World Population Awareness

Environmental Impacts from
Unsustainable Population Growth

The one process ongoing ... that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us.   E.O. Wilson doclink
since loading this page ...The world has added PEOPLE (2.8 /sec. net)
and lost acres of WILD LANDS (1.6 acres/sec)
  • Half of the world's wetlands were lost last century.
  • Logging and conversion have shrunk the world's forests by as much as half.
  • Some 9 percent of the world's tree species are at risk of extinction; tropical deforestation may exceed 130,000 square kilometers per year.
  • Fishing fleets are 40 percent larger than the ocean can sustain.
  • Nearly 70 percent of the world's major marine fish stocks are overfished or are being fished at their biological limit.
  • Soil degradation has affected two-thirds of the world's agricultural lands in the last 50 years.
  • Some 30 percent of the world's original forests have been converted to agriculture.
  • Since 1980, the global economy has tripled in size and population has grown by 30 percent to 6 billion people.
  • Dams, diversions or canals fragment almost 60 percent of the world's largest rivers.
  • Twenty percent of the world's freshwater fish are extinct, threatened or endangered.
  •   People and Ecosystems, the Fraying Web of Life March 2000, United Nations Development Programme doclink


    The Oceans

    Coral in Peril

       January 1999, National Geographic magazine

    In just the past few decades, pollution, overfishing, dense coastal
    development, and other forces have destroyed a tenth of the
    Earth's coral reefs and seriously degraded almost a third. At this
    rate, scientists warn, nearly three-quarters could lie in ruins. doclink

    Safeguarding the Health of Oceans

       March 25, 1999, World Watch Institute

    Seven out of 10 commercial fish species are fully or overexploited. The
    number of poisonous algal species identified by
    scientists has nearly tripled since 1984, increasing fish kills, beach
    closures, and economic losses. 80 percent of oceanic pollution originates on
    land. People obtain an average of 16 percent of their animal protein from
    fish. About 2 billion people-one third of humanity-live within 100
    kilometers of a coastline. Turning the Tide to Save
    Oceans - Citizens and Governments Build New Alliances

    After 60 Million Years of Extreme Living, Seabirds Are Crashing

    A new study finds that the world’s seabird populations have plummeted by almost 70% in just 60 years.
       September 22, 2015, Mail and Guardian   By: Jeremy Hance

    Seabirds have been around for sixty million years, and they are true survivalists: circumnavigating the globe without rest, diving more than 200 meters in treacherous seas for food, braving unpredictable weather and finding their way with few, if any, landmarks.

    But now seabirds seabird abundance has dropped 69.7% in only 60 years, according to a recent paper in PLOS ONE.

    Edd Hammill with Utah State University and co-author of the paper, noted: "What we should take away from this is that something is serious amiss in the oceans."

    Ben Lascelles, with Birdlife International, found the research alarming because the decline appeared practically indiscriminate, hitting a "large number of species across a number of families."

    Michelle Paleczny with the University of British Columbia and the Sea Around Us Project said: "When we see this magnitude of seabird decline, we can see there is something wrong with marine ecosystems. It gives us an idea of the overall impact we're having."

    There are nearly 350 species of seabirds worldwide. Living on both the open ocean and the shoreline, they face overfishing, drowning in fishing lines or nets, plastic pollution, invasive species like rats in nesting areas, oil and gas development and toxic pollution moving up the food chain. And then there is climate change and ocean acidification which threaten to flood nesting sites and disrupt food sources.

    Seabirds are about twice as likely as land-based birds to be threatened with extinction. Paleczny and Hammil's research found that the tern family has fallen by 85%, frigatebirds by 81%, petrels and shearwaters by 79%, and albatrosses by 69%.

    Lascelles said: "Increased efforts should be made to rid seabird colonies of invasive species, reduce bycatch in fisheries or the ensnaring of birds in fish nets, and setting up conservation areas."

    Paleczny also called for the creation of international marine protected areas to cover the wide ranges of seabirds.

    Currently, only 2% of the world's oceans are under some form of protection and less than half of those ban fishing altogether. In contrast, nearly 15% of the world's terrestrial landscape is protected.

    With so little of the ocean closed to fisheries - less than 1% - it's hardly shocking that many seabirds are suffering from overfishing.

    Hammill said the "most pressing issue" is plastic pollution. A paper released last month found that 90% of the world's seabirds likely have plastic in their stomachs.

    Seabirds continually mistake plastic for fish eggs, devouring large amounts. Plastic in animals' stomachs not only release deadly toxins, but can also lead to slow starvation by obstructing the animals' bowels. Birds even feed plastic bits to their young, killing their fledglings en masse.

    In the end, large-scale actions to help seabirds could also go a long way in cleaning-up our increasingly trashed marine ecosystems.

    "The oceans are still woefully under protected and fisheries need greater management and enforcement. All of these activities need investment and support of governments around the world to make them happen," Lascelles said. "These actions will build resilience in the seabird populations in the short term, which they need in the face of emerging threats such as climate change." doclink

    World Ocean Heartbeat Fading? 'Nasty' Signs North Atlantic Thermohaline Circulation is Weakening

       March 23, 2015, Robertscribbler

    Scientists call it Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). But we may as well think of it as the heartbeat of the world ocean system. And when that heartbeat begins to slow down, we'd best sit up and start paying attention:

    Near Greenland in the North Atlantic, salty, dense, ocean water issuing from the tropics along the Gulf Stream begins to cool. The heavier water, burdened with salt, sinks to the bottom in the North Atlantic. This drives a massive ocean conveyer belt, driving less oxygen rich bottom waters to the surface where they can be reinvigorated. It also drives this ocean revitalizing train of currents through every major corner of the world ocean.

    However, scientists have been warning policymakers for 30 years that this salt and heat driven (thermohaline) circulation could be disrupted, reducing oxygen levels throughout the whole ocean system, and greatly reducing the oceans' ability to support life and shifting one step closer to the nightmare ocean state called a Canfield Ocean.

    This disruption could be caused by warmer, salty water cooling and sinking in the North Atlantic. And any disruption of the overturning process in the North Atlantic basically kills off a life-giving circulation to the entire world ocean system.

    For details and graphs, click on the link in the headline. doclink

    Why Ocean Health is Better and Worse Than You Think

    The good news is the world’s oceans have not experienced the extinctions that have occurred on land. But as ecologist Douglas McCauley explains in a Yale Environment 360 interview, marine life now face numerous threats even more serious than overfishing.
       February 18, 2015, Yale Environment 360   By: Fen Montaigne

    A group of marine experts published a study in the journal Science which drew conclusions that were both heartening and disturbing: While ocean ecosystems are still largely intact, the marine world is facing unprecedented disturbance, including acidification from the absorption of greenhouse gases and widespread habitat destruction from deep-sea mining, oil and gas drilling, development, and aquaculture.

    Lead author Douglas McCauley, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, noted that, while there was a sixth mass extinction that's been happening, the sixth mass extinction is not underway in the oceans. However the bad news is that there were a lot of data suggesting that we're in a really important transition zone and we seem to be on the verge of transitioning from an era in which harvesting and fishing of marine resources has been the main driver of impoverishing biological diversity to one in which massive habitat change and, `global chemical warfare' (acidification) may be waged on the oceans.

    "If you hunt individuals intensely that's going to have negative impacts, but if you go through and actually ravage the homes of these animals, it's going to be a lot harder to recover and the impacts are going to be more profound," he said.

    "Look at the way we are impacting coral reef cover, the way that fish farming is eating up mangrove forest, the amount of factory building that we are doing in the oceans for energy production. Seabed mining can only be described as a gold rush that's underway under the ocean now."

    "Let's keep our eyes on this emerging rising tide of industrialization in the oceans."

    "There are just so many more of us on the planet that have so much higher energy and resource needs, and that we have to start reaching into the oceans for things that we require in our everyday lives."

    We just need to be smarter about how to industrialize the ocean and put industry in the right places. "If we need to develop a section of the oceans that turns out to have really bad impacts for wildlife, we need to do remediation somewhere else."

    "There are millions and millions of dollars that are being invested to build technological capacity to mine minerals, and they are talking about doing this in the deepest parts of the oceans. And the numbers involved are a bit scary -- a million square kilometers that have been staked out in this marine gold rush"

    "There are two major changes that are happening in the oceans as a result of climate change - changing temperature and acidification.""We need to keep climate change and climate change effects on the oceans -- and what this means for wildlife -- at the top of our agenda."

    Some of the "corals are beginning to show the capacity for resiliency to cope with some of these temperature increases.". "So what we need to do is basically slow down the rate of the advance of climate change."

    "We need more parks and protected areas in the ocean. It's something that we need to very actively tell our policy makers to do."

    "The processes of engaging and slowing marine defaunation is made triply hard because large parts of the oceans have no owners. But there is a growing awareness that we need to build international alliances to think about marine wildlife issues." doclink

    The Disaster We've Wrought on the World's Oceans May Be Irrevocable

       July 2, 2014, Newsweek   By: Alex Renton

    Rising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are causing global temperatures to rise, which is leading to the melting of the polar ice caps, which in turn has resulted in rising sea levels and a host of ecological issues.

    On the fish counters of Barcelona's central market, thousands of sea creatures making up dozens of species are on display. But by the end of this century, many of these animals may be history due to man's reckless abuse of the planet. The oceans are taking up the greenhouse gases that we dump into the air, which turns the waters deadly to its inhabitants.

    Many species on the market's fish counters are also on one or more European "at-risk" lists: under threat because of overfishing or changes in the chain of foods that supply them, or from the bigger threat of the changing ocean biogeochemistry. Bivalves such as clams, oysters and mussels use calcium carbonate to make their shells. However, in as little as 20 years they will be very different and, in some parts of the world, entirely gone.

    Other sea creatures with shells don't make their shells the same way but the acidification appears to harm the working of the gills and change the behavior of the crustaceans when they are very young.

    This acidification is the fastest change in the ocean's chemistry in 300 million years, according to scientists.

