Saturday in protest. They have seen an aging population coupled with dwindling birth rates, escalating housing prices, overcrowding, and caving infrastructure.

    In addition to the number of foreigners, an estimated 30,000 new permanent residents - a status given to foreigners who live in Singapore for long periods of time - will also be added each year.

    Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said, "Our priority is to maintain a strong Singaporean core by encouraging Singaporeans to get married and have children. We will reduce inflow of foreign workers, moderate flow of new citizens and maintain [permanent resident] population at about present size."

    The government's report predicted that the country's population will start to decline by 2025, and over 25% of the number of citizens retiring from the workforce. The fertility rate has now dropped just 1.2 births per woman - among the lowest rates in the world.

    Although the government stressed it would maintain a strong Singaporean core in spite of an incoming surge of foreigners, the majority of Singaporeans remain skeptical about its promise to deliver.

    "It seems like anyone can just come into Singapore," said one man. "So will having 6.9 million people make Singapore a happier place? Is the economy really that important?"

    "The government has been singing the same song for years," one woman said. "They keep adding more and more numbers year after year and assure us that it will be for the best, but when will it end?"

    Many say a potential loss of Singapore's national identity is an even more pressing problem than overpopulation.

    The opposition Singapore Democratic Party called instead for a plan for businesses to favor Singaporeans when hiring and to tighten the screening of foreign professionals to wean businesses off of cheap foreign labor. doclink

    Brazil: Swallowing Rain Forest, Cities Surge in Amazon

    November 24, 2012, New York Times   By: Taylor Barnes

    The surging population growth of cities is turning the Amazon from the world's largest remaining area of tropical forest, interspersed by remote river outposts, to a series of sprawling urban areas with air-conditioned shopping malls, gated communities and a dealerships selling Chevy pickup trucks.

    Scientists are studying such developments and focusing on the demands on the resources of the Amazon - deforestation in the region already ranks among the largest contributors to global greenhouse-gas emissions.

    By enforcing logging laws and carving out protected forest areas, the country has made progress in curbing deforestation; however, biologists and other climate researchers fear that the sharp increase in migration to cities in the Amazon, which now has a population approaching 25 million, could erode those gains.

    In the Amazon city of Manaus the number of residents grew 22% to 1.7 million from 2000 to 2010, according to government statistics. Of the 19 Brazilian cities that the latest census indicates have doubled in population over the past decade, 10 are in the Amazon. Altogether, the region's population climbed 23% from 2000 to 2010, while Brazil as a whole grew just 12%.

    Larger family sizes and high levels of poverty in the Amazon are fueling this growth. While Brazil's birthrate has fallen to 1.86 children per woman, one of the lowest in Latin America, the Amazon has Brazil's highest rate, at 2.42.

    There is also an economic allure: soybean farming fueled the growth of Sinop by 50% in a decade. In other cities, it is manufacturing, logging mining or hydroelectric construction.

    Some researchers suggest that the migration to cities may increase deforestation by permitting cattle ranchers, already responsible for razing big portions of forest, to acquire lands held by small cultivators.

    In the Amazon there is an intensifying an urbanization that has been advancing for decades. For more than 20 years, a majority of the Brazilian Amazon's population has lived in urban areas.

    "It's great that people are moving out of poverty, but one of the things we need to understand when people move out of poverty is there is a larger demand on resources," said Mitchell Aide, a University of Puerto Rico biology professor. doclink

    Urbanization Does Not Necessarily Mean More Wealth

    October 17, 2012, World Bank   By: Serena Dal

    Urbanization usually leads to higher GDP because of higher levels of productivity, but that did not happen for Sub-Saharan Africa. The graph shows a sporadic relationship between urbanization and GDP, perhaps because much of non-farm work in Africa is from microenterprises and household businesses that do not earn much. "These businesses make a significant contribution to gross job creation and destruction," the report says, "although not necessarily to net job creation and productivity growth." doclink

    Time to Really Complete Urbanization in China

    September 19, 2012, Marketwatch   By: Caixin Online

    China needs for its production capacity to be concentrated in the city to achieve economies of scale. Urbanization can also help rev up domestic demand, mop up excess production capacity and spur growth. Urbanization, along with industrialization, the IT revolution and globalization, will drive social and economic growth in the years to come.

    There is a danger that China's "incomplete urbanization" will not only impede its growth, but may also become a source of social tension, leading to instability.

    Much of the problems is that Chinese villagers are not treated the same as urban residents. In other words, farmers are not successfully becoming city residents.

    The rate of urbanization went from 18% in 1978 to 51.3% at the end of last year, with the urban population grew from 238 million to 680 million. However, at least 250 million migrants working in cities are not entitled to the social benefits given to urban residents, and have little or no access to a secure job, welfare benefits, or education and medical benefits for their children. If this group of people were taken out of official counts, it would shave at least 10 to 12 percentage points off the urbanization rate, according to analysts.

    Measures are being taken to improve social security benefits for migrant workers, improving the household registration system and giving migrant workers' children better access to education.

    Too often, farmers' land is seized against their wishes. Local governments have been known to try all kinds of ways to convert farmland into development projects, illegally and violently evicting farmers from their homes, turning them into flat dwellers and unwilling urbanites. This is a major cause of the mass outrage and radical protests in recent years.

    With between 500 million and 600 million villagers expected to move into cities in the next 10 to 25 years, the scale and complexity of Chinese urbanization is unprecedented. It is all the more necessary the government ensure the process is sustainable and people-centered. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: giving farmland over to urbanization is likely a huge mistake.

    Global Urban Population to Be 6.3 Billion by 2050

    October 18, 2012, IndoLink

    The global urban population is estimated to be 6.3 billion by 2050, nearly doubling the 3.5 billion urban dwellers worldwide in 2010, posing a challenge in management of biodiversity, says a report, 'Cities and Biodiversity Outlook', by Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

    The total urban area is expected to triple between 2000 and 2030, while urban population is expected to nearly double, increasing from 2.84 billion to 4.9 billion, during this period.

    The reports says that over 60% of the area projected to be urban has yet to be built, and most of the growth is expected to happen in small and medium-sized cities, not in mega cities.

    The report was issued at the CBD conference, attended by mayors, governors and other officials from 90 cities, including 50 international cities. Subnational and local governments were called upon to draw an action plan and take steps to implement it for achieving the global biodiversity targets by 2020.

    "The urban expansion will heavily draw on natural resources, including water, on a global scale, and will often consume prime agricultural land, affecting biodiversity and ecosystem services elsewhere," said the report.

    Africa was found to be urbanising faster than any other continent with the urban population of 55 nations of Africa expected to more than double from 300 million in 2000 to 750 million in 2030 and rate of increase in urban land cover to be 700% over the period 2000-2030.

    China's urbanisation rate is expected to slow, however by 2030, China's urban population is expected to exceed 900 million, an increase of more than 300 million from today.

    More than 80% of the population in Latin America lives in cities, and by 2050 it is expected to reach 90%, thus making it the most urbanised of all world regions.

    The CBD believes that urbanisation is both a challenge and an opportunity to manage ecosystem services globally. Giving Kolkata and Mumbai as examples, the report explained how rich biodiversity can exist in cities. Sanjay Gandhi National Park of Mumbai was such an example.

    Urban ecosystem services and biodiversity can help contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation and increasing the biodiversity of urban food systems can enhance food and nutrition security. doclink

    U.S.: As Population, Interest in Outdoor Recreation Grow, More Pressure Likely for Northern Forests

    September 26, 2012, United Nations Population Division

    "Outdoor Recreation in the Northern United States," a report recently published by the U.S. Forest Service's Northern Research Station suggests that in 20 northern states, the growth in both the population and popularity of outdoor recreation's will likely create pressure for available state and federal recreation areas.

    The 20 states extending from Maine to Minnesota and from Missouri to Maryland. More people translates into "greater demand for venues for outdoor recreation and a dilemma for the North's shrinking supply of undeveloped lands," said Michael T. Rains, Director of the Northern Research Station.

    By 2060, Federal and State parkland per person in northern states is projected to decrease to 0.13 acres, about 79% of the 2008 level. Currently, more than 31% of total land area in the North is non-Federal forest, or 1.19 acres per person. By 2060, per capita non-Federal forest is predicted to decrease to 0.88 acres per person, or 74% of the 2010 level, lower than all other regions and the Nation as a whole.

    Between 1990 and 2009, total population in the North grew 11%, less than half the national growth of 23%. Projected growth for the North is expected to be 26% much less than other regions of the nation.

    Northern states saw an increase of about 4% in people ages 16 and older who engage in outdoor recreation. The activities people are pursuing outdoors are broadening from traditional sports like hunting and fishing to include activities such as orienteering, snowboarding, kayaking, off-highway-vehicle driving, and mountain biking. doclink

    Rapid Urban Expansion Threatens Biodiversity

    September 25, 2012   By: Karen Seto and Lucy Hutyra

    In a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences researchers at Yale, Texas A&M and Boston University predict that by 2030 urban areas will expand by more than 463,000 square miles or 1.2 million square kilometers. $25 - $30 trillion will be spent on infrastructure worldwide, $100 billion a year in China alone.

    75% of the urban expansion is predicted to occur in Asia, with China and India absorbing 55% of the regional total.

    Africa's urban land cover will grow the fastest, at 590% above the 2000 level: concentrating along the Nile River in Egypt; the coast of West Africa on the Gulf of Guinea; the northern shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya and Uganda and extending into Rwanda and Burundi; the Kano region in northern Nigeria; and greater Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    In North America, where 78% of the total population lives in urban areas, urban land cover will nearly double by 2030.

    "We need to rethink conservation policies and what it means to be a sustainable city," said Burak Güneralp, the study's second author and research assistant professor at Texas A&M University. "It's not all about carbon footprint, which is what mayors and planners typically think about now, but we need to consider how urban expansion will have implications for other, nonhuman species and the value of these species for present and future generations." doclink

    Urban Disasters Spotlight Strain on Asian Cities

    August 13, 2012, Korea Herald

    Many of Asia's biggest cities are buckling under the strain of rapid economic development, extreme weather and an exodus from the countryside. Deadly floods, power blackouts and traffic gridlock are among the impacts.

    Both Bangkok and Manila have been hit by devastating floods in the last year, and India suffered the world's worst-ever power blackout due to surging demand from industry, homes and offices.

    Even though the growing affluence in Asia has seen millions of people escape from poverty, they face a return to third-world conditions when disaster strikes.

    At the heart of the problem lies a lack of vision in a region where urban development policies reflect a mixture of "political goals and economic ambitions," said Professor Sun Sheng Han, an urban planning expert at Australia's University of Melbourne..

    The Thai capital Bangkok -- built on swampland and slowly sinking -- risks being below sea level in 50 years after years of aggressive groundwater extraction to meet the growing needs of its factories and 12 million inhabitants. Still, a building boom there shows no sign of fading.

    Rapid urbanization that blocked natural waterways and neglected drainage systems were major factors behind the deadly floods that battered the Philippine capital Manila recently. Squatters often build shanties on river banks, storm drains and canals, dumping garbage and impeding the flow of waterways.

    India recently saw a two-day power blackout across half the country last month that left more than 600 million people without supplies as high demand overwhelmed the grid. Only 30% of India's 1.2 billion people live in cities, and it's urban population is expected to grow 60% by 2030.

    With air conditioners and other appliances becoming increasingly popular with the country's burgeoning middle class, and the expected new subways and metros needed to accommodate growth, the strains on the power sector are expected to increase.

    In Mumbai, India -- one of the world's most densely populated cities -- "The rush hour is the biggest issue. There are times it's so crowded, it's difficult to breathe," said Sudhir Gadgil, 62, an office assistant in Mumbai's southern business district, whose commute to work by train takes 1.5 hours.

    In neighboring Bangladesh, the capital Dhaka is facing the worst transport infrastructure problems in its history with an array of ambitious rail, bus and road projects planned but most are still in the design stage.

    "Dhaka already is a moribund city. It's dying fast and I see no hope how we can save it," said Shamsul Haq, the country's top transport expert and a professor at Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.

    In Jakarta, experts predict the capital will reach total gridlock by 2014. doclink

    World's Cities Unprepared for Soaring Urban Populations, Lincoln Institute Researcher Says

    September 5, 2012, Sacramento Bee   By: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy

    Shlomo "Solly" Angel, a fellow from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, wrote the book "Planet of Cities," and its companion volume "Atlas of Urban Expansion", which urges planners and political leaders to start acting now to establish basic infrastructure and make realistic projections for needed urban land, while at the same time setting aside critical green and open space. The book was announced at the World Urban Forum VI in Naples, sponsored by UN-Habitat.

    In 2010 over half of the world's total population (3.5 billion people) lived in cities - and that percentage is expected to reach 70% (6.2 billion people) or more by 2050. Almost all of these new urban residents will be in developing countries.

    Although in the United States, and to a certain extent recently in China, there has been a lot of focus on smart growth, containment, urban growth boundaries, compactness, and density, that approach is not appropriate for cities in developing countries where population densities are four times greater than in U.S. cities. Those areas are likely to more than triple their developed land areas by 2050.

    Planet of Cities instead suggests a "making room" paradigm predicated on four propositions:

    * We cannot allow city densities to get too low or too high. * Strict containment of urban expansion destroys the homes of the poor and puts new housing out of reach for most people. Decent housing for all can be ensured only if urban land is in ample supply. *As cities expand, the necessary land for public streets, public infrastructure networks, and public open spaces must be secured in advance of development.

    "Nearly 4,000 cities on our planet today have populations of 100,000 people or more. We know their names, locations, and approximate populations from maps and other data sources, but until now there has been little comparable knowledge about them, and none that could be described as rigorously scientific," Angel says. "We need a science of cities based on studying all these cities together-not in the abstract, but with a view to preparing them for their coming expansion."

    "The current situation lends urgency to the call for preparing for urban expansion now, while this urbanization project is still in full swing, rather than later, when it would be too late to make a difference," says Angel, adjunct professor of urban planning at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service of New York University, and a lecturer in public and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University.

    Planet of Cities also explores the shapes of urban footprints and how their levels of compactness change over time, how much land urban areas will require in future decades, and how much cultivated land will be consumed by expanding urban areas. It provides the conceptual framework, empirical evidence, and practical agenda necessary for the minimal yet meaningful management of urban expansion. doclink

    Weather Extremes Leave Parts of U.S. Grid Buckling

    July 26, 2012, New York Times

    From highways in Texas to nuclear power plants in Illinois, the concrete, steel and sophisticated engineering that undergird the nation's infrastructure are being taxed to worrisome degrees by heat, drought and vicious storms.

    Recently a US Airways regional jet became stuck in asphalt that had softened in 100-degree temperatures, and a subway train derailed after the heat stretched the track so far that it kinked - inserting a sharp angle into a stretch that was supposed to be straight. Clay-rich soils under highways in East Texas shrink, leading to "horrendous cracking". Highway sections expand beyond their design limits, press against each other and "pop up," creating jarring and even hazardous speed bumps.

    A nuclear plant in Chicago had to get special permission to keep operating this month because the pond it uses for cooling water rose to 102 degrees, just over its license limit. In a different power plant the body of water from which it drew its cooling water had dropped so low that the intake pipe became high and dry.

    "We've got the 'storm of the century' every year now," said Bill Gausman, a senior vice president at the Potomac Electric Power Company, which took eight days to recover from the June 29 "derecho" storm that moved across the Midwest to the Eastern Seaboard and knocked out power for 4.3 million people in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

    There has been a multibillion-dollar effort to increase the height of levees and flood walls in New Orleans because of projections of rising sea levels and stronger storms to come. In the Washington subway system, trains will be ordered to slow down if it gets too hot, causing rails to become too long and risk kinking.

    After the derecho last month, both the District of Columbia and Montgomery County, Md. are discussing the option to put power lines underground.

    Heat waves are changing the pattern of electricity use, raising peak demand higher than ever. "We build the system for the 10 percent of the time we need it," said Mark Gabriel, a senior vice president of Black & Veatch, an engineering firm. And that 10 percent is "getting more extreme."

    Violent storms and forest fires can be expected to affect water quality and water use: runoff from major storms and falling ash could temporarily shut down reservoirs.

    Many agencies have officially expressed a commitment to plan for climate change, but sometimes the results from the Federal government on the ground can be frustrating. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: If our economy continues to go down due to depletion of resources, such as oil and arable farmland, how much longer will we be able to brace up our already-deteriorating infrastructure?

    Deep Green: Are Cities Sustainable?


    November 16, 2009 - Dubai is a city built with oil cash, but the global economic recession brought construction schemes to a sudden halt. Many entrepreneurs fled the city, abandoning some 3,000 cars, found with keys in the ignition and maxed-out credit cards in the glove compartments.

    So Dubai is not sustainable, but neither is any other city.

    The more sustainable cities are small, modest, usually poor, semi-rural centres, closely linked to local food and energy sources. Lingköping, Sweden has reduced CO2 emissions by 40%, having replace oil and coal heat with electricity. The city offers free recycling, public transportation that runs on electricity and waste-biogas, bicycle paths, and reduced taxes due to income from the public waste-energy utility.

    Even so, Dubai, Lingköping and all cities rely on goods, services, energy, and resources from around the world, delivered by fuel-guzzling transport.

    Humans lived by hunting and gathering for several million years, so that is a sustainable lifestyle. Then, four thousand years ago, Sumerian cities on the Euphrates river plains required intensive agriculture and irrigation, causing erosion and salt accumulation. Sumerian texts describe barren soils and 'earth turned white'. The communities migrated north along the river seeking new fertile soils, leaving abandoned cities to disappear under the sand.

    By 500 BC deforestation and soil erosion had left most cities gasping for food and resources. In 460 BC, as the population of Athens swelled with war refugees, filth piled up, and a plague (probably typhus) killed over a third of the population. Cities everywhere began to experience similar plagues, and the human population growth rate began to decline for the first time in history.

    From 500 BC until about 1750 AD, cities were centres of filth, disease, toxic smoke, and conflict, killing off more people than they produced. Burgeoning empires required ever more resources from distant lands. The forests of Europe were devastated by 1550, requiring the use of coal fuel to fuel the industrial boom. Burning coal increased urban air pollution, causing more death and disease.

    In the 20th century, modern industrial empires sought more resources from greater distances.

    Dr. William Rees at the University of British Columbia, who developed the 'ecological footprint' analysis, points out that most cities require the environmental services from a land base 300 to 1000 times the city area. This includes land, water, atmosphere, resources, and waste sinks required to support the human population.

    All modern cities carry an ecological debt to nature. Vancouver, Canada, prides itself as being a fairly 'green' city with bike paths and urban gardens, but even so, Vancouver requires a global biophysical area about 390 times the city itself.

    In the study Ecosystem Appropriation by Cities published by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Carl Folke and colleagues estimate that the 29 largest Baltic cities - including Copenhagen, Stockholm, Oslo and Helsinki - appropriate for their resource consumption and waste an area of forest, agricultural, marine, and wetland ecosystems over 560 times the area of the cities themselves. New York requires a total eco-footprint almost 1000 times the city's geographic area. Tokyo requires twice the entire domestic bio-capacity of Japan.

    The same study shows that the 744 largest cities worldwide require more CO2 sequestration than the entire world's forests could provide.

    Each year, we loose about 13 million hectares of forests and 6 million hectares of arable land, while adding some 75 million new humans - the combined populations of Mexico City, Mumbai, Seoul and Sao Paulo.

    Rees says: "Modern cities are entropic black holes sweeping up the productivity of a vastly larger and increasingly global resource hinterland and spewing an equivalent quantity of waste back into it."

    Most modern cities remain vulnerable to distant food supplies, degraded cropland, declining fossil fuel resources and climate change impact, including rising seas and human migrations.

    Rees believes the wealthy nations "should plan to reduce their ecological footprints by almost 80 per cent" to consume only an equitable share of global biocapacity.

    Peter Victor, in the book Managing without Growth, says we need to consume less stuff. There is no magic technology that will allow us to continue consuming at current rates, much less at growing rates. But Victor, Rees and others believe we can live higher quality lives with less consumption, particularly if we turn urban density into an advantage. doclink

    Population Reference Bureau on Urbanization

    April 4, 2012, Population Reference Bureau

    A few years ago, it was announced that half the world's population now lives in urban areas. When we think of urbanization, we tend to think of sprawling cities with skyscrapers. However, the definition of "urban" varies greatly from country to country. In this video, PRB senior demographer Carl Haub discusses the global diversity of "urban" areas and the implications of a more urban world.


    China's Urban Population Exceeds Countryside for First Time

    January 17, 2012, Business Week

    Today in China, 690.79 million people live in urban areas, compared with 656.56 million in the countryside, the 2011 report of China's National Bureau of Statistics said. Three decades of economic development has encouraged farmers to seek better living standards in towns and cities. The number of people in China's urban areas is twice the the total U.S. population.

    Capitalist reforms in the late 1970s have taken more than 200 million people out of poverty, fueled a more than 90-fold increase in the economy since 1979, and transformed the nation into the world's second-largest economy and its biggest consumer of steel, copper and coal.

    Chang Jian, an economist at Barclays Capital in Hong Kong said "Urbanization in China still has a long way to go, maybe for another 20 years."

    Nobel economics laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz has cited urbanization in China, along with technology developments in the U.S., as the two most important issues that will shape the world's development during the 21st century.

    China's urbanization has already benefited companies such as excavators makers Caterpillar Inc. and Komatsu Ltd., and iron ore miners BHP Billiton Ltd. and Rio Tinto Plc. Changing consumer tastes and growing wealth have also fueled demand for products sold by Apple Inc., General Motors Co. and Yum! Brands Inc.

    China's city dwellers have 3 times the income of rural residents. Per capita urban disposable income increased 8.4% last year while per capita cash income increased 11.4% for rural people. Disposable income statistics for rural residents because much of their annual earnings aren't in cash, such as food they grow themselves. Rural income also grew faster than urban in come in 2010.

    As the nation's urban population surges, China now faces the challenge of providing jobs, welfare and other social services to its city dwellers. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: China has also said that it cannot feed all of its people - only 95%. The other 5%, is a large number, considering that it is 5% of 1.3 billion. Much of northern China is suffering desertification and the Yellow River no longer reaches the sea.

    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! .

    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.

    Mega Cities Could Trigger Water Shortages and Social Unrest

    August 23, 2011, IPS

    And by 2050, about 70% of the world's population (estimated to be 9.1 billion in 2050) will live in urban areas, predicts the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). Due to massive urban growth, there has already been a breakdown in basic services, including water supplies and sanitation facilities, in several of the world's "mega" cities.

    In most developing countries, urban growth, slum expansion, and poverty go hand-in-hand, with nearly one third of the world's urban dwellers living in slums in 2000, the number is climbing.

    In Karachi Pakistan, with around 18 million people, 30,000 die due to the effects of contaminated drinking water.

    In Kolkata, India, with 15.4 million people, there are both traces of faeces in drinking water and high concentrations of arsenic in ground water.

    Shanghai China, at 23 million, is now facing water shortages and problems related to salinization.

    The rivers of Buenos Aires, Argentina, with 12.8 million people, are described as "public cesspits", and contain high levels of dumped toxins. Millions of people in the city lack safe access to drinking water and are not connected to sewer systems.

    Nairobi, Kenya, with 3.5 million, lacks capacity to manage the increasing demand for water and 60% of Nairobi's inhabitants live in informal settlements with inadequate access to quality water and are forced to buy their water at kiosks at a higher price.

    In Mexico City, Mexico, at 21.1 million people, excessive overuse of groundwater has led to the sinking of the city over time by five to 10 centimetres.

    Anna Forslund, WWF's fresh water expert based in Sweden, said: "We need better urban planning, efficient water use, and increased input from civil society." doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Bangkok Thailand (10 million people) is also sinking due to abusive pumping of ground waters, blocking of canals, rising seas, weight of sky scrappers. Some say Bangkok will be under water by 2030.

    Rapid Urbanization Affects Public Health

    May 26, 2011, China Daily

    In China more than an estimated 100 million people have moved from the countryside to rapidly expanding urban centers in the country during the past 20 years. This rapid urbanization has significant repercussions on migrants' health.

    Changes in diet and physical exertion, increasing obesity in society and heightening the risk of type II diabetes and cardiovascular diseases occur with urbanization.

    Poverty, vulnerability to sexual abuse and exploitation, hazardous working conditions and separation from social support networks are additional mobility-related risks among migrants, many affecting women, children and the elderly.

    Migrants may be young and healthy on their arrival in cities, but poor living conditions and overcrowded houses and neighborhoods increase the incidence of diseases such as malaria, typhoid and respiratory ailments. Lately the problem of rising TB infection has been compounded by delayed diagnosis and inadequate care.

    Migrants show high rates of sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS and tend to spread the virus when they return to rural areas, where health facilities are not as well equipped to deal with the infection as they are in cities.

    Many migrants lack knowledge of how to use existing health services and have insufficient money to pay a hospital for treatment.

    Many migrant women work in industries where they come in contact with environmental contaminants that are dangerous to their reproductive system, especially if they are pregnant.

    Toxic substances in the environment increase the risk of abortion, birth defects, fetal growth and neo-natal death.

    Newborns are especially vulnerable to disease if they grow up in overcrowded places and are subjected to poor hygiene, excessive noise and lack of space for recreation and study. They suffer not only from a hostile physical environment, but also from stress and other factors such as violence that such environments create.

    Many children are left at home by migrants, in many cases in the care of grandparents. Adolescents of migrant parents tend to have a less healthy diet, become overweight and are more prone to smoking and drinking alcohol, often explained by the lack of parental control.

    For the poor in the cities, drinking water supply, housing, solid waste disposal, transportation and healthcare are either deficient or non-existent. Instead they get an extra dose of environmental pollution, because many industries tend to cluster in outlying areas where regulations are comparatively lax. Unemployment, poverty and crowded living conditions contribute to violence, substance abuse and mental illness.

    Motor vehicles are a big source of air pollution, having a serious impact on health, plus they cause pedestrian injuries and fatalities.

    Crowded urban neighborhoods, combined with poor sanitary conditions and inadequate waste removal, create conditions for the spread of infectious diseases such as pneumonia, TB and cholera. Inadequate sanitation is an important risk factor for diarrheal and parasitic diseases.

    Given the serious effects that urbanization can have on health, it is essential to include health considerations into policymaking. Since the poor and migrants suffer many of the negative effects more acutely, it is important to assess their needs properly. More efforts should be made to devise prevention policies in industries where migrants are concentrated.

    Cities are magnets that attract migrants for the opportunities they offer but they must provide a safe and stable environment for people to prosper. doclink

    Africa's Urbanization Outpaces Capacity to Provide Water, Sanitation - UN Report

    March 21, 2011, UN News Service

    Africa is the fastest urbanizing continent on the planet, and 40% of its one billion people live in urban areas, 60% of them in slums where water supply and sanitation are severely inadequate.

    The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) report that Africa's urban population without access to safe drinking water rose from close to 30 million in 1990 to more that 55 million in 2008, and the same period, the number of people without reasonable sanitation services doubled to around 175 million.

    Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director spoke of the upcoming 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, where one the themes will be "green economy" in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication.

    "There is growing evidence from work on the Green Economy that a different path in terms of water and sanitation can begin to be realized. Indeed, public policies that re-direct over a tenth of a per cent of global GDP per year can assist in not only addressing the sanitation challenge but conserve freshwater by reducing water demand by a fifth over the coming decades compared to projected trends," he said.

    Cities in the continent where high urbanization rates are not matched with adequate water and sanitation infrastructure are Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, Grahamstown in South Africa, and the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: it is nice to be optimistic about solutions, but in case population growth outstrips services, it is best to address population growth as well. GDPs don't always rise with population, particularly with poor populations.

    Mega-Cities Expected to Have the Fastest Growing Economies

    March 14, 2011, Telegraph

    A recent study by Citigroup forecasts that mega-cities like London, Chicago, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Shanghai, Buenos Aires, Mumbai and Moscow are expected to have the fastest growing economies by the middle of the next decade.

    However, risks are concentrated in big cities that are in earthquake and flood zones. Climate change may intensify these risks. Eight to 10 major cities around the world are under continuous threat of earthquake, including Istanbul in Turkey.

    Key issues for dense cities over the coming years will include sustainable development, transport and energy use. Expertise in building and planning resilient cities must also be developed.

    With the price of oil going up cities need to become more efficient in terms of transport infrastructure and investment in public transport. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: The biggest problem with cities is finding job and fresh food for all inhabitants.

    Interview with Jason Bremner on Environmental Change: What Are the Links with Migration?

    July 30, 2008, Population Reference Bureau

    This is a long article with many more questions left unanswered than answered. Following are the points that seemed to be more certain than the rest:

  • Migration is leaving one's birth place. It may be long or short term, and includes moving cross international borders or within a country. "Climate migrants", also called "environmental refugees", result from both disasters and gradual environmental change that threatens people's livelihoods. Environmental conditions may only be one contributing factor in a person or household's decision to move.
  • Though the absolute number of international migrants is greater today than ever before, the percent of the world population living outside their country of birth has risen very little over the last 50 years. We should also consider the positive impacts that migration can have on households, their livelihoods, and sometimes the environment.
  • Restrictive migration policies usually results in changes in the favored destinations of migrants rather than actually slowing or stopping migration.
  • Rural-rural migrants can have impacts on forests and biodiversity when they move to frontier areas in search of arable land. The movement of colonists into the lowland forests of the Amazon for example has resulted in rapid deforestation in areas of Ecuador and Brazil. Migrants may also move to coastal areas to work in fishing sectors or along rural coastal areas as coastal resources are depleted. In addition, rural migrants may move to areas with poor soils, which are more likely to degrade, when little land is available elsewhere.
  • Demographers have largely ignored rural-rural migration despite the continued prominence of rural-rural migration in many developing countries, but conservation organizations have become increasingly interested in the impact of rural migration on biodiversity.
  • Rural-urban migrants can also have impacts on the environment as urban living usually results in changes in consumption patterns and energy use. Research on urbanization in China shows how resulting changes in consumption and household structure will contribute to future growth in carbon emissions.
  • Many impacts of rural-urban migration are related to changes in the number of vehicles, number of factories, etc. rather than to migration itself. Even the propagation of urban slums is probably a lack of services issue rather than an environmental issue.
  • Some examples of man-made disaster-related migration are the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine that resulted in the evacuation and resettlement of 350,000 people, the degradation of the Aral Sea and the failure of fishing livelihoods there, and the construction of the Three Gorges Dam in China's central Hubei province, which, when complete, may displace up to 4 million people.
  • Periodic drought in Ethiopia may result in households sending an adult to a city for employment as means of protecting against food insecurity. Land fragmentation, and the resulting smaller parcels of land, also contribute to the need for non-farm wages to ensure food security when crops fail.
  • Conflicts are certainly man-made and have resulted in some of the largest displacements of people in recent years. Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, have each displaced millions of people.
  • There is little evidence so far to suggest that current changes in climate have had any impact on internal movements of people within the U.S or any developed country. There is research on Hurricane Katrina and the permanent departure of residents from New Orleans, but this may not be climate change induced migration.
  • Some interesting work has been done by researchers at CIESIN looking at projected sea level rise and measuring the coastal populations at risk throughout the world. This paper can be found on the PERN website:
  • Another recent paper has looked at 1930s migration patterns in the U.S. in relation to repeated crop failures due to drought and flooding. At that time a far greater percentage of the U.S. population was dependent on the agricultural sector.
  • Migrants, even refugees of conflicts and natural disasters, face discrimination at destinations. The reasons include: cultural, ethnic, and language differences; perceived competition for jobs; and lack of local capacity to provide services.
  • Human migration can be a major dividing force in facilitating positive social and economic change and in relieving population pressure on the environment.
  • The money migrants send back home is an important source of income for developing countries and for rural areas. An estimated total of 251 billion dollars were sent by migrants to their developing countries in 2007. These remittances can be an important source of development and social mobility for rural households in areas where there are few opportunities for employment, credit, or investment.
  • In a study of the highlands of Ecuador, remittances were rarely invested into agriculture or other production activities. In the same area there is little evidence of agricultural abandonment, since often only one household member would migrate and the rest of the household would continue to farm. This is increasingly the norm as in Africa, Latin America, and Asia urban migrants often retain strong linkages with their rural origin areas. This is accomplished either by planting crops that require less labor or relying on increased labor from those that stay behind (often women and children). This latter phenomenon is resulting in some interesting rural changes in both sex and age ratios among the remaining populations.
  • There are a few examples where out-migration has resulted in less degradation than would have occurred had migrants remained; for example, the recovery of the North Eastern forests of the United States is largely a product of out-migration of farmers and loggers to more favorable lands in the midwest and west.
  • National population redistribution policies in areas like Brazil and Ecuador have had negative impacts on forests in destination areas of the Amazon as well as on the indigenous populations that were already living there.
  • Migration from rural to urban areas impacts the women and children remaining in rural areas, who usually have no guaranteed, long-term access to the means of production (land ownership, credit, agriculture extension, technology). Solutions include micro-credit lending focused specifically on women, girls' education, and a dedication to agricultural extension focused on women's needs.
  • Micro-credit lending to women's groups has been a great success in countries like Nepal and India. Furthermore, programs focused on girls' education in Pakistan are increasing the financial literacy and independence of women and over time will lead to greater access to credit.
  • Migration within a country dwarfs out-migrations and therefore climate migration is mostly of a domestic policy concern.
  • International migration costs far more than internal migration. The poorest households will be those most vulnerable to climate change's impacts, hence, we should expect that those people will also be the least able to move large distances or across borders.
  • Young women are also increasingly involved in migration but women's destinations and decisions regarding migration differ greatly from men's.
  • There is a possible relationship between environmental change, migration, and infectious disease. Climate change could increase the range of some disease vectors (i.e. malaria carrying mosquitoes). This combined with a very mobile population could contribute to the spread of infectious diseases to areas that have never seen them before.
  • Increased water demand due to urban growth will likely lead to increasing development regulations and water restrictions. This is already the case in areas such as Las Vegas.
  • doclink

    Karen Gaia says: not much is mentioned about how 9% of Mexican-born people are in the U.S., or the even higher rate for Guatamalans. Surely this has an impact, socially and politcally, for all three countries. Also, when it is claimed that "migration within a country dwarfs out-migrations," what about rural to urban migration which then turns to out-migration when jobs are hard to find in the city? This should be counted as an out-migration and not added to the total for in-country migration.

    Women's Choices Change Cities

    June 12, 2009,

    Starting this year, more than half of the world's population will be living in urban areas, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) report 'State of the World Population'. Poor people will make up a large part of future urban growth. "Ignoring this basic reality will make it impossible either to plan for inevitable and massive city growth or to use urban dynamics to help relieve poverty."

    Most urban growth in developing countries now stems from natural increase (more births than deaths) rather than migration from rural areas.

    The UN Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat) estimates that more than half of the residents of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, are living in slums, where unemployment is high, livelihoods are unreliable, housing is poor, and basic amenities such as running water and unsanitary conditions mean they have poorer health outcomes than people living elsewhere.

    Of every 1,000 live births in the slum areas, 91 infants will die before their first birthday, compared to 67 in Nairobi as a whole, and 79 in rural areas. And in the slums, at least 151 infants die before their fifth birthday compared to 117 in rural areas, and 95 in Nairobi as a whole.

    Despite the poor infant mortality rates, according to the UNFPA report, the potential benefits of urbanisation far outweigh the disadvantages. Approaches should try to reduce natural increase, the major component driving urban population growth, by reducing poverty levels, promoting gender equity and equality, making education universally available and meeting reproductive health needs. These will enable women to avoid unwanted fertility and reduce the main factor in the growth of urban populations-natural increase.

    Dr Alex Ezeh, executive director of the African Population and Health Research Centre in Nairobi, says "Large proportions of poor urban women who either do not want any more children or want to delay their next birth for at least two years, are at risk of getting pregnant because they are not using any method of family planning."