    A significant amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes from the burning of carbon fuels. Carbon dioxide is absorbed by seawater, lowering the pH level and increasing its acidity. "In preindustrial times the ocean's pH was 8.2. It has already gone down to 8.1," says Carles Pelejero, a scientist working in Barcelona. "Depending on what we do, it will reach an average of 7.8 or 7.7 by 2100. It hasn't been that low for 55 million years."

    The ocean is a key food supply for more than 3 billion of us.

    Along the coasts and out in the deep, huge "dead zones" have been multiplying. They are the emptiest places on the planet, where there's little oxygen and sometimes no life at all, almost entirely restricted to some unicellular organisms like bacteria. Vast blooms of algae-organisms that thrive in more acid (and less alkaline) seawater and are fed by pollution-have already rendered parts of the Baltic Sea pretty much dead. A third of the marine life in that sea, which once fed all of Northern Europe,

    What worries Pelejero most is the rapidity of today's changes. The same shifts that happened over the course of a few thousand years during the PETM (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum) are now due to happen over just a few centuries, counting from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the widespread use of fossil fuels.

    One ray of hope is that the Obama administration announced a series of measures aimed to conserve the ocean as a key food supply. These included more ocean sanctuaries to curtail overfishing, and new funds to research ocean biochemistry, including acidification. doclink

    Human Population Growth and Oceans

       May 31, 2014, Center for Biological Diversity

    Marine fish provide 15% of all animal protein consumed by humans. Under this intense pressure global fisheries are collapsing.

    A 2009 assessment found that 80% of fish stocks are either fully exploited, overexploited, or have collapsed. 90% of the world's large predatory fish are in decline. Of the 21 marine species known to have been driven extinct in the past 300 years, 16 disappeared since 1972 .

    A catch reduction of 20 - 50% is needed to make global fisheries sustainable, but the demand for fish is expected to increase by 35 million tons by 2030 due to increased consumption and a "rapidly increasing human population."

    In addition to overfishing impacts from commercial fishing, coral reefs -- anchors of biodiversity that support thousands of fish species and as many as a million species overall -- are often damaged or destroyed by trawlers and dredging.

    The global fish crisis has become so severe, scientists and wildlife managers are breaking the human population taboo, calling not only for reduced consumption and better regulation, but for alleviation of poverty and "stabilization of the world's human population" . doclink

    Modern Ocean Acidification is Outpacing Ancient Upheaval: Rate May Be Ten Times Faster

       June 2, 2014, ScienceDaily   By: Donald Penman

    In a study published in the latest issue of Paleoceanography, the scientists estimate that ocean acidity increased by about 100% in a few thousand years or more, and stayed that way for the next 70,000 years. In this radically changed environment, some creatures died out while others adapted and evolved. The study is the first to use the chemical composition of fossils to reconstruct surface ocean acidity at the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a period of intense warming on land and throughout the oceans due to high CO2.

    The oceans have absorbed about a third of the carbon humans have pumped into the air since industrialization, helping to keep earth's thermostat lower than it would be otherwise. But that uptake of carbon has come at a price. Chemical reactions caused by that excess CO2 have made seawater grow more acidic, depleting it of the carbonate ions that corals, mollusks and calcifying plankton need to build their shells and skeletons.

    For more, follow the link at doclink

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    Wildlife Survival, Species Extinction, Biodiversity

    Biodiversity: The Fragile Web

       February 1999, National Geographic News

    Sixty five million years ago, say geologists, a meteorite made cataclysmic contact with Earth. It was the beginning of the end of the dinosaurs, Earth's last great extinction. The next great extinction will be more fizzle than fireworks. In fact, it's already begun. Biodiversity, the very variety of life, is under attack. Paving and populating, consuming and polluting, humans are causing More is at stake than simply the spice of life. Each species takes its
    secrets to the grave: potential solutions to coming crises, possible cures to medical mysteries. doclink

    Booming Populations, Rising Economies, Threatened Biodiversity: the Tropics Will Never Be the Same

       July 7, 2014,   By: Jeremy Hance

    The tropics cover around 40% of the world's surface. A 400-plus page report on the tropics, compiled by 12 institutions, found incredible population growth, rising economic importance, clashes over land-use, imperiled biodiversity, and worsening impacts of climate change.

    The tropics are home to about 40% of the world's population, but house 55% of children under five. Within 40 years, it is expected that more than half the world's population will be in the tropics and a staggering 67% of its young children. According to the report, the region is expected to add another 3 billion people (or 42% of the world's population today) by the end of the century.

    "Because most of the world's children will live in the Tropics by 2050, we must rethink the world's priorities on aid, development, research and education," author Sandra Harding, Vice-Chancellor and President of James Cook University said. For example, it is estimated that around 467 million people in the tropics lived in slums as of 2001, representing 46% of the region's urban population.

    A booming population means increased demand for food, water, and other natural resources internally, even while many of these resources are already exported abroad to temperate regions.

    Tropical economies are growing 20% more rapidly than in temperate regions, yet the tropics is still home to two-thirds of the world's population living in extreme poverty.

    There is also good news according to the report: "The prevalence of undernourishment in the tropics has declined by one-third over the past two decades." And life expectancy is on the rise while maternal and child mortality has been slashed. Such changes could.

    Unfortunately people in the tropics face especially challenging diseases rarely found in temperate regions such as dengue fever and malaria. And local people and indigenous groups are struggling to maintain control over their traditional lands as corporations -- often foreign -- seek out more land to grow crops, raise livestock, or extract commodities such as timber, fossil fuels, and minerals. Land-grabbing, as it is known, has become a significant political issue in places like Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, Kenya, and Cameroon.

    At the same time, conservationists and environmentalists are fighting to preserve rainforests, coral reefs, and other vital ecosystems from destruction. Approximately 80% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity and more than 95% of its mangrove and coral reef-based biodiversity are in the tropics. doclink

    America's Vanishing Biodiversity

       August 21, 2001, USGS

    "In seven states once covered with native grasslands, less than 1% of the native tall grass prairie habitat remains," said USGS director Dr. Charles "Chip" Groat. "Losses are due to agriculture, grazing, urbanization and mineral extraction. The result is that native grassland bird species have shown more consistent, widespread and steeper declines than any other group of North American birds."

    In the U.S. Pacific Northwest, old growth forest logging has led to alarming declines in a number of birds and plants. At least 83% of the region's old growth Douglas fir forests have been destroyed, along with 75% of the coastal rain forests in Washington state. In California, 85% of the state's old growth redwoods have been cut down.

    Almost 60% of California fish species have gone extinct or are "on the road to extinction if present trends continue," the report states. More than half of the state's frog species are endangered or threatened.

    Californians have also eliminated 91% of the state's wetlands and 99 percent of grasslands. One in five of the state's 342 land bird species are listed as endangered by the state or federal governments.

    "Status and Trends of the Nation's Biological Resources"


       July 12, 1999, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Working with more than 600 scientists, the World Conservation Union
    published a survey in 1996 estimating that one-fourth of all mammals and
    amphibians, one-fifth of all reptiles, more than one-third of all fish and
    11% of birds are in danger of extinction. doclink

    U.S.: Alien species: A Slow Motion Explosion


    According to a report by the federal government, exotic weeds, pests and
    diseases cause more damage in the U.S. than forest fires, tornadoes,
    flooding, earthquakes and mudslides. 2,000 alien plant species have been
    introduced. Non-native animal species cause an annual $123 billion worth of
    damage to crops, range land and waterways. Weeds consume 4,600 acres of
    wildlife habitat on public lands a day. The main mode of transport is by
    ships: 40,000 gallons of foreign ballast water are dumped into U.S. harbors
    each minute doclink

    The Sixth Extinction

       February 1999, National Geographic magazine

    50% of the world's flora and fauna could be on a path to extinction
    within a hundred years. 11% of birds, or 1,100 species out of the
    world's nearly 10,000, are on the edge of extinction. One in eight plants is
    at risk of becoming extinct. "We must ask ourselves if this is really what
    we want to do to God's creation?" doclink

    Collapse of the World's Largest Herbivores

       May 1, 2015, Science magazine   By: William J. Ripple, Thomas M. Newsome, Christopher Wolf, Rodolfo Dirzo, Kristoffer T. Everatt, Mauro Galetti, Matt W. Hayward, Graham I. H. Kerley, Taal Levi, Peter A. Lindsey, David W. Macdonald, Yadvinder Malhi, Luke E. Painter, Christopher J. Sandom, John Terborgh, Blaire Van Valkenburgh

    Sixty percent of large wild herbivores (body mass ≥100 kg) are threatened with extinction. Nearly all threatened species are in developing countries, where major threats include hunting, land-use change, and resource depression by livestock. Loss of large herbivores can have cascading effects on other species including large carnivores, scavengers, mesoherbivores, small mammals, and ecological processes involving vegetation, hydrology, nutrient cycling, and fire regimes. The rate of large herbivore decline suggests that ever-larger swaths of the world will soon lack many of the vital ecological services these animals provide, resulting in enormous ecological and social costs.

    The combined impacts of hunting, encroachment by humans and their livestock, and habitat loss could lead to the extinction of a suite of large herbivores relatively soon.

    According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 44 of the 74 largest terrestrial herbivores are listed as threatened with extinction (including 12 critically endangered or extinct in the wild), and 43 ( 58%) have decreasing populations.

    The most-threatened large herbivore species are found in southern Asia, throughout much of extreme Southeast Asia, as well as Ethiopia and Somalia of eastern Africa. The ecoregions with seven threatened large herbivore species are the Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests, the Sunda Shelf mangroves, and the peninsular Malaysian rain forests. Hunting for meat is the predominant threat in all ecoregions containing at least five threatened large herbivore species. These ecoregions fall mostly within the tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests biome (20 of 30 ecoregions), but biomes containing combinations of grasslands, shrublands, savannas, mangroves, or other forest types represent the other 10 ecoregions with at least five threatened large herbivore species.

    The white rhinoceros follows one of the greatest success stories in the history of modern conservation: the recovery of the southern white rhino from a single population of fewer than 100 individuals in the early 1900s to about 20,000 today. Even with the current crisis of rhinoceros poaching, this illustrates that, with sufficient protection, recovery is possible for relatively slow-breeding species that are highly prized by poachers.

    Many of the largest herbivore species have ranges that are collapsing. On average, these species currently occupy only 19% of their historical ranges. This is exemplified by the elephant, hippopotamus, and black rhinoceros, all of which now occupy just tiny fractions of their historical ranges in Africa. Many of these declining species are poorly known scientifically, and badly in need of basic ecological research. Scientific research effort has been much greater for nonthreatened than threatened species, and greater overall for species in developed countries. Indeed, those that have been most studied are primarily game species in wealthy countries.

    The main threats to large herbivores are hunting, competition with livestock, and land-use change such as habitat loss, human encroachment, cultivation, and deforestation. Extensive overhunting for meat across much of the developing world is likely the most important factor in the decline of the largest terrestrial herbivore. Slow reproduction makes large herbivores particularly vulnerable to overhunting. The largest- and slowest-to-reproduce species typically vanish first, and as they disappear, hunters turn to smaller and more fecund species. In synergy with changes in land use, hunting for meat has increased in recent years due to human population growth, greater access to wildlands due to road building, use of modern firearms and wire snares, access to markets, and the rising demand for wild meat. Demand for wild meat is intensifying, supply is declining, and protected area management budgets for protecting wildlife from overhunting are often inadequate, particularly in developing nations.

    Hunting large herbivores for body parts is also driving down populations of some species, especially the iconic ones.

    Livestock continues to encroach on land needed for wild grazers and browsers, particularly in developing countries where livestock production tripled between 1980 and 2002. There are an estimated 3.6 billion ruminant livestock on Earth today, and about 25 million have been added to the planet every year for the last 50 years. This upsurge in livestock has resulted in more competition for grazing, a reduction in forage and water available to wild herbivores, a greater risk of disease transmission from domestic to wild species, and increased methane emissions. In central Asia, the expansion of goat grazing for cashmere wool production for international export has reduced habitats available to large herbivores with consequent impacts on their predators including snow leopards.

    In many pastoral settings in Africa, domestic livestock are abundant but not regularly consumed for subsistence, and are instead kept as a means of storing wealth, as a status symbol, or for consumption on special occasions. Livestock is a private good, and so, people invest significant energy to protect it, whereas wild herbivores are typically a public good, often resulting in weak incentives for their conservation and in many cases open access to the resource, both of which commonly result in overuse.

    Habitat loss is a significant threat to large herbivores in parts of Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. The causes of this threat have important drivers originating in developed countries due to demand for agricultural and other products. Southeast Asia has the highest rate of deforestation among tropical regions, and if trends continue, Southeast Asia could lose 75% of its original forests and nearly half of its biodiversity by the end of this century. Habitat loss is typically asymmetrical with respect to quality, with remaining habitat generally being less productive. Additionally, the greater area requirements of larger species make them unable to persist in smaller fragments of habitat, which may still support smaller herbivores. Their larger area requirement also makes larger species that persist in fragments increasingly susceptible to conservation challenges that affect small populations. This suggests a greater likelihood of extinction among the larger rather than smaller herbivores.

    Other threats to large herbivores include human encroachment (including road building), cultivation of crops, and civil unrest, all of which contribute to population decline.

    There are much more items of interest in this article.
    . . . more doclink

    End of this section pg 1 ... Go to page 2 3 4




    seems to be the only hope for a new increase in harvests
    since the methods developed since the 60s that more than doubled world grain
    have lost their edge, and growth in grain productivity is slipping. Global
    demand for rice, wheat, and maize is expected to increase by 40% by 2020.
    But even if bioengineering does work, there still may not be enough water to
    grow the new crops and farmers may be forced to use so much fertilizer on
    marginal land that they will poison ecosystems and permanently damage soils. doclink

    New Report Reveals Dramatic Rise in Pesticide Use on Genetically Engineered (GE) Crops Due to the Spread of Resistant Weeds

       November 17, 2009, The Center for Food Safety

    GE crops of corn, soybeans and cotton have increased use of weed-killing herbicides by 383 million pounds from 1996 to 2008; 46% of the total increase occurred in 2007 and 2008. However, GE corn and cotton have reduced insecticide use by 64 million pounds, resulting in an overall increase of 318 million pounds of pesticides over the first 13 years of commercial use.

    A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report links the increase in pesticide use on GE, "herbicide-tolerant" (HT) crops to the emergence and spread of herbicide-resistant weeds. Farmers are already critical of GE crops because of drastically rising biotech seed prices.

    The agricultural biotechnology industry claims that the higher costs of GE seeds are justified by the decreased spending on pesticides. But the need to make additional herbicide applications in an effort to keep up with resistant weeds is also increasing cash production costs. Corn farmers planting GE hybrids in 2010 will spend around $124 per acre for seed, almost three times the cost of conventional corn seed. A new-generation "Roundup Ready" (RR) 2 soybean seed will cost 42% more than the original RR seeds they are displacing.

    Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, is now being resisted by weeds which are starting to infest millions of acres; farmers face rising costs coupled with sometimes major yield losses.

    A UCS report claims that engineered crops have largely failed to increase crop yields, despite the industry's consistent claims to the contrary. Dr. Margaret Mellon, food and environment program director for the Union of Concerned Scientists. said that "growth in pesticide use has important implications for farmers' bottom lines, public health and the health of the environment."

    "The most common type of genetically engineered crops promotes increased use of pesticides, an epidemic of resistant weeds, and more chemical residues in our foods. This may be profitable for the biotech/pesticide companies, but it's bad news for farmers, human health and the environment." doclink

    Karen Gaia says: the more people to feed, the more the pressure for technology to find a way to feed them, never mind how unnatural it is.

    USDA Backs Production of Rice With Human Genes

       March 1, 2007, The Kansas City Star

    The Agriculture Department has given preliminary approval for the commercial production of a food crop containing human genes.

    The plan calls for large-scale cultivation in Kansas of rice that produces human immune system proteins in its seeds.

    The proteins are to be extracted for use as an anti-diarrhea medicine and might be added to yogurt and granola bars.

    The idea is to help children with diarrhea get better faster. Protection should keep the engineered plants and their seeds from escaping.

    Critics say gene-altered plants migrate out of their home plots and could result in pharmacologically active proteins in the food of unsuspecting consumers.

    Als there would be little control over the doses people might get exposed to. Other companies grow such plants in vats and it is unwise to produce drugs in plants outdoors.

    Consumer advocacy groups also opposed the plans. Ventria has developed three varieties of rice, each with a different human gene that makes the plants produce one of three human proteins. Two are bacteria-fighting compounds found in breast milk and saliva.

    A study concluded that children with severe diarrhea recovered a day and a half faster if the fluids they were prescribed were spiked with the proteins.

    Production in plants is cheaper.

    The company is talking to the FDA about putting the proteins into health foods. Its third variety of rice makes a blood protein used in medical therapies.

    Ventria sought permission to grow its rice commercially on as many as 3,200 acres in Geary County, Kan. A previous plan to grow the rice in southern Missouri was dropped when Anheuser-Busch, the nation's largest rice buyer, threatened to stop buying rice from the state if the deal went through.

    Because no other rice is grown in Kansas the risk of escape or cross-fertilization is nil, the company said. It will mill seeds on site to minimize the risk of seeds getting mistakenly released or sold.

    The Agriculture Department concluded that the project posed no undue risks. The public can comment until March 30.

    The agency revealed that a type of rice seed in Arkansas had become contaminated with a different variety of genetically engineered rice, that was never released for marketing. The error was discovered in the investigation into the contamination of U.S. rice by another gene-altered variety, LL601, which has seriously disrupted rice exports.

    Those problems, along with the previous discovery of unapproved, gene-altered StarLink corn in food and the accidental release of crops that had been engineered to make a vaccine for pig diarrhea, undermine the USDA's credibility. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: as population grows, our lands will fail to produce enough food unless some drastic measures like GM foods are taken.

    Global Temps Set Record for Warmest Winter; NASA Also Reports That Earth Has Lost Some Aerosol 'Sunscreen'

       March 16, 2007,

    This winter was the warmest on record worldwide and the report comes after the IPCC said global warming is very likely caused by human actions. A NASA study report found that an important counter-balance to warming, sunlight blocked by pollution and other aerosol particles, appears to have weakened.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the combined land and ocean temperatures for December through February were 1.3 degrees F above average for the period since 1880.

    During the past century, global temperatures have increased at about 0.11 degrees per decade. But that increase has been three times larger since 1976. Most scientists attribute the rising temperatures to greenhouse gases that build up in the atmosphere and trap heat somewhat like a greenhouse.

    Also contributing to this winter's record warmth was an El Nino. It was particularly strong in January, but the ocean surface has since begun to cool.

    In the N. Hemisphere the combined land and water temperature was the warmest ever at 1.64 degrees above average. In the Southern Hemisphere, the temperature was 0.88 degree above average and the fourth warmest. doclink

    This Crop Revolution May Succeed Where GM Failed

       October 26, 2006, Tribuna Libre

    New technologies have made gene splicing and transgenic crops obsolete. The new technology is called marker-assisted selection (MAS) and offers a method to accelerate classical breeding. A growing number of scientists believe MAS will eventually replace GM food. Environmental organisations are guardedly supportive of MAS technology.

    Instead of using molecular splicing to transfer a gene, scientists are now using MAS to locate desired traits in other varieties or wild relatives of a particular crop, then crossbreeding those plants with the existing varieties. This reduces the risk of environmental harm. Using MAS, researchers can upgrade classical breeding, and cut the time needed to develop new plant varieties.

    Researchers at the US department of agriculture have used MAS to develop a strain of rice that is soft on the outside but remains firm on the inside after processing. Most of the transgenic crops introduced into the fields express only two traits, resistance to pests and compatibility with herbicides. There is still much work to be done in understanding the factors which interact to affect the development of the plant. Also, MAS is of value when used as part of an approach to farming that integrates new crop introductions with a proper regard for all factors that together determine the sustainability of farming.