    A five year study,'Educational outcomes in health and fertility', conducted in Kenya, Ghana, India and Pakistan, is currently under way to study the factors underlying a woman's decision to use contraception. It examines the link between schooling and reproductive decisions in poor households. It will try to determine how many years of schooling are required to enable women to take more independent decisions and to access a wider range of external resources. 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. doclink

    Urbanization: 95% of the World's Population Lives on 10% of the Land

    December 19, 2008, ScienceDaily

    We passed the point at which more than half the world's populations live in cities around 2000 - earlier than the 2007/8 estimate;

    More than half of the world's population lives less than 1 hour from a major city, 85% of the developed world and 35% of the developing world; 95% of the population is concentrated on 10% of the world's land; but only 10% of the land is classified as more than 48 hours from a large city.

    Digital maps of road, river and rail transport networks, population data, satellite-derived maps of land cover and terrain and information on border crossing times are combined using geographical modeling techniques. The result is a global map of travel time to over 8,500 major cities.

    The human population is more concentrated than ever before. Because of advances in transport systems we are better connected than ever. This map also serves as a stark reminder that the price of greater connectivity is that there is little wilderness left. doclink

    Chinese Farmers Are Losing Their Land

    January 23, 2008, People and Planet

    China faces a farming crisis as mass migration into the industrial zones of mushrooming cities eats up fertile land, while patterns of food consumption and land rights change. Historically the Chinese have spent most of their income on food, but to produce grains, vegetables and meat, the country must retain enough arable cropland. From the Ming Dynasty onwards farmers were able to feed a growing, increasingly urbanised population. Population growth was not an issue until the 19th and 20th centuries.

    Today China is importing more food and resources. The sustainable Chinese agriculture has been altered in favour of Western methods that harm the existing ecosystems. China's ability to feed its own people and the environmental destruction provokes serious concern.

    By 2030 Chinese demographers expect the population to level out nearer to 1.5 billion, but predicted that soaring grain imports would upset global markets. Water, more than grain or meat, might well be the crucial issue. As water becomes scarce, 80% of the grain crop is irrigated, as per-acre yield gains are erased by the loss of cropland to industrialization. Densely populated countries undergoing industrialization become food importers as the population shifts from rural to urban workers.

    The world is experiencing rising food prices. The Chinese government is mandating price freezes and subsiding various manufacturing and food industries.

    Water scarcity in China will impact the entire world; the country is experiencing a lack of potable water due to the environmental damage from rapid industrialization without any agencies to protect the ecology.

    China, with 20% of the world's population and 7% of the world's arable land, is losing even more land to industrialization.

    Beijing has mandated that arable land cannot fall below 298 million acres. China's Ministry of Land and Resources noted that the country has lost 6.6% of its arable land in the past decade.

    Corruption also contributes to arable land loss. In central China's Hubei Province every day since November 2, over 10,000 tons of rubbish has turned the small farming village into a stinking dumpsite.

    No legislation exists to protect farmers against crooked officials. Local governments have become the epicentre of corrupt land deals.

    Chinese farmers fall under a village collective system that forbids them to own, buy or sell the land they till. Competition over raw materials has risen dramatically in the last decade; the impact of greater Chinese food demands has affected global markets. Food price inflation is a serious worry for China's leaders.

    The long term outlook is grim, because land is being lost to construction in eastern China. This has degraded the overall quality of the country's remaining arable land. Almost 15% of China's total arable lands are polluted by heavy metals, and more than 40% soil erosion and desertification.

    Without effective measures to solve this crisis everyone is going to suffer. doclink

    U.K.: Growing Pollution Problem in China Focus of UK Symposium

    April 14, 2008,

    China is moving to be the factory of the world. As new industrial cities are created, thousands of farming villages will disappear.

    Sustainability is most prevalent in these disappearing rural villages because the way of life of the residents has been consistent over hundreds of years and the environment and agriculture haven't varied. These sustainable traits are what researchers are interested in preserving and applying to other areas.

    As China grows, the young people living in rural villages are leaving for the large metropolitan cities that offer industrial jobs. Estimates of the number of people migrating to larger cities in China range from 200 to 400 million people.

    The lack of renewable energy and dependency on fossil fuels will eventually affect everyone's daily life. If things do not change in the next 10 years in our way of thinking many cities will collapse and wither. doclink

    Urban Ecology: Taking Measure of the Coming Megacity's Impact

    February 8, 2008, EurekAlert

    Most of the world's population soon will live in a megacity according to projections.

    When we think of global change, much of the current environmental impact originates in cities, and with demographic transition to city life the urban footprint is likely to continue to grow.

    Urban challenges face communities worldwide, with solutions lagging behind. World changes range from land use and cover, urban waste discharge and urban heat island effects to global climate change, hydrosystems, biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles.

    Cities will determine the global biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, sustainable urbanization is an unavoidable path to global sustainability.

    Researchers have examined the living and non-living components of a city, revealing the dynamic nature of this ascendant ecosystem.

    Urban areas drive environmental change, they are centers of production and consumption, in which the delivery of the ecosystems services link society and ecosystems at multiple levels.

    Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the U.S., with a metro area population or more than 4 million. Phoenix's growth is emblematic of the U.S. West, which is expected to experience the largest population increases in the next 20 years. In biogeochemical cycles, they show symptoms of the imbalances in nitrogen, carbon dioxide, ozone and other chemicals that they help to create globally.

    Known as the heat island effect, urban and suburban temperatures are 2 to 10 degree F. hotter than rural areas. This translates into increases in air conditioning costs, air pollution levels and heat-related illness and mortality. A one-degree rise in temperature can bump up residential water use 290 gallons per month for a single-family. However knowledge about heat island effects has meant innovation and the rise of new and greener technologies.

    Rural landscapes at a city's edge show changes in soils, structures, human settlements, the diversity of plant and animal species and further impacts on fringe ecosystems. Landscapes will experience the impact of the growth and operation of nearby and long distance cities. One approach has been to view urban systems as organisms that take up resources and produce wastes. For example, cities are sources for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and anthropogenic nutrient deposition. Fertilized and irrigated lawns release more nitrous oxide than the native desert soils that preceded them. Lawns support a year-round production of nitrogen oxide which contributes to ozone production and regional increases in photochemical smog.

    Emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O) and nitric oxide (NO) have increased dramatically during the last century, primarily due to human activity associated with agriculture and fossil fuel combustion. We are discovering how urban centers figure into this equation, and how cities impact surrounding landscapes, and contribute to regional or global climate.

    Urbanization increases in temperature, CO2, and nitrogen will affect the productivity, carbon and nitrogen cycling, and a suite of biogeochemical processes of the native ecosystems, resulting in altered ecosystem functioning and services.

    Urban environments alter species compositions, biomass, distributions and ecosystem function. Plant types and habitat patches are increased by human activity wealthier neighborhoods plant more exotics and show increases in yard-to-yard heterogeneity.

    Numbers of birds and arthropods like grass hoppers jump within city boundaries, at the cost of a diversity of types. Urban-dwelling species often flourish at the expense of indigenous species. Worldwide, cities alter the behaviors, physiologies, disease patterns, population densities, morphologies and genetics of city-dwelling organisms.

    Cities create novel biological communities and they are the ones that most humans will experience.

    Knowing how cities function, they can be enhanced through planning and urban design, to improve the quality of life and the environment for animal, plant and human inhabitants. Urban ecological study offers insight in how to navigate a sustainable urban future. doclink

    Cities, Megacities, and the Price of Oil

    February 15, 2008, Donal Seeking blog

    An urban poor person needs one or two dollars to buy everything he or she needs: shelter, food, fuel, medicines, clothes, transport, even taxes. But a rural poor person with a piece of land may be much better off in that their land, which may provide food, perhaps fuel, and shelter. Their monetary income may be additional to their basic needs. This is why land reform is more important than aid to poor countries, why a standpipe or irrigation system is better than encouraging a move to the city.

    But people vote in cities, pay taxes, are easier to monitor and control. Its cheaper to provide healthcare and education, businesses have the critical mass to survive. One of the aims of taxation is to force workers into a society which produces surplus, rather than self-sufficiency which cannot support a ruling class.

    Poor city-societies are vulnerable and require imports of energy and food, which must be paid for with the profit from commerce. In poorer countries that means trading of the country's natural wealth. That is the 'profit' that pays for everything else. But the main activity of the city may be government administration, tax collecting and all the paraphernalia we are familiar with.

    As energy prices rise and food prices double, poorer cities suffer most, because energy and food are their unavoidable imports. Poor self-sufficient people with their own land are largely unaffected. If we want to aid the people of a poor country, then land reform, provision of basic tools, water supply, non-hybrid seeds and harvest storage are best for the people. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: This opinion piece ignores the impacts of overpopulation on agricultural land. When the number of children that survive childhood expands from 2 per family to 4 or 6 (due to better sanitation and health practices), the multiplication of people upon the land forces migration of the excess younger people to the cities.

    Effects of Urbanization Extend to the Global Scale

    February 12, 2008, Kansas City infoZine

    A paper published this week concludes that global change and the ecology of cities are closely linked. Much of the current environmental impact originates in cities. With the increasing transition to city life, the urban footprint is likely to continue to grow. Rural landscapes at a city's edge show changes in soils, human settlements, the diversity of plant and animal species and nearby ecosystems.

    Cities are ecosystems in their own right, with complex human-environmental interactions and increasing and far-reaching impacts.

    People in cities dominate environmental change on a global level, but humans' effects are understudied from an ecological standpoint. This hampers our ability to make predictions of, and policies regarding, the environment of the future.

    The authors chart the socioecological challenges and changes ahead for all cities, but particularly those in rapidly developing regions like China and India.

    The changes are associated with issues ranging from land use to urban waste discharge to heat effects, as well as challenges related to larger changes in global climate, hydrologic systems, biodiversity and biogeochemical cycles.

    Cities, and the people in them, will ultimately determine global biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.

    The West is expected to experience the largest population increases in the U.S. in the next 20 years.

    With rising numbers, and increasing demands for land, power, water, waste removal and transportation. Landscapes, will experience the impact of the growth of nearby and distant cities and we need to understand the complexity of impacts both within urban boundaries and across landscapes farther away.

    One approach has been to view urban systems as organic units that take up resources and produce wastes.

    For example, cities are sources of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, and human-caused nutrient deposition.

    Cities alter the behaviors, physiologies, disease patterns, population densities, morphologies and genetics of city-dwelling organisms.

    Well-designed cities can have less overall impact on the environment than equivalent rural populations. doclink

    An Overview of Urbanization, Internal Migration, Population Distribution and Development in the World

    February 6, 2008, UN/POP

    The distribution of humanity on the earth's surface has always responded to the opportunities that different territories provide. After the invention of agriculture, the availability of arable land largely determined the place where most people settled. The practice of agriculture also permitted the accumulation of food surpluses and the differentiation of productive activities that led to the emergence of more complex settlements generically identified as "cities". In modern history, cities have played key roles as centres of Government, production, trade, knowledge, innovation and rising productivity. The changes brought about by the industrial revolution would be unimaginable in the absence of cities. The mechanization of production made necessary the concentration of population. Rapid industrialization was accompanied by increasing urbanization. In 1920, the more developed regions, being the most industrialized, had just under 30 per cent of their population in urban areas. As industrialization advanced in the developing world so did urbanization, particularly in Latin America where 41 per cent of the population was urban by 1950. In Africa and Asia levels of urbanization remained lower, although the urban population increased markedly, particularly in Asia. Between 1920 and 2007, the world's urban population increased from about 270 million to 3.3 billion, with 1.5 billion urban dwellers added to Asia, 750 million to the more developed regions, just under 450 million to Latin America and the Caribbean, and just over 350 million to Africa. These changes foreshadow those to come. Between 2007 and 2050, the urban population is expected to increase as much as it did since 1920, that is, 3.1 billion additional urban dwellers are expected by 2050, including 1.8 billion in Asia and 0.9 billion in Africa. These powerful trends will shape and in turn be shaped by economic and social development. Follow the link for the complete report (a PDF). doclink

    Urban Planet

    December 29, 2007, Times of India

    The world's urban population will exceed its rural populace in 2008. More than half of the globe's population, 3.3 billion people, will be living in towns and cities by 2008.

    This sets the tone for policies for the new millennium. 2008 will be marked the year when the world left its rural past behind.

    India will continue to live in its villages for some time. In 2001 urbanites made up 27.78% of the total population. The UN report says developing countries will have 80% of the world's urban population in 2030. Africa and Asia will include almost seven out of every 10 urban inhabitants in the world.

    Many of the world's largest cities have more people moving out than in. The maximum influx will be in towns and small urban centres.

    The report also points out that most new urbanites will be the poor. The challenge for planners and policy-makers is to ensure positive urbanization. "Cities concentrate poverty, but they also represent the best hope of escaping it."

    Cities are also synonymous with high consumption and environmental damage. Yet experts are recognizing their potential value for humanity's long-term sustainability.

    If cities create environmental problems, they also contain the solutions. The challenge is in learning how to exploit its possibilities. doclink

    China: Harnessing Technology and Engineering: Creating the World's First Sustainable City

    November 12, 2007, Independent

    The trend for urban living has gripped China. Urbanisation goes hand in hand with a vast increase in energy consumption and pollution. China is the world's second largest consumer of energy, after the United States and this trend is unsustainable and a new approach is required to find a sustainable lifestyle for the cities of tomorrow.

    One possible answer is Dongtan, Arup's masterplan for the world's first eco-city. The project aims to use existing technology and engineering to demonstrate that environmentally friendly and sustainable urban growth are not mutually exclusive.

    Arup's approach is to form a global team of experts who together take an holistic approach to city making. We intend to create a city that has an ecological footprint close to 2.2 hectares per person, To put this into context, Beijing is currently 4 hectares per person, London 6.6, while the average for US cities is 18 hectares per person.

    The key lies in understanding how planning for transport, housing, energy and all other factors fit together and influence each other. It is this holistic, sustainable method of planning that is likely to be one of its lasting legacies.

    Dongtan will be a city where energy consumption is powered by renewables, closed-loop recycling, where all waste is reused or recycled. It will maximise production of local organic fresh food and it be self sufficient in water supplies.

    All the technology to make this possible is available. Undoubtedly the process that Arup has started with Dongtan will be improved on in future. doclink

    Burgeoning Cities Face Catastrophe

    June 28, 2007, Guardian (London)

    Urban dwellers will outstrip rural population next year and a rise in poverty, slums and pollution.

    The shift will be led by Africa and Asia, which are expected to add 1.6 billion people to their cities over the next 25 years.

    The speed and scale of global urbanisation is so great most countries will not be prepared for the impact. Within one generation, five billion people, or 60% of humanity, will live in cities. The urban population of Africa and Asia will double in this time. Most cities in developing countries have pressing concerns, including crime, lack of clean water and sanitation, and sprawling slums. The changes are too fast to allow planners simply to react. If governments wait, it will be too late.

    Population growth will take place in the cities of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The largest transition to cities will occur in Asia, where the number of urbanites will almost double to 2.6 billion in 2030. Africa is expected to add 440 million to its cities in the same period, and Latin America and the Caribbean nearly 200 million. Rural populations are expected to decrease worldwide by 28 million people.

    Cities concentrate poverty but present poor people's best hope of escaping it. The potential benefits of urbanisation outweigh the disadvantages.

    If unaddressed the growth will mean growth in slums and poverty, and a rise in migration away from poor regions. The battle to cut extreme poverty will be in the slums. Politicians need to be start working with the urban poor. Climate is expected to be shaped by cities. Climate change will increase energy demand for air conditioning and add to greenhouse gas emissions. It could also make some cities unlivable, adding to the "heat island" effect, which can lift temperatures in urban areas by 2-6C. Heat, pollution, smog and ground-level ozone affect surrounding areas, reducing agricultural yields, increasing health risks and spawning tornadoes and thunderstorms.

    The impacts of climate change on urban water supplies are expected to be dramatic. Developing countries are at a great disadvantage when they start to urbanise. If we plan ahead we will create conditions for a stable world. If we do not, then these populations will become destructive, to themselves and others. doclink

    Trend Towards Urbanization of the World's Population

    August 2, 2007, UN Chronicle

    More than half of the world's population will be living in towns in 2008. Between 2000 and 2030, the urban population of Asia would grow from 1.36 billion to 2.64 billion, Africa from nearly 295 million to 742 million, and Latin American and the Caribbean from 394 million to almost 610 million.

    A report indicates that new architectural and urban forms, new materials and innovations like air conditioning have driven up energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. The impacts of land uses in urban areas can create microclimates and health consequences. Human health may suffer as a result of climate change, especially in poor urban areas. Many of the world's largest cities are on the coasts and at the mouths of great rivers and face the challenge of sea-level rise, combined with extreme climatic events. There is a need for improved government for cities and increased social investment globally. Slum dwellers include one out of every three city dwellers. Over 90% of slum dwellers are in the developing world. China and India together have 37% of the world's slums. What happens in the cities of the less developed world in the coming years will shape prospects for global economic growth, poverty alleviation, population stabilization, environmental sustainability and, the exercise of human rights. Halving poverty by 2015, would be waged in the cities of developing countries. Attention to youth and the needs of the elderly will become evermore important. Young people under 25 make up half of the urban population. Investment in young people is the key to ending poverty. The needs of poor women and girls are often unaccounted for and assumed to be the same as those of poor men and boys. For women cities offered better educational facilities, more diverse employment options and more opportunities for social and political participation.

    The growth of cities will be the single largest influence on development in the twenty-first century. Many cities were unprepared for the fact that within a generation their populations would double. Substantial urban planning is needed for this transition. doclink

    Understanding Urbanization's Effect on Sustainable Development

    September 10, 2007, Lifted Magazine

    The world's population is projected to increase by more than one-third over the next 30 years. This growth will concentrate in urban areas. Cities around the world gain millions of new residents a week. Many lack sanitary sewage disposals, 50% do not have an adequate supply of drinking water. In 1950, New York was the only city in the world with a population above 10 million. By 1975, there were five megacities. By 2001, there were 17. Economic growth must be maintained for optimal sustainability. The higher population density makes social goods economically feasible. However, economic development can damage the socio-economic and environmental system through resource degradation, over-harvesting and pollution.

    Sustainable development favors long run economic, social, and environmental growth. It requires specific goals via legislation and institutions.

    Fuels burned in cities generate over three-quarters of global carbon emissions. Between 1980 and 2000, the US has added more than 50 million people to its population.

    Currently, 20% of the world's population lives in developed countries while 80%, the majority, live in less developed countries. In 2025, 15% of the world's population will live in developed countries and 85% will live in developing countries.

    Cities are continually growing in size and will require an environmental ethic if we and nature are to survive. doclink

    Urban Growth Threatens Heritage of Vietnam's Capital

    September 25, 2007, AFP

    Rapid population growth is putting pressure on Hanoi, where old houses, cafes and temples overlook tranquil lakes and French colonial villas line many boulevards.

    The city's charm is disappearing as bulldozers tear down old houses. As Vietnam's capital nears its 1,000th birthday, experts warn that the city is at a crossroads if it wants to avoid the pitfalls that have turned other Asian cities into urban nightmares.

    Hanoi's population is set to balloon to five million in coming years, and experts warn that urban planners must strike a fine balance between modernising the city and preserving its unique character.

    It's that people live on the street, eat on the street, chat to friends, rest and do business on the street. It's the tangible heritage and the old myths and stories that go with it.

    The soul of Hanoi is its Old Quarter, 36 streets, each run by a guild, such as silk or bamboo craftsmen, for the past millennium. But with 15,000 households on three square kilometres Hanoi is among the most crowded residential areas in the world.

    Streets that were filled with bicycles in the mid-1980s, are now choked with mopeds and cars. The economy is growing at over 8% and there is going to be an acceleration of investment.

    A total of 197 new projects worth 918 million dollars have been licensed so far this year. Authorities are planning satellite towns, three urban rail lines, ring roads, new highways and five more bridges across the Red River.

    Hanoians have rarely been asked how their city should change but many are up in arms over a new plan to allow private developers to turn the city's largest public green space into a Disneyland-style amusement park. doclink

    $1.6 Trillion is Needed Over a Five-year Period to Fix Infrastructure for Growing U.S. Population

    August 2, 2007, USA Today

    Cities are raising utility rates, and trying to modernize public works systems that are straining under the demand of ever-increasing populations. The USA is likely to add 100 million more people by 2040.

    It is estimated that $1.6 trillion is needed over 5 years to modernize the nation's systems, but only about $1 trillion is being invested.

    Atlanta is spending $3.9 billion on an overhaul of drinking water and wastewater systems and has raised water and sewer rates an average of 10% a year, making them some of the nation's highest.

    Preliminary results show that of 330 cities, more than half reported up to 50 water main breaks annually. Many don't have the money to upgrade their systems and are getting little federal help.

    By 2030, when New York City will add about 1 million more residents, nearly all of its public works systems will be a century old. To meet the demand, Mayor Bloomberg has unveiled 127 initiatives that would modernize the networks and make them safer. doclink

    Ralph says: Why do we need 1 million more people in NY City? ... Karen Gaia says: as if it were a given that population growth is inevitable and that we must always turn our heads when people stream across our southern border [sh-h-h - we need those people for cheap labor]. Such hypocrisy!

    Fiji: Plan for the Future Now

    July 1, 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. doclink

    China's Green Construction: Shifting Focus From Eco-cities to Real Cities

    July 26, 2007,

    China has 16 of the world's 20 most polluted cities, as development has pressed the ability of the government to protect the environment.

    State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) commented that 2006 has been the bleakest year for China's environmental situation. The target to cut energy consumption by 4% and pollution emissions by 2%, has not been achieved.

    In 2005, Shanghai constructed more building space than exists in all the office buildings of New York City. Every month, China adds urban infrastructure equal to that found in Houston, Texas. The accent has been on volume rather than sustainability.

    Chinese consumers are waking up to the effects of pollutants and badly constructed buildings.

    Dongtan is a major project near Shanghai that reveals the problems of developing one environmentally-friendly project in isolation.

    Dongtan terms itself, rather grandly, the world's first sustainable city, and plans call for 50,000 people by 2010, reaching 500,000 by 2040.

    The development covers 4,600 hectares, and includes windmills and solar panels. Some 80% of solid waste will be recycled, organic waste will be composted or burned to supply heat and power and only cars using electricity or fuel cells will allowed on the island.

    Dongtan is using land on an island that provided part of Shanghai's shrinking "green lung"; farmers have been displaced; the wetlands that provide bird sancturaries have been disturbed and eradicated.

    China needs to require all new buildings to have better insulation, and to encourage people to buy energy saving light bulbs or water use limiting devices, in order to control its building emissions.

    Shanghai is limiting bicycles to allow for better traffic flow. In China, 40% of the summer energy demand is for air conditioning, whereas relatively simple improvements to buildings can reduce the need for air conditioning significantly. Allowing the price of utilities to rise would immediately reduce wasteful usage.

    In Beijing, free markets have been introduced for water and Beijing's hotels are asking people whether it is really necessary to wash their bed sheets daily. Water meters have been installed in homes, and water use charges have risen.

    Punishing consumers is easy and unfair, while industry is able to continue using vast amounts of energy and water, as well as polluting.

    Small-scale changes are perhaps more difficult to implement at the national level. But they seem to provide a better way forward when compared to the development of isolated utopian green cities.

    A green building example, the Beijing World Science & Trade Centre uses wind scoops for ventilation, glazing for daylight, external shading for solar control, wind generators for electrical power and solar collection for hot water.

    The aim is a 50% reduction in cooling and ventilation plant and 50% less energy than conventional residential hotel or office towers. doclink

    Congo, Democratic Republic of the: Government Responds to Population Growth Concerns

    July 24, 2007, IRIN News (UN)

    The Congo has outlined plans to deal with overcrowding in urban areas after a report said the capital's population could double in the next 14 years.

    This growth is accompanied by a degradation of the environment, which inhibits the development of cities.

    Congo's urban population growth has been estimated at 6% a year. It will be necessary to clean up the environment, provide drinking water to every person in Congo, increase access to health centres, create jobs to reduce poverty and improve education standards.

    If there had been better planning, environmental catastrophes experienced by around 3,600 residents of the Talangai urban district of Brazzaville could have been avoided. Erosion has affected several areas, while flooding has engulfed others.

    The city should restart a joint initiative with UNICEF, to improve conditions for children in Brazzaville, as well as other initiatives to protect women and girls from urban violence and encourage more micro-credit projects. doclink

    Urban Population to Rise Two-Fold by 2015

    June 27, 2007, Guardian (London)

    The country`s urban population growth is projected to reach 46% by 2015, the UNFPA announced in Dar es Salaam. A clear indication of rapid urban population growth.

    This year's report is expected to carry stories of young men and women growing up in cities of the developing world and will focus on major causes of urban growth, natural population increase, rural-urban migration, the incorporation of rural surroundings and attempts to grasp their implications.

    The report also includes the potential of urban growth and other key causes of increased population in urban areas such as poor health services, abject poverty, and problems at the country's borders.

    Containing rural urban migration was difficult since many people eye cities as where they could better their lives. doclink

    UN Urges Governments to Plan for Urban Population Boom

    June 27, 2007, Xinhua

    Governments must prepare for an increase in urban population,especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America. A report by the UNFPA says policies that deter urban expansion are based on false assumptions. A growing urban population could be positive if it is planned for now.

    Governments in developing countries often discourage migration to cities by limiting the number of homes availble to the poor, but this leads to the growth of slums.

    Debating whether cities should grow faster is a waste of time, and planning for our urban future is critical. Urban populations of Africa and Asia are growing by one million people a week and will have doubled by 2030 to include an additional 1.7 billion people.

    Urbanization can be turned into a positive force for those living in poverty, claims the UNFPA. Organizations of the urban poor are upgrading slum dwellings and improving sanitation.

    Governments must see such organizations as partners and work with them to steer urban development onto a path to sustainability.

    It warns that the urban poor will suffer as climate change takes hold, and governments need to be proactive about urban planning.

    There is a misconception that urban growth is mostly due to migration. Urban population growth is due largely to urban reproduction.

    The most effective way to reduce urban growth is to empower women and improve reproductive health. We must abandon a resistance to urbanization and begin a global effort to help cities unleash their potential. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: I find it hard to believe that migration is not the largest cause of urban growth, given that the birth rate in rural areas is much higher than in the cities and therefore the pressures to leave the land to go to the cities is great.

    State of the World Population 2007

    July 3, 2007, United Nations Population Fund

    In a report from the United Nations Population Fund, in 2008 more than half the human population, 3.3 billion people, will be living in urban areas. By 2030, this is expected to swell to 5 billion. Many of the new urbanites will be poor. Their future, the future of cities in developing countries, the future of humanity itself, all depend very much on decisions made now in preparation for this growth. The UNFPA report is a call to action and tries to grasp the implications of the imminent doubling of the developing world's urban population and discusses what needs to be done to prepare for this massive increase. It looks closely at the demographic processes underlying urban growth in developing areas and their policy implications. It specifically examines the consequences of the urban transition for poverty reduction and sustainability. doclink

    Ralph says: What about food and water -- and sanitation?

    Health, Environment Threatened by Future Urban Growth

    April 18, 2007, IRIN News (UN)

    More than half of all people will live in urban areas, mostly in low-income urban settlements in developing countries. This is taking a huge toll on human health and the quality of the environment.

    A report noted that half of urban dwellers live in areas where people cannot secure clean water, toilets or durable sanitation. Cities are key in achieving sustainable development and also hold solutions in issues like climate change. Most cities have no policies to address environmental threats, although cities are destroyers of the world's resources. Urban pollution kills 800,000 people each year.

    However, residents must be part and parcel of any solutions to make cities better places for human life. National and local authorities, and residents, must take the initiative to improve their cities.

    The absence of a strategic plan for Nairobi has contributed greatly to unplanned informal settlements, insufficient sanitation, pollution and poor solid waste disposal.

    Nairobi has no development plan or environmental policies. There are three million people living in Nairobi, putting increasing pressure on land resources. Almost half live below the poverty line, and only 42% of households have proper water connections.

    The city is faced with vast amounts of waste dumped in the city untreated. A report underlines 20 elements, from re-use of water for urban farmers; to land issues and laws; and jobs and education, in a bid to reduce migration to urban areas. doclink

    Senior UN Official: Nearly 1 Billion People Live in Ghettos and Shanty Towns

    April 24, 2007, Associated Press

    Close to one billion people, or one person out of six, lives in dire conditions in cities, which are out of control. Such "failing cities" were mostly in Latin America and Africa but a portion were in the developed world and in Asia.

    Daily life in ghettos and shanty towns was 30 times riskier than elsewhere.

    There is a need for more knowledge about transnational crime in order to be able to know the scope of threats and gauge global trends.

    It is not known whether the crime problem is more serious today than a year ago.

    We don't know how to measure corruption, let alone to quantify and report about it. There is abundant evidence about such things as the breaking up of human trafficking rings, the prosecution of traffickers and the seizure of illicit firearms but it needs to be more "coherent." doclink

    Disproportionate Growth of Urban Population Complicates Biodiversity; Cities Eating Up Resources and Habitat

    April 26, 2007, InterPress Service

    Cities occupy only 2% of the planet's surface, but their residents are responsible for 75% of the resources consumed.

    Climate change is one of the main forces responsible for the loss of biodiversity. Long-term changes in temperatures can alter the habitats that provide life support for plant and animal species.

    With more than 3.2 billion people in the cities, for the first time the urban population exceeds the number living in rural areas.

    Before the industrial era, nearly 47% of the Earth's land surface was covered with forests; today only 10%.

    We are consuming more natural resources than can be regenerated and we are living beyond the capacities of our planet.

    Every year about 10 million hectares of forest are lost and a large part of the world's forests are in tropical regions, where biodiversity thrives.

    These forests are home to about 80% of the plant and animal species, even though they cover only 7% of the planet's surface. In addition to causing coastal erosions and a decrease in agricultural productivity, global warming will also end up killing many more plant and animal species that are now disappearing 100 to 1,000 times faster than the natural pace of extinction.

    The loss of biodiversity suggests at least 20% of bird species have vanished and 23% of mammals, 25% of conifers, 32% of amphibians, and 52% of cycads (a family of evergreen plants similar, but unrelated, to palms and ferns) continue to face serious threat of extinction.

    A number of poor countries remain far behind in executing plans to reverse species loss, due to the rapid growth of unplanned urbanisation. For example, every day, thousands of rural poor in India move to big cities and many end up living in slums, with no access to safe water or sanitation facilities. Yet, they add to the increasing demands for food and energy.

    India is likely to have 700 million rural poor moving to the cities by 2050. India is one of the world's most mega-diverse countries and the continued growth in its urban population could lead to enormous loss of biodiversity. Yet, the country has failed to show serious planning efforts. China, Indonesia, and South Africa are also confronted with a similar situation.

    Brazil, one of the world's most mega-diverse developing nations, has taken the lead in setting new trends in urban planning. Its 'green city' Curitiba has demonstrated that urban planning can environmentally friendly.

    Curitiba's population of 1.8 million consumes 23% less fuel per capita than the national average. The city has 16 parks, 14 forests, and over 1,000 green public areas.

    Urbanisation and ecology can coexist, but demands increasingly active participation from all the stakeholders.

    In many parts of the developing world, policymakers at the local and national level are failing to execute environmentally sound policies because they are not closely in touch with the scientific community.

    For the sake of the planet, the biodiversity science community has to create a way to advise governments to halt the catastrophic loss of species.

    Local policymakers and administrators must pay close attention to the issue of biodiversity preservation and put their thoughts into action.

    The cities will determine the fate of the remaining biodiversity of our planet. doclink

    Ralph says: Control the population then there will be no need for more cities. It seems so simple.

    Zimbabwe: Struggling to Cope with Too Many People

    May 27, 2007, Economist

    In Zimbabwe, to prevent informal shacks and markets proliferating in its cities 700,000 people had their homes or stalls destroyed. The Zambian government is now threatening to tackle the same problem in the same way. Illegal houses were razed in Lusaka, and officials have threatened to intensify the cleanup.

    A continent-wide phenomenon; African cities are struggling to cope with an influx of people. Making a living ploughing tiny plots of land is hard, but some are refugees from fighting. Luanda is now home to at least 4 million; many fled there during Angola's civil war. In slums such as Boa Vista, ancient piles of garbage are composting in the streams that run between the makeshift shelters.

    Johannesburg is facing similar problems. Over 20% of the people are living in shacks and the city cannot build cheap houses fast enough. Lawyers acting for 300 people fighting eviction argue that the city must provide alternative accommodation.

    Property developers are turning the decrepit buildings into swanky apartment blocks, and property prices have been rocketing. A court ruled that the city has to find them another place to live, although it does not have to be in the centre of town.

    In downtown Johannesburg, those who have lost their homes often move to the next derelict building to stay close to their livelihood. New houses are too far out, with no adequate public transport.

    Until the countryside offers a decent living, the lure of the city will remain and African cities need to make room in their centres for cheap housing for the poor. doclink

    World First: in 2008, Most People Will Live in Cities

    January 11, 2007, Christian Science Monitor

    The ramifications of the growth of megacities are enormous. Among the major challenges are clean water and air, sanitary waste facilities, the cost of food, and the availability of shelter and transportation.

    Unplanned and urbanization is taking a toll on human health and the quality of the environment, contributing to instability in many countries.

    But cities from Karachi, Pakistan to Freetown, Sierra Leone to Bogotá, Colombia have projects aimed at improving the lives of urban dwellers while reducing the environmental impact. These include urban farming plots, solar water heaters, economic cooperatives, improved sewer facilities, and upgraded transportation systems.

    Necessities from food to energy are increasingly being produced by urban pioneers inside city limits.

    Still, the challenges remain daunting. Eight of the 10 most populous cities are near earthquake faults. Two-thirds are in coastal areas where sea levels may rise as a result of climate change.

    Of the 3 billion people who live in cities, 1 billion are in slums without clean water, adequate toilet facilities, or durable housing. Some 1.6 million die each year due to these causes.

    A report argues for a reassessment priorities, particularly the allocation of national and international aid.

    Yet from 1970 to 2000, aid designated for cities in developing areas was just 4% of assistance worldwide.

    By 2015, there are likely to be 59 African cities with populations between 1 and 5 million, 65 in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 253 in Asia.

    They are the dynamos of the world economy but the breeding grounds for sources of local and global insecurity.

    Cities exemplify the challenges and promises of sustainability. doclink

    UNFPA Warns Vietnam of Increasing Migration

    December 26, 2006, Vietnam News Service

    UNFPA has warned Vietnam of flows of migrants from the countryside to urban areas. Rural migrants have become an important force in cities, contributing to economic development. Surveys showed that the trend, especially among rural females, has culminated when the country shifted from State planning to a market economy.

    Migration has opportunities for better incomes and the trend will continue in the near future.

    However, migrants face disadvantages due to administrative and financial barriers. Only small number come to see doctors or utilise medical services when they are in illness. Policy makers urged a strategy in support of migrants, boosting municipal economic and services such as better water supply and health care, and giving a hand in employment.

    Experts emphasised the need to speed up industrialisation and modernisation to improve rural living conditions to control migration.

    They warned against fast urbanisation, citing the dwindling of cultivated land as well as the degradation of water resources and the environment. doclink

    World Slum Population to Double

    October 16, 2006, Scoop Independent News

    The world's exploding slum population is expected to double to two billion within a generation.

    Bombay, with 10-million or more, holds first place, followed by Mexico City and Dhaka, with about 9-million each, then Lagos, Cairo, Karachi, Kinshasa-Brazzaville, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, and Delhi, each with 6 to 8 million. British policies in Africa forced the local labor force to live in precarious shantytowns on the fringes of segregated and restricted cities, and in India, Burma, and Ceylon their refusal to improve sanitation or provide even the most minimal infrastructure to native neighborhoods ensured huge death tolls from early-20th century epidemics. As partners with the U.S., the British are also responsible for the spread of disease in Iraq. American bombing wrecked already overloaded water and sewerage infrastructures. In part the free market restructuring imposed on developing nations by the IMF and the World Bank is blamed. They impoverish urban residents by slashing public sector employment and subsidies on food and fuel. The idea of an interventionist state committed to social housing and job development seems a bad joke, because governments long ago abdicated any serious effort to combat slums and redress urban marginality. There never seems to be enough education and training for the poor, or decent wages. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: The real joke is expecting the government to be financially responsible for housing, food, fuel, wages and infrastructure for 6 to 10 MILLION impoverished people. I suppose the author thinks that money to build infrastructure will come out of thin air, that there are always plenty of jobs to go around, and that food and clean water will always be plentiful, no matter how many people there are.