    The continued introduction of GM crops could contaminate existing plant varieties. MAS technology is being looked at with interest within the EU. The struggle between a younger generation of sustainable-agriculture enthusiasts and entrenched scientists determined to maintain control over the world's seed stocks is likely to be hard-fought. MAS technology could be the right technology at the right time in history. doclink

    The New Harvest of GM Cotton

       June 1, 2005, IPS News

    Evidence from the fields shows Monsanto's claims about its BT cotton variety to be spurious. A study of 481 Chinese farmers in five provinces found that after seven years of cultivation they had to spray up to 20 times to deal with secondary insects, bringing a net income of 8% less than conventional cotton farmers. Failure of BT cotton crops in India resulted in the suicides of an estimated 700 farmers in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra, to escape debt incurred by buying the expensive GM seed. BT crops have been attacked by a disease unseen before which affected BT more than the non-BT cotton crop. Genetic engineering and BT cotton will neither revolutionise the countryside nor improve food security, but a new farm economy based on the principle of food sovereignty and farmers' rights as the centrepiece of the country's economic development model will. doclink

    US Biotech Companies Urge Africa to Catch Up

       June 17, 2006, Islam Online

    Dow AgroSciences specializes in the provision of "innovative crop protection, seeds, and biotechnology solutions." The reluctance of African countries to establish regulatory frameworks to guide the use of biotechnology will be one of the continent's undoings. The continent faced the risk of isolation because of its reluctance to embrace biotechnology. Biotechnology has the potential to improve biodiversity, reduce insecticide use, advance food security and transform agriculture in the next 10 years.

    Africa's solution to drought and crop diseases may be in growing genetically engineered crops specifically tuned to resist weather conditions and mature quickly. This could result in saving crops from losses of harvests, which are followed by hunger and starvation. Nearly 200 million people in Africa are undernourished. The consequences are manifest in the prevalence of hunger and malnutrition. The FAO stated that 27 countries in sub-Saharan Africa were in need of urgent food assistance. They included Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Somalia and Zimbabwe.

    Sub-Saharan Africa is home to almost one-quarter of the developing world's food-deprived people. Surveys revealed that 33% of African children are stunted, underweight, or emaciated. The majority of African countries still do not favor GMO crops or foods due to the lack of systems to safeguard biodiversity.

    This is so despite the fact that more than 35 countries have signed the Cartagena Protocol, that seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by biotechnology. Agricultural science and technology must work with local governments and scientists to make biotech available starting with capacity building and infrastructure for the approval of regulatory frameworks and adoption of the technology.

    Issues that need to be addressed,include the availability of seeds to farmers at affordable prices and providing safety procedures to protect human beings and the environment during field trials. This may not be possible if the governments do not understand people's needs and how technology can solve them. We cannot underestimate the importance of establishing strong regulatory frameworks to protect the environment and the food chain. Proponents of GMO argue that Africa has serious food gaps and should embrace biotechnology farming for enhanced food production and nutrients. Since 1996 , the global planted area of biotech crops has soared 4.2 million acres in six countries to 222 million acres in 21 countries in 2005.

    At present, most African countries cannot advance GM crop research because national policies or regulatory systems are not prepared to deal with safety requirements. Only South Africa and Nigeria have a specific policy for biotechnology.

    South Africa began growing its first genetically modified commercial crops in 2003, with cotton farmers reporting yields improved up to 89%. It was also among the 11 developing countries where biotech crops have increased income of 7 million poor farmers.

    Research is ongoing that is focusing on staple crops in many developing countries. These include rice, cassava, sweet potatoes, cowpea, banana and maize. Researches are focusing on problems such as disease resistance, drought tolerance, and pest resistance.

    Farming is the most important economic activity in Africa, occupying 60% to 80% of the population and contributing 30% to 50% of the GDP in African countries. Eighty percent of farming is in the hands of small-scale farmers and remains an unattractive occupation and those involved are members of the lowest rungs in the poverty index.

    Lands in developing countries, especially in Asia, are degraded due to exploitation and they must be helped to restore their soil fertility if they are to grow commercially attractive crops and compete in the global food economy. doclink

    Europe Bridles at WTO View on National Biotech Bans

       February 8, 2006, Reuters

    European countries bristled at a world trade ruling that touches on sovereignty over genetically modified (GMO) foods, with some saying they would do their level best to keep farming GMO-free. Europe's consumers are well known for their hostility to GMO crops, often dubbed as "Frankenstein foods." The biotech industry insists its products are perfectly safe, however, and no different to conventional foods. A WTO panel ruled that various EU countries had broken international rules by imposing national bans on specific GMOs. Some reacted angrily saying they would defend their legal right to block EU-approved products if they wanted. EU law dictates that bans must be scientifically justified. Austria has banned imports of three GMO maize types and is considering a ban on growing a GMO rapeseed and said they will be as restrictive as possible. Greece is against genetically modified foods. All prefectures have declared their area GMO-free and need to discuss with Brussels and scientists safeguards before lifting the ban. Last June, EU governments rebuffed attempts to order the five countries to lift their national GMO bans. The Commission did not think the bans justified, nor did the WTO. It also said the EU's de facto GMO moratorium between 1999 and 2003 broke world trade rules. France has a long-standing consumer opposition to biotech food and bans two types of GMO rapeseed but has allowed some small-scale growing of GMO maize. French consumer and farming groups deplored the WTO ruling, insisting that a majority of consumers opposed GMOs. A poll in France this week showed that 78% would like a temporary ban to evaluate their health and environmental impact. Green groups said consumer resistance has increased in Europe since the three major GMO growers filed their WTO complaint. U.S. officials regretted there was a level of misinformation in Europe about the benefits of biotech crops but hoped that the WTO ruling would let the EU open its doors more to GMO imports. In Argentina, officials said it was too early to contemplate seeking some kind of economic compensation from the EU. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: As demand for food increases with the growing population and farmland decreases, the need for GMO foods will grow and the pressure will be on to produce more food, whether or not it is safe.

    End of this section pg 1 ... Go to page 2


    Uganda: Will Mother Nature Survive Population Pressure?

       July 7, 2010, 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

    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.


    crowded hillside houses in South America When people run out of room to build on the more sensible flat areas, they build on the hillsides, putting themselves more at risk from earthquakes, erosion and landslides from floods.

    US California: 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

    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?

    California Seal Pups Beat Kids in Battle Over Beach

       April 27, 2006, Environmental News Network

    This week San Diego officials roped off a prime stretch of the La Jolla shoreline to keep people from disturbing the harbor seals who have taken up residence.

    Any move can spook the animals to flee into the ocean and abandon their newborn babies, violating federal marine mammal protection laws.

    Seals need adequate sun and sand time in order to maintain good health. The city was urged to act after receiving an increase in complaints that angry residents were harassing the marine mammals.The council voted to erect the barrier each year from January 1 through May 1. Federal officials have installed 24-hour surveillance cameras to watch for people deliberately swimming, kayaking or sunbathing in the area.

    Many residents said they were undeterred as it's the only place around with a lifeguard station and bathrooms. A steady stream of tourists and environmental activists clusters around the roped area, unfazed by the stench. The cove has been a popular La Jolla spot since the early 1930s. Nobody knows why the animals began flocking to the shore in the late 1990s but about 200 seals live there. The rope barrier is also meant as a warning to stay away from seal fecal matter and birth byproducts.

    A California judge ordered the city to dredge and clean up the beach but the decision has been tied up in litigation and a foul fishy stench remains.

    San Diego Council president Scott Peters said he did not feel there was evidence of seal harassment. "The issue isn't so much that people can't get along with seals, it's that people can't get along with people," Peters said. doclink

    End of this section pg 1 ... Go to page 2

    Health and Disease

    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

    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

    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

    World AIDS Day, 1999

       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

    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

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    Nitrogen Levels

    6 States Aiming to Reduce Dead Zone

       February 11, 2003, New Orleans Times-Picayune

    Six states that feed water to the Mississippi agreed to experiment to reduce nutrients that cause a "dead zone" that can be 10 to 120 feet deep along the coast of Louisiana and Texas and is bigger than the state of Massachusetts. This occurs when nutrient-rich freshwater forms a layer over saltier Gulf of Mexico water in the spring and summer, causing huge blooms of algae that use up oxygen as they decompose. Shrimp, crabs and fish avoid the low-oxygen water, and bottom-dwelling organisms are killed. Oxygen returns after tropical storms or frontal systems mix the layers. The nutrients are fertilizer and sewage from the 42 states and parts of Canada that drain into the Mississippi. 7% come from Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee and Texas, the states represented at the first meeting, in New Orleans, of the Committee on Hypoxia. An official said a federal-state plan to reduce nutrients is 18 months behind schedule. A plan adopted in 2000 called for reducing the dead zone to 2,000 square miles by 2015 by cutting nitrogen entering the river by 30%. Researchers have focused on determining the areas responsible, and how to reduce them. The projects would be similar to one in Louisiana in which farmers are told how best to manage nitrogen use, and provided with detailed instruction. doclink

    A Special Moment in History

       May 1998, Atlantic Monthly

    by Bill McKibben Natural cycles of nitrogen production (through algae, soil bacteria and lighting) produce "90-150 million metric tons of nitrogen a year. Now human activity adds 130-150 million more tons...As a result, coastal waters and estuaries bloom with toxic algae while oxygen concentrations dwindle, killing fish; as a result, nitrous oxide traps solar heat, and it stays there for a century or more." doclink

       August 3, 1999, UK News

    Humans have more than doubled the amount of available nitrogen in the environment because of excess fertiliser use and burning of fossil fuel. There are now also 50 "dead zones" containing little or no oxygen in coastal waters. The largest one in the Western Hemisphere is in the Gulf of Mexico, caused by excess nitrogen and phosphorus flowing down the Mississippi river. doclink