    Move to Charge Toll for Driving in Core of Downtown Area County Transit Panel to Receive $1 Million From U.S. for Study

    March 28, 2006, Reuters

    The San Francisco Transportation Authority will receive $1.04 million from the Federal Highway Administration to study how to implement a program similar to London's 3-year-old system of charging a flat fee to drive downtown during business hours.

    The London program has reduced downtown traffic congestion by about 30% and vehicle emissions by about 12%. It's also put £200 to 350 million into government coffers.

    The benefit is more efficiency of our public transportation system.

    The authority will look at the city's most congested areas for consideration as charging zones and will discuss where charging should occur, pricing, payment and enforcement methods. Fees could be fixed or vary by location or hour, include discounts for residents or hybrid vehicles or direction of travel. Researchers also study how money made could be spent. London operates its congestion charge from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Traffic signs alert drivers when they are about to enter a zone, where cameras track vehicles. Motorists must pay the $14 charge before or on the day of travel and can pay by telephone, on the Web, at designated stores, by mail and even by text message.

    A system in San Francisco could use a camera network like London's or a tag-and-beacon system, like FasTrak. Commuters expressed annoyance at the possibility of paying yet another fee to reduce congestion that isn't that bad.

    Some public transit advocates have pushed without political success the idea of a special tax on downtown employers to support bus and subway service.

    Officials at the Chamber of Commerce fear that limited car traffic could have a negative impact.

    In London, a city 10 times the size of San Francisco, officials face opposition as they move to extend the charging zone to cover the Chelsea and Kensington districts of the city.

    The Transport for London views the program as a big success, but some businesses have closed and blamed the congestion charge. Small merchants, particularly restaurants, often rely on passers-by to supply a good portion of a day's business.

    San Francisco's transportation authority was urged to carefully consider a charging zone's impact on businesses that could be affected by economic downturns of even 5% or 10%. doclink

    Rapid Urbanisation Has Led to An Even More Rapid Growth in Global Poverty

    March 28, 2006, Guardian (London)

    Over the next 30 years, the world's slum population will increase by 100,000 each day. We are seeing a shift from rural areas to cities and, a higher proportion of people will be living in cities. In these rapidly growing cities, the proportion of people living in poverty grows at the greatest rate. The governments are unable to deal with its rate of growth, and this has an impact on every other aspect of life for the poor. In slums across Asia, 1,000 people live in each acre of land, without proper sanitation. The result is a massive amount of human and solid waste that even the most willing government would struggle to deal with. The atrocious conditions cause sickness and barely anyone has security of land tenure. The narrow lanes stop ambulances and fire engines from getting through. In Lima, people build their homes on top of each other on mountains of gravel and rock in the world's most earthquake-prone zone. In Kumasi, Ghana, because of a lack of sanitation, people dispose of their waste in plastic bags and discarding them in the streets. People in many slums are treated as though they have no rights to education, to clean water or to fight eviction. As their numbers grow, so too does the need for urgent solutions. doclink

    ADB to Study How to Effectively Manage Asian Cities

    March 9, 2006, ACN Newswire

    The population in the cities of Asia is growing at twice that of the total population. By 2030, people living in cities will grow from one third to one half of Asia's population. In 2000, 11 out of 19 megacities with a population of 10 million, and 9 out of 22 cities between 5 and 10 million were in Asia. By 2015, there will be 23 megacities, of which 14 will be in Asia. Effectively managing cities poses a major challenge for developing countries. All face infrastructure and service challenges, which require sizable resources. The urban infrastructure in Asia will need investments of about US$250 billion per annum for the next 25 years while the governance and financial health remain weak. Management of cities and their development are important issues for growth, sustainability, and achieving the MDGs. A study will focus on key areas, such as urban transport, energy, water supply and sanitation, and environment. It will also cover financing and examine ways of augmenting municipal revenues and leveraging market funds. Special attention will be paid to arrangements to partner with the private sector. doclink

    Urbanization is Reducing China's Rural Population

    February 23, 2006, Xinhua General News Service

    Urbanization has been reducing the number of Chinese farmers and the trend will continue. Although residence registrations show that China's rural population stands at 940 million, the total is 750 million as about 200 million people have migrated to work in cities. The development of a "new socialist countryside" is aimed at improving the living conditions of farmers. Not all farmers desire to live in big cities due to limited urban infrastructure and lack of job opportunities. The government encourages farmers to work in adjacent towns and small cities and other non-agricultural sectors. China's rural population would remain large even when urbanization accelerates. Rural dwellers will be 600 million even if only 40% of the Chinese people live in the countryside in 2030, when the total population is expected to rise to 1.5 billion. doclink

    Africa: Battle to Save Earth Will Be Fought in the Cities

    February 28, 2006, Cape Times

    The battle to save the environment will be won or lost in its cities, calims Klaus Töpfer, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, who sketched a picture of a world population living way beyond the ability of the planet to sustain its consumption of resources and generation of waste. We are overusing our natural capital and the solutions must be linked to our cities. "Energy use has increased 16 times, water use has increased nine times, fish catches have increased 40 times, all in the space of one lifetime," Töpfer said. It is in cities that there is a high consumption of resources and generation of pollution. The presence of slums were indicative of cities that were dysfunctional. It had been shown that the world's people were consuming natural resources at a faster rate than the planet could sustain. Cities have to accept that biodiversity must be conserved alongside urban expansion. doclink

    U.S.: Population Growth Outstrips Fire Departments

    February 6, 2006

    Fire departments are growing to provide services in Shelby County, where the population has nearly doubled since 1990. Pelham and Helena will spend more than $1 million to pay salaries and buy gear for two new fire stations. Calera has added a third station, but didn't get a federal grant to pay the $500,000 to hire 10 to 13 firefighters. Almost 7,800 new homes will have been built including 3,315 new single-family dwellings. Chief of the Shelby Fire Department, said fire departments are drained as the population expands. But almost all others outside Alabama's largest cities fall short of national standards that say a fire department will be within 1.5 miles of a built-up area and that 90% of the time the team responding within four minutes include four trained firefighters. Impact fees and developers can bring money for a station, but city revenues or outside grants, would have to pay for personnel and gear. The Chief of Columbiana's volunteer fire department said that we have 30 volunteers, and as long as we have no money, we'll stay that way. The North Shelby department has 26 full-time and 12 part-time staffers, a number not within the national staffing standard. Fire departments try to turn to options that won't add a burdensome cost. Wider use of mutual-aid agreements allows other cities to respond to emergencies near jurisdictional lines. doclink

    China Maps

    December 16, 2005, Xinhua

    When China's central authorities worked on an economic agenda of 'constructing a new countryside', they were considering rural desolation and stagnation. A remote village on the country's dry, barren loess plateau may one day disappear as more and more villagers leave to cities for a better living. Telecommunication services are unavailable when ill people need to go to a clinic in a village several kilometers away. The Chinese government is showing increasing concern over its rural areas, where more than 60% of its 1.3 billion population live. Authorities have listed "building a new countryside" as top of next year's economic agenda. "New countryside" was defined as one where farming production grows, and farmers enjoy a good living in villages with democratic management, a clean natural environment and healthy morals. The state will increase its financial injections into rural areas, increase income and improve rural infrastructure and public services. Rural areas will be the major destination of state investment. Since the country's urbanization drive began, agriculture and the countryside became a damper in China's overall economic growth. The result was a rapid urban boom leaving most rural areas stagnant. The per capita annual income for rural residents in 2004 was 2,936 yuan, 6.8% up from the previous year, but the country had 26.1 million rural people under the poverty line. The average income for urban residents was 3.21 times higher. While 42% of urbanites can have their medical expenses shared by cooperation mechanisms, nearly 90% of rural residents do not have such a privilege. The government has made a series of policies including the exemption of the farming tax, and a promise of offering free compulsory education to all poor rural children. Favorable policies are crucial for the well-being of people who stay in rural areas since it is impossible to urbanize quickly. doclink

    China: Urban Population Accounts for Over 40 Pct of National Total

    November 10, 2005, Xinhua General News Service

    China's urban population stands at 540 million, 41.8% of the total that shows that the urban population increased by 370 million in the past 27 years. China has been promoting urbanization to create job opportunities and increase farmers' income. The rapid development of urban economy has driven the growth of neighboring areas. For a 10% increase in the urbanization rate, the number of people equivalent to Japan's population must transfer from rural to urban areas, said Chen. For a 20% increase, the number of people equivalent to the America should be moved from villages to cities. In the coming five years, China plans to identify the functions of different regions in accordance with their resources and environment and set up diversified criteria to evaluate their development. The method is expected to drive cities to explore urbanization with distinctive characters doclink

    Where Will Wally Go? - as Rural Communities Are Consumed by Sprawl, So is a Way of Life

    Izaak Walton League - Population Growth and Outdoor Ame

    Thousands of farmers in Minnesota are being surrounded by sprawl. While Minnesota's Green Acres program now exempts farmers from property taxes on acreage kept in native prairie or wetlands and offers them tax credits for acreage retained as agricultural, farmers are still feeling squeezed by by the suburban invasion. If a nearby town annexes them, they loose their tax break. Family farmers practice wildlife habitat and natural resource conservation while corporate farms have to answer to their shareholders and wildlife habitat and natural resource conservation often takes a back seat to the bottom line. Sprawl is partly a desire to get away from the inner city; it also is a reflection of a
    problem that shows little sign of going away: too many people. Overpopulation increases natural resource consumption and results in loss of wildlife habitat. Hunters are finding almost impossible to find land that farmers will let them hunt on. People think that resources are unending, but fifty years ago Will Rogers said, "Buy land' They ain't makin' it anymore." Americans developed a million acres of rural land in 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It took all of human history until 1800 to reach our first billion. We tripled that by 1960. The last billion we added (our sixth) took just 12 years. On the good side, since 1960, the rate of human population growth shrank by half. The average woman now has three children rather than six. For the most part, this has come about because basic family planning services have been made available. But improvements in education, economic opportunities, and in women's social status also contributed. These things don't cost much, but they bring a lot of benefit. We
    need to go from wanting a growing
    population to a stable one, from
    exploitation of natural resources to conservation,
    from an ever-expanding
    economy to one that is sustainable.
    Boosterism incites cities to promote
    growth as an example of their vitality
    and civic progressiveness. But growth
    for the sake of growth is counterproductive
    in the long run. It's like building
    a house of cards. Sooner or later, the
    infrastructure collapses and everyone
    wonders what happened. doclink

    India: Improving the Lives of Slum Dwellers is Good for the City

    January 6, 2005

    In India, a democracy, many slum dwellers are being treated as second class citizens. In Mumbai some residents approached the high court challenging the right of slumdwellers to vote. According to the constitution and election law, neither citizenship nor the right to vote depend upon owning property. In Delhi, before the parliamentary elections, the administration demolished thousands of jhuggis and flung people away to far-off places, lacking in transport facilities and basic infrastructure. Hundreds of thousands of people lost their livelihoods. Now the mass demolitions seem to have stopped, but rebuilding of slums in the former location will not be allowed. Mumbai also has demolished slums contrary to its poll promises. On the other hand, there is a progressive resettlement and rehabilitation policy for some 50,000 slumdwellers affected by the Mumbai Urban Transport Project and the Mumbai Urban Infrastructure Project. The government of West Bengal, never in favour of rehabilitation of the urban poor, now appears to be gradually veering around to a more positive outlook with some pilot projects. A minister in the government of Orissa wanted to raze all slums in Bhubaneswar and other towns soon after the elections but now the Government of Orissa is seeking partnerships with NGOs and other civil society organisations to address the issues of sanitation and homelessness for the urban poor. In Pune, municipal commissioner is moving forward on the initiative of a predecessor to provide universal sanitation in slums. Pune will be the only city in India with adequate public sanitation for its slumdwellers. There NGOs and communities design, construct and maintain public toilets, while the corporation provides land, capital cost, water and electricity, is a pointer to new forms of public-private partnerships. The scale of the experiment, in which about 11,000 toilet seats would have been built, demonstrates the feasibility of making a city free from open defecation. A similar programme was launched in Mumbai, funded by the World Bank. A municipal commissioner of Vizag in an alliance of NGOs/CBOs is working to make his city also free of open defecation. The interests of the poor and those of the rest of the city are not very different. To improve the infrastructure of any city - railways, airports. ports, roads and bridges - large numbers of slumdwellers will have to be resettled. When all the community participates, everybody gains. doclink

    Development: Growing Cities Can Bring Better Solutions

    May 17, 2005, InterPress Service

    The population of cities is growing at 180,000 a day. By 2030 there will be two billion new city dwellers, many in slums. One in ten city dwellers lives in slums; in Africa seven out of ten in total 900 million people, according to the U.N. Human Settlement Programme (UNHABITAT). Chaotic urbanisation needs to be tackled after the HIV/AIDS pandemic - the rapid growth of cities presents challenges of providing enough water, education and housing. Though 80% of poor live in the countryside, they often move to big cities for better education, income and employment. As farmers become more efficient, less people are needed for food production and more move into jobs in industrial production and commodity. Cities have the big advantage of providing services covering a small distance. Food supply is normally better in cities. By 2015 there will be 27 cities with a population of more than 10 million, most in Asia. With an influx of half a million every year, a city of 14 million is facing problems of overpopulation. Private markets do not provide finance for social housing to improve slums. Access to finance for development of cities is restricted. Many cities suffer from weak national policies and a fear of decentralisation of authority. Cities account for about 60% of the world's economic growth. The Millennium Development Goals include a need to ensure environmental sustainability includes improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020. doclink

    After the Oil is Gone - Part 2

    May 14, 2005, Salon Magazine

    The future says that the action will be in the smaller cities and towns and we will no longer be living 38 miles away from town. It will be important to live close to viable agriculture, and places where this is not possible are going to be in trouble. The huge suburban metroplexes like New York and Chicago are products of the oil age and have poor prospects with scarce energy. The list is long of cities that have been in contraction for some time. They have been enjoying hyper-mega-growth in their suburbs, and that's going to stop. One thing that the author predicts is that there will be a defense of suburbia. The dirty secret of the American economy for is that it is based on the continued creation of suburban sprawl. If the economy is challenged there isn't a lot left behind it. We're going to pass through a period of history that's going to be very difficult. The shift will include turbulence and mischief and a lot of political trouble. We may have to seriously consider building more nuclear power plants. But it would take five or 10 years to get them built. We're going to have to live a lot more locally and profoundly in the years ahead. The end of cheap oil is going to destroy the suburbs and create a community-based future. I think that we will return to many social relations and enactments that we lost and that were of great value to us, such as working closely with other people on things that really matter. I think that people will be working on things that will tend to be more meaningful, that will tend to have meaning for their neighbors and the places that they live. I also think we will cease to be a nation of TV zombies who are entertaining ourselves to avoid being bored. We will not be living in the kind of narcissistic isolation that was so pervasive in recent decades. Our individual worlds may become smaller places. American life will be much more about staying where you are than about ceaseless mobility. American suburbia has become a powerful generator of anxiety and depression. If we happen to let it go, we won't miss it that much. We've become so accustomed to leisure and comfort that we're afraid to let them go and enter a world of less comfort and greater toil. doclink

    This article hardly explains the problems that face us "after the oil has gone".

    Northern California Residents Warned EPA Asbestos Report Will 'Scare the Living Daylights' Out of Them

    Online Lawyer

    Within the town of Libby, Montana, at least 200 people out of the valley of 10,000 have died breathing asbestos and federal authorities say another 2,000 or more face shorter lives because of cancer and hardening of their lungs as a result of asbestos exposure and the Sacramento suburb of El Dorado Hills may have the same destiny. Tests show elevated concentrations of amphibole asbestos in soil and air. Unlike commercial asbestos, the asbestos in Libby and most of El Dorado is part of a durable mineral called amphiboles. While crysotile fibers slowly break down in lung fluid, amphiboles last forever. The EPA is recalculating asbestos cancer risk to reflect the higher carcinogenicity of amphiboles and longer fibers. It appears amphiboles are 700 to 800 times more hazardous for mesothelioma and lung cancer. Asbestos deposits pose no risk when undisturbed, but development has resulted in more buildings, which could have allowed developers to spread the asbestos fibers. The EPA performed other activities that residents would normally go through to determine the extent of asbestos in the area. The results were so troubling that El Dorado County environmental officials put out a press release warning the agency was about to "scare the living daylights out of every man, woman and child" in the county. It is unknown what kind of affect the asbestos will have on the health of residents. The latency period for asbestos diseases and cancers can take 15 to 20 years to show up. Asbestos is common in California and found in 44 of the state's 58 counties, including all of the Bay Area. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the asbestos impact may be far from over. The Bush administration is proposing to eliminate the nationwide search for deposits of asbestos, claiming private industry, academia or states could fill the void. Congress is debating the creation of a $140 billion asbestos trust fund for exposed workers, including non-mining residents of Libby, but people like El Dorado residents would be excluded. Since federal and state standards for asbestos date to 1986 and treat crysotile and amphiboles asbestos the same, the reports could underestimate the dangers. doclink

    UN Warns Three Billion May Be Living in World's Slums by Mid-Century

    April 4, 2005, Agence France-Presse

    The UN warned that growing poverty and urbanization may triple the population of the world's slums to three billion by the middle of the century. Urging global action to fight poverty, if not the unstoppable migration of people from rural areas to cities, the UN said the growth of slums was a risk to public health and development. Such poverty is more destructive than all the world's disasters and wars combined. Kofi Annan noted that slum-dwellers in Africa, Asia and Latin America account for 30% of a global urban population. Cities are engines of growth and social development, yet also bastions of inequality in health and living conditions, employment opportunities and the crime and insecurity. Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki called on rich nations to offer debt relief to reduce poverty in the developing world and slow the growth of slums. doclink

    In Bombay, a Battle Over Slums; City Wants Slum Dwellers in Apartments, but Demolitions Have Left Thousands Homeless.

    February 3, 2005, Monitor, The(Uganda)

    It is hard to imagine Bombay - or Mumbai, as the city is now called -without slums. Fly in to Bombay and you'll pass over the world's largest slum, before coming down on the tarmac. Nearly 55% live in slums and the city has given approval and even basic services to the illegal settlements. But city planners say the slums are an unacceptable problem. The current dispute stems from the plan to give tenement apartments to slum dwellers who can prove that they have resided in Bombay since 1995. Previous efforts to confer ownership backfired when slum dwellers sold units for cash, only to seek out another slum. This program requires residents to own an apartment for 10 years before they can sell. The government has built 50,000 apartments of 225 square feet apiece to house people from sites in Bombay. But advocates argue that the city has torn down 73,500 shacks and rendered nearly 350,000 of the city's poorest residents homeless. The chief minister admits that some of the slums have been razed by mistake, since those residing in Bombay since 1995 are protected from demolition. The situation in Mumbai has deteriorated so much that there is hardly an inch of space left for migrants. Shabana Azmi, chairwoman of an advocacy group says the demolition campaign will fail to rid the city of slums. "What is important is giving them clean water, basic sanitation, and unconditional land tenure, but it's difficult to build sympathy among Bombay's middle class, who applaud the campaign. Law student Rajesh Vartik says the demolition campaign should continue. For those who have come here illegally, I have no sympathy but for those who came before 1995 should be given compensation. In the slum of Ambedkar Nagar, most of the residents living in the ruins of their demolished shacks can point to photocopies of election voting cards, ration cards, and even land titles that prove residence here since 1995. Congress Party politicians came to power with the votes of slum dwellers by promising to protect their homes from demolition. Now the promises have been dropped. doclink


    England's Population Growth Squeezes Resources

    January 28, 2015, Population Matters

    Population Matters has released a report entitled More People, Less Food by London School of Economics and Political Science graduate student Diandian Chen in which the author analyzes the perverse impact of population growth in England during the past 20 years on housing, food production and amenity land.

    In 1994, the population of England was approximately 48 million, of whom about 250,000 were "statutory homeless". If the population had been stabilized at that point, then only approximately 5,200 hectares of land would have been required to house all of these people and they could have been housed in two years on land used for commercial purposes that was changed to residential use in 1994 and 1995. Conversion of undeveloped or agricultural land would not have been required.

    In practice, because of rapid population growth since then the housing shortage has worsened; about 26,400 hectares of farmland and 3,600 hectares of undeveloped land have been converted for residential use; approximately £63 million (US $95.5 million) worth of annual food production has been lost; homelessness has remained acute; house price inflation caused by demand exceeding supply has continued; and food self-sufficiency has been further reduced.

    Looking ahead to 2050, by which time the Office of National Statistics of the United Kingdom projects that the population of the country will have increased by between seven and 46 more Manchesters, local authorities anticipate that more than 700,000 houses will be built in the countryside, including almost 200,000 in undeveloped or agricultural land.

    "When England is already the most overcrowded country in Europe, our houses are already the smallest, and our polls show that 80 per cent of us would prefer a smaller population than we have now, this is a truly pathetic situation," said Population Matters Chair Roger Martin. "This shows what happens when the national debate is all about increasing supply in our small island and totally ignores any idea of reducing demand, whether for housing, energy, water or anything else. Until we have a clear national objective of stabilizing our numbers and then frankly reducing them, all of our efforts will be to catch up with population growth while congestion, overload and quality of life steadily worsen." doclink

    The Fake Environmentalists and Their Pretend-Game

    September 23, 2010, We Can Do Better website

    Regional planners, under the direction of their political overlords---the proxies of developers - are trying to shove tens of thousands more people into the North Vancouver Island region. And they don't want people to grasp the full implications of their devious plans. What is transpiring here is transpiring across Canada and the continent of North America--and elsewhere. New subdivisions are sprouting up all over the map in place of greenbelts, woodlands and marshes and the people have little say in the matter.

    The most frustrating thing is that fake environmentalists are able to pose as resisting this imposition. But their issue is not with population growth, but with "sprawl"---even though at least half of sprawl is driven by population growth and not by poor land-use planning. They want to 'manage' growth and steer it away from farmland, while packing the unending stream of newcomers into tighter and denser lots alongside existing residents, who are encouraged to surrender their living space in the interests of food security and the environment.

    Thus people are presented with a false antithesis. Either accept growth with sprawl or so-called 'smart' growth without it. The local NDP (New Democratic Party), Greens and environmentalists tell people that population growth is something not in their jurisdiction, that immigration (or child benefits) policy is a federal matter and that nothing can prevent inter-provincial migration as guaranteed under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In other words, growth out of their hands.

    Yet which political parties receive top marks from the Sierra Club? The federal Greens and the federal NDP. And what is their immigration policy? To increase the absurdly high immigration intake quota of the Harper Government by 25%, while matching or besting its pro-natalist programs.

    This is the pretend-game that environmental NGOs play. Either population growth is not controllable, or even if it is, they have nothing to do with it--- and in any case, it has little bearing on environmental degradation, whether farmland or species loss, or GHG emissions. "It's not whether we grow", they argue, "but how we grow". Just squeeze tighter in the sardine can so that incoming migrants can snuggle up to you. And above all, feel guilty about having extra space in the backyard for your son to play in or a nature trail at the end of your block to take your dog. If it is nature that you want, well, you can get that on the Outdoor Living Channel, can't you?

    Let me confess that, whether it is the white-flight "Freedom 55s" from Alberta or California, or people from across the world, I've never felt lonely enough to want them living under my nose, and neither do most of us who chose our 'low-density" lifestyle. Some may call that selfish, I call it a human right. Is it my demand for space that is unreasonable, or the demand that I accept as reasonable a human population level that is 250% higher now than when I was born? Why are we being forced to accept population growth? Because population growth is thought to be a necessary agent of economic growth, our Great God.

    The myth that continued economic growth is necessary, desirable, inevitable or even possible remains our major stumbling block, the first domino of misconceptions that must fall before we can reclaim any semblance of the quality of life that we once enjoyed. We are in a foot race with Mother Nature. If we don't stop growth, she will stop us. Time is almost up. Don't let the Pied Pipers of Fake Environmentalism lead you down a futile path. Fight growth, not the symptoms of growth. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: I like low-density living also, but it is a luxury supported by high consumption of a vanishing natural resource: oil. The author should consider how difficult life will be like without it. Consumption is one of the factors of sustainability - it's not just population. On the other hand, why should we accept more and more people into our region? We end up encouraging more births in the region of origin.

    Australia: Survey Unveils Coast Future No-One Wants

    March 1, 2008, Sunshine Coast Daily

    This year, the Sunshine Coast Daily, Seven Local News, 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. doclink

    U.S.: Sold! the Sierra

    June 29, 2007, The Sierra Citizen

    Since the 1950s, Donner Summit has been the site of roughly 800 homes. In 1971, John Slouber began purchasing land for the largest cross-country ski resort in the country, Royal Gorge. Slouber eventually owned 4,000 acres of land and leased an additional 5,000 acres of Forest Service land to operate his resort.

    Slouber sold the property to Foster and Kirk Syme, in 2005. The companies proposed to build 950 housing units, a hotel, commercial spaces, and ski lifts. They have pledged to preserve 70% of their property as open space. All the property owners at Serene Lakes are against the plan.

    They believe they have a responsibility to take into account the unique state of the summit, and they don't want development to destroy it.

    Everybody's got to deal with development of some kind; California is growing.

    Counties want new development to boost their revenues from more property tax from new homes and commercial properties.

    Counties believe development will increase the tax base, but it's better to get more out of the tax base you have. "We've got a nice quiet community; putting in a hotel and timeshares, changes the nature of the community."

    Some believe the project has many flaws. "We should be looking at restoring the environment and using development as a positive impact. This would include affordable housing, jobs, access to recreation, an increased tax base, and things like better water quality through upgrades. How much of the community do we give up so they can make a profit?"

    "One element of a conservation community is preservation of open space, and that is an important part of our plan," Livak says. "We see nature as an amenity of this development. Without new development, the Royal Gorge ski area will lose too much money to be a viable business. Who will manage the open space? Concerns are our sewer and water, traffic, density of development, and time shares, which will change the character of the community. The quality of their water supply concerns many residents. Runoff from roads, contaminated melt water from plowed snow, and nutrients from lawns are all concerns. Many worry that traffic will become dangerous, especially on crowded winter ski days. "Condo owners won't buy into the community. They come up on one weekend and won't come back."

    How to mitigate the impacts of the development will be addressed by California's extensive environmental review policy, codified as CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act). A positive impact would include affordable housing, jobs, access to recreation, an increased tax base, better water quality. Royal Gorge is the classic land use story what will the impacts of development be on the local community versus what is a reasonable return of investment for the developer? doclink

    Karen Gaia says: sounds like another Ponzi scheme: build a ski resort, then when it doesn't make enough money, put in some homes and businesses so that the ski resort keeps going. Then keep increasing the population so that the local economy grows. There seems to be a total ignorance of the limits nature imposes. You can't keep growing forever. And whatever happened to simple living?

    NYC's Newest Rush Hour: 24/7

    December 13, 2006, Long Island Press

    Long Islanders may be spending more time in their cars and trains by 2030.

    By 2030, every major infrastructure system in our city will be more than a century old, and pushed to its limits, The city could expect to gain about a million more residents by that time, He also predicted 750,000 new jobs and Long Islanders may be commuting in record numbers.

    The infrastructure's components must work seamlessly for all of us to survive.

    The Long Island Railroad began along Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn in 1832.

    As our population grows and our infrastructure ages, our environment will be pushed to new and possibly precarious limits. Unfortunately for Long Islanders who commute to the city daily, there will be nothing to combat the frustration of a daily commute to a city bursting at the seams. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Will someone please tell be how 'smart growth' solutions will solve this problem?

    Brazil Monkeys Sign of Intense Biological Diversity

    February 22, 2006,

    The prevalence of monkeys in Brazil stands against the country's demand for more arable land to feed and house an ever-growing population. This makes the monkeys' survival an important measure of the effect of human beings on the natural environment. Two new monkey species were found in the Amazon in 2002 but more species are threatened with extinction. 13 out of the 24 new monkey species found worldwide since 1990 have been found in Brazil, in the Atlantic Forest, on the east coast of the country. The Atlantic Forest is now 10% of its original size due to the vast human population of 186 million. 21 primate species in the Atlantic Forest are found nowhere else in the world and more plant species in two and a half acres than are found on the entire Atlantic coast of the US. If monkey populations are getting smaller, the likelihood is that the fabric of the surrounding ecosystem is deteriorating. 5.4 million acres of forests are cleared every year in Brazil. On a global scale, it is estimated that 157 species become extinct every year. Human development and expansion into the Amazon is overwhelming the forest's ability to recuperate and to sustain the intense diversity of life within it. Researchers suggest there is significant evidence that current forests have not yet recovered from humanity's imprint thousands of years ago. Collapse of the diverse, oxygen-producing Amazon ecosystem could impact rainfall, soil fertility, and sustainability of harvests and natural resources. So Brazil's numerous monkey species represents ecological factors which could have far-reaching global implications. The sustainability of their habitat serves as a measure of the future of systems that support human life and civilization. doclink

    U.S.: Wine Country Casualties - Grape-eating Bears Killed as Vineyards' Territory Expands

    December 26, 2005, San Francisco Chronicle

    Bears have frequented the pond and an adjacent meadow since the Dakins bought Wild Springs Ranch a decade ago. Now they are gone. The owner of the adjacent Aetna Springs Vineyard, tired of having his prized grapes eaten, hired federal trappers to kill the offending bears. The tragic fate of their beloved bruins has thrust the Dakins into a seething debate over the future of the nation's famous wine-growing region. Wildlife is often the loser as vineyards creep into the hinterlands amid a growing demand for the kind of grape that can be produced only in mountainous wildland regions. Vineyard owners were the reason state law was changed this year to include wild turkeys on the list of animals that can be killed. Cabernet grapes are fetching from $5,000 to $7,000 a ton and as a result, vineyards are popping up on slopes and ridgetops. Even older, established vineyards are taking steps to protect their investments. Paul Maroon, who bought the Aetna Springs was given permits to kill the bears after he showed the damage they did to his fence and vines. The department is required by law to issue a permit if damage can be shown to personal property. Two male black bears and two females were killed by federal animal control officers. They damage the fences and allow the deer to enter and both damage the vines. The industry has been growing to the delight of Californians and environmentalists, who prefer vineyard development to housing development. It's not surprising that a bear-wine conflict would occur in the Pope Valley. The director of Aetna Springs Golf Course called the controversy "wine for blood", life versus profit. Herds of deer have been killed over the same thing. To come into a wildlife area and then kill off the wildlife is wrong. Concerns about wildlife prompted Napa County to pass tougher ordinances for hillside vineyards increasing the restrictions for every increase in slope. But they haven't stopped hillside planting. Premier Pacific, has promised to plant on only a fraction of the land and preserve 2,000 acres of old growth redwood forest on the Gualala River. Other vineyards write off the grapes devoured as a kind of tax for doing business in their territory. doclink

    State of the Environment - North Carolina's Most Urgent Environmental Challenge

    December 16, 2005, Charlotte Observer

    If projections from scientific experts are remotely accurate, North Carolina is in for significant change within our lifetimes related to global climate change. One estimate says 770 square miles of the coast could submerge. Air quality may worsen as temperatures rise, and the health of citizens could decline. Some will die of heat stroke. Environmental Defense, among others, has suggested a series of strategies to limit the harmful impact and prepare its residents to make some money off the changes. This year, air quality drops out of the top 10 problems because there were fewer bad air days, because controls on smokestack pollution have begun to take effect. Each of these assessments is subjective, not scientific. Summers have been getting drier, while falls have been getting wetter. As a consequence, North Carolinians have less water available than they did 100 years ago and a future with insufficient water in some areas as the state continues its dramatic urbanization. Raleigh has problems with one of its key reservoirs. Falls Lake which has been below normal level, forcing Raleigh to think about asking for a transfer from Kerr Lake. Concord and Kannapolis have sought to drain 38 million gallons a day from the Catawba River. Storm runoff, nutrients and sediment remain a top concern. Development is overwhelming the ability to keep pollution out of water supplies but the state is losing the war to protect water quality and the environment in North Carolina and America. Rapid growth and inappropriate development has been near the top of the list for 10 years. Residential growth consumes farmland, green space and forests, putting new strains on air quality and water quality. But sprawling low-density development and quality-of-life concerns could interfere with future prosperity. Growth and development has threatened places where no one ever imagined. A growth surge in coastal counties has caused problems and the land use planning program for the coast is totally broken. The very people who depend on waterfront availability for their economic survival can no longer afford that access. How North Carolina will meet its energy needs at an affordable cost will dominate debate affecting the environment. Utilities are interested in building more nuclear plants and pressure grows for the state to rescind its opposition to offshore natural gas exploration. While some fish stocks have made recoveries in N.C. waters, others have declined in alarming ways. River herring have become so depleted that catches failed to reach a quota limit. Oysters, bay scallops and blue crabs are species of "concern" because of low catches. Population growth has increased the amount of garbage going into landfills while the state might begin importing garbage in landfills proposed for sparsely populated areas an environmental threat. The state continues to search for solutions to large-scale hog farm waste. Thousands bought up the shoreline and built out-of-scale mansions to replace the fish camps and clapboard cottages. The loss of natural areas to upscale residential developments has changed what North Carolinians see from our windows. Litter accumulates along our highways, costing the state millions in collection costs and providing volunteers with more work than they can keep up with. Utility poles and wires mar the viewscape. Environmental concerns fail to consider long-term implications and doesn't recognize the interdependence of conservation and development. North Carolina has more than 17 million acres of forests and large stands of trees in national and state forests, parks and wildlife reserves. But the huge stands of hardwoods and regal longleaf pines are now a small fraction of what they once were. In a state where development has gobbled up 100,000 acres of forested lands and natural areas per year, recent legislation may make it harder for local governments to preserve land at a time the state's population continues to grow and consume more natural areas. doclink

    Sounds just like most of the states along the east coast. Most of these problems are population and consumption. Where it is a consumption problem, any population growth magnifies it. The problem with people being rich is that they are able to distract and insulate themselves from the problems, which puts them in a state of denial.

    U.S.: Student Numbers Put Strain on Schools

    December 4, 2005, Salt Lake Tribune

    Some Utah school districts are hiring teachers and calling for construction of more schools, as public school enrollment grew by 14,430 students last year. Statewide, the student population grew an estimated 2.9%, to a total of 510,012 students attributed in part to a spurt triggered by baby boomers' grandchildren starting their own families. Utah had expected about 2,000 new students to move in from out of state, but this grew to 6,000. Nobody anticipated the housing boom and no one predicted the timing of it, either. In the Davis School District, enrollments grew 1,850 students, mostly in elementary schools in high-growth areas. The families moving in this year, have more school-age children. Alpine School District has seen a total growth of 7,608 students in the past six years. In addition to growth in most school districts, charter schools nearly doubled their populations from 6,237 to 11,528 students. The growth may be due in part to the fact that students who previously were home-schooled are now attending charter schools. doclink

    U.S.: Experts Say Faulty Levees Caused Much of Flooding

    September 28, 2005, Washington Post

    Louisiana's hurricane experts have suggested that the city's flood- protection system should have kept most of the city dry. The Army Corps of Engineers said that Katrina was too massive for a system intended to protect the city from a storm no greater than a Category 3 hurricane, and floodwall failures near Lake Pontchartrain were caused by surges that overtopped the walls. But scientists and engineers have concluded that Katrina's surges did not overtop those barriers. The Hurricane Center's deputy director said the real scandal is the structural failure of barriers that should have handled the hurricane with ease. Corps spokesman said the agency still believes that storm surges overtopped the concrete floodwalls near the lake, then undermined the earthen levees on which they were perched, setting the stage for the breaches that emptied the lake into the city. The Corps will launch an investigation to make sure it is correct. Katrina was a Category 4 hurricane, whereas Congress authorized protection against a storm of Category 3. The researchers agree that Katrina's surge from the southeast overwhelmed floodwalls along the Industrial Canal. They believe an Army Corps navigation canal known as the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet amplified that surge, although they acknowledge it was larger than the system was designed to control. The researchers have evidence that Katrina's subsequent surge from the north was several feet shy of the height to overtop the 17th Street and London Avenue floodwalls. It was their failure that emptied the lake into the rest of the city. Researchers showed indications that Katrina's surge was not as tall as the lakefront's protections. They contended that the destruction behind the breaches was consistent with a localized "pressure burst," rather than widespread overtopping. A model indicates that most of the surge around the lake and its canals was less than 11 feet above sea level, and none greater than 13 feet. The Army Corps's flood-protection system was designed to handle surges of more than 14 feet. "This should not have been a big deal for these floodwalls," said oceanographer G. Paul Kemp. The floodwalls at issue looked more like the sound barriers found on major highways and should have been interlocked. The canals were supposed to protect should have had floodgates to keep water from the lake. The earthen levees along Lake Pontchartrain all held, while the concrete floodwalls failed. The Corps has not identified the contractors who built the floodgates that failed but there will be a full investigation into the breaches. If Katrina did not exceed the design capacity of the New Orleans levees, the federal government may bear ultimate responsibility. doclink

    As more and more people crowd into an area that is prone to disaster; the greater the chance for more lives lost and more damage done.