    Tests Find Nitrogen is Choking Earth

       February 21, 2000, MSNBC

    Plant species replaced, 'dead zones' in water more prevalent. - If farmers continue to depend heavily on nitrogen fertilizer, the agricultural landscape could turn ugly within 50 years, says a University of Minnesota ecologist. David Tilman found, in a two decade study, that, as the amount of nitrogen doubles, species diversity declines by 25%. And as nitrogen levels continue to increase, species are lost at a greater, though less dramatic, rate, leveling off at declines of 40% to 70%. The species that do survive are usually less-desirable, non-native ones such as quack grass, which needs high doses of nitrogen to thrive. Oxygen-starved "dead zones," such as the one now in the Gulf of Mexico, will become increasingly prevalent and many plants will die off, while fewer - and less desirable ones - will take over, he said. To get world food production to double over the past 35 years, farmers have had to use seven times as much nitrogen as they used to, effectively doubling the amount that already comes in from the atmosphere. By 2050, the use of nitrogen may quadruple with the projected increase in the world population by almost 50%, and if it becomes increasingly affluent with a buying power 2.4 times that of today's population and producing a demand for twice as much food. Tilman recommends timing applications of fertilizer better and doing a better job of removing it from sewage. doclink

    U.S.: NOAA Forecast Predicts Large "Dead Zone" for Gulf of Mexico This Summer

       June 2009, Environmental News Network

    The "dead zone" off the coast of Louisiana and Texas in the Gulf of Mexico this summer could be one of the largest on record. In the dead zone seasonal oxygen levels drop too low to support most life in bottom and near-bottom waters. Dead zones are caused by nutrient runoff, principally from agricultural activity, which stimulates an overgrowth of algae that sinks, decomposes, and consumes most of the life-giving oxygen supply in the water.

    Scientists are predicting the area could measure between 7,450 and 8,456 square miles, or an area roughly the size of New Jersey.

    This hypoxic, or low-to-no oxygen area, is of particular concern because it threatens valuable commercial and recreational Gulf fisheries by destroying critical habitat.

    "The high water volume flows coupled with nearly triple the nitrogen concentrations in these rivers over the past 50 years from human activities has led to a dramatic increase in the size of the dead zone," said Gene Turner, Ph.D., a lead forecast modeler from Louisiana State University. doclink

    US Maryland: Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Criticized; Oversight Change Urged

       August 22, 2003, Washington Post

    The Chesapeake Bay Foundation wants the voluntary effort to clean up the bay replaced by a governing body to create and enforce laws and levy taxes in six states and the District to pay for cleanup. They concluded that the regional Chesapeake Executive Council, formed to oversee the reduction of bay pollutants, had failed because the scientific data suggests the bay is not improving. This was a misstatement, claimed the executive director of the Council that adopted a plan for improving the water quality by 2010, when the Council hopes the bay will be removed from the list of threatened waterways. The most ambitious goal was to take voluntary steps to reduce runoff from animal manure and wastewater plants by one-third. 40% of the bay is starved of oxygen and fish and plant life have difficulty surviving. The regional council has been making progress and less nitrogen is flowing into the bay than in the mid-1980s. Underwater bay grasses, an indicator of a healthy waterway, have increased since 1984, but must more than double in the next seven years. It will involve farmers and require homeowners to upgrade septic tanks and better storm water management. The bay's watershed includes 16 million people in parts of New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia and the District. Any new oversight body would need to levy taxes to raise part of the $12 billion that is needed to reduce pollutants. The governors on the council said they are willing to consider reinvigorating restoration efforts. doclink

    Fertilizer Levels Safe for Humans, Deadly to Frogs

       January 10, 2000,

    An Oregon State University study says that fertilizer levels the EPA says are safe for human drinking water can kill some species of frogs and toads. With even low nitrate levels in fertilizer runoffs, the amphibians ate less, developed physical abnormalities, suffered paralysis and eventually died. Also, the nitrates encouraged the growth of algae that feeds tiny parasitic flatworms called trematodes which cause deformities. Other explanations for the decline in amphibian population include water pollution and increased ultraviolet radiation from the sun because of a thinning ozone layer around the Earth. doclink

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    Waste, Landfill, Toxic Dumping

    NA or worldwide: (There's no away to throw to)

       ...Garret Harden

    There's no away to throw to. doclink

    Global Waste on Pace to Triple by 2100

       October 30, 2013, World Bank

    Unless sufficient measures are taken, by 2100 the growing global urban population will be producing three times as much solid waste as it does today, former World Bank urban development specialist Dan Hoornweg and his colleagues write in the journal Nature.

    The report is an expansion on their work from the 2012 World Bank report What a Waste: A Global Review of Solid Waste Management.

    In the earlier report, they warned that global solid waste generation was on pace to increase 70% by 2025. The waste from cities alone is already enough to fill a line of trash trucks 5,000 kilometers long every day. The global cost of dealing with all that trash is rising too: from $205 billion a year in 2010 to $375 billion by 2025, with the sharpest cost increases in developing countries.

    OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries, where waste levels are the highest today but populations aren't growing as quickly and waste reduction efforts are underway, expect their trash levels to peak by 2050. Asia-Pacific countries won't peak until 2075.

    Mexico City's Bordo Poniente and Shanghai's Laogang receive more than 10,000 tonnes of waste per day. Waste incinerators pose ash disposal and air pollution problems worldwide. Also landfills produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas, contributing to climate change.

    "With lower populations, denser, more resource-efficient cities, and less consumption (along with higher affluence), the peak could come forward to 2075 and reduce in intensity by more than 25 percent. This would save around 2.6 million tonnes per day," Hoornweg and his colleagues write.

    San Francisco has set a of "zero waste" by 2020 policy with aggressive recycling. Today 55% of its waste is recycled or reused today.

    Other things that can be done:

    * Reduce food waste with better storage and transportation systems.
    * Reuse construction materials like wood, instead of producing more materials.
    * Employee disposal fees and recycling programs that encourage less waste. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Don't forget: make contraception accessible, affordable and effective and provide consumer advice about it.

    Wasted Food, Wasted Energy: the Embedded Energy in Food Waste in the United States

       July 21, 2010, ACS Publications - Environmental Science and Technology

    Food is not only a form of energy but also a consumer of fossil energy in its production, transportation, and preparation.

    A study calculated the energy intensity of food production from agriculture, transportation, processing, food sales, storage, and preparation for 2007 as 8080 ± 760 trillion BTU. In 1995, approximately 27% of edible food was wasted (according to the USDA), and the study concluded from this that 2030 ± 160 trillion BTU of energy were embedded in the 2007 wasted food. This represents approximately 2% of annual energy consumption in the United States, which is substantial when compared to other energy conservation and production proposals.

    Recent food shortages, blamed in part on the growth of the biofuels industry, have created a new awareness of the relationship between food and energy.

    Over last 50 years we have seen increased agricultural productivity thanks to the adoption of new technologies and inputs, which are largely based on fossil fuels. The increase in the energy intensity of agriculture has brought with it unprecedented yields with minimal human labor.

    Mechanization of the agriculture sector, improved fertilizers, more resilient crops, and the development of pesticides, all of which rely on fossil fuels, are the reasons for the increased productivity.

    The 27% food waste figure does not include food wasted on the farm, in fisheries, and during processing and relies on outdated food consumption and waste data, some of which is from the 1970s.

    Because of economic and population growth, the total amount of food production and consumption has grown since the latest food loss study for 1995, and the portion of income Americans spend on food has dropped. From this, the researchers hypothesized that the current amount of food wasted to be higher compared to the USDA's 1995 estimates. If this is true, addressing food waste represents an opportunity for avoided energy consumption.

    Follow the link in the headline to read the complete report. doclink

    African Deaths Highlight Illegal Toxic-waste Trade

       September 28, 2006, Toronto Star

    Activists campaigned against the dumping of toxic waste while regulations adopted in Basel in 1989 attempted to restrain the business.

    The worst practices are back, but instead of toxic waste, the developed world is dumping old ships, and electronic goods on poorer countries ill-equipped to deal with them.

    Trafigura Beheer BV, which chartered the tanker that offloaded the waste in Ivory Coast, rejects claims that the waste was high in poisonous hydrogen sulphide, but activists say the export of hazardous waste is widespread. The tanker concerned was Korean-built, Greek-managed, Panamanian-flagged and Dutch-chartered.

    The chemical sludge it unloaded in Abidjan was dumped around the city in August, causing a foul stench and prompting tens of thousands of people to seek medical attention. Recyclers promise to find homes for the ever larger mountain of discarded electronic gadgets in the developing world.

    A U.S. group campaigning for a crack-down on hazardous waste, said last year 500 containers of computers were being shipped into Lagos every month.

    Seventy five per cent ended up being dumped and burned, releasing hazardous fumes. The UN estimates that 20 to 50 million tonnes of electronic waste is produced every year, and 48% of EU waste exports were illegal. doclink

    Sanitation in Ghana; a Far Cry From Millennium Development Goals

       September 11, 2006,

    According to Mr Demedeme, the sanitation condition is "an indictment to Ghanaians" considering the magnitude of resources that have been disbursed towards containing the situation. In the 1990s, huge sums of money went into sanitation, but as of this day the condition is still deplorable. He blamed ignorance and indiscipline for the litter and disposal of waste, compounded by an obsolete legal regime. Seventy per cent of the diseases treated at health institutions are sanitation related and bring pressure on the National Health Insurance Scheme.

    District Assemblies are directed to undertake updating by-laws and embark on aggressive marketing of construction and use of domestic latrines, and enforcing laws on provision of sanitation facilities by landlords.

    As a solution to the problem, Mr Demedeme called for the streamlining of the fragmented approaches to the tackling of sanitation and urged that all efforts must be made to increase the collection of waste from its current 60% to 90%. The most critical problem facing Ghana currently is that of solid waste management and environmental sanitation. Waste generation, is estimated to grow at 2.7% in developing countries to the year 2010. Ghana's current population growth is estimated at 2.6%. One of the major factors is the rise in per capita incomes plus the rural to urban migration drift.