    U.S.: Hazards Contained in Waters Are Not as Toxic as Feared

    September 11, 2005, New York Times*

    Though there were breaks in levees during Katrina, they did not occur until after the storm passed. The waters' slow rise did not carry the force of a storm surge. The sediments of Lake Pontchartrain are not heavily polluted. Still, some dangerous chemicals are potentially forming toxic pools that are not visible. Researchers hoped to test the water, especially in neighborhoods that could be "hot spots" from any spills at the chemical plants. The chemicals probably do not pose a major health hazard, the concentrations would have to be much larger. But as the floodwaters recede, they could concentrate contamination that would complicate the cleanup. The immediate concern is sewage mixed in with the floodwater. Bacteria or viruses could cause intestinal illness in anyone who ingests the water. Fears of disease outbreaks led federal officials to announce a public health emergency for the Gulf Coast. Walking in the water can be a risk if there are wounds. doclink

    More impacts of overcrowding in an area subject to nature's fury.

    Indian Children Starvation Deaths Shock Brazil

    March 4, 2005, Reuters

    Six children starved to death on a poverty-stricken Indian reserve in Brazil and officials warned more could die. About 11,500 nomadic Indians are crammed onto a reservation in Mato Grosso do Sul state, originally created to house 300 people. Infant mortality and suicides rates are 3 times higher than national averages. Officials at a congressional hearing warned Indians could invade local farms if they did not get assistance to end their confinement. Pictures of dead Indian children have shocked Brazilians and Congress promised a commission to investigate reservations. Federal officials will coordinate health care, benefits and infrastructure. Activists said that the problem is a lack of land, they're completely surrounded by fields of soy. Brazil's Indian population has grown from 400,000 in 1980s to 734,000 in 2000. The Indians want to move onto new ancestral lands as is their right under Brazil's constitution. There were about 6 million Indians when the Portuguese arrived in 1500. The 12-square-mile Dourados reservation was created 90 years ago in an area of savannah and forest now converted into one of the world's largest grains growing areas. The Indians want more land to return to traditional hunting and gathering. That puts them at odds with landowners driving economic growth with soy exports. Other reservations have occupied local farms and ranches at gunpoint. doclink

    The Power of One - a Writer Uses the Ripple Effect to Teach People About Population Growth and the Outdoors

    Izaak Walton League of America - A Guide to Population

    We begin trading stories of fishing and hunting adventures. The older man mentions he is the father of six children. His son has yet to marry. The father laments, it is getting harder to find places to hunt and fish. The conversation reminds me of the words of Margaret Mead, the American sociologist, who said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world." Perhaps, we could make a difference by talking about population growth whenever the opportunity arose. My fishing partners and I are several hours into our trip and we share a love of the outdoors. I decide staying silent will not cut it and I ask the father why he thinks all the good hunting and fishing places around Boise are gone. "Because the population of Boise and surrounding towns has exploded. It's sure not like it was when I was a kid." I ask, "Do you think having six children might have contributed." I explain, "it's not just people moving in, the kids of long-time residents have pushed the numbers up as well. What, I continue, does he think will happen if our population just keeps growing? He says, "I never thought of it that way. Having a large family was just something we did." Our guide, a father of one, chimes in. "That's why clients can keep only two fish apiece now." Talking with others about the impacts of an ever-increasing population wouldn't be time consuming. We're making ripples on the pond. Some hunters at the trailhead have seen no elk and are heading home in disgust. I take the plunge. "The real problem in finding big game is that as our population increases, the hunting areas closest to roads are getting crowded and forces elk and deer even deeper into our last roadless areas". Though it is often uncomfortable to discuss human population with fellow hunters and anglers, the stakes are too big not to. Instead of tackling population growth head on, people peck at the symptoms. We try to control sprawl, we urge more sustainable forestry practices, we encourage recycling, but when you come down to it, by not controlling our own numbers the human species is exceeding the planet's carrying capacity. Just as disease, malnutrition, and starvation force elk and deer herds to crash when they exceed the carrying capacity of their environment, our own numbers will produce a similar fate if left unchecked. doclink

    Philippines: Resources Strained

    December 16, 2004, UNFPA

    Six cities in the Philippines face strained resources as the number of people living there continue to increase yearly. They have a population boom as people migrate to these areas and as urban populations grow, local governments must face the challenges of public sanitation, pollution, transportation, peace and order, and poverty. Urbanization creates opportunities and a heavier burden in providing basic services. Manila is one of the top 20 megacities in the world and may be the 12th largest city by 2010. The Philippines continued growth, one of the highest in Southeast Asia, would further put pressure on its resources. The current population now at 84 million, increases yearly by 1.8 million. Urbanization is growing faster in the surrounding areas than the city core. A strong policy for decongesting Metro Manila will give rise to several metropolitan centers. Population growth in Lipa, Cebu, Tagum and Zamboanga results in lack of housing, poor waste disposal, traffic congestion, decrease of water quality, air and water pollution, and lack of health and education facilities and personnel. Population in urbanized areas is rising faster than the national growth rate. In 2000, urban population was 48% of the total and will be 65% by 2020. doclink

    US Wyoming: Park Service Proposes Allowing Snowmobiles Into Yellowstone

    August 19, 2004, Billings Gazette

    The National Park Service proposed letting up to 720 guided snowmobiles enter Yellowstone each day during the next three winters to provide local businesses and the public some measure of certainty about winter recreation in the region. 140 snowmobiles would be allowed in neighboring Grand Teton National Park and on the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway. Last year, the Park Service said it would allow snowmobiles, but with limits on the number and type. But a federal judge acting on a lawsuit brought by conservationists, blocked the plan that called for the phase-out of snowmobiles in favor of mass-transit snow coaches. However a federal judge in Wyoming ordered the Park Service to devise rules that would be fair to all parties. The Park Service said its recommendation is similar to those temporary rules that were put in place for the remainder of the 2003-04 winter. In proposing a temporary plan, the Park Service said a range of alternatives was considered. The preferred plan calls for recreational snowmobiles meeting best available technology requirements and permitting snowmobiling through the winter of 2006-07, unless new regulations are devised. doclink

    Scientists Warn of Travel Danger to Antarctica

    September 11, 2003, Planet Ark

    Tourism to Antarctica is growing and could pose dangers for people and environment. The number of tourists could reach 27,000 a year and very large cruise ships are going to Antarctica. If there was an accident there would be problems with health and rescue and clearing up any spills. Safety regulations are needed to protect tourists. The impact on the environment has been minimal and pollutants and the depletion of the ozone layer are the greatest concern including the possibility of global, regional and local threats interacting in unexpected ways. The Antarctic Treaty regulates human activities, but deals with environmental issues in a piecemeal way. doclink

    China Moves Tens of Thousands as Flood Danger Looms

    July 10, 2003, Environmental News Network

    Flooding along the Huai river in China has forced 600,000 people from their homes, and the river continued to rise amid torrential rains. 16 people were killed and 162 injured when a tornado swept through Wuwei County striking several towns. Authorities prepared to lower the level of Hongze Lake as it was 25 inches above danger level. In emergencies, authorities divert water into farming areas and sacrifice smaller towns to protect cities. Millions live on land reclaimed with dikes that hem in rivers and lakes. Officials have flooded towns in several areas to divert the Huai that flows through densely populated industrial and farming areas. 200 deaths have been reported in mudslides and flooding in central and southern China. In Afghanistan, rains triggered floods that washed away homes, killing 24 people. In eastern India, soldiers helped retrieve bodies from mud in the Darjeeling Hills, where 23 people have died in landslides from heavy rains. At least 131 people have been killed in India and Bangladesh by monsoon rains. doclink

    Uganda: Will Mother Nature Survive Population Pressure?

    New Vision

    According to the UN Habitat report 2009, the population density in Kampala is so high, about 12 families occupy a single plot of land, and about 1.5 million people live in slums in Kampala. The wetlands and swamps have now been turned into residential areas because of the increase in population.

    This has caused environmental damage. In Kampala, damage to wetlands and swamps has resulted in floods, especially in Kalerwe, Bwaise, Kawempe, Zana, Ndeeba, Bwaise and Kanyanya. In the east and north east of Uganda, mudslides and floods are becoming common.

    The 20-year stability and improvement in livelihood and child mortality, coupled with a high fertility rate have contributed to a population growth rate of 3.3% compared to the global average of 1.1%. This makes Uganda one of the countries with the fastest growing populations in the world.

    80% of the Ugandan population relies on resources like land and lakes for livelihood. 99% uses firewood and charcoal for cooking, putting a strain on forests, wetlands and causing a shortage of agricultural land. Kampala has swallowed up the greenery that once covered the empty hills and valleys.

    More wetlands in Kampala have been cleared for human settlement and industries.

    When the floods hit Kampala early this year, the former minister of environment, Dr. Kezimbira Miyingo, issued a directive that all houses in wetlands be demolished. However, owners opposed the directive, claiming they did not know they were building on wetlands.

    The problem of flooding is so severe in the Kampala suburbs of Kalerwe, Kisenyi and Bwaise that tenants shift to other areas to escape the floods. Latrines are built above water streams.

    During rainy seasons, the area residents often open a hole to release faeces from the latrines. The rain then washes the faeces into streams, from where they fetch water. Many people have no toilets and incidents of people using polythene papers as toilets is common.

    In May this year, KCC received money from the World Bank to boost the fight against flooding in Kampala suburbs. The money was for reconstruction and rehabilitation of high risk areas, starting with a 3.6km drainage channel in Bwaise. Part of the channel was constructed, but it has not been helpful in controlling floods.

    According to the 2002 population census, 12% of Uganda's population lived in the urban areas. The United Nations indicated that by 2007, 3.7 million Ugandans lived in urban areas.

    According to Uganda National Bureau of Statistics, Kampala's population in 2010 is about 1.6 million people.

    It is possible for sparsely populated areas to be overpopulated as such areas may have a meagre or non-existent capability to sustain human life. Already this is beginning to show in Uganda. Although access to water has improved, (67% of the population has access to an improved water source), it takes an average Ugandan over 30 minutes to collect water.

    Rural households are also increasingly spending more time looking for firewood. Overpopulated places compete for the basic life-sustaining resources, hence a diminished quality of life. Increase in time for collecting water or fuel impacts on women more. Girls cannot complete their education, thus early marriage and childbearing which starts a cycle of poverty.

    Despite the increase in population density in world cities, the UN Habitat says in its report that urbanisation may be the best solution to managing the rising global population.

    Cities concentrate human activity within specified areas, limiting the extent of environmental damage. But this mitigating influence can only be achieved if urban planning is significantly improved. doclink


    New, Muscular Microbes Emerge as Planet Warms

    Climate change, tropical deforestation, poverty, education levels, trends in
    agriculture and international trade, have bearings on disease.
    Microbes are configured to respond amazingly quickly to environmental
    changes. Urban migrations spread diseases. Infectious diseases happen with
    inadequate sanitation, air pollution, poverty, malnutrition, and the misuse
    of antibiotics. The body's defenses may be overwhelmed by toxins in the air,
    water, and diet. Transport of humans and food products by air spread
    diseases quickly. The sheer volume of urban growth, by political upheaval,
    economic turmoil, or corruption is overwhelming health initiatives. Free
    markets mean lack of controls. doclink

    Why is an overpopulation group interested in Aids?

    Answer: AIDS is prevalent in Africa, where some of the world's biggest population growth is
    taking place. In Sub-Sahara Africa, it often the norm for unmarried females
    to have children to prove fertility so that they can be eligible for
    marriage. So, with the high promiscuity rate, the resulting high growth
    rate, and the high concentration of AIDS, there is the possibility that AIDS
    will mutate into a disease that is airborne (think: "Black Death", the
    Bubonic plague) doclink

    Asking Women to Avoid Pregnancy is Absurd, Even in the Face of Zika

    February 5, 2016, FiveThirtyEight   By: Anna Maria Barry-jester

    The mosquito-borne virus Zika has spread to over 20 countries in the Americas since it arrived in Brazil about a year ago, and there's concern that it's linked to an increase in birth defects and neurological conditions.

    The World Health Organization has said pregnant women should aggressively avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Jamaica have said that women should delay getting pregnant altogether. Unfortunately, for many women, pregnancy is not a choice.

    As is the case in the United States, plenty of women who get pregnant in Latin America and the Caribbean don't intend to. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that 62% of pregnancies in South America and 40% in Central America are unwanted or mistimed. Jen Kates, of the Kaiser Family Foundation, says women in rural areas, poor women, young women and victims of sexual violence have even higher rates of pregnancies they didn't plan.

    Unmarried teenagers and single women also report high rates of unplanned pregnancy. "Some health workers are afraid they will promote sexual activity by bringing up the topic or offering contraception to teenagers," said Dr. Guillermo Antonio Ortiz. Others won't provide contraceptives without permission from parents. Also, the kinds of contraceptives most commonly available aren't necessarily the best methods for young women to prevent pregnancy. An injection every three months is the method most commonly available in government clinics, which service about 90% of the population. It's harder to get pills. And although intrauterine devices have become more popular in the U.S., they are almost non-existent in government clinics in El Salvador.

    Sex education is also extremely limited, particularly in rural and poor communities, meaning young men and women don't know a lot about the options for preventing pregnancy.

    Almost a third of babies born in El Salvador are born to teenagers.

    In other words, the people who are being asked to avoid getting pregnant often lack the tools to do so.

    Dr. Suzanne Serruya, director of the Pan American Health Organization's Latin American Center for Perinatology, Women and Reproductive Health, said, "If contraception fails, what are they supposed to do if they become pregnant?" Strict abortion laws in the region rarely allow women to choose an abortion except in cases of incest, rape or endangerment to the woman's life.

    Cases of microcephaly, a condition where the head is smaller than average, in Brazil kicked off a passionate debate over the country's strict abortion laws. Although several conservative politicians had been trying to push through more restrictive policies around abortion before the Zika outbreak, some politicians are now pushing back, saying women with Zika should be allowed to have an abortion.

    Microcephaly isn't necessarily life-threatening. It isn't generally detectable until late in the second trimester, and it's often impossible to say how severe the problem is at that point. Abortions performed that late in pregnancy also require more specialized equipment and training than early-term abortions.

    El Salvador has said it will provide pregnant women with insect repellent and work on reducing the mosquito population. It doesn't appear that those plans include anything to help women prevent unintended pregnancies.

    There has been very little policy that tries to involve men in delaying pregnancies in areas concerned about Zika transmission. As Anu Kumar, an executive vice president at Ipas, said, "Is it all immaculate conception that's taking place? Why is this all directed at women?" doclink

    What 11 Billion People Mean for Disease Outbreaks

    The explosive growth of the human population'from 2.5 billion to 6 billion since the second half of the 20th century'may have already started changing how infectious diseases emerge
    November 26, 2013, Scientific American   By: Bahar Gholipour

    In mid-April 2009, two samples arrived at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in Atlanta for investigation. The particular flu strains that these two children possessed did not seem normal. Flu surveillance staff has noticed that this particular strand has a unique genetic makeup, different from any other known human flu virus. Sadly this began the swine flu (H1N1) pandemic of 2009.

    Vaccines were developed in a matter of months. The virus quickly spread worldwide and infected millions and killed thousands before the pandemic came to an end in August 2010.

    With the latest population projections from the United Nations, estimating world's population will reach 9.6 billion people by mid-century, and 11 billion by 2100. This sheer amount of people, their interactions with animals and ecosystems, and the increase in international trade and travel are all factors that will likely change the way humanity deals with preventing and treating epidemics, experts say.

    "There's a strong correlation between the risk of pandemic and human population density. We've done the math and we've proved it," said Dr. Peter Daszak, a disease ecologist and the president of Eco Health Alliance, who examined the link in a 2008 study published in the journal Nature.

    Health authorities are calling for strengthening of public health organizations, and giving more resources to systems that would protect people, studying ways to identify viruses faster, and trying to understand the complicated interactions between humans and the surrounding ecosystem. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: as our economy declines, and more of it being sucked up by large corporations, will we still have what it takes to save lives when the population reaches 11 billion? With the loss of real jobs, will the average person be able to afford a vaccine and will the corporate-run government be merciful and provide preventive health care for the poor?

    Kenya's Waste Management Challenge

    March 13, 2013, IRIN News (UN)

    The more the population in the city of Nairobi and elsewhere in East Africa grows, the more the solid waste management burden grows. The problem is worsened by poor funding for urban sanitation departments and a lack of enforcement of sanitation regulations.

    Nearly 100 million people in East Africa lack access to improved sanitation, says the UN.

    In Nairobi, the city council's solid waste department, like those in Kampala and Dar es Salaam, is not well equipped, with transport vehicles few and often poorly serviced, despite increasing waste quantities due to rapid urbanization.

    Solid waste is often dumped in abandoned quarries or similar sites In the Mathare slum area, residents live close to one such dumpsite, which exposes them to environmental and disease risks.

    "Burning plastic produces very toxic fumes .. which are very harmful to human beings and the environment. Most of the uncontrolled dumpsites are some of the major sources of greenhouse gases contributing to global climate change," said Andre Dzikus, coordinator of the urban basic services section of the UN Human Settlement Programme (UN-HABITAT).

    More often than not, the urban poor have to make do with living amid waste despite the health risks; child mortality in the slums is 2.5 times higher than in other areas of Nairobi, according to WHO.

    In the Mathare slums, for example, the sight of children playing among plastic bags full of human excrement, referred to as "flying toilets", is common. "We use plastic bags to relieve ourselves because the few toilets that are there are too expensive," one resident said.

    "If I have to choose between paying for the toilet and buying food, the choice is easily made."

    "I have built toilets and bathrooms several times, but every time it rains, or there is a conflict, they are destroyed. Because of the instability, I take my time before I build a new one," said a slum property owner. "Every time some of us try to keep clean, someone defecates in front of your door."

    According to WHO, open defecation was the only sanitation practice available to 33% of the population in East Africa in 2006. Diarrhea is the second biggest killer of children in developing countries, according to UNICEF.

    Many slum dwellers in East African cities pay five to seven times more per litre of water than the average North American, notes WHO.

    "One of the health risks women have is reproductive health because they use public toilets that are not properly maintained. Some of them have suffered from urinary infections," Edith Kalela, a communication officer at Akiba Mashinani Trust said.

    Slum residents often do not own the land they live on, risking eviction. doclink

    Rapid Urban Expansion Threatens Biodiversity

    September 25, 2012   By: Karen Seto and Lucy Hutyra

    In a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences researchers at Yale, Texas A&M and Boston University predict that by 2030 urban areas will expand by more than 463,000 square miles or 1.2 million square kilometers. $25 - $30 trillion will be spent on infrastructure worldwide, $100 billion a year in China alone.

    75% of the urban expansion is predicted to occur in Asia, with China and India absorbing 55% of the regional total.

    Africa's urban land cover will grow the fastest, at 590% above the 2000 level: concentrating along the Nile River in Egypt; the coast of West Africa on the Gulf of Guinea; the northern shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya and Uganda and extending into Rwanda and Burundi; the Kano region in northern Nigeria; and greater Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

    In North America, where 78% of the total population lives in urban areas, urban land cover will nearly double by 2030.

    "We need to rethink conservation policies and what it means to be a sustainable city," said Burak Güneralp, the study's second author and research assistant professor at Texas A&M University. "It's not all about carbon footprint, which is what mayors and planners typically think about now, but we need to consider how urban expansion will have implications for other, nonhuman species and the value of these species for present and future generations." doclink

    The Ecology of Disease

    July 14, 2012, New York Times

    "When we do things in an ecosystem that erode biodiversity - we chop forests into bits or replace habitat with agricultural fields - we tend to get rid of species that serve a protective role," Dr. Ostfeld said.

    60% of emerging infectious diseases that affect humans originate in animals. And more than two-thirds of those originate in wildlife. More than two million people a year are killed by diseases that spread to humans from wild and domestic animals, according to the International Livestock Research Institute.

    The World Bank has estimated that a severe influenza pandemic, for example, could cost the world economy $3 trillion.

    An example is that of fruit bats, which carry the Nipah virus in South Asia, and the closely related Hendra virus in Australia. In 1999 in rural Malaysia the disease spread from the bats to pigs which were being cared for in a forest. The pigs amplified the disease and then it jumped to humans. Out of 276 people infected in Malaysia, 106 died, and many others suffered permanent and crippling neurological disorders. There is no cure or vaccine.

    In Australia, suburbanization lured infected bats that were once forest-dwellers into backyards and pastures. If a henipah virus evolves to be transmitted readily through casual contact, it could leave the jungle and spread throughout Asia or the world. "It's a matter of time that the right strain will come along and efficiently spread among people," says Jonathan Epstein, a veterinarian with EcoHealth Alliance, a New York-based organization that studies the ecological causes of disease.

    "Any emerging disease in the last 30 or 40 years has come about as a result of encroachment into wild lands and changes in demography," says Peter Daszak, a disease ecologist and the president of EcoHealth.

    AIDS, for example, crossed into humans from chimpanzees in the 1920s when bush-meat hunters in Africa killed and butchered them.

    Emerging diseases have quadrupled in the last half-century, experts say, largely because of increasing human encroachment into habitat, especially in tropical regions. And with modern air travel and a robust market in wildlife trafficking, the potential for a serious outbreak in large population centers is enormous.

    In the Amazon, for example, one study showed an increase in deforestation by 4% increased the incidence of malaria by nearly 50%, because mosquitoes, which transmit the disease, thrive in the right mix of sunlight and water in recently deforested areas.

    Australia is planning to spend multimillions of dollars to understand the ecology of the Hendra virus and bats.

    The West Nile virus came to the United States from Africa but spread here because one of its favored hosts is the American robin, which thrives in a world of lawns and agricultural fields. And mosquitoes, which spread the disease, find robins especially appealing.

    Lyme disease, the East Coast scourge, is a result of the reduction and fragmentation of large contiguous forests which chased off predators -- wolves, foxes, owls and hawks, resulting in a fivefold increase in white-footed mice, which are great "reservoirs" for the Lyme bacteria. Babesiosis and anaplasmosi are two emerging diseases from ticks that that affect humans in the ticks he studies, and he has raised the alarm about the possibility of their spread.

    Simon Anthony, a molecular virologist at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health said its about "learning how to do things sustainably. If you can get a handle on what it is that drives the emergence of a disease, then you can learn to modify environments sustainably."

    "By mapping encroachment into the forest you can predict where the next disease could emerge," Dr. Daszak, EcoHealth's president, says. "So we're going to the edge of villages, we're going to places where mines have just opened up, areas where new roads are being built. We are going to talk to people who live within these zones and saying, 'what you are doing is potentially a risk.' " doclink

    High Population Density is Greatest Risk Factor for Water-Linked Diseases

    February 14, 2012,

    When a region's population density is growing, water-associated infectious disease outbreaks are more likely to occur, according to a new global analysis by Ohio State University scientists of economic and environmental conditions that influence the risk for these outbreaks.

    About 1,428 water-associated disease outbreaks reported between 1991 and 2008 around the world were analyzed. By combining outbreak records with data on a variety of socio-environmental factors known about the affected regions, the researchers developed a model that can be used to predict risks for water-associated disease outbreaks anywhere in the world.

    Of the five different categories of water-associated diseases (category depending on the disease transmission process), population density was a risk factor for all. Prolonged and excessive heat was shown to be a driver of water-related diseases that are transmitted to people by insect bites.

    Western Europe, Central Africa, Northern India, Southeast Asia, Latin America and eastern Brazil were targeted as potential "hot spots" at highest risk for future water-associated disease outbreaks ranging from E. coli-related diarrhea to dengue fever.

    4% of deaths worldwide - almost 2 million annually - and 5.7% of illnesses around the world are caused by infectious diseases related to unsafe water and sanitation and hygiene problems.

    Understanding the socio-environmental factors that affect the risks for water-associated disease outbreaks will help guide policymakers as they prioritize the distribution of health resources around the world, the researchers say.

    The model shows how global environmental changes affect outbreak risks, providing early warning and informed policy decisions which are needed because resources are limited.

    Among the information included in the Ohio State database were disease-causing agents, such as bacteria or viruses, and their biological characteristics; water's role in disease transmission; disease transmission routes; and details about whether the recorded outbreak represented an emergence or re-emergence of a water-associated disease for a given region. These details were crossed with a socio-environmental database that contained data on population density, global average accumulated temperature, surface area of water bodies, average annual rainfall and per-capita gross domestic product.

    Each disease tracked in the database was classified into one of five categories:

    * water-borne (such as typhoid and cholera): 70.9%, caused by microorganisms that enter water through fecal contamination and cause infection when humans consume contaminated water.

    * water-based (such as schistosomiasis): 2.9%, caused by parasites that spend part of their life in water

    * water-related (such as malaria and trypanosomiasis): 12.2%, which need water for breeding of insects that act as vectors in transmitting disease to humans

    * water-washed: 6.8%, caused by poor personal or domestic hygiene because no clean water is available; and * water-dispersed (such as Legionella): 7.3%, caused by infectious agents that thrive in water and enter the body through the respiratory tract.

    Fewer water-washed diseases occurred in places with larger bodies of surface water, and areas with higher average annual rainfall had fewer outbreaks of water-borne and water-related diseases.

    Economic status did not appear to influence risk for water-associated disease outbreaks, at least on a global scale.

    The research appears in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, a journal published by the Public Library of Science. doclink

    Swine Flu - Dependent on Large Population

    April 30, 2009, Population Media Center

    The major deadly infectious diseases of humanity through history - smallpox, flu, tuberculosis, malaria, plague, measles, and cholera - evolved from animals. Such diseases need a numerous and densely packed human population to sustain themselves lest they wane from lack of new nearby victims who have not had time to develop resistence.

    Growing by 82 million a year, and on our way to 9 billion by 2050, and with jet travel, how can we be surprised that infectious diseases easily sweep across the planet with fearful speed?

    Most scientists and ecologists say that Earth is over-populated by billions and that the carrying capacity of the United States will support far less than our current 306 million.

    Looming catastrophes of climate instability, ecological impoverishment and resource shortages like oil, food, and fresh water are happening on that same population battle ground as Swine Flu.

    If we don't get a handle on our population, death and disease will become more the norm than the exception. doclink

    Death of the Bees: GMO Crops and the Decline of Bee Colonies in North America

    March 25, 2008, Global Research

    There are many reasons given to the decline in Bees, but one that matters most is the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and "Terminator Seeds" that are being endorsed by governments and utilized as our agricultural needs of survival.

    Genetically modified seeds are produced by biotech conglomerates who manipulate government agricultural policy with a view to dominance in the agricultural industry. American conglomerates have created seeds that reproduce only under certain conditions, often linked to the use of their own brands of fertilizer and/or insecticide.

    The genetic modification leads to the concurrent genetic modification of the flower pollen. When the pollen becomes genetically modified or sterile, the bees will become malnourished and die of illness due to the lack of nutrients and the interruption of the digestive capacity of what they feed on.

    There are arguments that the blame be placed on mites, pesticides, or cell phone radiation, but digestive shutdown due to hard material in the digestive tract that compromises the immune system points to GMO flower pollen.

    This increased epidemic of the bee colony collapse has risen significantly since the use of GMO in our foods. It is also suspect in the rise of new cases of medical ailments in humans such as colon cancer, obesity, heart disease, etc.

    The Ecological Impact of horizontal gene transfer and increase of rampant disease is not fully examined and if so, is kept silent by these Conglomerates. Organic farming is relatively untouched as the bee crisis. The economic impact that the scarcity of bees will potentially have on our society is very worrisome. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: another factor mentioned elsewhere is the gathering together of a large portion of a country's bees to pollinate large mono crops such as almonds. When the bees comingle with many other bees, this exposes them to any disease than may be present - similar to the global spread of epidemics among humans. The more people there are, the more corporations profit by economy of scale, and this makes GMO research and large scale food production even more profitable. Of course, the risks are often ignored until disaster strikes.

    Our Decrepit Food Factories

    December 15, 2007, New York Times*

    The word "sustainability" has gotten such a workout lately that the whole concept is in danger of floating away on a sea of inoffensiveness, and we must re-examine it's true meaning.

    To call a practice or system unsustainable means is that the practice or process can't go on indefinitely. Critics have been speaking of modern agriculture as "unsustainable" though what form the "breakdown" might take or when it might happen has never been certain. But if a system is unsustainable the signs of breakdown may show up in the most unexpected times and places.

    The methicillin-resistant staph posed a threat mostly to elderly patients. But a more virulent strain is now killing young and healthy people who have not set foot in a hospital. No one is yet sure how or where this strain evolved, but some researchers are looking elsewhere for its origin, to concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO.

    At at least 70% of the antibiotics used in America are fed to animals living on factory farms. Without these pharmaceuticals, meat production practiced as we practice it could not be sustained. Sooner or later, the profligate use of these antibiotics would lead to the evolution of bacteria. Recent studies found that confinement pig operations have become reservoirs of MRSA. Honeybees, have their own epidemic. Beekeepers in 24 states were reporting losses of between 20 and 80% of their bees. Suspects include a virus, agricultural pesticides and a parasitic mite. They've become vulnerable to new infectious agents.

    You need look no farther than a California almond orchard to understand how these bees, which have become indispensable workers in the vast fields of industrial agriculture, could have gotten into such trouble. Like a great many other food crops, the almond depends on bees for pollination. No bees, no almonds. Almonds today are grown in such vast monocultures, 80% of the world's crop comes from a 600,000-acre swath of orchard in California's Central Valley. When the trees come into bloom there are not enough bees in the valley to pollinate those flowers. So every February the almond growers must import an army of migrant honeybees. Because pollination is critical and the bee population so depleted, almond growers will pay up to $150 to rent a box of bees for three weeks. February bees swap microbes and parasites from all over the world before returning home bearing. We're asking a lot of our bees.

    Whenever we try to rearrange natural systems along the lines of a machine or a factory, whatever we may gain in industrial efficiency, we sacrifice in biological resilience. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: all driven by the global machine devised to feed the growing numbers of consumers.

    Canada: Climate Change Ticks Ever Closer

    September 1, 2007, Toronto Star

    At the foot of Leslie St., a spit of land fans out into Lake Ontario. The peninsula, built with rubble from Toronto construction sites, has grown into a home to butterflies, birds, rabbits and coyote.

    The park is popular with migratory birds many coming from as far away as South America.

    But among these birds and animals are ticks that can carry Lyme disease.

    Every morning the co-ordinator of the Bird Research Station in Tommy Thompson Park organizes a group of volunteers who track the birds. It is part of the Canadian Migration Monitoring Network sites across southern Canada and the northern United States that monitor the population trends of northern breeding birds.

    From March to June, volunteers plucked ticks from migrating birds and mailed them to scientists who are trying to gain a better understanding of how birds and climate change might increase the spread of Lyme disease through Canada.

    Since the 1970s, parts of the US have suffered an epidemic of Lyme disease, mostly within the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and north-central states.

    In the US, approximately 20,000 new cases are reported each year. The disease is rarely reported in Canada, but ranks among the top bug-borne diseases in the United States.

    Ten years ago, eastern Canada had only two known populations of blacklegged tick. Today, there are 13 or 14. They tend to settle in migratory bird landfalls. Leslie St. Spit, the Toronto Islands and the Toronto lakeshore are popular resting spots for migrants.

    Toronto has always been on the migration highways, there are lots of green spaces where the birds can drop in and rest. The birds may be bringing ticks into Canada after passing through the northeastern and north-central states, where they're abundant.

    All the stations from western Ontario to Nova Scotia captured migratory birds with ticks on them.

    Canada's cooler climate offered protection from the diseases of warmer regions. But as climate change brings milder winters, scientists worry that the ticks may move farther north.

    The warmer air temperature can make it easier for the insect to survive the Canadian winter. Should greenhouse gas emissions remain high, average summer temperatures in southern Ontario are expected to be 4 to 5C warmer and average winter temperatures about 6C warmer before the end of the century. doclink

    WHO Ties Rising Population, New Diseases

    August 24, 2007, Associated Press

    A ballooning world population, intensive farming and changes in sexual behavior have provided a breeding ground for an emerging diseases. AIDS and 38 other new pathogens are afflicting mankind that were unknown a generation ago. WHO epidemics expert Dr. Ryan said changes in human behavior and practices have produced new diseases.

    "The relationship to the animal kingdom, our travel, social, sexual and other behaviors have changed the nature of our relationship with the microbial world and the result is the emergence of new pathogens and the spread of them around the world.

    in the late 19th century, scientists discovered a range of agents causing scourges such as anthrax, staphylococcus, tuberculosis and tetanus.

    We have moved people and food around that world at ever increasing speed, and must must recognize the risk we create. One of the changes affecting human health was intensive poultry farming, which may account for the global spread of bird flu.

    She said the majority of the 39 new diseases came from animals, including Ebola, SARS, and bird flu.

    WHO said it was working to fast-track improvements of food and products regulation in China, whose exports have become a source of safety concern.

    The government of China is committed to improving their system.

    Chinese exports have come under intense scrutiny, especially in the United States. Regulators have turned up tainted pet-food ingredients, seafood and toothpaste with potentially dangerous chemicals and drugs. doclink

    Climate Change and Malaria

    July 31, 2007, IRIN News (UN)

    The incidence of malaria in Nairobi and the resurgence of 'highland malaria' in several African countries have become controversial issues in debates about health and climate change.

    Areport states that due to the life-cycle of the mosquito and its role as host of the malaria parasite, a small increase in temperature can increase the risk of malaria transmission. There are insufficient historical data to determine the role of warming, if any, in the recent resurgence of malaria in the highlands of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia.

    Two subsequent studies reach differing conclusions about whether temperatures were increasing and the occurrence of malaria.

    A malaria expert with the Pasteur Institute has taken issue both with the film "An inconvenient truth" and some of the IPCC reporting. He wrote, "Gore's claim is deceitful on four counts. Nairobi was dangerously infested when it was founded; it was founded for a railway, not for health reasons; it is now fairly clear of malaria; and it has not become warmer."

    And in a travel advisory, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, states there is "no risk in Nairobi".

    Whatever the causes, and the scientific wrangles, medical staff working in Kibera are having to tackle malaria. "Malaria is the leading disease we face," says a clinical officer in Kibera's Ushirika clinic. A nurse who works in Senye Medical Clinic in the slum's Soweto Market adds: "I am treating more people per day for malaria than any other condition."

    Malaria researcher said malaria is traditionally considered a non-urban disease as its parasite is carried by mosquitoes that prefer hot, clean and sunny areas to cool and polluted cities."