    Accra, with an estimated population of four million, generates about 2000 metric tons of solid waste a day out of which it is able to collect 1500 tons. Constraints are inadequate resources, irregular payment of contracts, weak capacity for expansion, and serious negative impact on health delivery system. doclink

    Ralph says: It is so obvious, --- more people, more waste. Karen Gaia says: What's needed is more focus on family planning.

    Mexico: The Green Line: Tourism and Water Issues Require Full Participation

       June 6, 2006, El Universal Online

    With tourism the world's largest industry, a coalition of 18 conservation groups in Mexico is trying to bring sustainability to this economic sector. The coalition is Alcosta, the Alliance for the Sustainability of the Northwest Mexican Coast. Its preliminary study based on monitoring 48 coastal tourist developments, provides an unprecedented starting point from which to gauge efforts to protect opportunities for future generations.

    The monitoring is a stepping stone towards creating region-wide control for natural resource management in the Gulf of California states. This must provide information for expanding protected areas, improving their operation, and saving the ecosystems. Alcosta is also outlining the best practices for sustainable tourism. The monitoring, reveals that 66% of the gulf's tourist development is in the form of hotel or condominium building associated with golf courses and marinas. Gulfwide, 17% of the development is in places where some tourism already existed, and 48% in spots with none.. The growth areas coincide with those pinpointed by the federal Tourism Secretariat's megaproject called "Sea of Cortes". With 34,000 hotel and condominium units operating or under construction, including 45 golf courses, the demands on the natural resources are overwhelming. The influx of workers and their families signifies a population boom that the region is in not prepared to absorb.

    For these ventures to be sustainable they must not exceed the available water supply or contaminate it, and they must be able to handle the waste their visitors and workers generate. This is a challenge, as all the communities face water shortages even before further development, none have adequate sanitary landfill facilities, only 6% have sewage treatment, precipitation in the gulf region is among the lowest in the country, 17% of the underground water tables are over exploited and 10% have salt water intrusion.

    People who depend on farming and fishing in the same communities where tourism development is booming find competition for the resources a threat to their livelihoods. What Alcosta advises is to involve the social groups in tourism promotion and create networks of small businesses that can take part in it.

    But much of the development is powered by foreign investors. Not a single hotel-condominium has involved local people nor has any initiative emerged strengthen small business.

    It's clear from the preliminary results what needs to be done. There's no time like the present to get started. Mexico's commitment to Agenda 21 transcends political administrations. doclink

    U.S.: As Landfills Close in Big Cities, Garbage Travels Farther

       July 12, 2005, USA Today

    The trains from the Harlem River rail yard are filled with garbage and are part of an armada that performs a nearly constant exodus of waste from the nation's largest city. Each day, they carry 50,000 tons of trash from New York to landfills and incinerators in New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and South Carolina. In 2003, nearly a quarter of all municipal trash crossed state lines for disposal Congressional Research Service. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is now pushing to extend his city's trash, putting garbage on barges that could be shipped up and down the East Coast. The plan is fueling a fresh round of debate in places that could be potential destinations. At issue is the smell and the threat to the environment. New York transports more than 1,300 tons of garbage each day to Fox Township, Pa., 130 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Living near the landfill isn't bad because it's hard to smell or see from the street. But the landfill's protective liners won't hold up forever and 50, years from now, they'll be saying, 'What were those guys thinking, allowing this to be built in this community?. New York's new disposal plan is being watched in Virginia, which imported 7.8 million tons of garbage last year, up 67% from 1997. The issue has been contentious since laws to slow the importation of trash were struck down by the courts. Officials in the Portsmouth area are considering a port that could receive up to 2,500 tons of waste a day from New York with a fee for every ton brought in, generating $1 million per year, plus $7 million more if enough went to an existing incinerator. "We're rich," executive Keller said, noting the township has bought new police cars and fire trucks with trash tipping fees. "We have millions of dollars in the bank." The risks for these communities are few, said Mickey Flood, chief executive of IESI Corp., a Fort Worth company that owns landfills throughout the eastern part of the country. Standard landfills don't accept hazardous materials and waste is also transported in sealed containers that are designed to be leak-proof. All water that touches garbage is required to be treated for pollutants. Still, problems arise. In December 2003, two schools near a landfill in Pennsylvania temporarily shut down when an overwhelming stink made it impossible for students to concentrate. Investigators blamed decaying gypsum board and made adjustments to a system that extracts vapors and burns them off. "Transporting garbage so far away means that the people that generate it don't have to deal with it, and where is their incentive to create less of it?" doclink

    Soon there will be no 'there' to ship waste to.

    Plastic Bottles Pile Up as Mountains of Waste

       March 2, 2005,

    The biggest growth in bottled beverages is water. The recycling rate of plastic water bottles is extremely low yet the demand from recyclers is high. The recycling system hasn't kept up with consumption especially when it comes to water. Per capita consumption has more than doubled over the last decade, from 10.5 gallons in 1993 to 22.6 in 2003. The number of water bottles sold has risen from 3.3 billion in 1997 to 15 billion in 2002. But most bottled water is consumed in areas where there's usually no recycling. doclink

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    Pollution, Toxins

    Plastic Takes Over the Ocean

       July 2010


    Scientists Call on Congress to Strengthen the Clean Water Act to Protect Coastal and Marine Habitats

       April 2, 1999, ENN (Environmental News Network)

    The Center for Marine Conservation (CMC) and 320 scientific leaders say that pollutants carried by our nation's waterways into coastal waters, including excess nitrogen and phosphorous pollution, nutrients, animal waste, and fertilizers are increasing fish kills, harmful algae blooms, and dead zones. Many are from unregulated ources such as are municipal wastewater, industrial discharges and farms runoff doclink

    Environmental Defense Fund Scorecard


    EDF has set up a huge interactive site that enables anyone in the US to learn about what pollutants are being released into any community, and by whom. Enter your ZIP code, or click on their maps, to see who is doing what to your air, water and soil. doclink

    SE Asia Vows to Fight Dry Season Smog

       April 16, 1999, Reuters

    The 1997 smog, mostly from fires in Indonesia, plagued SE Asia for months, pushing air pollution levels to unhealthy levels and affecting tourism. doclink

    16,000 Airplanes Daily Polluting Planet

       April 1999, Environmental Defense Fund

    At a meteorologist conference in Costa Rica, the secretary of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that airplanes have become one of the main sources of atmospheric pollution and emitters greenhouse gases doclink

    Carbon Dioxide Threatens Tropical Coral Reefs

       April 5, 1999, ENN

    Excess carbon in the atmosphere can dissolve in the ocean and disrupt complex chemical reactions that the coral uses to build its reef colonies. Coral reefs are also threatened by human activities such as destructive fishing practices, coastal development, overexploitation of marine resources, marine pollution and sedimentation from inland deforestation and farming. doclink

    Chinese Cities Fight to Save Environment

       May 24, 1999, Reuters

    China has 9 out of 10 of the world's most polluted cities (from the World Resources Institute), is the 2nd largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, and the leading cause of death there is respiratory diseases. Acid rain falls on nearly one-third of the country. Dust from coal-burning stoves cakes cars and clothing. 70% of the rivers are drying up because of industrial or agricultural diversions while many contain no fish due to pollution and others that used to freeze in winter now run free, because of warm industrial discharge doclink

    Acid Rain Robs Soil Nutrients

       March 12, 1999, ENN

    Acid rain, caused when emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide (primarily from automobile emissions and electric utility plants) react with water and oxygen in the air, speed acidification of forest soils by 38%, striping the soil of nutrients and minerals, in a recent study in South Carolina doclink

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    Other Impacts

    Record Smog Shrouds Hong Kong's Dramatic Skyline; Chinese Factories Blamed

       September 11, 2002, San Francisco Chronicle

    Pollution levels in Hong Kong have set a record high. Cleanup is a priority, but many cite the factories in China's Guangdong province as one of the obstacles to a cleanup plan. Concentrations of ozone, factory and vehicle emissions accumulated in the recent hot, still weather and contributed to high pollution levels at Tung Chung, the future site of a Disneyland park to open by 2006. The developers worry that Hong Kong should do better in tackling poor air quality. Bad air could chase off tourists and foreign companies: animals and plants could also suffer. Diesel vehicles must use cleaner fuels, such as liquefied gas. Ninety percent of Hong Kong's taxis have switched. Guangdong and Hong Kohg have pledged to reduce pollution although specific actions are yet to be implemented. Much pollution comes from the more than 60 cement factories in Guangdong, but their environment bureau denied they are to blame. Hong Kong's pollution moves into Guangdong when the wind blows the other way.


    U.S.: Air Too Dirty at Preserves in North Dakota, EPA Says

       September 16, 2002, USA Today

    Officials at the E.P.A. say North Dakota is the only state where the air in federal preserves is more polluted than the Clean Air Act allows. The EPA will decide whether to require a cleanup, which could cost North Dakota's industrial facilities hundreds of millions of dollars. The state claims that the EPA is wrong. The EPA's claims that in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge, levels of sulfur dioxide from a group of coal-burning power plants in central North Dakota frequently violated federal law in 1999/2000. The plants burn a dirty type of coal and many have poor pollution controls. The EPA admits that the amount of Sulfur dioxide is miniscule and is a health hazard only at levels very much greater. Air at the preserves is far from that level but "part of the Clean Air Act is to keep clean areas clean," says the EPA's Denver office. On bad days, pollution cuts park visibility in half. North Dakota officials say that more than 90% of the time, there's so little sulfur dioxide in the park's air that monitors can't detect it. The EPA is redoing its calculations. Officials say that tourists love the days that are haze-free. doclink

    U.S. Will Get Power, and Pollution, From Mexico

       September 17, 2002, New York Times*

    In Mexico near the California border, two power plants will provide power for the United States. They capitalize on the economic and legal differences dividing Mexico and the United States. Mexico's desire for foreign capital is bottomless. California's energy demand is enormous. "Building on the Mexican side is cheaper, because of the less stringent regulations. The United States had to issue special permits for the Intergen plant, powered by natural gas from Texas, cooled by Mexicali's sewage and linked to California's grid. 560 of its 1060 megawatts will go north, 500 to Mexico. The plant does not meet California's standards. California's senators and congressmen have introduced legislation to stop any plant providing power to the state unless it meets its standards. The second plant, that meets California standards, could have been built there, but at a greater cost. All its 600 megawatts go to California. although Mexicans need more electricity and their bills are doubling. No laws in Mexico limit plants that pollute California's Imperial Valley. They are exempt from the environmental laws of the United States. The InterGen plant will send 3,800 tons of pollutants a year into California. InterGen could comply with California standards, if consumers would help pay the cost of $20 million. In Mexicali, people accept the plants with a shrug. Elisabeth Figueroa, 31, started work at the InterGen plant, making $2 an hour. "We need electricity but most is going north," she said. "It will be bad for the environment, but we need work. doclink

    Crack Under Beached Ship Spreads

       September 17, 2002,

    Crews abandoned an attempt to refloat a wrecked Italian freighter spilling oil onto a South African wetland park. A crack in the hull made it unwise to tow the vessel out to sea. The plan is to pump out the fuel from the vessel. The crack is now completely under the vessel. The chance of towing her out to sea has gone. 450 tons of oil have spilled, threatening the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Parkpark's wildlife. The operation will be hampered by a fire on the freighter that has burned for seven days. The Jolly Rubino, sailing from Durban to Mombasa, ran aground south of the estuary leading to the wetlands. The Jolly Rubino also carried drums containing toxic solvents, phenol, and naphthylamine, but there is a good chance the fire has burned up the chemicals. Conservationists said they would not take any chances, and had thrown up sand barricades to keep oil from washing into the protected area. A boom was to be placed across the mouth of the Umfolozi river, and pollution control experts said they would close other estuaries to the south of the park. doclink

    Activists Sue Over Relaxed Tuna-label Rules

       January 3, 2003, San Francisco Chronicle

    Conservation organizations said the Commerce Department's announcement relaxing labeling standards for "dolphin-safe" tuna ignored the evidence that tuna fleets are harming dolphins. This is called a political gift to Mexico at the expense of dolphin lives. The Department ruled imported tuna caught with nets can be sold as "dolphin safe," as long as no dolphins were killed or injured. The change will primarily affect Mexico because its boats drop nets on dolphins that swim above schools of tuna. Fisheries Service director Bill Hogarth said that the netting does not have a "significant adverse impact" on the dolphin population but onboard observers have underreported dolphin kills and failed to account for deaths caused by stress and the separation of baby dolphins from their mothers. Congress prohibited U.S. fishing boats from dropping nets on dolphins to trap tuna and imposed the same standard for foreign tuna imports in the 1980s In 1990 they prescribed the dolphin-safe label for tuna caught without netting dolphins. Major U.S. brands including StarKist, Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea have promised not to buy tuna caught by netting dolphins. doclink

    Salmon Kill Blamed on Water Sent to Farmers

       January 6, 2003, San Jose Mercury-News

    In the largest die-off of adult salmon ever recorded in the West, 33,000 dead salmon stacked up along the Klamath River in Northern California, the result of the administration's decision to divert water from the river to farming interests, say California biologists. 25% of the river's fall chinook run died from overcrowding. There is also risk of more kills if the divertion to farmers continues. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it would conduct its own investigation. doclink

       January 2003

    Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) plan to unveil a proposal that would force industries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. All industries to limit their emissions to 2000 levels by 2010 and 1990 levels by 2016. McCain has scheduled a plans to send a proposal to the Senate floor later this year. That proposal is bound to face stiff opposition. doclink

    U.S.: FDA Policies for Gene-Altered Foods Faulted in Report

       January 6, 2003, The Washington Post

    Genetically modified food could contain dangerous compounds because of the failure to regulate the production of such foods. The Food and Drug Administration made errors in reviewing GM crops, and the agency will not ensure the safety of food as more companies market transgenic foods. Experts fear "anti-nutrients," or harmful compounds, could appear in higher concentrations in genetically altered crops. These are common in miniscule amounts, the amount could increase when plants are genetically altered. The FDA has not established guidelines for testing in GM foods. doclink

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    Air Pollution

    Study Links Polluted Air in China to 1.6 Million Deaths a Year

       August 13, 2015, New York Times   By: Dan Levin

    A study by Berkeley Earth found that air pollution hastens the deaths of about 1.6 million Chinese people per year. That is 17% of all the nation's deaths each year or about 4,400 people a day. Most dangerous are airborne particles with diameters under 2.5 microns that are absorbed from the lungs into the bloodstream, causing such problems as asthma, strokes, lung cancer and heart attacks. The study is awaiting publication in PLOS One.

    Berkeley Earth bases its mortality estimate on a World Health Organization framework for projecting death rates from five diseases associated with high levels of exposure to fine-particulate pollution. The authors calculate that the annual toll is 95% likely to fall between 700,000 and 2.2 million deaths. Their 1.6 million figure falls at the midpoint of that range. This analysis supports earlier findings about the quality of China's air. For example, Greenpeace East Asia found in April that, 90% of 360 cities studied in China failed to meet national air quality standards in the first three months of 2015.

    The Chinese government often censors data that shows air pollution is killing its citizens (or even alludes to such a conclusion). Though the public has sometimes gained access to air quality readings, censors routinely purge Chinese websites and social media channels of information that the authorities fear might provoke unrest. In March, after a lengthy documentary video about the health effects of air pollution circulated widely online, Chinese websites were ordered to delete it.

    Much of China's air pollution comes from the large-scale coal burning. After studying wind patterns, the researchers concluded that much of Beijing's smog came not from sources in the city, but rather from coal-burning factories 200 miles southwest in Shijiazhuang, a major industrial hub. About three-eighths of the Chinese population breathes that air - air that rates "unhealthy" by U.S. standards.

    Beijing's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics includes promises to clean up the air. Beijing's mayor, Wang Anshun, suggests restrictions on vehicles in the city, and state news media called for replacing coal-fired heating systems in urban areas with systems that use natural gas. However, the Berkeley Earth paper showed that to clear the skies over Beijing, mitigation measures must extend across a broad stretch southwest of the capital, affecting tens of millions of people. "It's not enough to clean up the city," said Elizabeth Muller, Executive Director of Berkeley Earth. "You're going to also have to clean up the entire industrial region."

    The researchers also analyzed four months' of hourly readings taken at 1,500 ground stations in mainland China, Taiwan, South Korea and other places in the region. The group said it was publishing the raw data so other researchers could use it to perform their own studies. doclink

    Art says: Life-threatening levels of pollution occur more in Asia than anywhere else. Asia has the perfect storm combination of pollution factors: massive metro areas with high population densities, little breathing space between metro areas for pollutants to dissipate, high and rapidly increasing consumption rates, heavy coal use, and poor pollution-control infrastructures.

    As consumption rates balloon across Asia, fixes like those proposed in the Beijing region will not be enough to combat the pollution associated with such growth. Asia serves as a model for what consequences follow when the growth rates of consumption and population exceed an area's carrying capacity.

    Pollution Killed 7 Million People Worldwide in 2012, Report Finds

       March 25, 2014   By: Andrew Jacobs and Ian Johnson

    According to a World Health Organization report, around the world, one out of every eight deaths was tied to dirty air -twice as many as previously estimated. Its report identified air pollution as the world's single biggest environmental health risk. More than one-third of those deaths, the organization said, occurred in fast-developing nations of Asia, where rates of cardiovascular and pulmonary disease have been soaring.

    However, the agency said that in 2012 indoor air pollutants were involved in 4.3 million deaths, while toxic air outdoors figured in 3.7 million deaths (total 8 million). Many deaths were attributed to both. The reports by the World Bank and World Health Organization each said the burning of noxious fuels -- coal, wood and animal waste -- was among the greatest threats to human health.

    In India, the health agency estimated, 700 million people rely on biomass fuels like agricultural waste for indoor cooking. Kirk R. Smith of the University of California, Berkeley, said that pollutants from smoky indoor ovens were often comparable to burning 400 cigarettes an hour. "Unfortunately, he said, we have not made a lot of progress in the past decades, and household air pollution is still the largest single health risk factor for Indian women and girls."

    In China, the bigger culprit is coal, which supplies two-thirds of the country's energy. Though the winter heating season has ended, Beijing still displayed a familiar acrid haze, and the U.S Embassy's air monitor rated the air as "very unhealthy," a level at which outdoor activity should be avoided. Alarmed by the worsening smog and the rising discontent among urban residents, Prime Minister Li Keqiang declared a "war against pollution" in his annual report to the nation this month. Chinese leaders have promised to reduce reliance on coal and introduce cleaner-burning motor fuels and more energy-efficient construction methods. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: total pollution = per capita pollution X population size. The more people who are polluting there are, the worse it is for everyone.

    Clearing the Air in China

       October 27, 2013, New York Times   By: Chris P. Nielsen and Mun S. Ho

    China's "investments to decarbonize its energy system have dwarfed those of any other nation," and its "regulation to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants may be one of the most swiftly effective air pollution policies ever implemented anywhere . . . preventing as many as 74,000 premature deaths from air pollution in 2010."

    Of course, the recent smog inundation of the City of Harbin demonstrates both the urgency driving this cleanup and the fact that much more needs to be done. Most of China's pollution results from burning coal, its most abundant fuel supply. China burns 3.8 times as much coal as we burn in the U.S., and it plans to add new coal burning facilities at four times our planned rate. Most of our new power plants use cleaner burning natural gas, and many of our plants designed for coal have converted to gas. But the price of gas has been rising, so our current plans call for only a 2% increase in gas use for power production, while China plans a 19% increase.

    When it comes to carbon-free power, China captures more than twice as much energy from hydro-electric dams as we do, and while we currently generate 9.5 times as much electricity from nuclear plants as does China, China is adding nuclear plants more than three times faster than we are. We currently use about 40% more wind power than China, but China is adding new wind farms at more than double our rate. Neither nation draws much of its power from solar, but while the U.S. has plans for a 22% expansion in solar usage, China plans an 85% expansion during the same period. China has been experimenting with both cap-and-trade and new taxes on carbon-generating fuels. In their advisory roles for the Chinese government, the authors "estimate that a modest tax on carbon dioxide, starting small and rising to about $10 per ton by 2020, could sharply limit the growth of emissions with little effect on GDP."