    Nairobi was malaria-prone in the 1900s, when it had many swampy areas. With colonial draining, stagnant water treatments, and the growth of the city, mosquitoes, which carry the disease, left the area. In the 1970s, when public health authorities started to crumble and treatments stopped being properly done, mosquitoes came back. However, it was mainly the Culex mosquito, as it is adapted to polluted water. It is not a malaria vector.

    Anopheles need high temperatures to live and develop from the eggs to adult age. If temperatures are low, like in Nairobi, their development will take two to three weeks instead of seven to 10 days. Coolness in Nairobi delays the development of the parasite in the anopheles mosquito. Anopheles need to grow up, bite a human who has contracted the disease and then bite another one for local transmission to take place in Nairobi.

    There still is a danger as temperatures continue to rise and anopheles can adapt to new environments. A minority have already adapted to polluted water. 80% of the people treated for malaria in Kibera have travelled out of Nairobi, been infected and returned, with symptoms appearing once they are back in the slum.

    Slum dwellers frequently travel upcountry to visit relatives. "This is why Luo people suffer more from malaria.

    Outside Nairobi, many programmes are tackling the disease. The new treatments have started to give for free, the mosquito nets and the awareness campaigns with NGOs have given some results.

    Widespread local transmission in Nairobi would be a catastrophe. doclink

    Environmental Sanitation Day - Uses and Abuses

    June 26, 2007, Africa News Service

    A decent toilet is an unknown luxury to half the people on earth. The main result can be summed up in one deadly word: diarrhea, that kills 2.2 million children a year. Deficiencies in environmental sanitation contribute to the continuing high rate of infant and child mortality from diarrhea and vector-borne diseases. Access to water supply has risen from 61% to 75% in developing countries, but the proportion of people with access to sanitary excreta disposal declined from 36% to 34%. The few existing sanitation programs have not achieved the health impact. Because the behavioural aspects are often overlooked the sanitary units may be built but they won't be used or maintained. Linking sanitation to existing programs is an efficient strategy or increasing sanitation investments.

    The absence of clean water and adequate sanitation is a major cause of poverty and malnutrition. Dirty water and poor sanitation account for the majority of 1.8 million child deaths each year. Water insecurity linked to climate change threatens to increase malnutrition by 75-125 million people by 2080, with staple food production in many Sub-Saharan African countries falling by more than 25%.

    There is no effective global partnership for water and sanitation, and successive high-level conferences have failed to create the momentum needed to push water and sanitation in the international agenda. doclink

    Europe: Climate Change Pushes Diseases North

    March 24, 2007, Reuters

    Insect-borne diseases were increasingly moving north, such as the viral infection bluetongue that has hit cattle and sheep in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany.

    If Kenya's Rift Valley Fever reaches Europe, the impact would be immense.

    These have become global issues because of climate change. Following the bluetongue outbreak in Germany, meat markets in the country saw an annual drop of up to a third. Bluetongue, which is not harmful to humans, has been present for several years in Spain and Italy.

    The disease, transmitted by midges, was first discovered in South Africa and has been spreading north since the late 1990s. There is a very real threat that diseases like River Valley Fever will follow bluetongue into Europe. Climate change has a definite impact in the establishment of these diseases.

    Within a month of bluetongue being detected in the southern Netherlands, the number of Dutch farms affected had doubled to more than 400, despite measures to stop the spread of the virus.

    GALVmed aims to reduce poverty of livestock keepers in developing countries by improving access to pharmaceuticals and vaccines. doclink

    Half of Indian Kids Malnourished

    December 19, 2006, Times of India

    India's children, especially girls, are faced with lack of educational opportunities, malnourishment, infant mortality and early marriages.

    Every second child under 5 years is malnourished.

    The all-India average for malnourished children is 47% and the situation is unlikely to change.

    Prosperous states have seen a rise in the number of malnourished children with an increase of 2% between 1991-2001. The high infant mortality rate is worse than Pakistan, China, Brazil and even Nigeria.

    The all-India average is 58 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births.

    Children also lack educational opportunities.

    Literacy rate among girls from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is 42% and 35% respectively, lower than Muslim girls who have a literacy rate of 50%.

    Only 30 of 100 girls who enter school complete their primary education.

    The worst offenders are Bihar 33%, Arunachal Pradesh 33.4%, Sikkim 37.2% and Rajasthan 38.2%, the all-India average is 55.6%.

    In Meghalaya female literates between 11-13 are much more than their male counterparts.

    In Rajasthan, 41% girls get married between 15-19 while in Punjab, the proportion of girls married before 18 has risen from 12% to 19% 1999 to 2006. doclink

    Infected Planet

    March 22, 2006, Alternet

    Old scourges like tuberculosis, malaria, measles, diarrhea, and AIDS are the world's biggest killers, but each year brings a new disease. A recent tally identified 1,415 disease-causing microbes in humans, including bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasitic worms. We share 61% of them with other animal species. Of those not known until recently in humans, 75% came from animals. The impact varies. Hendra virus moved from fruit bats to horses in 1994 and has killed only 3 people. The Ebola virus has some outbreaks that, so far, have failed to blow up into epidemics. Influenza viruses hit far more people; currently, an H5N1 "bird flu" strain threatens to copy the 1918-19 killer flu pandemic that killed 50 to 100 million people. HIV/AIDS is widespread and deadly, accounting for almost a fourth of infectious disease deaths. There appears to be a faster rate of disease appearance these days. We're being hit more frequently, partly because "transportation, trade, human population growth, and environmental change are going on at unprecedented rates." The chances of the catastrophic flu virus H5N1, emerging from interaction between wild birds, domestic animals and people may have been enhanced by loss of natural wetlands in southern China. Lyme disease is a problem in parts of the US. Reforestation has brought large populations of deer, mice and ticks into much closer contact with humans. Perhaps the biggest threat is the onslaught of bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Livestock are a source of drug-resistant strains of salmonella, E. coli and other bacteria. Feeding of antibiotics to animals provide incubators for bacteria resistant to the drugs. Of 10 organisms listed as the most serious threats in this country, seven are carried by meat and dairy products. The route by which HIV jumped to humans is still a matter of speculation, but the resulting increased contact with other primate species is believed to have been involved. When SARS broke out in China the virus was also found in palm civet cats - a traditional food in the province and they were killed by the thousands. Now it appears that bats, not civets, are the reservoir for the virus. Bat extermination would be no more effective than civet killing as a way to curb bat-harbored diseases. West Nile virus has become an annual threat in many U.S. regions and kills 5% to 15% of those infected. It's passed to humans by mosquitoes. To cause human disease, a pathogen first has to come into contact with people but every new disease doesn't blow up to the catastrophic scale of HIV. Like any organism the microbe population either must have within it some genetic variants that are well-adapted to their new human host, or, has to throw up better-adapted forms through mutation or genetic material from other strains or species. That's probably why a large proportion of new human diseases are RNA viruses, which mutate and scavenge more readily than DNA viruses, bacteria or other pathogens. Much of what we do gives microbes the multiple chances they need. Rare, better-adapted genetic combinations may not succeed in the first or fifth or 50th person they've infected, but give them enough opportunities, and they'll be off and running. A 2005 paper described the hurdles a species-jumping germ must clear before it can produce the necessary mutants, spread through a population and cause an epidemic. The lucky pathogen that finds itself in a human body gets a boost over those hurdles, because of the sheer scale of civilization. Some pathogens, like West Nile virus, don't have to work out a genetic system for direct person-to-person transmission because they've evolved to be transferred by mosquitoes or other vectors. Any ecological disruption that creates favorable conditions for disease-carrying species of insects or ticks favors the disease. Despite the vast quantities of insecticides, malaria still kills 1.2 million people a year. There is concern that global warming, will bring pathogens into now-temperate regions. For specific diseases there is good evidence that more people would fall sick in a hotter world. The modern approach is unlikely to do us much good in the face of new pathogens or new, more virulent forms of old ones. Existing drugs are rarely very effective. A public-health approach needs us to reverse the ecological damage that makes us increasingly vulnerable. Existing infectious diseases kills about 12 million people per year chiefly in the impoverished parts of the planet. This is not a "war" that can be "won." Among the many species that humans are known to be driving to extinction, none are microscopic. No matter how cruel some of those microbes can be when they manage to invade our bodies, the only long-term answer is to live and let live. doclink

    World Health; Gloomy State

    January 23, 2006, The Charleston Gazette

    Urbanization exposes more people to new diseases after they migrate to cities from their rural homes. The increasing number of people traveling guarantees that diseases will spread. Environmental changes make it easier for diseases to spread, including older diseases such as malaria, and newer maladies such as AIDS, West Nile virus and Lyme disease. Erratic health policies, plus drug-resistant diseases, are leading to a resurgence of tuberculosis, cholera and pneumonia. Ubanization and population growth threaten the environment more than any previous era. In the last 50 years, the Earth has lost 20% of all agricultural lands, 25% of all topsoil and 33% of its forests. Thousands of species of plants and animals have become extinct. When loss of habitat kills predators, populations of insects, rats and mice increase as do the diseases they spread. As cities spread into wildlife regions, animal diseases begin to infect humans. Rural people moving to cities crowd into the poorest, least-sanitary neighborhoods. City-dwellers are more easily reached by vaccination campaigns. The 15 healthiest nations spend between $1,845 and $4,887 per-capita on health care each year. They include: Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan and the U.S. which spends the most, but ranks only eighth. The 15 least-healthy nations spend between $12 and $127 per capita annually. All of these are in Africa. With so many wars and disputes, world health policy easily slips from the foreground. doclink

    AIDS Threatens Agricultural Production in Ethiopia

    September 4, 2005, unknown

    HIV poses a serious threat to agricultural production in Ethiopia. An increasing number of the rural population are being affected by the pandemic. A large part of the Ethiopian population relies on donor handouts for survival because of frequent droughts and crop failures. This year at least 5 million people require emergency food assistance because they could not raise their own crops. The agricultural professionals union is planning an information network that will assist rural communities to get better understanding of the disease and how it spreads. Provision of appropriate information as well as care and support for the affected people could mitigate the pandemic. Life expectancy in Ethiopia is already falling and the epidemic is undermining the nation`s efforts to reduce poverty. It is estimated that 2.5 million Ethiopians live with the AIDS virus. Life expectancy is currently 45.5 years. According to statistics the prevalence rate of the virus in the country`s population of 72 million is around 6.6%. The primary mode of transmission is unprotected sexual practices, high frequency of casual partners and harmful traditional practices. doclink

    Bacteria-killing Goods May Threaten Human Health and Environment

    August 11, 2005, New York Times*

    Antimicrobial products that promise to kill bacteria and fungi, are a $1 billion-a-year industry, but may be harming health and the environment. A popular microbicide can combine with chlorine in tap water to form chloroform, which can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin it can break down to a form of dioxin when exposed to sunlight. One microbiologist worries that use of antimicrobials will obliterate weak bacteria and lead to superstrong mutant strains. The EPA is looking into the dioxin connection. A scientist from the industry says the amount of triclosan that could wash out of a treated product is "infinitesimal," and studies have shown that using antimicrobials doesn't create resistant strains. However, no relevant long-term studies have been conducted. doclink

    Climate Change 'Increases Cholera Spread'

    August 4, 2005, Los Angeles Times

    The latest global malady that may be laid at the feet of greenhouse-gas-crazed weather is cholera, an infection that causes severe diarrhea, often resulting in dehydration, which leads to tens of thousands of deaths in the developing world. A new study, analyzing almost 40 years of records in Bangladesh, finds that outbreaks of cholera correspond to periods of drought, high rainfall, or flooding. Though other factors, are involved, "meteorological factors are dominant," said Paul Epstein of Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment. doclink

    Gates Foundation Backs New Anti-Malaria in Zambia

    May 19, 2005, Associated Press

    A new initiative to reduce malaria deaths in Zambia could serve as a model for the rest of Africa. The program envisages an increase in the use of anti-mosquito bed net, spraying of insecticide, and new anti-malaria drugs. It aims to reach 8% of the Zambian population and cut deaths by 75% in three years. The Zambian government joined with an organization called PATH to launch the initiative, backed by a $35 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Malaria, which kills more than one million people every year, most of them children. Over the last three decades, malaria rates have increased to 396 per 1,000 in 2003 from 121 per 1,000 in 1976 and accounts for 4% of hospital admissions, with 4 million cases and 50,000 deaths per year. Zambia will distribute hundreds of thousands of mosquito nets, artemisinin therapy, and insecticide. One of the insecticides is DDT, which was banned worldwide with an exemption clause to allow it to be used against mosquitos. South Africa slashed the number of malaria cases by spraying inside walls with tiny amounts of DDT. Public health experts agree that the weapons to prevent the mosquito- borne disease exist, all that is lacking is the political will. doclink

    Europe and Africa Warned Over TB

    March 24, 2005, BBC News

    Tuberculosis (TB) has reached alarming proportions in Africa, where a third of global TB deaths occur. Since 1990, rates in Africa have tripled and the rise continues, fuelled by high rates of HIV and poor healthcare. A third of the 1.7 million TB deaths a year occur in Africa. In Eastern Europe, drug resistance is to blame. Russia continues to be challenged by resistant strains of the bacterium that cannot be treated with conventional medications. It will be impossible to beat Africa's TB and HIV epidemics unless they are were tackled together. In some regions over half of patients did not have access to TB treatments. WHO recommends that people with TB be tested and if appropriate treated for HIV and vice versa. The Department for International Development (DFID) has pledged 5 million over the next three years to help halt the spread of TB. doclink

    Environmental Change May Be Boosting Diseases - UN

    February 22, 2005, Planet Ark

    Environmental changes from population movement may be behind a resurgence of infectious diseases. A rise in cases of diseases and the recent crossover to humans of others, are linked to changes that create favourable conditions for their spread. Infectious diseases cause about 15 million deaths annually. In Southeast Asia and Africa, they account for two-thirds of all deaths. The Nipah virus, normally found in Asian fruit bats, is believed to have crossed over to humans as the bats lost their habitats through forest fires and the clearance of land for palm plantations. The bats were brought into contact with pigs, which in turn passed the disease to their human handlers. Dengue fever is now found in more than 100 countries, most likely as a result of growth that occurs without sanitation, water treatment and sewerage. Increased exposure to mosquitoes, rodents and other vermin provides more opportunities for diseases. Mining, the damming of rivers and increased irrigation for agriculture also give mosquitoes more standing water. In the US, cases of Lyme disease in New York and Connecticut have surged as humans have moved into forested areas where the deer that carry the ticks thrive. doclink

    U.K.: Living in Pollution Hotspots Ups Chance of Kiddie Cancer

    January 17, 2005, Herald, The (UK)

    The majority of childhood cancers are probably caused by exposure to pollution before birth, and inhaling of chemicals by pregnant mothers is the most likely trigger. The findings highlight the need to regulate emissions of carcinogens. Cancer cases among Scottish children and across Europe have risen by more than 20%. Cancer Research UK described the evidence that pollutants trigger most childhood cancers as "very thin". Professor Knox said that after being tentative about a link he was now convinced. For his research, he took chemical emissions maps of the UK that show concentrations of pollutants and data about 22,458 children who died from leukaemia and other cancers before their sixteenth birthday. The results suggest children born within a 1km radius of emissions hotspots were between two and four times more likely to die of cancer. Proximity to emissions of 1,3-butadiene and carbon monoxide carried the highest risks. He added that direct exposures in early infancy, or through breast milk, or even pre-conceptually, cannot be excluded. WWF notes that childhood cancer rates have increased across Europe over the last decades and calls for more research. Anecdotal evidence has raised concerns about links between environmental pollutants and cancers and suggests leukaemia, the most common type of cancer in children, may be a rare response to an unidentified but common infection. doclink

    Senior Official Explains China's Major Health Challenges

    January 10, 2005, Xinhua General News Service

    China is frequented by epidemics, food poisoning incidents and traffic and natural disasters on vast territory with a huge population. The situation has changed in the recent two years since Chinese government began to pay more attention to the building of public health systems and risk response mechanism. The second challenge lies in the threat of the spread of diseases, and HIV, tuberculosis, schistosomiasis and hepatitis, which have a high prevalent rate and huge number of patients. Sarcomata, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes are posing risks to the health of people. Nearly 48.9% of Chinese people cannot afford to see doctors and 29.6% are not hospitalized when they should be. China lacks medical resources, imbalance distribution, low coverage of Medicare, fast rise of medical costs, and inadequate government input. China has 22% of the world's population with only 2% percent of world's medical resources and 80% are in cities. 44.8% of the urban population and 80% of the rural population don't have medical insurance. The outpatient service and inpatient service increased 13% and 11% on average compared with eight years ago. The ministry will target rural areas in 2005 and expand Medicare to cover more rural residents. Meanwhile, the ministry will reform the medical services and explore for an appropriate service and management system in line with the country's socialist market economy. doclink

    Ethiopia: National Hand-washing Campaign Launched to Reduce Child Mortality

    November 22, 2004, IRIN News (UN)

    UN and other organisations are aiming to cut sickness and death by raising awareness about hygiene. Ethiopia has the worst sanitation in the world and tens of thousands succumb to water-related deaths. The country has a population of roughly 70 million and only 6% have access to basic sanitation and less than a quarter have access to clean water. An estimated 1.8 million people die worldwide from diarrhoea and up to 70% of transmissible diseases are due to dirty water or lack of sanitation. Hand washing can reduce the numbers of preventable diseases and all individuals must be educated about this key practice. The UN has called for the number of people without clean water to be halved by 2015. A campaign, called "Your Health is in Your Hands", is targeting Ethiopia and is aimed at improving sanitation. Washing your hands with dirty water is better than not washing your hands at all. The campaign is targeting rural communities through television and radio. Health centres and schools are also targeted with information sheets in local languages. It is not too late to help cut disease if people are made aware of hygiene practices. The initiative has cost around US $500,000 and covers the entire country. doclink

    Don't Take Traffic to Heart, New Cardiac Study Warns

    October 21, 2004, Star-Ledger

    A study finds that the amount of time people spend in traffic could increase the risk of a heart attack. Even those who travel by bus or riding a bicycle are at higher risk within an hour of exposure. The study, is significant because it adds traffic to the known triggers for heart attack. It is likely stress, noise and traffic-related air pollution that have led to the two- to three-fold increase in heart attack risk. The researchers interviewed 691 heart attack survivors in southern Germany between February 1999 and July 2001. Each person provided information on what may have triggered the attack, including the hours spent in traffic. The more time people spent in cars, public transport or motorcycles and bicycles, the greater their risk of a heart attack. 8% of the cases studied had some link to traffic in the preceding hours, 72% being in cars when exposed to traffic. Women and persons over 60 were found to be at higher risk within an hour of traffic exposure. Heart attacks following traffic exposure were more common during the morning when roads are jammed with people trying to get to work causing a lot of air pollution the health effects of which are cardiovascular. If people lower their risk factors, such as not smoking and keeping their blood pressure in check, they will be at lower risk. When patients are stressed out because of traffic, it leads to an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. People should try changing how they view being stuck in traffic, think about it as time gained and view it as a breather. Listening to music or using the time to do something productive can also help. doclink

    Pollutants Cause Huge Rise in Brain Diseases

    August 15, 2004, The Observer

    The numbers of sufferers of brain diseases have soared in the West in 20 years, and rates of dementia have trebled in men. In the late 1970s, there were 3,000 deaths a year from these conditions in England and Wales but by the 1990s, there were 10,000. The report, covered the incidence of brain diseases in the UK, US, Japan, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain in 1979-1997 and compared death rates for the first three years of the period with the last three and discovered that dementias, mainly Alzheimer's, but including other forms of senility, more than trebled for men and rose 90% among women in England and Wales. For ailments, such as Parkinson's and motor neurone disease, there had been a rise of about 50% for both men and women in every country except Japan. This mirrors rises in cancer rates in the West. These figures take into account the fact that people are living longer and that diagnoses of such ailments have improved. It is comparing death rates, not numbers of cases. The causes were most likely chemicals, from car pollution to pesticides. Food is the most obvious explanation for the exclusion of Japan as only when Japanese move to the other countries do their disease rates increase. A number of studies have pointed to problems. TBT is being banned from marine paints after it was blamed for masculinising female mollusks, causing a dramatic decline in numbers. A report linked neurological disorders to pesticides. And testing found non-natural substances such as flame retardants in every person who took part. Pesticides and chemicals must undergo rigorous testing before they can be used, but there are an 80,000 industrial chemicals and the vast majority do not need safety regulation or testing. The chemical industry rejects what it claims are often unproven fears. doclink

    Malaria in Pregnant Women Kills 200,000 Babies

    August 9, 2004, Ghana News Agency

    Malaria is a preventable disease but a major contributory factor to the poverty plaguing Africa. 30 million women living in malaria endemic areas become pregnant each year. In Ghana maternal deaths attributable to malaria in pregnancy are estimated at 9% and accounts for 40% of all out patients in hospitals. In the Abuja Declaration in 2000 at least 60% of pregnant women and children should have access to insecticide treated nets by 2005 to roll back malaria but only nine out of 16 countries in the West African Bloc had adopted the strategies. It had been recommended that an intermittent treatment with an effective anti-malarial drug be made available as part of antenatal care for women in highly endemic areas but the use has been less than 10%. Chloroquine-resistant malaria parasites, low attendance at antenatal clinics; pregnant women not making use of various interventions to fight the disease and the unavailability of supplies had led to the increase in the disease. Africans had taken malaria for granted for too long and the time has come to roll back malaria that is the cause of infant deaths, still born babies, miscarriages during pregnancy and low birth weights. doclink

    As We Alter the Land, Infectious Diseases Are Gaining New Toeholds

    July 3, 2004, Medical News Today

    As people cut forests, drain wetlands, build roads and dams, and push cities ever outward, infectious diseases posing an ever-increasing risk. Changes are providing opportunities for infectious diseases, including malaria, dengue fever, Lyme disease, yellow fever, cholera, influenza, foot and mouth, and hemorrhagic fevers. Ecosystem changes have implications for the health of human, domestic animal and wildlife populations. Many economic development activities have major adverse health effects. In the northeastern US, forest fragmentation, urban sprawl and the erosion of biodiversity have spread Lyme disease. The AIDS virus may have first infected hunters given access to Africa's forests by logging roads and subsequently spread by human contact. The issue affects every corner of the globe,and causes are as varied as the activities that allow pathogens to thrive and invade new hosts. It involves malaria that claims more than 1 million lives annually, to SARS that is new and limited. Climate change can trigger a new disease. El Nino-fueled fires have driven fruit bats to farms where the virus was transmitted to pigs and humans. There are health crises around the world, there are human activities that threaten natural resources. Many causes of the spread of infectious disease are related to habitat and ecosystem change. doclink

    Global Sewage Torrent Harms Young

    June 23, 2004, Push newsfeed

    1.1 million litres of raw sewage enters the river Ganges every minute. Large quantities of sewage are flushed into rivers, lakes and oceans worldwide. One gram of faeces can contain 10 million viruses, one million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts and 100 worm eggs. A million lives could be saved annually by hand-washing. Polluted water and air, and the environment, kill more than three million children under five every year. 40% of environment related diseases affect small children. The most vulnerable members of a society pay the price for environmental dangers. Poverty is the biggest threat to children's health, and a rising income gap between the rich and poor means millions of children may not enjoy the benefits of emerging prosperity. Traditional risks vanish as improvements are made but new ones emerge, including road traffic, air pollution, and chemical use. Malaria is estimated to cost Africa more than $12 billion a year and it could be controlled for much less. doclink

    American Pesticide Levels Are High

    May 11, 2004, First Coast News

    Many U.S. residents have unhealthy levels of pesticides in their bodies, with children, women and Mexican Americans disproportionately exposed. In a study of 2,648 people tested for levels of 34 pesticides, it was found that a large percentage who had their blood and urine tested carried pesticides above levels considered safe. The average person in the study carried 13 of the 23 pesticides evaluated. Many have been linked to infertility, birth defects, cancer and other ailments. Research suggests even low levels can be harmful. Children between 6 and 11 were exposed to Chlorpyrifos at four times the acceptable level. Dow Chemical Corp. was said to be responsible for 80% of the chlorpyrifos in Americans' bodies. Dow spokesman confirmed the company is the largest manufacturer of the pesticide said it leaves the body quickly without doing harm and noted that the measurement of a chemical in blood or urine does not mean that the chemical causes disease. Studies by the Centers for Disease Control suggest that when people are exposed, the product is eliminated from the body in a matter of days. Women carry higher levels of three pesticides called organochlorines known to reduce birth weight and disrupt brain development in infants. Mexican Americans carried higher levels of the insecticides lindane, DDT and methyl parthion than other ethnic groups. CDC spokeswoman said the center would not comment because it did not participate in the analysis. Researchers believe pesticide makers should be held responsible and recommends that Congress investigate corporate responsibility, an EPA ban on using hazardous pesticides, and requiring manufacturers to demonstrate that a pesticide doesn't harm human health. doclink

    Disease Epidemics 'Likely'

    April 22, 2004, Herald, The (UK)

    The SARS virus has largely been controlled and bird flu containment efforts continue, but with population growth people are moving into new areas, or living in contact with insects transmitting viruses from wild animals or contact with them. All these diseases have incubation periods of at least a couple of days, enough time for any person to get anywhere in the world. Since 1970, 35 viruses have leapt from animals to humans and spread to parts of the world. West Nile is well established in North America and killing off birds and human beings. The next epidemic is likely to come from nature. Containment is necessary in the case of a disease that's contagious and the handling of SARS shows how well it can be done. Using electronic communications, the WHO did a splendid job in organising communications so that people knew what to expect and what to do. doclink

    World Grows Richer, the Poor Face Malnutrition - UN Report

    March 31, 2004, International Food Policy Research Institute

    While global GDP has doubled during the past 20 years, the number of underweight pre-school children has been cut by only 20%. A report shows progress has been uneven, with sub-Saharan Africa lagging behind. Micronutrient, maternal nutrition, shorter children, thinner children, low birth weight and other indicators of malnutrition shows that Africa is heading in the wrong direction. The relationship between economic growth and reductions in childhood malnutrition depends on how food is allocated, the availability of health services and the prevalence of disease. 10 million children below 5 die every year half from poor nutrition. The lack of donor support is jeopardizing meeting global anti-poverty goals. In 1994 developed countries agreed to provide an annual $6.1 billion by 2005 but have fallen short by $3 billion. The developing countries mobilized $11.7 billion, out of their target of about $12.4 billion. If the gap is not closed, it is unlikely that any of the world's goals will be met. There has been progress, more women are able to choose the number and spacing of their children, but progress is uneven. Many women still lack access to care and the risk of maternal mortality remains unacceptably high. doclink

    Bush Administration Considering Warning Labels on Condom Packages

    March 11, 2004, Associated Press

    The Bush administration is considering warning labels on condom packages noting that the contraceptives do not protect users against human papillomavirus, or HPV, a sexually transmitted disease that can cause genital warts or cervical cancer. Package labels say condoms, if properly used, reduce the risk of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, but are silent on the issue of HPV. The FDA has considered warning labels since 2000, but lawmakers feared they could turn people away from using condoms. Some lawmakers insist that abstinence-only is the solution and the White House wants to double spending on programs to convince young people that abstinence is the only way to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. An independent report indicated that no evidence exists that abstinence programs work. More than 2 million American women are infected with HPV each year and ten thousand are diagnosed annually with cervical cancer, claiming 4,000 lives. doclink

    Asthma on the Rise in Asia Due to Mounting Urbanisation, Pollution

    February 17, 2004, Push newsfeed

    Asia's pollution levels and poor medical treatment have triggered an increase in asthma which affects 300 million people. This is due mostly to urban development and will worsen as Asian populations become urbanised. Sufferers in Asia are at risk because doctors are failing to address the condition. One of the factors could be the use of motor vehicles and their emissions. Asian doctors are often unaware of new medical treatments or are reluctant to use them. Figures from China suggest that 36.7 of every 100,000 asthma patients will die, while in the United States the death rate is 5.2 per 100,000. In Guangzhou, asthma in 13-14 year-olds jumped from 2.7% in 1994 to 3.% in 2002. Asthma is second to cancer as the major cause of adult death and disability worldwide. doclink

    Nearly 300 Million People Suffering From Asthma Worldwide

    February 16, 2004, Xinhua

    An estimated 300 million people suffer from asthma, causing one in 250 deaths. It is likely the prevalence of asthma will increase as countries adopt western lifestyles and greater urbanization. The increase in urban population to 59% in 2025, will add 100 million people with asthma. Asthma is characterized by recurrent breathing problems but the causes are not well understood. It was thought that diesel exhaust and pollutants might be causing the asthma epidemic but they now believe it is more complex. Scientists are examining genetic factors and looking at the immune system developed in early life. The economic cost of asthma is considerable both in terms of medical costs, pharmaceuticals, time lost from work and premature death. The barriers to reducing asthma include poverty, pollution, tobacco smoking, low public health priority, inappropriate disease management, limited use of medications, and patient's lack of information. doclink

    Double Dose of Bad Air Puts Fetuses at Risk

    January 27, 2004, New York Times*

    Exposure to secondhand smoke and air pollutants can hurt fetal development. Babies exposed in the womb had a 7% reduction in weight and a 3% reduction in head circumference, compared with babies exposed only to urban air pollution and the effects have been linked to problems in school performance. The findings show how pollutants affect the body simultaneously, rather than separately. The scientists tracked the pollutants in DNA. The research studied 214 infants of nonsmoking African-American and Dominican women in Washington Heights, Central Harlem and the South Bronx. The findings can be generalized across race and ethnicity. The researchers examined the effect of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and combustion-related pollutants. Interviewers questioned the participants during the last trimester to track travel away from homes, household members who smoke and use alcohol. The researchers compared infants whose mothers had lived in households with a smoker to those whose mothers did not, by measuring DNA damage in the umbilical cord blood. Babies exposed to second-hand smoke and air pollutants were, on average, half a pound lighter and their heads were almost half an inch smaller. doclink

    Enviro Disruptions Will Cause More Animal Diseases to Jump to Humans

    January 14, 2004, BBC News

    There is a risk that viruses will jump the species barrier and infect humans. In China, researchers found links between civet cats and SARS. It is hoped that culling them would stop the disease from spreading and we will have to wait to see if there is another peak. Early diagnosis and treatment are the best ways of containing it. There is growing evidence that SARS jumped from animals to humans and, while civet cats were the prime suspects, other animals might be involved. Animal diseases pose a threat to humans because so little is known about them. A new flu pandemic combined with an animal virus could wreak havoc around the world. Scientists should examine healthy animals since diseases that might not harm them may harm humans. Environmental disruptions ranging from deforestation to population migration to global warming will bring human beings into increased contact with a range of animals, allowing microbes, which are always evolving, to jump from animal hosts to humans. doclink

    Peru: Conservation and Medicine Collide in the Jungle

    December 2, 2003,

    Destruction of the Amazon rainforest is increasing the number of malaria-bearing mosquitoes. Every 1% increase in deforestation boosts the number of malaria carrying mosquitos by 8% and they may dominate other species because they thrive in open, sunlit ponds and can run wild once 30-40% of forest is destroyed. The species first surged after the introduction of tropical fish farms. These findings by lead researcher Jonathan Patz of Johns Hopkins University are examples of "conservation medicine" which ranges from the impacts of pollution on cancer to the contribution of global warming to amphibians' global demise and has gained recognition after the outbreaks of West Nile virus and SARS due partly to our changing contact with animals. Has urbanization or farming cut the diversity of birds and hence fuelled the spread of West Nile virus to humans? Scientists are piecing together a picture of changing ecosystems and their impacts on human health. doclink

    What is the Next Plague?

    November 11, 2003, New York Times*

    In the last 40 years scientists have identified new infectious agents that suggest the next plague will be caused by a virus. Microbes change genes to escape human immune defenses, from increased travel and population growth. AIDS has caused the worst pandemic since the 14th century, but most new microbes don't get attention, but could cause epidemics. Among them are hantavirus, Ebola, Lassa and Marburg viruses that cause hemorrhagic fever; Nipah encephalitis; Legionnaire's disease; and a strain of E. coli that can cause diarrhea and kidney failure. The next plague may well be an untreatable respiratory infection that spreads rapidly. SARS, with a death rate of 11% and 50% among people 60 and older, is of concern. Strong infection control, travel restrictions and quarantines stopped the virus after it caused 774 deaths this year. Experts predict an influenza pandemic similar to the influenza virus in Hong Kong in 1997 that has caused a small number of deaths in humans in Asia since then. The threat of bioterrorism turned real with the release of anthrax in 2001 and SARS may end up being a biological weapon. Countries are poorly prepared to deal with threats because of the health system's inability to handle a surge in demand. The US lags in new vaccines, but even when effective vaccines are marketed, many people do not take them. As AIDS shows, developing vaccines can be a greater challenge than scientists thought. doclink

    Six Modern Plagues, and How We Are Causing Them: Book Review

    November 4, 2003, New York Times*

    In his book Six Plagues, Dr. Walters, a veterinarian and journalist, makes the case that human handling of animals, plants, microbes and the air itself causes disruptions that are killing and injuring people. "So closely are many new epidemics linked to ecological damage that they might rightfully be called `ecodemics,' " writes Dr. Walters. He declares that people sacrifice long-term health for financial gain, and then tells the tale of each disease - addressing mad cow disease, AIDS, antibiotic-resistant salmonella, Lyme disease, hantavirus, West Nile virus and SARS. Some examples work better than others. It is hard to think of hantavirus as a plague and the only behaviors implicated in West Nile seem to be world travel and living close to bird migration routes. Dr. Walters suggests the world needs changes in the way we live, fuels we use, food we eat and how it is raised, what wild animals we tolerate near us, and where we live. Six Plagues raises the alarm and draws connections between disease, population growth, deforestation and modern lifestyles. It notes how hard it is for science to find the causes of each disease, much less the solutions. In particular, he argues, modern agriculture amounts to genetic engineering, creating new threats to human health. doclink

    Over 600 New AIDS Cases in Nepal

    May 15, 2003, Xinhua General News Service

    631 new cases of AIDS are reported in Nepal, a total exceeding 60,000 and the number is growing. The highest risk group is those who have intercourse with sexual workers, the second highest is the sexual workers themselves while the third is intravenous drug users. Trafficking into brothels in neighboring India, prostitution and drug abuse are increasing rapidly in Nepal. Nearly 3,000 have full-blown AIDS and if the epidemic is not controlled it will affect 10% of the population by 2010. doclink

    AIDS Ravages Rwanda

    April 19, 2003, BBC News

    Every 14 seconds, AIDS turns a child into an orphan. The average life expectancy in Rwanda is 49 and one in six children die before they reach five. About a million people were massacred in the genocide in 1994. Over 11% of the population have HIV or AIDS. Many of the women got HIV when they were raped the militia during the war. Children were orphaned by the genocide and now by AIDS. A charity called Hope and Homes for Children has set up a project to help support the orphans. They keep family units together, sending the children to school and providing food and shelter. In 2003 they will be working with 452 children in Rwanda and plan to grow the number significantly in the next few years. doclink

    Ethiopia: Preventing Needless Deaths

    April 18, 2003, UN Integrated Regional Information Network

    As Ethiopia's Somali Region struggles with drought, the risk from infectious diseases is threatening this fragile community. Two drops of Vitamin A and the measles vaccination costs around US $0.25 per child. That simple, cheap lifesaver is vital where the country's largest ever measles immunization campaign was launched. Measles is one of Ethiopia's top five childhood killers with 1.45 million cases annually and 72,000 children needlessly die each year. UNICEF stresses the importance of tackling measles that can cause blindness, deafness, and brain damage. Child mortality among malnourished children can be 20% because of a weakened immune system. 11 million people need food aid and the vaccination programme is imperative. Vaccination is targeting 90% of the population but routine coverage has been around 4% making it worthless. A lack of accurate data is a widespread problem and a measles outbreak could be expected given the previous coverage and the drought. Immunising children is difficult as families roam with their animals looking for pasture. But without a level of more than 90% coverage, health officials believe they will never break the cycle. The incubation period is seven days, and the faster the programme the greater the protection. Radios and loudspeakers inform local and rural populations about the campaign, which will cost about US $1 million. doclink

    'Safe' Lead Levels Lower IQ in Children

    April 17, 2003, Los Angeles Times

    Lead blood levels 10 micrograms per deciliter below current federal and international guidelines produce a drop in IQ of up to 7.4 points. It is estimated that one in every 50 children has levels above that guideline and one in every 10 has levels of 5 micrograms/deciliter or above, within the dangerous range. There is no safe level of exposure. We have to take the lead out of houses built before 1950 that have lead-based paints. Exposure also comes from folk medicines and Mexican ceramic pottery. Low levels of lead delay puberty in young girls, especially African Americans and Latinas as it interfers with hormonal processes. Higher levels of lead reduce intelligence, slow development and can lead to behavioral problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continued to reduce the allowable level to the current 10 mcg/dl in 1991, about 100 parts per billion. The average lead level in children is about 3mcg/dl, but that's 10 to 100 times higher than the level in preindustrial humans. doclink

    Burden of Proof: What We Don't Know About the Toxic Chemicals in Our Bodies

    March 19, 2003, Grist Magazine

    Scientists measured the levels of 116 chemicals in the blood and urine of 2,500 volunteers and found detectable levels of 89 chemicals, including pesticides, herbicides, and disinfectants. Research studies are required to determine which blood or urine levels are safe and which cause disease but this is not easy. New questions are emerging. 1. Could a given chemical have health effects a long time after exposure? 2. Has a given chemical been tested for low-dose effects? 3. Is a given chemical safe when mixed with other chemicals? Looking for effects from very low doses over very long time periods is difficult, trying to do that for all possible combinations of exposure and the task grows exponentially. Until then, we are all living with risk. However, lead, DDT, PCBs, and hexachlorobenzene have all decreased since the last study and they are all chemicals that have been banned or strictly regulated in the U.S. doclink

    Better Child Health Is Seen as Environment Ills Decline

    February 20, 2003, New York Times*

    Children's health has improved where the government has taken aim at environmental hazards but there is a need to study the link between mercury, which is tied to I.Q. deficits, motor skill dysfunction, and is suspected in attention deficit disorder and autism. Data indicates an increasing amount of mercury in food and water, but it is too early to draw links between the types of diseases. 3.8 million children had asthma in the past 12 months, and the costs are an estimated $14 billion a year. Outdoor air quality has improved, leading to examining indoor air quality and the effects of immunization. A decline is seen in children's exposure to second-hand smoke, which is known to cause upper respiratory disorders, asthma and middle ear infections. The level of blood lead poisoning in children has dropped in the last 30 years. 300,000 to 400,000 children ages have lead in their blood, compared with 890,000 in the last study. Cancer is diagnosed in 12,500 children and 2,300 children and teenagers die from cancer. doclink

    Industrial Farming Practices Spread Disease and Concern

    March 10, 2001, Environmental News Network

    Intensive, industrial farming practices gave rise to the outbreak of BSE and
    have likely contributed to the spread of foot-and-mouth disease. (Unlike
    BSE, foot-and-mouth disease is not dangerous to humans, but affects cattle,
    pigs and sheep.) While the highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease grips
    the nation of Britain, other European nations hold their breath. North
    America has been spared this sort of disaster and foot-and-mouth disease has
    not been reported in Canada since the 1950s. But intensive farming could
    lead to such a problem. It is likely that feeding of rendered sheep
    carcasses sheep that were infected with the disease known as scrapie is the
    cause of the epidemic. Then people people began to die from variant
    Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a human version of BSE. There is no reliable way
    to test live animals to see if they are harboring BSE. Dead pigs, horses and
    poultry are still fed to cattle, along with sawdust, old newspapers and
    anything else that might contain a bit of cheap protein to help cattle pack
    on the pounds. In addition, antibiotics are routinely given to cattle, pig,
    chicken and fish feed to increase growth rates and reduce infections. While
    EU has banned this practice, Canada and the United States have not. In fact,
    nearly half of all antibiotics used in the United States are fed to animals. doclink

    [Note: such practices can be placed under the "Bigger is Better" philosophy that allows large corporations to reap huge profits from the large numbers of people who now depend on industrialization for cheap food.]

    U.S.: West Nile Virus is Here to Stay

    October 6, 2000, Washington Post

    The West Nile virus, an extremely lethal malady for humans and wildlife, has
    spread more than 300 miles since the initial outbreak in New York.
    Originally only infecting birds, the virus is now being carried by
    mosquitoes, and this has scientists projecting that the virus will spread to
    the rest of America within three short years. New York state's veteran
    wildlife pathologist confirms this, adding "three years from now... it will
    be a national problem." But the future is out of mind as officials try to
    combat the virus in the present. "We are going to spray" says Montgomery
    County (NY) Council President Michael L. Subin, adding that "all folks need
    to do right now is make sure that they take precautions." These include
    eliminating standing water, staying covered up when outside, and using
    over-the-counter lotions and sprays. The proposed pesticide spraying has its
    opponents, however, including Ruth Berlin of the Maryland Pesticide Network.
    "If the county or the state are going to spray," she says, "I'm recommending
    that they alert the people living in those areas about the potential adverse
    health effects . . . because the pesticides themselves are also a public
    health threat." Despite this, more dead birds found with the West Nile Virus
    are causing public concern to skyrocket. The virus was first identified in
    Uganda in the 1930s, and can cause inflammation of the brain in children and
    the elderly. It came to the US in 1999, killing seven and making 62
    seriously ill in New York City. Anti-mosquito efforts have lowered human
    fatalities to one, and cases of illness to 17, but the virus is mutating
    rapidly as seen in the diverse set of animals now being affected including
    chipmunks, raccoons, bats, and crows, which have a 100% fatality rate. These
    are being infected by new mosquito types which have a taste for humans and
    mammals, including the Aedes vexans, one of the most common mosquitoes in
    America. This "opens a whole new world to the virus," says Cyrus Lesser,
    Maryland's mosquito control chief. Scientists are most concerned for the
    migration of birds next spring which will spread the disease in the Midwest
    and the Mississippi River area. USGS physical scientist Stephen Guptill has
    mapped the virus for two years and reports: "The thing we know for certain
    is that the virus has established itself in North America. There was a
    chance that it could have been a one-time event. We know that's not the
    case. It's here, and it's here to stay." doclink

    Preparing to Combat a Deadly Influenza Pandemic

    December 16, 1999, LA Times

    Killer flu epidemics have swept parts of the world every few decades. In
    1918, influenza claimed 20 million people around the world in a matter of
    months. Two other influenza pandemics killed millions in 1957 and 1968,
    including about 100,000 in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease
    Control and Prevention, if a pandemic hit today, an estimated 89,000 to
    207,000 Americans would die, with economic losses amounting to more than $70
    billion. From year to year, influenza kills about 20,000 in the U.S. But
    every once in a while, the virus becomes much more dangerous, as it acquires
    the ability to attack a broader segment of the population. With thousands of
    flights taking passengers all over the world, a deadly virus could take only
    four days to circle the globe. If a pandemic occured, rough estimates for
    California, for example, would be 9 million cases of influenza, with 396,000
    hospitalizations and about 168,000 deaths. The World Health Organization and
    the U.S. government are starting to seriously plan preventative measures. doclink

    Tuberculosis Threatens A Third Of World Population

    December 14, 1999, Dawn

    Multidrug-resistant tuberculosis may affect about one-third of the world's
    population -- nearly 1.9 billion people, according to a Harvard Medical
    School study titled, The Global Impact of Drug-Resistant
    . Over half the world's TB cases are found in five
    countries - Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan. In Pakistan,
    350,000 new cases are reported every year, but only 2% of these cases use
    the World Health Organization's (WHO) strategy to fight the disease, Direct
    Observation Treatment Short-course (DOTS). TB cases in England and Wales
    "have soared by more than a fifth," usually from minorities who have been
    exposed to TB overseas doclink

    Scientists Battle Brazilian Malaria Outbreak

    December 10, 1999, CNN

    The number of infected people in in Brazil's Amazonas State has recently
    doubled. More resources are needed to help educate local residents about
    preventative measures. The mosquitoes have adapted to the chemicals
    traditionally used to fight them. In a separate story, malaria during
    pregnancy causes miscarriages, as well
    as low birthweights that leave newborns vulnerable to numerous infections,
    plus it causes long-term neurologic damage in thousands of children.
    However, researchers have found a promising experimental vaccine has
    provided protection against the parasite for people living in a
    malaria-ridden region. In yet another article, at least 200 people have died
    of cerebral malaria in India's Bihar state and many more lives are in
    danger, reports NDTV. The state's health department lacks basic medicines. doclink

    UN Environment Program Sounds Alarm on Unsafe Water

    March 19, 1999, Environmental News Network

    In the world, a child dies every 8 seconds from water-related diseases.
    Unsafe water causes 3 billion illnesses (half the population!) and 5 million
    deaths a year from diseases such as such as diarrhea, cholera, dengue fever,
    river blindness and trachoma. 20% of world's freshwater fish species
    have been pushed to the edge of extinction. 20% of the
    population faces unsafe water, the number to increase to 30% by 2050 doclink

    Red Cross Appeals to Curb Cholera in Africa

    March 19, 1999, Xinhua General News Service

    In the city slums of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe cholera is widespread due to lack of water access, poor hygiene and sanitation, pollution and ignorance. Some pay 10% of their income for water. doclink

    World AIDS Day, 1999

    Nando Times

    More people died in 1999 than at any time since the epidemic was first
    recognized 18 years ago. According to the United Nations Program on AIDS, of
    the 5.6
    million new HIV infections in 1999, 4 million were in Africa. Half were
    among young people ages 15 to 24. Life expectancy in Africa is likely to
    drop from
    59 years to 45 years within the next five years. Millions of orphans will be
    left. Economic mainstays such as sugar farming are down 50% in productivity.
    AIDS is a bigger threat than hunger, overpopulation, malaria, or war.
    "Virtually no attention has been
    paid to the fact that we now have the medicine to keep people from dying of
    AIDS, and that from a purely medical standpoint, the deaths of 23 million
    Africans over the next 10 years are preventable."
    -- Raymond Dooley,
    the former chair of Boston's Department of Health and Hospitals doclink

    AIDS Bigger Than Malaria


    By 1990, AIDS had already caused more adult deaths than malaria in the
    developing world. By 2020, it will cause 37% of adult deaths due to
    infectious disease in those nations. doclink

    Environmental Degradation is Contributing to Preventable Health Threats Worldwide

    May 1, 1998, World Resources Institute

    The World Resources Institute, the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Development Programme, and the World Bank, have put out a report titled "Environmental Change and Human Health". Health
    threats world wide include pesticides, air pollution, travel-spread
    diseases, malaria, diarrheal related to environmental conditions, cholera
    (long vanquished from Latin America, resurged in 1991), excessive use
    of fertilizers leading to algae blooms and fish kills. Many of the victims
    are children under the age of 5 doclink

    Africa: Year of Action for AIDS Treatment?

    Africa News Service

    The Indian Ocean tsunami killed 150,000, and triggered a remarkable global relief effort that has raised $4 billion for the stricken region. But AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria alone kill 40 times that number every year, taking no fewer than 6 million lives. And still, the United Nations must scramble for the $3 billion a year it needs to combat these diseases. doclink

    Experts Plan Reproductive Health Response as HIV/AIDS Compounds Food Crisis in Southern Africa


    Poverty and food shortages compounded by HIV are harming sexual and reproductive health. In Southern Africa the scale and depth of the crisis indicted that hunger was a symptom of a deeper emergency. HIV is diminishing the capacity of Africa to respond to any crisis. AIDS is worsening the food crisis and the food crisis is worsening HIV. Hunger and diminished access to health services, including reproductive health care, are having a devastating effect on maternal health. Malnutrition renders pregnant women susceptible to infection, miscarriage, premature labour, and increases the likelihood that pregnant and lactating women who are HIV-positive will transmit the virus to their children. It is contributing to a decrease in the number of women seeking family planning services and antenatal care. HIV rates in Southern Africa are the highest in the world. Food production plummets by more than 50% in households with HIV. Reducing food intake can be fatal for them as malnutrition weakens their immune systems. Traditional support has been decimated as those not having the disease must provide for children of those who have. UNFPA is procuring and distributing reproductive health kits including male and female condoms and training providers to distribute them. Country offices will intensify their efforts to address the shortage of condoms by establishing an inter-agency committee to address procuring and distributing supplies and equipment. UNFPA will work to meet the needs for relevant population, development and reproductive health data, for better planning and targeting of emergency interventions. doclink

    Zoonoses: the Deadly Diseases That Animals Pass on to Us

    Global Agenda

    More than 150 diseases are zoonotic (naturally transmitted between vertebrate animals and man) among which many are viral diseases. Social and ecological conditions such as population growth and movement, eating habits, the environment and agriculture play important roles in emerging diseases. The major factor is increased contact between humans and domestic animals and wildlife. Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and avian influenza ("bird flu") are two of the recent examples. SARS, a pneumonia caused by a new coronavirus originated from animals, emerged in southern China and spread quickly across Asia and North America. Almost 8,500 cases had been reported last year, with more than 900 deaths. Since mid-December 2003, the rapid spread of bird flu has been reported in several areas in Asia. The chief outbreaks have been the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain that has a high mortality rate in humans. The 2004 outbreak which is the largest recorded, had by last year resulted in 44 reported cases, of which 32 were fatal. Estimates of the global cost of SARS, have varied from $30 billion, to $150 billion. It is impossible to estimate the cost of panic in society and can be devastating for the poultry industry. An outbreak in Pennsylvania from 1983 to 1984 resulted in the destruction of more than 17 million birds at a cost of $65 million. Thailand, exports up to $1 billion-worth of poultry each year. Between November 1986 and September 2002, more than 180,000 cases of mad cow disease were confirmed in Britain. The costs reached several billion dollars by the 1990s. With global travel and world trade, emerging zoonotic diseases are a challenge in their region of origin, and across the world. More than 30 new diseases have emerged since the mid-1970s, among them the Ebola virus, the Nipah encephalitis virus that emerged in Malaysia five years ago and BSE. There has been evidence that measles, smallpox, influenza and even HIV/AIDS might have started in other species. Wild animals, as well as domestic ones, have been implicated. Many RNA viruses have high rates of mutation, and may have special mechanisms for recombination, making them extremely difficult to pin down. A variety of bird flu viruses have been isolated from wild birds, which serve as gene pools for viral mutation. Human activities are believed to have played a central role in the emergence of the Nipah virus. Changes combined to alter bat foraging behaviour, bringing bats that carry the virus into close contact with pig farms which then acted as an amplifier host, transmitting the virus to farmers. The result was 105 human deaths. With increased human presence in the rainforest, and exploiters pushing into deeper areas, man is encountering "new" micro-organisms with behaviour unlike those previously known. Evidence suggested that civet cats were the source of SARS and it was not until the past two decades that large numbers of civets have been raised for food. As a result of factory farming, animals are living closer to each other and provides the conditions for viruses to accumulate mutations and spread rapidly. Frequent contact with domestic animals, poor animal sanitation and poor personal hygiene will then spread the disease among animals and humans. BSE is believed to have resulted from cattle being fed meat-and-bone meal protein from bovine carcasses. In several countries, H5NI was detected in poultry flocks in every part of the country, historically unprecedented in their scope and international spread. The present situation is a threat to public health because, if the virus circulates there is an increased risk that it might evolve into a pandemic influenza strain that could cause disease worldwide. We need global cooperation to address zoonoses. WHO, the UNFAO and the OIE are working to control and prevent zoonoses. We need to bring together experts on animal health and public health and use new tools and develop new mechanisms of surveillance and response. Political awareness and support are important for controlling emerging diseases. The current bout of bird flu should put us on our guard, as the history of influenza pandemics is a bleak one. The pandemic of 1918 to 1919 killed between 20 million and 50 million people. A move away from factory farming would lower the risk of a zoonosis epidemic. doclink

    Jobless, Brain Drain, Servitude

    Global Youth Unemployment Requires 600million Jobs, Says World Bank

    October 12, 2015, In2EastAfrica

    Currently one third of the world's 1.8 billion young people are not in employment, education or training, according to a report released recently by Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE), a global coalition established to improve youth access to work opportunities.

    Of the one billion more youth that will enter the job market in the next decade, only 40% are expected to be able to get jobs that currently exist.

    Reversing the youth employment crisis is a pressing global priority and the socio-economic cost of inaction is high, the report says.

    S4YE is a coalition started by the World Bank Group, Plan International, the International Youth Foundation (IYF), Youth Business International (YBI), RAND, Accenture, and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

    Matt Hobson, S4YE Coalition Manager says young people account for 40 percent of the world's population - the largest youth generation in human history - but they are disproportionately affected by unemployment.

    We need to act now, and we need to act together if we are going to realize the significant opportunities presented by this many young people today," said Hobson.

    When the world's youth are unable to find sustainable productive work, this contributes to inequality, spurs social tension, and poses a risk to present and future national and global prosperity and security.

    This first report provides a baseline of trends, identifies constraints, and provides potential solutions to the youth employment crisis based on knowledge of successful and promising programs.

    It also highlights specific populations - young women, youth in conflict-affected and fragile states, as well as rural and urban youth - that require dedicated attention. doclink

    No Jobs on a Dead Planet: Trade Unions Join the Transition to a Greener Economy/ by Gaelle Gourmelon

    February 10, 2015, Worldwatch Institute

    Labor markets will shift to fit the demands of a greener economy as resources shrink and the climate changes. But with 38% of workers worldwide employed in carbon-intensive sectors like fossil fuel extraction and industrial manufacturing, this transition will be challenging.

    Some jobs will be shifted or redefined to fit the new economy, such as moving from fossil fuels to renewables. Other jobs, however-such as those in the coal sector-will be lost or displaced to countries with laxer constraints on greenhouse gas emissions.

    To address the transition challenge, some trade unions have proposed a "just transition," a concept coined in the 1990s that strengthens the view that environmental and social policies can reinforce each other. Using this approach, unions promote the employment potential of a green economy through innovation and technology as well as through resource efficiency.

    Lars Henriksson, a Swedish autoworker and political activist, suggests that unions aim not to preserve unsustainable industries in the name of employment, but to engage workers in developing sustainable conversion strategies.

    In 2009, for example, union representatives united with environmentalists, researchers, and citizen's groups to develop a sustainable transport plan in Europe after facing railroad privatization. Unions can also help to secure equitable redistribution of work by requiring continuing education and training, adapting existing social protection systems, and regulating staffing and wage agreements. doclink

    Generation Jobless: the Number of Young People Out of Work Globally is Nearly as Big as the Population of the United States

    May 1, 2013, Economist

    The total number of young jobless people is 311 million. Those who start their careers on the dole are more likely to have lower wages and more spells of joblessness later in life, because they lose out on the chance to acquire skills and self-confidence in their formative years.

    In the West economic slowdown has reduced demand for labor, and it is easier to put off hiring young people than it is to fire older workers. In emerging economies population growth is fastest in countries with dysfunctional labour markets, such as India and Egypt.

    There is an "arc of unemployment" from southern Europe through north Africa and the Middle East to South Asia, where the rich world's recession meets the poor world's youth quake. Countries with high youth employment are starting to see riots and violent crime.

    The answer lies in reforming labour markets and improving education.

    Rigid labour markets, such as those with powerful trade unions, high taxes on hiring, strict rules about firing, and high minimum wages help condemn young people to the street corner. South Africa is such an example.

    In addition to deregulating labour markets, governments which take a more active role in finding jobs for those who are struggling can help young people get jobs. Germany, which has the second-lowest level of youth unemployment in the rich world, pays a proportion of the wages of the long-term unemployed for the first two years. The Nordic countries provide young people with "personalised plans" to get them into employment or training. For countries that can't afford this approach, a cheaper approach would be to reform labor-hungry bits of the economy such as making it easier for small businesses to get licenses, or construction companies to get approval for projects, or shops to stay open in the evening.

    In both Britain and the United States many people with expensive liberal-arts degrees are finding it impossible to get decent jobs. In north Africa university graduates are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-graduates. Vocational and technical education needs to be upgraded and companies and schools need to forge closer relationships. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: I certainly agree that we need to invest more in young people. However, jobs will continue to slow as the economy continues to slow. We need to look beyond business-as-usual in preparing young people for a difficult future.

    Facing Limits: Jobs

    November 14, 2011, Lorna Salzman

    Regardless of whether the majority of the world's adults want to work or not in order to gain an income and have job satisfaction, the world cannot support full-time jobs for everyone because many jobs are based on ravaging the natural world to turn living things into dead products (i.e., forests into cardboard boxes and other packaging materials, disposable newspapers and chopsticks, etc.), and we have too many people to maintain such behaviors on the scale needed. Simultaneously the conversion of life into products is destroying habitats for forest residents (including indigenous tribes) and many species in other environments so that they die off at a high rate. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: add to this the fact that jobs are going to lower bidders in other countries, and even countries like the U.S. have big problems.

    How the U.S. is Becoming a 3rd World Country - Part 1

    November 11, 2011, Financial Sense

    The U.S. is experiencing high unemployment, lack of economic opportunity, low wages, widespread poverty, extreme concentration of wealth, unsustainable government debt, control of the government by international banks and multinational corporations, weak rule of law and counterproductive government policies -- all fundamental characteristics that define a 3rd world country.

    While other factors such as public health, nutrition, and infrastructure rank the U.S. above 3rd world countries, they are below European standards, and will rapidly deteriorate in a declining economy.

    The evidence suggests that, without fundamental reforms, the U.S. will become a post industrial neo-3rd-world country by 2032.

    Offshoring of manufacturing, outsourcing of jobs and deindustrialization are aspects of globalization, shoving the U.S. labor market into a long-term downward trend. The U.S. workforce has declined by approximately 6.5% since its year 2000 peak to roughly 58.2% of working age adults and the U.S. now suffers chronic unemployment of 9.1%. Although the workforce grew in the 1980s and 1990s, as dual income families became the norm, the size of the workforce is shrinking due to a lack of economic opportunity.

    Before the Clinton administration, unemployment measures included workers who are now no longer counted as part of the workforce. Thus, while the official long-term unemployment is 16.5%, using pre-Clinton measurements, unemployment exceeds 22%, only 3% below the worst point (24.9%) of the Great Depression, and not far from Armenia at 28.6%, Algeria at 27.3% and the West Bank and the Gaza Strip both at 25.7%. The highest unemployment for countries with over 2 million population is Macedonia with 33.8% unemployment.

    Young Americans are being left behind in terms of economic opportunity. Student loans exceed $1 trillion while the labor force participation rate for those aged 16 to 29 who are working or looking for work fell to 48.8% in 2011, the lowest level ever recorded. The fact of millions of unemployed college graduates and lack of economic opportunity for other young Americans, is a political wildcard reminiscent of countries like Tunisia.

    American workers cannot yet directly compete for jobs with workers in countries like China and India. In China, for example, gross pay, in terms of purchasing power parity, is equivalent to approximately $514 per month, 57% below the U.S. poverty line. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the U.S. trade deficit with China alone caused a loss of 2.8 million U.S. jobs since 2001.

    The cost of living is rising faster than wages, leaving Americans who earn more dollars poorer in terms of purchasing power. If household income is adjusted for inflation, most American families have grown significantly poorer over the past ten years. While wages have risen slightly, when adjusted for inflation, the wages of most Americans have not kept up with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). Also, according to economist John Williams of Shadow Government Statistics, CPI systematically understates inflation.

    Prices rise when the money supply is increased faster than population or sustainable economic activity. Apparent economic growth created through credit expansion, i.e., by increasing the money supply, has a temporary stimulative effect but also causes prices to rise.

    The decline in real household income has set Americans back to 1996 levels, despite many households now having two incomes rather than one. The poverty rate in the United States rose to 15.7% in 2011, having risen sharply since 2006 and continues to climb. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), commonly known as "food stamps," now feeds 1 in 8 Americans and nearly 1 in 4 children.

    The household income and wealth of the wealthiest Americans has increased sharply, despite the overall deterioration of the U.S. economy.

    Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, warned that concentration of wealth undermines the consumer base of the economy, causing GDP to decline and resulting in unemployment, which reduces living standards.

    Economic data from several sources, including the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), show that wealth and income in the United States have become increasingly concentrated with the wealthiest 1% of Americans owning 38.2% of stock market assets, e.g., shares of businesses. For the wealthiest 1% of Americans, household income tripled between 1979 and 2007 and has continued to increase while household wealth in the United States has fallen by $7.7 trillion.

    The Gini Coefficient, a measurement of disparity in income distribution, the United States is now at parity with China and will soon overtake Mexico, a still developing country. Even though the U.S. remains a far wealthier country overall, if the current trend continues the U.S. will resemble a 3rd world country, in terms of the disparity in income distribution, in approximately two decades, i.e., by 2032. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: we must take the money used for war and use it to prepare for hard times. Let's cut our waste, tighten our belts, become more efficient and build a more friendly social structure for our future.

    The Main Threat to the Economy of Tajikistan in 2011

    August 12, 2011,

    Tajikistan is a war-ravaged Central Asian country that is the poorest of the CIS states. Over the last 10 years the population grew from 5.5 million to 6.25 million while the domestic product decreased from 4 billion 615 million to 1 billion 900 million Somoni (approximately 674 million dollars). 74.4% of the population are rural dwellers, which is growing faster than the urban population. The population is forecast to reach 8 million by 2020, according to President Rakhmonov.

    In June 2010 the Parliament of Tajikistan adopted the "Law on Reproductive Health", which includes a number of measures to control fertility.

    According to various international organizations, 2 million Tajiks are starving. 80% of the population lives below the poverty line. In rural areas industry has collapsed and there is lack of demand for labor.

    During the years of independence, agriculture in Tajikistan was degraded and the country almost completely lost the culture of farming. In addition, in recent years have sharply deteriorated, and weather conditions are constant heavy rain, hail and floods, locust invasion.

    However rainfall in the mountains over last fall and winter was only 5 to 15% of average annual norms. The current lack of rainfall is like the winter of 2001, when Tajikistan was faced with severe drought, which caused damage to the economy hundreds of millions of dollars. Some experts are already saying that harvest thousands of hectares of rain-fed (no irrigation) fields in Tajikistan in autumn sown winter wheat are irretrievably lost.

    The irrigation system in the country, established during the Soviet Union did not receive funding and has been virtually destroyed.

    Tajikistan now exports most of its grain from Kazakhstan and Russia. Increase in exports may lead to depletion of foreign reserves in Tajikistan.

    Many of the country's able-bodied male population are leaving the country because of the failure of agriculture.The fields of the republic are run by women and children. Over 90% of Tajik migrants are currently in Russia and their number could reach 2 million.

    Corruption is keeping grants from international financial organizations and donor countries, dedicated to improving the efficiency of agriculture, from being used for their original purpose.

    Click on the link in the headline above to read more. doclink

    U.S.: Time to Get Real: Demographics is a Bigger Problem Than Health Care Costs

    June 23, 2011, Keith Hennessey website

    The rapid growth of per capita health spending in the U.S. needs to be addressed. However the aging of the population is the primary driver of our federal budget problems over the next 30-40 years.

    America is rapidly aging, due to two factors: people are living longer and the Baby boomers.

    People living longer means that people will be collecting benefits for more years. That's good for older people and expensive for the government.

    The Baby Boom is due to fertility rates surging after World War II from about 2.2 in 1946 to 3.6 babies per woman in 1960. These rates went down from there to 2.0, where it is predicted to stay.

    The first cohort of Baby Boomers started collecting their checks at age 62 in 2008.

    Current workers pay, by way of payroll taxes, for the Social Security and Medicare benefits of current retirees. In 1950, there were 16 workers paying payroll taxes for each retiree collecting Social Security benefits. Today, there the number is 3.3 workers, In the future there will be only 2.

    [A recent analysis showed that, to maintain the SS and Medicare systems at projected costs, a 45% payroll tax would be necessary, or 60% to include other projected federal expenditures.] doclink

    Karen Gaia says:

  • Another thing to consider is that seniors require more health care than younger people
  • Medicare began 45 years ago, in the days of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Life expectancies were 5-years less than now. Woman now take benefits 33% longer and men 44% longer than the days of LBJ. It was expected that wages for American workers would continue to rise, but today they are either stagnant or declining
  • In a poll of students of economics, about 70% indicated they would never be a recipient of SS and Medicare
  • Last, there is nothing in the works to protect retires against loss of the value in their homes, and inflation, which is sure to come with the huge deficit.
  • U.S.: Why the Unemployment Rate Will Stay High for Years to Come

    September 16, 2010, Black Swan Insights

    America's unemployment currently stands at 9.6%. The San Francisco Fed released a report which shows why the rate will not be coming down for years to come. The number of jobs that need to be created each month in order to reduce the unemployment rate is far above the current rate of job growth.

    1. To keep the unemployment rate steady at 9.6%, the US economy needs to create 100,000 jobs per month. This assumes average population growth of 1% and a flat labor force participation rate.

    2. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the US economy needs to create 227,000 jobs per month. This assumption is based upon a projected uptick in the labor force participation rate to 64.8%. If the CBO is off by only 0.1%, the number jumps 10,000 to 237,000 jobs per month required.

    3. The Social Security Administration expects the labor force participation rate to fall to 64.6% in 2012. This means that starting September 2010, the US has to create 208,000 jobs per month to reach the 8% unemployment rate goal.

    4. The Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting a labor force participation rate of 65.5% in 2012. Under this assumption the US economy has to create a whopping 294,000 jobs per month.

    5. In August 2010 the US private sector created 67,000 jobs, far below the rate necessary to reduce the unemployment rate. During the last "jobless recovery," when economic conditions were much more favorable job creation averaged 140,000 jobs per month.

    Don't expect the unemployment rate to come down anytime soon. If anything, it might tick up in 2011. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: at some point, maybe already, resource depletion will override our debt-driven economy and providing jobs for the current population, not to mention jobs to accomodate all the new workers, will become more and more difficult.

    India: Urbanisation Or Economic Growth?

    July 28, 2005, Financial Express

    Rapid urbanisation had been taking place in many parts of the developing world. At a United Nations University's World Institute for Development Economics Research's Jubilee Conference there was a need to study this much-neglected aspect of development. Overall (GDP) growth cannot be separated from the delivery of public services or strategies to improve them. Urbanisation grows faster after the proportion of urban population has reached 25%. In India, urbanisation has now reached 29%. Economic reforms and globalisation have made cities primary engines of economic growth. Urban areas contribute close to half of India's GDP. The more urbanised states in India (Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat) recorded higher growth rates. Cities such as Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Chennai have grown rapidly. However, the incidence of urban unemployment is much higher than that of rural unemployment, as reported in the 59th round of the National Sample Survey Organisation(NSSO). There were 14 urban persons unemployed (by principal and subsidiary activity) per 1,000 in 2003, compared with only five for rural India. Other reports compiled from NSSO data show that most urban employment (33.5%) is in production-related work, which means the service sector boom continues to elude urban areas. With the increasing incidence of frauds, the reliability of outsourcing and call centre jobs is uncertain, suggesting that the sustainability of the service sector is questionable. The answer may lie with the manufacturing sector. Cities, by offering good quality public services, attract residents with skills, which in turn attract jobs. Currently, states with high urban unemployment (e.g Jharkhand) are those that are unable to attract residents with skills (e.g, those with engineering degrees) because of their poor quality public services, and limited opportunities for jobs and growth. The experience with the private sector world-wide has shown that wherever governance is weak, privatisation of essential public services results in serious problems, including raising costs and reduced access and quality for the less well-off. doclink

    Population Surge Blamed for Philippines' Unemployment Woes

    Asia Pulse

    Employers have voiced concern over the Philippine exploding population, which has contributed to the rise in unemployment. The country's unemployment rate was 11.3% in January 2005, up from last year's 11%. The country's economy only posted minimal growth during the last few years, an improvement of little over 1% in the lives of the people per year. Unfortunately, this only benefited the relatively few in the upper classes as indicated by the increasing incidence of poverty. Such explosive population growth rate wipes out the effect of economic growth. To address this problem, Soriano the government needs to enforce Article 134 of the labor Code which mandates firms to provide free planning services to their employees. doclink

    Philippines: Population Would Outpace Jobs

    August 30, 2004, Philippine Daily Inquirer

    The Philippines' unchecked population growth would thwart the plan to create between 6 to 10 million new jobs in the next six years, because in the same period, 12.6 million Filipinos would have been added to the population of 84.2 million and more Filipinos would be out of work six years from now. The population would be expanding at 2.1 million every year over the next six years, while jobs would grow by only 1.6 million annually with the economy running at full speed. Congressman Lagman has been pushing for legislation that would encourage families to have only two children and said that apart from unemployment, other indicators, access to potable water, sanitation, basic education and decent housing would deteriorate because resources would be spread too thinly. doclink

    India Set for Flood of Jobs From the West

    April 12, 2003, timesonline

    Business outsourcing to India is expected to earn $62 billion (=A339 billion) by 2010 and is expected to grow by 60% to $2.4 billion this year. The shift is blamed on spiralling wages in the developed world, and a slowdown in the economy. It is estimated that $356 billion for financial services will move offshore, much to India. With a high level of education, and many speaking English, the country has an edge over China. A UK bank has been transferring its office to Madras during the past 18 months and has shifted 23 units from 35 countries. Almost the entire workforce are graduates under 32 and earn between $150 and $250 a year, an annual salary of A31,000. In the UK, workers start on salaries ten times that amount. In the future a big proportion of medical claims processing could be carried out in India. Little will stop the shift of jobs from Western economies to India and China. In America, certain states have said that some jobs will not be done offshore and there are certain to be more regulations as the industry gathers momentum. American regulators have raised concerns over security issues by giving customer details to companies outside the US. BT was forced to deny its decision to recruit workers in India was a threat to UK jobs. It will take 15 years for wages in India to catch up with wages in the UK. doclink

    Perhaps the salary figures are incorrect and should be 1,500 and 2,500 a year.

    Poverty, Inequality

    High Birth Rates and Poverty Undermine a Generation of African Children - Report

    Research predicts African children will account for 43% of global poverty by 2030, although absolute number of poor will fall
    August 24, 2016, Guardian   By: Ruth Maclean

    Last September the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) set 17 sustainable development goals. The first was to "end poverty in all its forms everywhere" by 2030. Now an ODI report says that, despite economic growth in Africa, if existing high fertility rates and inequality trends continue, African children will make up nearly half the world's poorest people by 2030.

    In absolute terms, the number of impoverished African children should drop steeply. ODI predicts that the number of kids living below the World Bank poverty threshold ($1.90 a day) will fall from 216 million in 2012 to 148 million in 2030. However, since other groups will move out of poverty faster and African women average more than four births each, their share in global poverty will double to 43%.

    Child mortality has dropped during the last 20 years, but not fertility rates, said Kevin Watkins, one of the report's authors. Fertility rates are highest in West Africa. In Chad, for example, where the average woman has six or more children, family planning workers meet substantial social and cultural resistance. At clinics where everything from HIV testing to post-abortion care and pre-marital counselling are offered, it has been difficult to recruit volunteer workers to show films and give out information and contraceptives. Yet Watkins believes that many African women would like to have fewer children, particularly Nigerian women, who have five children on average but would rather have closer to three.

    In Chad, most of the support comes from women, and the resistance comes mostly from men. This is a pro-birth society and a bit macho. One worker said that people threw stones when the program offered condoms. They thought contraceptives could make them sterile or sick. "That's why it's so important to talk to young people and women about it."

    Twelve percent of girls in sub-Saharan Africa are married by 15, which results in a long childbearing span. "The silence of African leaders on issues like child marriage is frankly outrageous," Watkins said, adding that the international community has also failed to put in place social protection systems. The Chadian government agreed to fund a family planning program, but then cut funding when it found itself in economic crisis. Now the program cannot pay salaries or buy contraceptives, and its main donor, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, wants it to look for other donors. doclink

    Climate Change, Health, and Population Dynamics: a View From Tanzania

    January 7, 2016, The Nature Conservancy   By: Kristen Patterson

    As people around the world celebrate the agreement in Paris to address climate change, there's a genuine opportunity for us to adapt to an ever changing world - especially people in developing countries who are most vulnerable.

    One way of helping people adapt to climate change is to improve their health. Many scientists and governments have made the connection between population growth and global carbon emissions and have recognized the multiple benefits that family planning provides.

    Slowing global population growth could lead to lower carbon emissions. Approximately 225 million women in the world have an unmet need for family planning, but are currently not using modern contraception. Meeting their needs through providing voluntary, rights-based family planning information and services could be a global hat trick-for women, their children and the climate.

    Far removed from the negotiations that took place in Paris, some 900 million vulnerable rural people are relying on decisions made at the negotiation table to pave the way for policies that will help them adapt to the realities of climate change.

    Tanzania is acutely vulnerable with 80% of the population relying on agriculture and grazing for their income. And family planning is a critical component of building resilience.

    Mean annual precipitation in Tanzania has decreased significantly across the country from 1960 to the present, and seasonal rainfall patterns have already changed. Only 26% of married women in Tanzania use modern contraception, compared with 53% next door in Kenya.

    In August 2011, I visited the Buhingu regional health center in western Tanzania to meet the head doctor and see the facilities. Despite its magnificent location on a promontory overlooking a beautiful bay on Lake Tanganyika, the walls were crumbling, shelves were bereft of medical supplies, and the rooms were empty. Except for one, where two women lay on metal beds with decrepit foam mattresses; one of the women was nursing a newborn.

    The doctor said that he'd done Cesarean surgeries on both women the night before. One baby survived; the other didn't.

    The moment encapsulated why projects that address health and voluntary family planning as well as conservation and natural resource management in remote regions are not so far-fetched after all.

    Two dozen villages are now participating in the Tuungane Project (Kiswahili for "Let's Unite), a partnership between TNC and Pathfinder International that holistically address reproductive health, the environment and livelihood needs of these communities in this region.

    Lake Tanganyika is the world's second largest lake by volume, and the lake and surrounding forest are mega hotspots of global biodiversity, from a freshwater and terrestrial perspective, boasting endemic cichlids and chimpanzees. And when women face health emergencies, such as obstructed labor, getting a boat and fuel to travel to the nearest hospital, several hours away in Kigoma, is a real challenge.

    Tanzania is a large country; it's about the size of Texas and Colorado combined. Tanzania's population is quite young: as of 2014, 45% of the population was under the age of 15. By 2050, unless the birth rate slows substantially, there will be 2.5 times as many people in Tanzania as there are today, 129.4 million, which would make it the 15th largest country in the world.

    The total fertility rate in western Tanzania is 7.1, among the very highest in the world. Having babies in rapid succession is often accompanied by high maternal mortality. There is an urgent need to make voluntary contraception more available in places like rural western Tanzania so that women and their families are able to live healthier, productive lives and space and plan their families.

    As for early marriage, almost 40% of girls in Tanzania are married before the age of 18, whereas only 33% of girls are enrolled in secondary school.

    Western Tanzania's intertwined challenges of population dynamics, natural resource management, and climate change adaptation need to be addressed in an integrated way.

    Understanding the need for voluntary family planning for women and children at the individual level and for the planet would benefit millions of people - in Tanzania and around the world. doclink

    Population Growth in Africa: Grasping the Scale of the Challenge

    While population growth slows in the rest of the world, it continues to rise in Africa. What are the implications? Isn’t it Europe that is overpopulated, rather than Africa?
    January 11, 2016, Guardian   By: Joseph J Bish

    This article argues that resources normally given to infrastructure and education will have to be spent on people, as the African population explodes.

    By the year 2050, African population growth would be able to re-fill an empty London five times a year.

    Of the 2.37 billion increase in population expected worldwide by 2050, Africa alone will contribute 54%. According to some statistics, Nigeria will add more people to the world's population by 2050 than any other country.

    The dynamics at play are straightforward. Public health is getting better. The 12 million Africans born in 1955 could expect to live only until the age of 37. Encouragingly, the 42 million Africans born this year can expect to live to the age of 60.

    Meanwhile, another key demographic variable - the total fertility rate.

    In Niger, where GDP per capita is less than $1 per day, the average number of children a woman is likely to have in her life is more than seven. If fertility does not fall at all - and it has not budged in the last 60 years - the country's population projection for 2100 veers towards 960 million people.

    What has caught demographers off-guard is that African fertility has not fallen as expected. Precipitous declines in fertility in Asia and Latin America, from five children per woman in the 1970s to around 2.5 today, led many to believe Africa would follow a similar pattern.

    Unfortunately, since the early 1990s, family planning programmes in Africa have resulted in slow, sometimes negligible, fertility declines. In a handful of countries, previous declines have stalled altogether and are reversing.

    These dynamics create the opposite of a virtuous cycle. Rapid population growth helps overburden educational systems. Infrastructure is also compromised, with congested highways and stratospheric housing costs. The reality is that as the size of any populace expands, governments must keep apace.

    Failure to do so results in a drop in per capita living standards.

    Education an infrastructure are highly important to any country's development. With a burgeoning population, this is more difficult.

    There are some signs of success, such as Family Planning 2020. Recent figures from Kenya and Zambia show substantial strengthening of contraceptive use among married women. In Kenya, 58% of married women now use modern contraception, and in Zambia this measure has risen from 33% to 45% in the last three years.

    In both cases, the catalysts for improvements were government commitment and commensurate budget financing. The virtuous circle may not be completely out of reach, but it is attainable. doclink

    Population Growth and Control in Africa

    October 1, 2013, Stratfor Global Intelligence   By: Femi Aribisala

    You may know that demographers predict at least a doubling of Africa's population by 2050 and that quality of life and environmental issues will result from that rapid pace of growth. But some statistics on Africa may surprise you. For example, while the continent covers about 25% of the world's land area, Africa has only about 15% of the world's population (about 1 billion people - less than that of India or China). It has less than half the population density of Europe and only about 40% the population density of Asia. Still, according to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, Africa's growth rate was in the range of 4.8% per year in 2013, up from 3.4% in 2011. Today, Africa has the world's youngest population with 200 million people between 15 and 24 years old. If current demographic trends persist, Africa's population will reach 1.4 billion in just ten years. UNICEF projects that by 2050 one out of every three births in the world will occur in Africa.

    In the short-term a mushrooming African population means that the economies must run faster to merely stand still. With over 400 million Africans currently under the age of 15, this means a large proportion of the national income in African countries is devoted to feeding, clothing and housing "non-producers," with a consequence of having less available funds for investment.

    At the same time, a decline in mortality and fertility rates could lead to dramatic changes in the country's age structure with possible future dividends. 800 million Africans will soon range between the ages of 25 and 59. The size of Africa's labor force will soon surpass that of China, which now is the world's largest. By 2050 one out of every four workers in the world could be African. This labor force would not only be young but also cheap, so multinational companies might want to move production to Africa, instead of East Asia. Africa's population boom could fuel a much-needed economic transformation, provided that Africa's human capital receives training appropriate to deal with changes in the world economic system. This has been the experience of such Asian "tigers" as Indonesia, South Korea and Thailand. However, Africa's population boom poses grave threats to the region's political stability and social cohesion if economic and employment opportunities are not sufficient.

    Nigeria will have the world's highest increase in new births between now and 2050. The UN projects Nigeria's population will grow to 389 million by 2050, rivaling the United States at 403 million. By the end of the century, the U.N. projects that Nigeria's population will range between 900 million and 1 billion, nearing that of China. Nigeria's population will grow geometrically, while China's population is expected to begin to shrink by 2030. East Africa probably has the continent's most acute rapid population growth problem. For example, Kenya's population will increase from the current 43 million to over 100 million by 2050 with 43% of the population under 15 years old. The working class must support this is dependent group, which leaves the workers with little opportunity for savings.

    The Kenyan government sponsors a family-planning program that emphasizes the health and economic benefits of spacing children. Schools, training centers and community development programs explain the link between living standards and family size. But the program must contend with a lack of facilities for distributing birth-control information and ethno-cultural traditions which encourage large families. In general, birth control measures imposed "from above" by government authorities and family planning associations have had limited impact on population growth in Africa. Judging from the experience of western societies, the most effective motivation for birth control rests on individual desire. In Africa, this would require a fundamental transformation of the society and its modes of thought, which is best facilitated by economic development.

    By comparative standards, Africa does not qualify as over-populated. Nor is it under-populated, since there is very little evidence that any lack of manpower is holding up development. Most of the ills attributed to population growth in Africa would dissolve with reasonable rates of economic growth, since economic development generally leads to lower birth rates. Also, by itself, population density does not retard development. More important factors include reproducible capital, research and educational facilities, an entrepreneurial class, infrastructure development, and an environment supportive of development. doclink

    Art says: This implies that investments made for profit do more good than aid. China and the Asian Tigers make good examples. By offering cheap labor, they attracted business and eventually grew more prosperous and sophisticated.

    Karen Gaia says: We must not look at density as a measure of overpopulation. We must also take into account per capita water (Egypt is a good example) and soil suitability (jungle areas have poor soil). Furthermore, much of Africa's food supply suffers from lack of mechanized farm machinery, plus the roads and trucks needed for food transportation.

    Control Population Growth Cure Poverty

    July 30, 2014, Daily Monitor

    While Uganda's poverty rate has decreased, the actual number of people in poverty, particularly with the huge projections of population growth the country is experiencing, will mean a tsunami of people that will overwhelm all the gains.

    In 2000, the poverty rate was 33.8% or about 7,500,000 million Ugandans were living below the poverty line. In 2009, the poverty rate dropped to 24.5% with a but with more people, and the total number living below the poverty line was unchanged.

    The middle class might be growing and others prospering. But, in education, healthcare, and jobs, Uganda can barely provide them now. Youth unemployment is at 70% or more, and rising.

    If Uganda does not stem population growth, it cannot stop the growing tide of people living - and suffering and dying - in poverty.

    "Poverty is the worst kind of violence," Gandhi said. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: when the author says 'population control' I hope he means voluntary family planning. There are many proven ways to get fertility rates down without coersion, shaming, lying, propaganda, targets, incentives, or disincentives.

    World Bank: Climate Change Will 'Lead to Battles for Food'

    April 6, 2014, Climate Central   By: Larry Elliott

    Battles over water and food will erupt within the next five to 10 years as a result of climate change, Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank said as he urged those campaigning against global warming to learn the lessons of how protesters and scientists joined forces in the battle against HIV.

    Jim Yong Kim said it was possible to cap the rise in global temperatures at 2°C but that so far there had been a failure to replicate the "unbelievable" success of the 15-year-long coalition of activists and scientists to develop a treatment for HIV. He had asked the climate change community: "Do we have a plan that's as good as the plan we had for HIV?" The answer, unfortunately, was no.

    "Is there enough basic science research going into renewable energy? Are there ways of taking discoveries made in universities and quickly moving them into industry? Are there ways of testing those innovations? Are there people thinking about scaling those innovations?" The answer was 'no' to all these questions. We still don't have a plan.

    The four areas where the bank could help in the fight against global warming are: finding a stable price for carbon; removing fuel subsidies; investing in cleaner cities; and developing climate-smart agriculture. Improved access to clean water and sanitation was also vital, to avoid tension over resources which would result from inaction over global warming.

    "People say that carbon is the currency of climate change. Water is the teeth. Fights over water and food are going to be the most significant direct impacts of climate change in the next five to 10 years. Water and sanitation has not had the same kind of champion that global health, and even education, have had."

    The World Bank president warned that a failure to tackle inequality risked social unrest. The bank has almost doubled its lending capacity to $28 billion a year with the aim of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 and spreading the benefits of prosperity to the poorest 40% in developing countries.

    Because of smartphones and access to media, you have no idea where the next huge social movement is going to erupt, he said. "It's going to erupt to a great extent because of these inequalities. So what I hear from heads of state is a much, much deeper understanding of the political dangers of very high levels of inequality," he said.

    "Now that we have good evidence that suggests that working on more inclusive growth strategies actually improves overall growth, that's our job." doclink

    Indonesia Population Approaching U.S. Revives Birth Control

    January 28, 2014, Business Week   By: Shamim Adam, Berni Moestafa and Novrida Manurung

    President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia announced that he would like families to refrain from having more than two children. The cause of this announcement is due to the slower economic investment and high youth unemployment rate Indonesia is facing.

    A primary concern for the government is that this particular type of demographic attracts companies seeking a young and cheap labour force, which Indonesia is worried will become an economic time bomb. As the growth of the country slows, the world fourth largest population is not generating enough high quality jobs to keep up with the population, the International Labour Organization has stated.

    Thus with the current demographic trend, a revival has begun of a birth control program by former President Suharto, who managed to halve the fertility rate to about 2.6, where it's been stuck ever since. The current fertility rate target the government is aiming for is 2.1, if achieved in two years, will prevent the population from doubling to 250 million by 2060.

    The government increased the budget for family planning programs almost fourfold since 2006, to 2.6 trillion rupiah ($214 million) in 2013, funding everything from training rural midwives via text messages, to persuading Muslim clerics to encourage vasectomies. The measures extend efforts dating back to 1968, when Suharto set up the National Family Planning Institute to provide advice and contraceptives to the people of Indonesia.

    Current statistics indicated that 19.6% of Indonesian youths between the ages of 15 and 24 were jobless in 2012, compared with about 16% in the Philippines, according to the ILO. Furthermore statistics also show that Indonesia's labor force will grow 11.2% this decade, while its population will increase about 11.5%, according to Bank of America Corp. The high proportion of young adults (approximately 50% of Indonesia's population) has attracted companies such as L'Oreal SA, the world's largest cosmetics maker, which opened its biggest factory globally in West Java in 2012 to supply products to Southeast Asia.

    While the rising supply of factory workers appeals to investors, it means the government has to direct more of its resources on education. Public spending on education as a percentage of government expenditure rose to about 17% in 2010 from 11.5% in 2001, according to the United Nations.

    Heru Purnomo, who works at a courier service in the capital, said "Competition is tight". "Now, people have to have a high level of education to get a job. If you have too many children, you get left behind." doclink

    China Accounts for 100% of the Reduction in the Number of the World's People Living in Poverty

    November 24, 2013, Key Trends in Globalisation   By: John Ross

    In 2010 Professor Danny Quah of the London School of Economics noted: "In the last three decades, China has lifted more people out of extreme poverty than the rest of the world combined." This article analyzes data published three years after Quah's analysis; looks at the trends based on two measures of poverty, compares China's numbers to other nations, and concludes that Quah's analysis still holds. China is responsible for 100% of the reduction in the number of people living in poverty in the world.

    With 22% of the world's population in 1978, the percentage of the world's population directly benefiting from China's rapid economic growth is seven times that of the population in the U.S. or Japan when they began rapid growth. China's 9.9% average increase in GDP per capita during the two last five year plans is the fastest ever achieved by a major country. China's annual average 8.1% increase in household consumption and 8.3% annual increase in total consumption, including state expenditure on items vital for quality of life, such as education and health, was the fastest of any major economy. This was coupled with a life expectancy above that which would be expected from China's per-capita GDP.

    Measured in Parity Purchasing Powers (PPPs) - that is the real increase in output in steel, cars, transport, services etc. - the greatest absolute increase in output the U.S. ever recorded in single year was $567 billion in 1999. But in 2010 China added $1,126 billion - more than twice the increase in output in a single year ever achieved by any other country.

    The total number that China has been responsible for lifting out of absolute poverty exceeds the world-wide increase in the number of people lifted out of absolute poverty. (Absolute or extreme poverty is defined as less than $1.25 a day ($37.5 a month) per capita. Poverty is defined as less than $2.00 a day.) Between 1981 and 2009, China lifted 678 million of its citizens out of extreme poverty. In contrast, due to the rise in the number of people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of people living in extreme poverty outside China increased by 50 million between 1981 and 2008. Thus, China was responsible for 100% of the world's reduction of the number of people living in extreme poverty.

    Using $2 a day ($60 a month), still a very low figure, the trend was even more striking. The number of people in China living on $2 a day or less fell from 972 million in 1981 to 362 million in 2009, a decrease of 610 million people. In contrast the number of those living at $2 a day in the world outside China rose from 1,548 million in 1981 to 2,057 million in 2008 - an increase of 509 million. Again, China accounted for the entire reduction in the number of people in the world living at this level of poverty.

    Comparing China to India - a country which at the end of the 1940s had a higher GDP per capita than China - China has 66% more nurses and midwives and 160% more doctors per thousand people. In China the literacy rate for women aged 15-24 is 99%, on the latest World Bank data, while for India it is 74%; and the infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births is 12 in China compared to 44 in India. doclink

    Art says: If a nation doubles its population and the number in poverty grows too, but by a lesser amount, that nation has reduced the percentage of its people in poverty.

    Population Growth Undermines Aid Effectiveness

    A recent study sponsored by Population Matters concludes that investment in measures shown to reduce population growth is key to addressing extreme poverty.
    Population Matters

    A recent London School of Economics and Political Science graduate project sponsored by Population Matters, More Aid + More People ≠ Less Poverty, showed that high fertility rates and thus rapidly increasing population size were the main reason for the number of people living in absolute poverty to increase in the 20 highest fertility countries during the past two decades, despite a sharp increase in the number of aid recipients.

    Total fertility rates in these countries remained well above world average. A key factor in poverty reduction is thus reducing population growth to a reasonable level.

    Three aspects of development aid were shown to contribute to fertility reduction: family planning, education and economic infrastructure. However, the percentage of development aid spent on these three aspects combined was a mere 16 per cent, with only a derisory 0.3 per cent being spent on the most important of these - family planning.

    Since fertility reduction is key to reducing poverty, aid donors should have invested much more aid in these three areas - especially family planning.

    Commented Population Matters chair, Roger Martin, "This is yet more evidence supporting the argument for investing far greater sums in programmes shown to reduce fertility rates and hence population growth. Aid strategies that increase longevity without at the same time reducing fertility are simply running to catch up with ever-increasing numbers of people. Indeed they appear actually to create more poor people, and thus the basis for future humanitarian crises." doclink

    World Poverty is Shrinking Rapidly, New Index Reveals

    UN development report uses nutrition and education as yardsticks as well as income
    March 16, 2013, Mail and Guardian   By: Tracy Mcveigh

    A study by Oxford University's poverty and human development initiative, which uses a new approach to measuring deprivation, predicts that countries among the most impoverished in the world could see acute poverty eradicated within 20 years if they continue at present rates.

    Rwanda, Nepal and Bangladesh were identified as places where deprivation could disappear within the lifetime of present generations. Ghana, Tanzania, Cambodia and Bolivia follow close behind.

    The study comes after the UN's latest development report published last week which stated that "Higher growth in at least 40 poor countries is lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty and into a new 'global middle class'. Never in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast."

    The improvement is the result of international and national aid and development projects investing in schools, health clinics, housing, infrastructure and improved access to water. Trade was also a key factor in improving conditions in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone.

    In the past poverty was measured strictly in income terms without taking into account other factors - health, education and living standards.

    The Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI), just updated in the 2013 UN report includes ten indicators to calculate poverty - nutrition, child mortality, years of schooling and attendance, cooking fuel, water, sanitation, electricity assets and a covered floor.

    The old methods of looking at income levels - such as those living on $1.25 a day or less- ignores other deprivations such as in nutrition, health and sanitation.

    The institute's director Dr Sabina Alkire said: "Poverty is more than money - it is ill health, it is food insecurity, it is not having work, or experiencing violence and humiliation, or not having health care, electricity, or good housing."

    "Citizen activism is under-appreciated for its role. Maybe we have been overlooking the power of the people themselves, women who are empowering each other, civil society pulling itself up."

    1.6 billion people are living in "multidimensional" poverty. The poorest one billion live in 100 countries. Most of the bottom billion live in South Asia, with India home to 40%, followed by sub-Saharan Africa with 33%. The report also found that 9.5% of the bottom billion poor people lived in developed, upper middle-income countries. doclink

    Will Nigerian Boom Babies Feed Prosperity Or Entrench Poverty?

    April 9, 2013, Reuters   By: Tim Cocks

    Nigeria adds 11,000 people a day to its population, or 2.4% a year, and is already at 170 million.

    By 2050 the country will have 400 million people and will be world's fourth most populous country , according to the the Population Reference Bureau (PRB) 400 million is just less than the projected figure for the United States, but with only a tenth of its territory.

    Retailers of fast-moving consumer goods are looking forward to the larger population, but it is not clear whether it can reap a "demographic dividend" from an expanding population of young people of working age and turn it into a richer society with widespread higher living standards.

    55-year-old Hunkpe makes $19 a week selling fish to feed her eight offspring and 10 grandchildren; her house sleeps 40 people at a time. "I wanted my children to go to school to give them a better life, but I couldn't afford it," she said.

    Skeptics fear swelling numbers of jobless and uneducated youths threaten the stability of a country already suffering an Islamist uprising in the north and oil theft, piracy and kidnapping by criminal gangs in the south.

    "If we keep growing our population at this rate, without also growing our means to sustain it, we are heading towards catastrophe," says Owoeye Olumide, a demographer at Nigeria's Bowen University. "We have to do something very fast ... or we face more poverty and agitation or worse - disease, hunger, war."

    The Renaissance Capital bank says "Only sub-Saharan Africa is positioned to experience 15-20% growth in the crucial 15-24 age range over the coming decades, which will provide the plentiful labor force the world economy will rely on."

    Yet countries that reap the "demographic dividend" usually do so only once population growth starts to slow.

    Fertility rates in sub-Saharan Africa they remain high at 5.6 while they are crashing across Asia and Latin America (4 per woman) - mirroring falls in Europe a generation ago.

    Sub-Saharan Africa's population will double by 2045 to 2 billion, according to the U.N..

    Nigeria's commercial hub of Lagos - at 21 million people - receives hundreds of thousands of new arrivals each year from rural areas, growing by 672,000 people a year, state data shows. Many live in slums with no reliable electricity or water and families sleep in s 75 square foot rooms. Household incomes are far below the threshold for a retail boom, with 93% with monthly income lower than $390, compared with only 38% in Johannesburg.

    Many retailers seem to think that the middle class in Nigeria is a lot bigger than it actually is.

    Strategies targeting middle-income groups that worked in places like India and South Africa may not yet work so well for Nigeria, Standard Bank's head of equity product, Matthew Pearson said.

    Absolute poverty rose to from 54.7% in 2004 to 60% in 2012, worsened by rapid population growth. Some 100 million Nigerians live in poverty.

    Nearly half of Nigerians are under 15, and in the "Middlebelt" - a region of central Nigeria populated largely by minority ethnic groups - violence is common among youth gangs, with disputes over scarce land and water. 12 million children of school age are not in education.

    In the Niger Delta, gangs of mostly unemployed armed youths steal tens of thousands of barrels of oil a day from pipelines.

    The north's Islamist insurgency is driven by its desperate, unemployed youth population, said Mohammed Junaidu, a northern opposition politician and academic. "It's a combination of failures of governance and the ticking demographic time-bomb," he said. "They urgently need to pacify these youths or face more instability and terrorism."

    While the government has promoted family planning for decades, it struggles to influence a poorly educated population, many living in remote rural areas, that values having many children.

    Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria said that only around 10% use contraceptives.

    Yet Charles Robertson at Renaissance Capital says over a third of children go to secondary school, compared with just 7% in 1975 - similar to India 20 years ago. "As African countries get richer, birth rates will drop dramatically," he said - as has happened in India and Egypt." doclink

    Karen Gaia says: which came first, prosperity or lower fertility rates?

    Environmental Threats Could Push Billions Into Extreme Poverty, Warns UN

    UN's 2013 human development report urges action on climate change, deforestation and pollution before it is too late
    March 14, 2013, Mail and Guardian   By: Claire Provost

    The UN's new 2013 Human Development Report - - predicts that the number of people living in extreme poverty could increase by up to 3 billion by 2050 unless urgent action is taken to tackle environmental challenges.

    "The longer action is delayed, the higher the cost will be," says the report.

    Over 40 countries have done better than previously expected on the UN's human development index (HDI), showing progress on health, wealth and education in dozens of developing countries, and with gains accelerating over the past decade. Norway and Australia are highest in this year's HDI, while the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Niger are ranked lowest.

    However inaction on climate change, deforestation, and air and water pollution could end gains in the world's poorest countries and communities. The proportion of people living under $1.25 a day is estimated to have fallen from 43% in 1990 to 22% in 2008, driven in part by significant progress in China. The millennium development goal to halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by 2015 has been met ahead of schedule, according to the World Bank.

    "Climate change is already exacerbating chronic environmental threats, and ecosystem losses are constraining livelihood opportunities, especially for poor people. A clean and safe environment should be seen as a right, not a privilege."

    The British prime minister, David Cameron, and US president Barack Obama have both made eradicating extreme poverty a key plank in their respective development agendas.

    Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Turkey - have made the most rapid advances, but there has also been substantial progress in smaller economies, such as Bangladesh, Chile, Ghana, Mauritius, Rwanda and Tunisia.

    Cash-transfer programmes in Brazil, India and Mexico have helped narrow income gaps and improve the health and education prospects of poor communities. Proactive "developmental states", which seek to take strategic advantage of world trade opportunities but also invest heavily in health, education and other critical services, have emerged as a key trend.

    China and India have doubled their per capita economic output in fewer than 20 years, bringing about greater change and lifting far more people out of poverty than the Industrial Revolution that transformed Europe and North America in the 18th and 19th centuries. "The Industrial Revolution was a story of perhaps 100 million people, but this is a story about billions of people," said Khalid Malik, lead author of the report.

    Short-sighted austerity measures, inaction in the face of stark social inequalities, and the lack of opportunities for citizen participation were seen as critical threats to progress - both in developing countries and in European and North American industrial powers. "Social policy is at least as important as economic policy," Malik said. "People think normally you're too poor to afford these things. But our argument is you're too poor not to."

    He said more representative global institutions are needed to tackle shared global challenges. China, with the world's second largest economy and biggest foreign exchange reserves, has only a 3.3% share in the World Bank, notes the report, less than France's 4.3%. Africa, with a billion people in 54 nations, is under-represented in almost all international institutions.

    With two-thirds of the world's $10.2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves in developing countries, "Even a small share of these vast sums could have a swift measurable impact on global poverty and human development." doclink

    Family Planning Pilot Project in Philippines is a Success Story

    March 3, 2013, New Jersey Times   By: Bonnie Tillery

    The Philippines, a country the size of Arizona, has about 1/3 the U.S. population of 313 million and is expected to double in size by 2080. To feed its people, the Philippines imports more rice than any other country on the planet and its oceans show severe signs of overfishing.

    The Philippines has one of the highest birth rates in the world and the highest teen pregnancy rate in the Asian Pacific.

    Two thirds of native plant and animal species are endemic to the islands and nearly half of them are threatened. Less than 10% of the islands' original vegetation remains and 70% of the 27,000 square kilometers of coral reefs are in poor condition."

    Late last year Philippine President Benigno Aquino signed the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012. This means that government health centers will have to make reproductive health education, maternal health care and contraceptives available to everyone. The Catholic Church is vehemently opposed to it and has threatened excommunication for the president and any politicians who support it. One 44-year-old woman, a devout Catholic with 16 children, said, "We don't pay attention to (the Church's opposition). They are not the ones who are giving birth again and again. We are the ones who have to find a way to care for the children."

    In the slums of its capital, Manila, a woman who had 22 pregnancies and has 17 surviving children, reported, "Many times, we sleep without eating." One of the reasons for enacting the reproductive health law is to help break the cycle of poverty.

    Pilot studies from USAID and UNFPA have shown that integrated population, health and environment (PHE) programs have made inroads in saving the environment.

    One community supported by a PATH Foundation family planning program,saw the family size go from an average of 12 children to no more than four children over the first six years of the program. The community set up a marine preserve to protect the fish and eventually boost the declining catch. One man in the community noted that if they can "control the number of children, they don't need as much fish."

    Sam Eaton, maker of the film "Food for 9 Billion: Turning the Population Tide in the Philippines," notes that people empowered by their ability to control their future can make a better future for their children.

    With sequestration looming in the U.S., assistance to important international programs supported by USAID and UNFPA are in jeopardy. Population Action International estimates that cuts will deny access to contraceptive services and supplies to an additional 1.68 million women and couples in developing countries overseas, and result in 1,292 more maternal deaths each year.

    Here in the U.S. some of our lawmakers in the U.S. want to take us backward. Numerous suits have been filed opposing contraceptive coverage in the Affordable Care Act.

    It is vital that all women, here and overseas, have the ability to decide for themselves the size of their families.

    Bonnie Tillery is volunteer population issues coordinator for the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club. doclink

    Developing nations: The Challenge of Attaining the Demographic Dividend

    December 6, 2012, Population Reference Bureau blog   By: James Gribble and Jason Bremner

    The demographic dividend is often thought to be imminent and within grasp. However, even though child survival has greatly improved in developing countries, birth rates are still high in many of them. These countries will find it difficult to reach their full economic potential unless they act today to increase their commitment and investment in voluntary family planning.

    A demographic dividend works if there are fewer births each year, so that a country's young dependent population grows smaller in relation to the working-age population. With fewer people to support, a country has a window of opportunity for rapid economic growth if the right social and economic policies developed and investments made.

    In the world's least developed countries, more than 40% of the population is under age 15 and depends on financial support from working-age adults. Another 90 million people between ages 15 and 19 are on their way to becoming financially independent as they enter adulthood. Large numbers of young people can represent great economic potential, but only if families and governments can adequately invest in their health and education and stimulate new economic opportunities for them.

    However, if the number of children per woman is high, children and adolescents greatly outnumber working-age adults, and families and governments will not have the resources needed to invest adequately in each child.

    25% of women in developing countries want to avoid becoming pregnant or delay or space their births but are not using a modern family planning method, accounting for almost 80% of unintended pregnancies. As a result, the populations of these countries are growing very quickly -- as much as 3% or more per year. Such a high growth rate could double the number of people in these countries in just 23 years.

    When women can choose when and how often to become pregnant, they are more likely to have fewer children and are better able to achieve their desired family size.

    Population growth can also be slowed by delaying the age at first birth. In countries with the highest fertility rates and lowest average age at marriage (mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia), growth can be slowed by 15-20% by delaying marriage and childbearing by five years.

    Even though some countries with high fertility and low development exhibit relatively high levels of economic growth, the growth has not improved the living standards of most people, due to disparity of wealth. Until these countries have more substantial reductions in fertility and complete a demographic transition, the opportunity for a demographic dividend will be delayed for decades. doclink

    Energy Cost Impacts on American Families, 2001-2012

    June 20, 2012, EIA

    In 2010, the median household income of U.S. families was a little under $50,000. In 2001, families with gross annual incomes below $50,000 spent an average of 12% of their average after-tax income on residential and transportation energy. By 2005, energy costs rose to 16% and in 2012, that number is expected to be 21%.

    Family incomes have not kept pace with the rising costs of energy. Since 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that real (inflation-adjusted) median household income has declined by 6% (from $52,823) and is 7% below the median household income peak ($53,252) that occurred in 1999.

    The number of people in poverty in 2010 was the largest number in the 52 years since the Census Bureau began to publish poverty statistics. Poverty is more prevalent among some minority groups. Some 27% of Blacks and 26% of Hispanics lived in poverty in 2010, compared with 15% for the overall population.

    Higher gasoline prices account for nearly 80% of the increased cost of energy for consumers since 2001. Average U.S. household expenditures for gasoline will grow by 136% from 2001 to 2012 while residential energy costs for heating, cooling, and other household energy services will increase on average by 43%.

    Electricity prices have increased by only 51% in nominal dollars since 1990, well below the 72% rate of inflation in the Consumer Price Index. The nominal prices of residential natural gas and gasoline have nearly doubled and tripled, respectively, over this period.

    Because energy represents a larger portion of poorer families' household budgets, energy consumes c20% or more of the household incomes of lower- and middle-income families, reducing the amount of income that can be spent on food, housing, health care, and other necessities.

    In 2010, 62% of Hispanic households and 68% of Black households had average annual incomes below $50,000, compared with 46% of white households and 39% of Asian households.

    In 2010, the median gross income of 25.4 million households with a principal householder aged 65 or older was $31,408, 36% below the national median household income.

    The 60 million households earning less than $50,000 - representing 50.4% of U.S. households - will devote an estimated 21% of their after-tax incomes to energy, compared with 9% for households with annual incomes above $50,000. For the 28 million lower-income families with incomes between $10,000 and $30,000, energy expenditures will consume 24% of average after-tax incomes, compared with 14% in 2001. doclink

    Nagorno-Karabakh: The National Womb

    December 10, 2011, New York Times

    Nagorno-Karabakh is a disputed region in the southern Caucasus which has suffered a devastating war. It's government in 2008 introduced a birth encouragement program to replace the population. Each newlywed couple gets about $780 at their wedding. For each newborn, newlyweds get cash payments. Families with six or more children under 18 are given a house.

    The conflict started in 1988 and escalated in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. Nagorno-Karabakh's ethnic Armenians, with backing from neighboring Armenia, fought Azerbaijan. 65,000 ethnic Armenians and 40,000 ethnic Azeris were displaced. The Muslim Azeri population never returned, and neither did many of the Armenians who had fled. A cease-fire was declared in May 1994 and on Sept. 2, Nagorno-Karabakh celebrated 20 years of independence, though it remains unrecognized by the international community.

    Unemployment is high in the area, salaries are low, opportunities are few; the young continue to leave in search of better futures abroad. The average monthly salary is $50.

    In a region as economically deprived as Nagorno-Karabakh, is the solution simply to increase the birthrate? Without first improving education, infrastructure and employment opportunities for future generations, and raising the standard of living, the children of today's baby boom may grow up to leave in search of better lives abroad, just like the youths of today. doclink

    U.S.: Knocked Up and Knocked Down; Why America's Widening Fertility Class Divide is a Problem

    September 26, 2011, Slate Magazine

    Two new studies bring the contrasting reproductive profiles of rich and poor U.S. women into sharp relief.

    Childlessness has increased across most demographic groups but is still highest among professionals. The Pew Research Center says about one quarter of all women with bachelor's degrees and higher in the United States wind up childless. This is higher than in England, where 22% of all women are childless.

    At the same time, the numbers of both unplanned pregnancies and births among poor women have climbed steadily in recent years. About half of all pregnancies in this country are unplanned, with poor women now five times more likely than higher-income women to have an unplanned pregnancy, and six times more likely to have an unplanned birth, according to the Guttmacher Institute's analysis.

    Women with unplanned pregnancies are more likely to smoke, drink, and go without prenatal care. Their births are more likely to be premature. Their children are less likely to be breastfed, and more likely to be neglected and to have various physical and mental health effects. The very fact of having a child increases a woman's chances of being poor.

    The declining fertility of professional women highlights the extent to which our policies are deeply unfriendly to parents. Europe has policies designed to make it easier to simultaneously work and parent, yet here, because our overall birthrate is robust, we have no national paid leave law in place and no decent childcare system.

    The Center for Work-Life Policy report says that professional parents are working longer and harder, shouldering new responsibilities for aging parents, and striving overtime to provide their children with all that they, in many cases, had lacked-a smooth path of success and both parents by their side. The costs are steep and include anxiety and exhaustion.

    Poorer women are having more unintended pregnancies. Only about 40% of women who needed publicly funded family planning services between 2000 and 2008 got them, according to the Guttmacher Institute. During that same period, as employment levels and the number of employers offering health insurance went down, the number of women who needed these services increased by more than 1 million.

    With growing poverty rates and political attacks on already inadequate family-planning funding threatening to drive the number of unintended pregnancies among poor women even higher, and little effort being made to address the pressures driving other women away from having kids, the gap between professionals and poor women could widen. Still, both are struggling with the same problem: an untenable "choice" between children and financial solvency. doclink

    The Price is Right: How the World Can Buy Its Way Out of Poverty for Just $100 Billion.

    July 18, 2011, Foreign Policy

    With the number of people on the planet now approaching 7 billion there are monumental challenges entailed in the task of caring for such an enormous human family. Among those challenges was "ending poverty," said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement, one whose resolution would "unleash ... vast human potential."

    The usual definition of "absolute" poverty is an income of less than $1.25 a day. Fortunately there are already a lot fewer poor people living at that level of destitution than there used to be, less than half as many as there were 20 years ago. There were around 1.8 billion people worldwide living on less than $1.25 a day in the early 1990s; 1.3 billion people in 2005 and 900 million in 2010, according to Laurence Chandy and Geoffrey Gertz at the Brookings Institution, who suggest that if we could accurately and directly supplement the income of each poor person in the world to bring his or her daily income up to $1.25, it would have cost $96 billion in 2005 and only $66 billion by 2010.

    Martin Ravallion of the World Bank argues that the majority of countries with an average income above $4,000 could end domestic absolute poverty through a tax on those earning more than $13 a day in the country. For countries with healthy, growing economies, this tax will shrink.

    Countries with average incomes under $4,000 were home to about three-quarters of all those living on less than $1.25 a day six years ago, according to the World Bank, accounting for as much as 90% of the "income gap": the money required to lift poor people up to the $1.25 mark. This would leave the annual global cost of eliminating absolute poverty in countries too poor to deal with it themselves at about $59 billion, or less than the annual budget of New York City.

    Chandy and Gertz suggest that by 2015 there may only be 586 million people living below $1.25 a day, suggesting that the annual cost of eliminating poverty in poor countries could be only $40 billion in four years' time. By that time, too, more countries will be rich enough to handle poverty on their own, and the income gap will have fallen further, meaning that the actual number could be even less.

    But to make this work we need to be able to identify the world's poorest, work out exactly how poor they are, and deliver them the right amount of money to get them to $1.25 a day. We can't. Even the best income surveys are inaccurate, and enough people cycle in and out of absolute poverty that it would be an impossible task to precisely track and target them over time.

    Economists Lant Pritchett and Deon Filmer found that tracking people's ownership of 23 different assets -- bicycles, land, and flush toilets among them -- was a very reliable guide to their affluence or lack thereof.

    In Bangladesh, a cash-transfer program - designed to target families in the bottom 40% of the country's population with cash transfers - kicks in if families meet one of only a few criteria for eligibility: working as day laborers, as sharecroppers, or in one of a few low-paid occupations such as fishing or weaving; belonging to a female-headed household; or owning less than half an acre of land.

    Bangladeshi also has a Primary Education Stipend given to parents of 4.8 million children from deprived households in return for sending their kids to school, at a rate of about $1.76 per child per month.

    Six national banks disburse funds to parents with bank-issued identity cards at temporary distribution points set up within a maximum of five kilometers from each school. A study by the International Food Policy Research Institute suggests that even a very poor and very populous country can operate a large-scale targeted cash-transfer mechanism.

    Based on the Bangladeshi experience, it's safe to assume that the real price tag of ending absolute poverty in poor countries by 2015 would be a lot higher than the theoretical cost of $40 billion. But it's hard to imagine even a relatively inefficient, bureaucratic, and poorly targeted cash-payment-based program exceeding $100 billion.

    Many rich countries have been wary of any commitment to increase assistance. But perhaps they could all agree to an additional one-quarter of 1% of their GDP going directly to the planet's poorest? For a measure that could end absolute poverty worldwide, it hardly seems like too much to ask. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: I have to admit that I have been skeptical of our being able to lift the world out of poverty, but this article is very convincing. We still have the obstacle of high food and water prices, and possibly peak oil, to contend with, as well as economic bubbles still to burst, but this would be a step in the right direction. The one question that comes to mind is: will this additional income to the world's poor result in even more births or will this enable people to have smaller families?

    Growing World Population Needs Investment in Women, Youth


    The UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, came out with a new report saying the population will soon reach 7 billion people and that greater investments in women's empowerment, young people and reproductive health are critical for a livable planet.

    World population will reach 7 billion in late October 2011, only 12 years after hitting 6 billion in 1999.

    Most of the increase is occurring in the developing world, where 215 million women would like to limit their family size but have little or no access to modern family planning. Many women lack the power to overcome traditional practices or family opposition to using it, the report said.

    "When girls are educated, healthy and can avoid child marriage, unintended pregnancy and HIV, they can contribute fully to their societies' battles against poverty," said Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA executive director. "Empowering women and girls starts with improved access to reproductive health care and family planning."

    In the world's 48 poorest countries, where population is expected to double by 2050, 60% of the people are under age 25. There "Too many teenage girls become mothers, too many die giving birth, too many drop out of school, too many are abused and discriminated against in their daily lives."

    Rapid population growth is already straining less-developed countries' capacity to provide essential services such as health, education, transportation and sanitation, and young peoples' lives and productivity suffer accordingly, the report said. doclink

    Madagascar: A Poor Country Gets Poorer

    March 18, 2011, IRIN News (UN)

    Madagascar, one of the world's poorest countries, has lost about US$400 million in donor support since the March 2009 coup in which Andry Rajoelina deposed President Marc Ravalomanana.

    Donor money traditionally contributed about half the government's budget, and around 70% of public spending, making it "by far, the main source of funding in social sectors", according to the a World Bank report.

    The political crisis, now in its third year, remains unresolved, preventing donors from reviewing their decision to freeze all aid apart from emergency funding. The African Union and the Southern African Development Community, the regional body, also cannot reinstate trade benefits and lift sanctions.

    There has been, however, increased humanitarian assistance for education, health and social protection, rising to $260 million in 2010 from a pre-crisis amount of $180 million. Infrastructure, productive activities and institutional support had experienced the steepest decline in funding.

    According to UNICEF, government funding for health dropped to $2 a head in 2010, its lowest level, compared to $5 in 2009 and $8 in 2008.

    Another survey from WHO, UNICEF, and UNFPA found assisted births fell from 51% in 2006 to 44% in 2009, and more than half the people living in the drought-prone south reported that financial difficulties prevented them from visiting clinics.

    Using a $230 individual annual income benchmark as the poverty line, Madagascar's National Institute of Statistics INSTAT reported that nationwide poverty increased from 69% in 2005 to 76% in 2010, while rural poverty rose from 73% to 82%. A rising income disparity between urban and rural populations was highlighted. 80% of the 20 million population live in rural areas.

    "When you think that the years before the crisis were growth years, this shows poverty has increased by nine percent in just two years, which is directly attributable to the domestic political crisis and compounded by the global economic crisis," said the head of a leading international institution in Madagascar, who declined to be named.

    The government has attempted to fix the price of rice, and petrol, but "The government can't keep prices down by decree forever, it doesn't have deep enough pockets to absorb very fast commodity price rises on the international market," said, Madagascar analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit.

    In addition, northeastern Madagascar was hit by a cyclone in February , causing extensive damage to crops, which is likely to deepen food insecurity and hit cash-crop production.

    UNICEF said each year more than 70,000 Malagasy children died before the age of five from preventable diseases, including diarrhoea, acute respiratory infections and malaria. doclink

    Population Growth Key Barrier in Achieving MDGs

    September 21, 2010, The New Nation

    Leading economists, educators, health and environment experts and development planners have identified the uncontrolled growth of population as the number one problem in achieving the country's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

    They warned that all the development achievements would be gobbled up due to the increased population and the real development would not be possible without bringing down the size of the population to a tolerable level.

    If the population explosion is not declared as a number one problem, no development programme can be achieved. There would be no necessary allocation and resources to deal with population control in the country.

    Environmental sustainability cannot be achieved due to increase of population and impact of climate change.

    There is a lack of quality standard in the statistics of indicators of the goal and the need for reducing the number of dropouts from primary and high school levels.

    Donors did not give necessary funds to achieve the MDGs and did not take initiative to increase market access to the developed countries.

    The number of institutions has increased but access to health and education has been reduced.

    There is large scale malnutrition among the children, not only in the poor people but also in those who are not poor.

    There is a lack of employment.

    Breastfeeding, nutrition and immunization should be ensured for neonatal children to meet the MDG4 by the UN set time 2015.

    There is a need for imparting proper training to doctors, nurses and midwives to reduce pre, during, and post delivery maternal mortality.

    Health targets could not be achieved unless 'wash' is incorporated as an integral part of health and development.

    Bangladesh could not progress much in MDG attainment due not only because of poor allocation to the sector but also for high disparity among poor and the rich.

    Bangladesh should pay proper attention in reducing high rate of population growth apart from striving to attain Millennium Developments Goals (MDG). However, Bangladesh did receive a UN award for its remarkable achievements in attaining the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly in reducing child mortality. doclink

    Kenya: What Should Be Done About the World's Population Explosion?

    September 22, 2010, The East African

    Half of Kenya's population is aged 25 years and below and it is experiencing population explosion. What should be done?

    Demographic growth is interlinked with poverty and environment that gets ignored whenever leaders meet.

    Campaigners on population issues acknowledge that poverty and environmental damage can have complex causes. A surge in population in some well-documented cases has helped catapult a country to prosperity.

    But, relentless population pressure is common to many of the problems besetting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), up for review in New York. In poor countries, unbraked demographic growth adds to strain on infrastructure, health and educational resources, amplifies the risk of environmental damage and boosts exposure to climate change.

    Even if countries reduce the proportion of people living in poverty, the number grows simply because of massive population growth.

    If you have a population growing at 3% a year, it is doubling every 23, 24 years or so.

    One example is Kenya, where the population in 2009 stood at 38.6 million, an increase of around 10 million since 1999. Less than a third of Kenyans have piped water and three-quarters have no means of sanitation.

    Since the MDGs were drawn up in 2000, the world's population has expanded from 6.0 to 6.8 billion, 95% in poorer countries. By 2050, the total is likely to be more than nine billion, according to UN estimates.

    Providing these extra souls with housing, water, electricity, sewerage, hospitals and schooling is going to be a mighty challenge, 227 million people had escaped slums in the past decade -- but the overall people living in slums had increased, from 776.7 million to 827.6 million. Half of the rise was due to population increase in existing slums, and a quarter to rural exodus. doclink

    Data Highlights on Poverty and Population

    Earth Policy Institute

    World population has increased from 2.5 billion in 1950 to a projected 6.8 billion in 2009 and, and according to the UNFPA, is projected to grow to 9.2 billion, medium projection, or 10.5 billion, high projection, in 2050. Their high projection takes the world to 10.5 billion in 2050. Their low projection is just over 8 billion, peaking in 2042.

    Life expectancies around the world have increased from an average of 47 years in the mid-twentieth century to 68 years today. While life expectancy in 1950 hovered around 40 years in both Sub- Saharan Africa and Asia, it has since increased far more rapidly in Asia, reaching 69 years, compared to 51 years in Sub-Saharan Africa. On a regional basis, the United States and Canada top the world with an average life expectancy of 79 years.

    In low-income countries, 18% of deaths are caused by infectious or parasitic diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and diarrheal diseases. Such diseases cause only 2.5% of deaths in high-income countries.

    The number of polio cases worldwide has dropped from close to 400,000 in 1987 to fewer than 2,000 in 2008, an international vaccine campaign.

    China and India, the two most populous countries in the world, have experienced significant economic growth over the past several decades. India's gross domestic product (GDP) of $363 per person was just about the same as China's in 1990, but since then, China's per capita GDP has grown 10-fold, while India's has grown only 3-fold.

    Poverty rates in China have declined significantly, from 60% of the population in 1990 to 16% in 2007. Brazil has reduced poverty rates from 15% to 5% over the same period. India's poverty rate has declined from slightly over half the population in 1990 to 42% in 2007. Sub-Saharan Africa's poverty rates have declined from 58% to 51% over the same period.

    While there have been some successes in the fight to reduce poverty and improve quality of life around the world, many challenges remain, particularly in the face of continuing population growth. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: I expect that there is some lag time between the optimistic figures given in this article and the effects of the current recession. Friends in Nepal and Ethiopia are complaining about the fast rising prices of food and fuel.

    The Population-Poverty Connection

    June 29, 2010, Earth Policy Institute

    The United Nations set a goal of reducing the share of the world's population living in extreme poverty by half by 2015. By early 2007 the world would have to intensify its poverty reduction effort.

    China is the big success story. The number of Chinese living in extreme poverty dropped from 685 million in 1990 to 213 million in 2007. With little growth in its population, the share of people living in poverty in China dropped from 60% to 16%.

    India's progress is mixed. Between 1990 and 2007, the number of Indians living in poverty increased slightly from 466 million to 489 million while the share living in poverty dropped from 51% to 42%. Despite its economic growth, averaging 9% a year for the last four years, India still has a long way to go.

    Brazil has succeeded in reducing poverty with its Bolsa Familia program, that offers poor mothers up to $35 a month if they keep their children in school, have them vaccinated, and make sure they get regular physical checkups. Between 1990 and 2007, the share of the population living in extreme poverty dropped from 15% to 5%. It has in the last five years raised incomes among the poor by 22%, while incomes among the rich rose by only 5%.

    Several countries in Southeast Asia have made gains including Thailand, Viet Nam, and Indonesia. The World Bank reported that all regions of the developing world with the notable exception of sub-Saharan Africa were on track to cut the proportion of people living in extreme poverty in half by 2015. But between 2005 and 2008 the incidence of poverty increased in East Asia, the Middle East, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa largely because of higher food prices.

    This was compounded by the global economic crisis that expanded the ranks of the unemployed at home and reduced the flow of remittances from family members working abroad. The number of extremely poor-people living on less than $1.25 a day-increased by at least 130 million. Higher food prices during 2008 may have increased the number of children suffering permanent cognitive and physical injury caused by malnutrition by 44 million."

    Sub-Saharan Africa, with 820 million people, is sliding deeper into poverty. Hunger, illiteracy, and disease are partly offsetting the gains in countries like China and Brazil. The failing states as a group are also backsliding; an interregional tally of the Bank's fragile states is not encouraging since extreme poverty in these countries is over 50% higher than in 1990.

    Other MDGs adopted in 2000 include reducing the share of those who are hungry by half, achieving universal primary school education, halving the share of people without access to safe drinking water, and reversing the spread of infectious diseases. Closely related to these are the goals of reducing maternal mortality by three fourths and under-five child mortality by two thirds.

    On the food front, the number of hungry is climbing. The decline in the number of hungry and malnourished that occured 1950 - 1990 was reversed in the mid-1990s-rising from 825 million to roughly 850 million in 2000 and to over 1 billion in 2009. A number of factors contributed to this, but none more important than the massive diversion of grain to fuel ethanol distilleries. The U.S. grain used to produce fuel for cars in 2009 would feed 340 million people for one year.

    The goal of halving the share of hungry by 2015 is not within reach if we continue with business as usual. The number of children with a primary school education does appear to be on the rise, but with much of the progress concentrated in a handful of larger countries, including India, Bangladesh, and Brazil.

    The United Nations omitted any population or family planning goals, even though as a January 2007 report from the U.K. All Party Parliamentary Group pointed out, "the MDGs are difficult or impossible to achieve with current levels of population growth in the least developed countries and regions."

    Countries everywhere have little choice but to strive for an average of two children per couple. There is no feasible alternative. Any population that increases indefinitely will outgrow its natural life support systems. Any that decreases continually over the long term will eventually disappear.

    In an increasingly integrated world with a lengthening list of failing states, eradicating poverty and stabilizing population have become national security issues. Slowing population growth helps eradicate poverty and its distressing symptoms, and, conversely, eradicating poverty helps slow population growth. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: I have been saying this all along, poverty reduction will have to come after smaller families and reduction of population growth. While Thailand has been cited as successful, the poverty of its hilltribe population is great, with many infants dying of malaria, intestinal problems, and pneumonia. Even mosquito nets would be a big help to the hilltribes, but the Thais do little to help them.

    Passport to Ghana: Keys to Lasting Development

    June 30, 2009, Population Action International

    On June 30, in advance of President Obama's trip to Ghana to explore strategies to promote "lasting development" in the region, Population Action International (PAI) told the press about the development challenges facing Ghana, including access to reproductive health supplies, HIV prevention and the relationship between population dynamics and civil conflict.

    Ghana's fertility rate of 4.4, unchanged since 1998, is among the lowest in the region. Since independence in 1957, Ghana has maintained peace, since its independence in 1957, in a volatile region, with the latest democratic transition of power occurring between late 2008 and early 2009.

    However, the unmet need for family planning among married women ages 15-49 is high at 34%. Education and employment for growing numbers of young people is a pressing priority. Ghana is in the "high risk" category for women's sexual and reproductive health. The maternal mortality ratio (MMR), while comparatively low for a West African country, is very high by global standards at 560 deaths per 100,000 births.

    PAI said that "achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and Ghana's own development goals, will depend on fulfilling the country's high rate of unmet need for family planning." doclink

    Haiti: Pregnant (Again) and Poor

    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 heal

    Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?

    April 22, 2009, Scientific American

    The idea that civilization could disintegrate seems preposterous, but global agricultural, population, environmental and economic trends and their interactions and the political tensions they generate point to the breakdown of governments and societies.

    Our continuing failure to deal with the environmental declines that are undermining the world food economy is most important: falling water tables, eroding soils and rising temperatures force me to conclude that such a collapse is possible.

    In six of the past nine years world grain production has fallen short of consumption, forcing a drawdown in stocks. When the 2008 harvest began, world stocks of grain were at 62 days of consumption. In response, world grain prices climbed to the highest level ever.

    As demand for food rises faster than supplies are growing, the resulting food-price inflation puts severe stress on the governments of countries teetering on the edge of chaos. Unable to buy grain or grow their own, hungry people take to the streets. Many of their problems stem from a failure to slow the growth of their populations. But if the food situation continues to deteriorate, entire nations will break down at an ever increasing rate. In the 20th century the main threat to international security was superpower conflict; today it is failing states.

    States fail when national governments can no longer provide personal security, food security and basic social services such as education and health care. When governments lose their monopoly on power, law and order begin to disintegrate.

    After a point, countries can become so dangerous that food relief workers are no longer safe and their programs are halted. Failing states are a source of terrorists, drugs, weapons and refugees, threatening political stability everywhere.

    Our civilization depends on a functioning network of politically healthy nation-states to control the spread of infectious disease, to manage the international monetary system, to control international terrorism and to reach scores of other common goals. If enough states disintegrate, their fall will threaten the stability of global civilization itself.

    During the second half of the 20th century, grain prices rose dramatically several times. Prices typically returned to normal with the next harvest.

    The recent surge in world grain prices is trend-driven, making it unlikely to reverse without a reversal in the trends themselves. On the demand side, those trends include the ongoing addition of more than 70 million people a year; a growing number of people wanting to consume highly grain-intensive livestock products; and the massive diversion of U.S. grain to ethanol-fuel distilleries.

    The extra demand for grain associated with rising affluence varies widely among countries. People in low-income countries where grain supplies 60% of calories, such as India, directly consume a bit more than a pound of grain a day. In affluent countries such as the U.S. and Canada, grain consumption per person is nearly four times that much, though perhaps 90% of it is consumed indirectly as meat, milk and eggs from grain-fed animals.

    The potential for further grain consumption as incomes rise among low-income consumers is huge. But that potential pales beside the insatiable demand for crop-based automotive fuels. A fourth of this year's U.S. grain harvest, enough to feed 125 million Americans or half a billion Indians, will go to fuel cars. The grain required for 25-gallons with ethanol could feed one person for a year.

    That double demand is leading to competition between cars and people for the grain supply and a political and moral issue of unprecedented dimensions.

    The spread of water shortages poses the most immediate threat. The biggest challenge here is irrigation, which consumes 70% of the world's freshwater. Millions of irrigation wells are pumping water out of underground sources faster than rainfall can recharge them.

    Aquifers are replenishable, but some of the most important ones are not: the fossil aquifers, store ancient water and are not recharged by precipitation. These including the vast Ogallala Aquifer that underlies the U.S. Great Plains, the Saudi aquifer and the deep aquifer under the North China Plain. Depletion would spell the end of pumping and agriculture. As water tables have fallen and irrigation wells have gone dry, China's wheat crop, the world's largest, has declined by 8% since it peaked at 123 million tons in 1997. China's rice production dropped 4%.

    In India, the margin between food consumption and survival is more precarious. Half of India's traditional hand-dug wells and millions of shallower tube wells have dried up, bringing a spate of suicides among those who rely on them. Electricity blackouts are reaching epidemic proportions in states where half of the electricity is used to pump water from depths of up to a kilometer [3,300 feet].

    A study reports that 15% of India's food supply is produced by mining groundwater. Over 175 million Indians consume grain produced with water from wells that will soon be exhausted. The shrinking of water supplies could lead to unmanageable food shortages and social conflict.

    Topsoil is eroding faster than new soil forms on perhaps a third of the world's cropland. In 2002 a U.N. team assessed the food situation in Lesotho, The finding was straightforward: "agriculture in Lesotho faces a catastrophic future; crop production is declining and could cease altogether over large tracts of the country if steps are not taken to reverse soil erosion, degradation and the decline in soil fertility.

    Haiti, one of the first states to be recognized as failin, was largely self-sufficient in grain 40 years ago. In the years since, though, it has lost nearly all its forests and much of its topsoil, forcing the country to import more than half of its grain.

    The third threat to food security is rising surface temperatures. In many countries crops are grown at or near their thermal optimum, so even a minor temperature rise during the growing season can shrink the harvest. For every rise of 1C, 1.8F above the norm, wheat, rice and corn yields fall by 10%.

    As the world's food security unravels, individual countries acting in their self-interest are worsening the plight of the many. The trend began in 2007, when leading wheat-exporting countries such as Russia and Argentina limited or banned their exports, in hopes of increasing locally available food supplies and bringing down food prices domestically. Vietnam banned its exports for several months for the same reason. Such moves are creating panic in importing countries that must rely on what is then left of the world's exportable grain.

    The Philippines recently negotiated a three-year deal with Vietnam for a guaranteed 1.5 million tons of rice each year. In spite of such measures, soaring food prices and spreading hunger are beginning to break down the social order. In several provinces of Thailand rice rustlers have forced villagers to guard their rice fields at night with loaded shotguns. In Pakistan an armed soldier escorts each grain truck.

    U.S. consumers will share their grain with Chinese consumers, no matter how high food prices rise.

    Similar in scale and urgency to the U.S. mobilization for World War II, Plan B has four components: cut carbon emissions by 80% from their 2006 levels by 2020; the stabilization of the world's population at eight billion by 2040; the eradication of poverty; and the restoration of forests, soils and aquifers.

    We must ban deforestation worldwide, as several countries already have done, and plant billions of trees to sequester carbon. The transition from fossil fuels to renewable forms of energy can be driven by imposing a tax on carbon, while offsetting it with a reduction in income taxes.

    Stabilizing population and eradicating poverty go hand in hand. The key to accelerating the shift to smaller families is eradicating poverty. One way is to ensure at least a primary school education for all children, girls as well as boys. Another is to provide rudimentary, village-level health care, so that people can be confident that their children will survive to adulthood. Women everywhere need access to family-planning services.

    The fourth component, restoring the earth's natural systems and resources, incorporates a worldwide initiative to arrest the fall in water tables by raising water productivity: the useful activity that can be wrung from each drop. That implies shifting to more efficient irrigation systems and to more water-efficient crops. In some countries, it implies growing (and eating) more wheat and less rice, a water-intensive crop. And for industries and cities, it implies doing what some are doing already, namely, continuously recycling water.

    We must launch a worldwide effort to conserve soil, terracing the ground, planting trees as shelter belts against windblown soil erosion, and practicing minimum tillage in which the soil is not plowed and crop residues are left on the field, are among the most important soil-conservation measures.

    Meeting these goals may be necessary to prevent the collapse of our civilization. Yet the cost would amount to less than $200 billion a year, a sixth of current global military spending.

    Our challenge is to do it quickly. The world is in a race between political tipping points and natural ones. Can we stabilize population before countries such as India, Pakistan and Yemen are overwhelmed by shortages of the water they need to irrigate their crops?

    It is hard to overstate the urgency of our predicament. We desperately need a new way of thinking, a new mind-set. The thinking that got us into this bind will not get us out. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: this article has some excellent points. However, I do not believe that we can accelerate the shift to smaller families by eradicating poverty. We can provide basic health care, education, womens empowerment, and infant survival, and perhaps some food security, but beyond that, improving a 'comfortable' life may beyond the capacity of this planet. At any rate, having smaller families is a prerequisite for eradicating poverty.

    Asia Must Preserve MDG Gains, Include Poor in Future Growth: ADB

    May 4, 2009, Asia Pulse

    The economic crisis threatens to reverse progress in poverty reduction and governments must do what they can to ensure those gains are not lost.

    The target year is (2015) for accomplishing the eight MDGs. Asia has made strong progress to cutting extreme poverty in half by 2015. However, the economic crisis threatens to slow the pace of further reduction.

    GDP growth in 2009 for developing Asia will be 6% lower than in 2007 and 3% lower than in 2008. As a result, around 60 million people will be stuck below the US$1.25 poverty line.

    Prospects for the achievement of non-poverty related development goals look increasingly bleak. Many countries remain off-track on primary school completion rates, and access to water.

    Questions have been raised whether infrastructure alone can cushion the harsh economic impacts of the crisis. Social service programs such as health care and education, should not be crowded out by infrastructure programs. doclink

    Uganda Blackouts 'Fuel Baby Boom'

    March 11, 2009, BBC News

    Uganda's Planning Minister has got it wrong. It is population growth that is causing the blackouts, not the other way around. Uganda's HEP dams cannot cope with the growing demand for electricity. The government doesn't have the revenue to pay for the infrastructure, despite Uganda having perhaps most effective tax-collecting services in Africa.

    Uganda's population explosion is being fuelled by electricity shortages which lead couples to go to bed early, a minister has said.

    More than 90% of Ugandans are without reliable access to electricity.

    Uganda's annual population growth rate is one of the highest in the world at 3.4%. Mr Kamuntu said this was a major reason why Ugandan living standards remained low. He said that improved electricity infrastructure is needed to keep lovers out of bed.

    Widening access to power would also help increase the efficiency in the country's agricultural sector he said.

    Ordinary Ugandans were not convinced that turning off of the lights is what is turning on the nation's couples. "It's because of poverty," said one. "Personally I think it's all about birth control," said another. "People don't use contraceptives. doclink

    Letter to Andrew Revkin's Blog at the New York Times

    New York Times*

    The single biggest problem is global inequality. A "fortress" world is evolving before our eyes. Outside the fortress live people in Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Darfur. So do many tribal and minority populations. The very poorest of the global population is almost silent.

    The FAO estimated that the number of people living with daily hunger is now almost one billion people. These people do not consume enough calories to work hard. Almost all of the very poor will also have been deficient in micronutrients since conception. They lack education, and lack the capacity to learn well, due not only to tiredness, but to brain damage because of chronic nutrient deficiency.

    These people have the lowest control over their fertility. They have the highest birthrates, and the lowest life expectancy. It is likely that hundreds of millions of these additional people will remain locked in intractable poverty.

    If the US administration can transfer some of its immense military spending towards a global campaign of hope not only for the poor but for the world as a whole. Could it not be that the pirates of Somalia, the oil raiders of Ogoniland, and even many suicide bombers are the forerunners of people attacking those within the fortress? doclink

    More Afghans Call Big Families An Unaffordable Ideal; Country's Child-bearing Couples Must Balance Centuries of Tradition with Bleak Economic Prospect

    Newark Star-Ledger

    Many Afghan couples are weighing the tradition of large families against the financial realities. Particularly in rural areas where up to half the population lives in poverty and parents depend on children to help tend the crops and livestock.

    People once had 10 or 12 children, but now it's down to four or five. Money is a big problem.

    A lower birth rate would mark a tremendous shift in Afghanistan. The medical professionals say new health facilities and access to family planning services have contributed to a lower birth rate.

    People are poor here, families are leaving and many of the younger men go outside of the country to find work.

    Shortages of water and electricity complicate matters, and there is just one rutted dirt road linking the region with the rest of the country.

    While some parents hold lofty ambitions for their children, many youngsters have limited educational opportunities. Few parents can afford to send their children to the provincial capital to continue studies.

    Conservative views in this deeply religious community often dictate family size.

    Most of the people believe the number of children they have is dependent on God's will. A UNFPA report warned that the country's rate of population growth will more than double future demand for water and land. Easing population growth would allow the Afghan government to direct more attention to improving services for children's health and education.

    Ironically, increased numbers of medical facilities and physicians in rural areas throughout the country in recent years are prolonging the lives of Afghans to 47 years.

    "They're expensive," a wheat farmer, said of his four children: "But I still want more." doclink

    Pakistan: Equal Share in Land, Property for Women Urged

    November 7, 2008, The Nation (Pakistan)

    Aqsa Khan, Manager Human Rights ActionAid, said that the organisation is set to highlight the miseries of Pakistani women who are deprived of basic human rights including the right to land and share in property.

    She argued that the worst impact was on the third world where masses are prone to starvation and drought. The people in the rural areas are living in miserable conditions below the poverty line.

    Poor in rural areas are forced to sell their children, while women are committing suicides and parents have withdrawn their children from school, on account of their inability to pay school dues.

    The rate of flour is Rs 1200 per forty kilograms while rice is being sold at Rs 120/kg in those areas. These are beyond the reach of poor people, the participation of women alongside men is the need of the hour. The dominance of influential feudal lots in rural areas has suppressed the rural women.

    Among the most underprivileged and deprived areas that are suffering from scarcity of food include the constituency of the Minister of Agriculture. ActionAids journey across Pakistan has received success and villagers have given them a warm welcome everywhere. Poor masses realise that they need to encourage the equal participation of women. ActionAid has formed a charter regarding womens rights including equality of right to land, allotment of minimum 8 acres per family to local peasants and agriculture workers, limitation of private landholdings and progressively-scaled agricultural income tax. doclink

    Vietnam Makes All Efforts to Accomplish MDGs

    April 5, 2008, Nhan Dan

    The Vietnamese Government will continue with its pro-poor policy and strive for a more secured life for all citizens.`

    Vietnam localised 8 MDGs into 12 Vietnam Development Goals. The poverty rate has reduced from 58.1% in 1993 to 14.7% in 2007. Over 99% of 6-year olds go to primary schools, and Vietnam will achieve MDG-2 during the 2010-2015 period.

    The gender gap at all levels of education has been narrowed and the role of women in all spheres of society has increased.

    Vietnam remains the leader in Asia in terms of female parliamentarian membership and will fulfill MDG-3 before 2015. As of 2007, Vietnam reduced the rates of maternal and child mortality among the under-5s. The Rates of malaria mortality also decreased during the 1995-2004 period meaning Vietnam now relatively effectively has control of the disease.

    However, with the rapid spread and complicated development of HIV/AIDS, Vietnam is facing the risk of failing MDG-6. There has been an increase in the rates of access to clean water supply by the rural population and improvement in urban waste collection.

    Developed countries must implement their commitments to the goals which include facilitating trade, allocating 0.7% of GNP to development assistance and reducing or eliminating debts for developing countries.

    MDGs approved at the World Summit include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership for development. doclink

    Why Botswana's Children Are Dying

    June 26, 2007, Guardian (London)

    Botswana is unlikely to achieve the UN's fourth Millennium Development Goal of decreasing child mortality rates by two-thirds by 2015.

    A 2001 report indicates that in 1991, infant mortality stood at 48 deaths per 1,000 live births. This increased to 56 per 1,000 live births by 2001. Over the same period, under-five mortality increased from 63 to 74 deaths per 1,000 live births.

    The figures for the under-five mortality rate rose from 58 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 116 in 2004. The high prevalence of HIV/Aids is one of the factors. The link is being made between child mortality and the status of women. Women who bear the burden of child care are able to feed their children if they live in households with relatively high and stable incomes.

    Socio-economic status determines the choice in diets. Children from low-income households are sometimes forced to skip meals because there is not enough food in the house.

    At the current pace, it may be possible for Botswana to achieve the goal of reducing the mortality rate of children under five by two-thirds by 2015.

    The infant mortality rate is influenced by by poverty, malnutrition and female literacy. Women's lack of access to decision-making, employment, finance and education is at the root of infant mortality. Poor nutrition in girls, early sexual activity and teenage pregnancy all have consequences for these young mothers.

    Educated and empowered women are more likely to marry at an older age and to seek neonatal and postnatal care, all of which are crucial in reducing child and maternal mortality.

    On a continent where large numbers of women still live in rural areas and have limited access to health clinics or hospitals, community partnerships can be the most immediate means to better health.

    The important social status of traditional birthing assistants, or midwives, should be harnessed. Training of these professionals can provide rural women with safe pregnancies and deliveries, as well as access to family planning information and services. doclink

    MDGs -Africa's Progress Linked to Growth, Environment

    April 12, 2008, Africa News Service

    A World Bank report warns that most countries in Africa will fall short on meeting their Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.

    There has been strong growth in many countries, but in Sub-Saharan Africa, there could yet be progress in poverty reduction, the region is likely to fall short of halving extreme poverty by 2015.

    The report emphasizes that high commodity prices could complicate prospects in the region. Rising food and fuel prices lower the income causing poor people to eat less food, or cheaper, less nutritious food - a risk in poor countries such as Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and Zambia, which already have high under-five malnutrition and mortality rates.

    There is a reduction in the HIV prevalence rates in many countries, a steady increase in primary school enrollment, and an increase in measles vaccination from 50% in 1992 to 71% in 2006. The report calls for a redoubling of efforts in these and other areas to multiply successes in the region. Donors will need to deliver more quickly on aid commitments made at international summits.

    Reducing hunger and malnutrition has a 'multiplier' effect, contributing to success in other MDGs.

    Action on climate change may worsen food insecurity. Diseases like malaria and diarrhea are linked to environmental factors and climate change.

    A key concern is the ability of countries to meet targets for managing natural resources and controlling pollution. If a nation cannot provide clean drinking water and sanitation for the majority of its citizens, it will fail to meet most of the MDGs.

    To achieve the goals, a six-point agenda prioritizes strong, inclusive growth; more effective aid; a successful outcome of trade talks; more emphasis on strengthening programs in health, education and nutrition; and support for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

    Most countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are off track to halve poverty and hunger by 2015, but Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda are making progress to achieving the MDGs.

    Ethiopia's poverty count as of 2005 was 39%; in 2004, Zambia's was 68% and Sierra Leone 70%.

    Africa's economic growth has risen from 2.1% in the 1990s to an average 5.6% in 2003-07. Challenges are greatest in about 20 countries with low or negative growth, and include security, private sector growth opportunities, and building basic government capacity to put international aid to good use.

    Aid to Africa has risen in the form of debt relief. Overall aid climbed to over $40 billion in 2006, an increase of $6.9 billion over 2005 levels and $12.4 billion over 2004. Some countries have made progress in strategies for implementation. Good candidates for scaled-up aid include Burkina Faso, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Rwanda and Tanzania. Mali could use a moderate increase.

    Ten of the 11 countries with under-five mortality rates over 200 per 1,000 are in Sub-Saharan Africa, Angola and Sierra Leone. Only 2 of the 33 fragile states are on track to reduce under-five mortality by two-thirds by 2015.

    Malnutrition reduces school achievement and results in inferior abilities that persist through life. In rural Zimbabwe, childhood nutritional deficits due to civil war in the late 1970s and drought in 1982-84 led to an estimated 14% reduction in learning.

    In the region in 2006, only 45% births were attended by skilled personnel - an increase of 1% since 1992.

    Those living with HIV have declined by 1% since 2000.

    18 of 37 countries are not on track to achieve gender parity in education.

    80% of the countries show poor progress on improved sanitation and 44% of the population lacks access to clean water.

    In 2007, flows from multilateral development banks crossed $12 billion. Africa received 44% of these flows in 2007, up from 37% in 2000. doclink

    Poll Finds Most Americans Facing Serious Financial Challenges, Including Health Care Costs

    July 3, 2008, Kaiser Family Foundation

    The June Health Tracking Poll finds 59% of Americans reporting major financial issues as a result of the recent economic downturn. People are most likely to cite paying for gas as a serious problem (43%), followed by getting a well-paying job or a raise (27%) and paying for health care costs (25%), paying for food (19%),