    That, they estimate, would eliminate 89,000 premature deaths by 2020. Of course, since people can't safely breathe the air in many Chinese cities now, the need is more to reverse the growth of emissions rather than just sharply limit them. But with China's GDP still growing in the range of 8% per year, they have hundreds of new power plants yet to be built.

    Additonal information and charts at doclink

    Organo Failure California Study Suggests Link Between Autism and Pesticide Exposure

       July 31, 2007, Los Angeles Times

    California found that exposure to two pesticides may make women more likely to give birth to children with autism. But the scientists cautioned that their finding is preliminary because of the small number of women and children involved.

    Very preliminary data suggests there may be an association. The two pesticides are compounds developed in the 1950s and used to kill mites, primarily on cotton as well as some vegetables and other crops. Scientists determined that the Central Valley women lived within 500 meters, or 547 yards, of fields sprayed with organochlorine pesticides during their first trimester of pregnancy. Eight of them had children with autism, six times greater than for mothers who did not live near the fields. This is a sixfold risk factor in comparison to someone who is not exposed. The findings suggest that 7% of autism cases in the Central Valley during 1996 through 1998 might have been connected to exposure to the insecticides drifting off fields into residential areas. Scientists have been exploring various environmental factors, including children's vaccines and chemical pollutants.

    Scientists collected records of nearly 300,000 children born in the 19 counties of the Sacramento and San Joaquin river valleys, 465 had autism. They compared the addresses during pregnancy to records that detailed the location of fields sprayed with pesticides.

    For most pesticides, no unusual numbers of autism cases were found, but the exception was a class of compounds called organochlorines. Most, including DDT, were banned in the US several decades ago, only dicofol and endosulfan remain.

    The autism rate was highest for children of mothers who lived the closest to the fields. The scientists concluded that the possibility of a connection requires further study.

    A July report said endosulfan can spread far from fields via the air. The agency is likely to designate endosulfan as a toxic air contaminant, and dicofol could follow. That triggers a review to see whether steps should be taken to minimize the chemicals drifting off fields.

    More work on the potential link is needed before it can carry much weight in assessments of the chemicals' risks.

    The two insecticides are used much less than in the years in which the possible connection to autism was found. Insects have built up resistance and cotton farmers have switched to new compounds.

    The chemicals are used most extensively in Fresno, Kings, Imperial and Tulare counties. Dicofol is used on cotton, oranges, beans and walnuts. Endosulfan is used in tomato processing and on lettuce, alfalfa and cotton crops. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: More pesticides become necessary to grow more plants required by more people.

    China Fails Environment Targets

       January 2007, International Herald Tribune

    Only Beijing and five other provinces or municipalities improved energy efficiency by 4% and cut emissions by 2% in the first six months of 2006.

    These targets are part of the 2006-10 Five Year Plan, and call for energy consumption per unit of GDP to be cut by 20%, while pollution emissions should fall 10%.

    National Development and Reform Commission Minister Ma Kai said "it is extremely hard to achieve this year's goal".

    Much of China's airborne pollution comes from coal-burning power stations and car exhaust fumes, neither can be reduced quickly.

    Many factories also ignore the law and pump toxic waste into rivers and lakes.

    There is little sign that things are going to get better any time soon. Senior officials said the situation was worse than ever.

    2006 has been the most grim year for China's environmental situation, vice-minister Pan Yue said on the Web site of the State Environmental Protection Administration (Sepa). doclink

    Pollution Leaves Women at Greater Risk for Heart Disease, Death

       January 31, 2007, The Press-Enterprise

    The most rigorous study to link pollution and heart disease has found that women are at much greater risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. Women living in cities with the highest levels of air particles, such as Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York, were 76% more likely to die from a heart attack or stroke than women breathing cleaner air. "The magnitude of the findings are higher than what's been seen in prior research. The study monitored the health of more than 65,000 post-menopausal women for up to nine years.

    It used pollution meters to measure the amount of particles in the air. The EPA compiled the results.

    The findings were consistent regardless of a woman's weight, smoking history, blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

    The particles affect the lining of the blood vessels, which makes it easier for cholesterol plaque to form, and also makes the blood stickier so clots are more likely to form. Women may be more vulnerable, in part, because they have smaller coronary arteries. doclink

    House That Can 'Eat' Pollution

       November 28, 2006, The Sunday Times

    Coating buildings and roads in Europe and Japan with a "smog-eating" titanium dioxide cleans surfaces and nearby air. It can reduce some pollutants by 20% to 70%. A breakthrough by a British company can create buildings that absorb pollution. The technique involves applying titanium dioxide as a spray coating to the surface of buildings or as an ingredient in plastics, fabrics and ceramic tiles. It acts as a catalyst to break down the pollutants from vehicle exhausts.The material could be applied to the outside of existing buildings or be incorporated in new ones. In addition to keeping walls clean, it has the potential to cut breathing problems by cleaning the air around buildings.

    Trials are under way in the City. Titanium dioxide has been used as a whitener in products such as toothpaste, but its ability to soak up pollution has been recognised only recently.

    The titanium dioxide allows the pollutants in the air to react with the oxygen in the air and coverts it to a form which then falls onto the ground and is washed away by the rain. doclink

    U.S.;: Engineers Gone Wild

       August 14, 2006, Planet Ark

    General Motors Corp., BMW AG and DaimlerChrysler AG plan to invest over US $1 billion in the development of a new hybrid transmission and related systems. They have about 500 engineers who have been working on the development of the next-generation hybrid engine technology. An onboard computer determines when and at what speeds the two motors will be used and how the battery will be recharged.

    Development of the transmission is expected to cost about US$300. The remainder of the investment represents the cost of integrating the new hybrid system. The hybrid engine will be available in two rear-wheel drive configurations or a front-wheel drive system. It can be adjusted to provide either improved value or high performance.

    DaimlerChrysler plans to use the new system in its 2008 Dodge Durango.

    GM will use the hybrid in versions of the Tahoe and Yukon SUVs. BMW has said it will make vehicles available with the system over the next 3 to 5 years.

    A collaborative development effort on an expensive emerging technology will become increasingly common in the auto industry.

    GM is considering an alliance with Renault-Nissan that could include shared development efforts. doclink

    End of this section pg 1 ... Go to page 2


    SWERUS-C3: First Observations of Methane Release From Arctic Ocean Hydrates

    Just a week into the sampling program and SWERUS-C3 scientists have discovered vast methane plumes escaping from the seafloor of the Laptev continental slope. These early glimpses of what may be in store for a warming Arctic Ocean could help scientists project the future releases of the strong greenhouse gas methane from the Arctic Ocean
       July 25, 2014, SWERUS-C3

    Note:SWERUS-C3 is a Swedish, Russian and US program investigating climate-cryosphere-carbon interactions in the Arctic Ocean.

    Expdetion Chief Scientist Örjan Gustafsson (ITM Stockholm University) writes: "While there has been much speculation about the vulnerability of regular marine hydrates along the continental slopes of the Arctic rim, very few actual observations of methane releases due to collapsing marine hydrates on the Arctic slope have been made." He thinks that the mechanism behind the presence of methane seeps at these depths may have something to do with the "tongue" of relatively warm Atlantic water, presumably recently intruding across the Arctic Ocean at 200-600 m depths."

    As this warm Atlantic water, the last remnants of the Gulf Stream, propagates eastward along the upper slope of the East Siberian margin, it may lead to destabilization of methane hydrates on the upper portion of the slope.

    SWERUS-C3 scientists could determine the depth from which methane plumes were bubbling up and detect gas seeps in the water column. " Additional observations include the discovery of over 100 new methane seep sites in the shallower waters of the Laptev shelf (at 60-70m depth), a likely consequence of the thawing subsea permafrost. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: "the comparative impact of CH4 on climate change is over 20 times greater than CO2 over a 100-year period." See

    Study: Methane Leakage From Gas Fields Guts Climate Benefit

       August 9, 2013, TheEnergyCollective

    Climatologist Ken Caldeira claimed natural gas is "a bridge to a world with high CO2 Levels;" however a study from NOAA and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) suggests natural gas may be more of gangplank than a bridge.

    Measurement from a research aircraft showed that, in the Uintah Basin the natural gas field leaked 6% to 12% of the methane produced, on average, during the days in February, "alarmingly high" according to the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

    The Uinta Basin produces about 1% of total U.S. natural gas, and fracking has increased there over the past decade.

    This study confirms earlier findings of high rates of methane leakage from natural gas fields. If these findings persist elsewhere, they would disprove any direct climate benefit of natural gas, even when it is used only to switch off coal.

    Natural gas is mostly methane (CH4). And methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than (CO2), which is released when natural gas is burned -- 25 times more potent over a century and 80 - 100 times more potent over a 20-year period.

    The IEA's 2011 "Golden Age of Gas Scenario" Leads to More Than 6°F Warming and Out-of-Control Climate Change study made abundantly clear that if we want to avoid catastrophic warming, we need to start getting off of all fossil fuels.

    One study found that if the total leakage exceeds 3.2% "gas becomes worse for the climate than coal for at least some period of time."

    EDF is working with the industry to develop credible leakage numbers in a variety of locations. doclink

    The Top of the World is Melting

       December 3, 2012   By: Ben Cubby

    A new report released at the recent UN climate change negotiations in Doha, Qatar reports that the Arctic permafrost is thawing. Ancient forests locked under ice tens of thousands of years ago are beginning to melt and rot, releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases. The report is titled Policy Implications of Warming Permafrost.

    The report points out that permafrost carbon feedback had not been included in the fourth IPCC report, "Consequently, the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, due for release in stages between September 2013 and October 2014, will not include the potential effects of the permafrost carbon feedback on global climate."

    Large developed countries measure their greenhouse emissions in hundreds of millions of tons, while the Arctic's stores are measured in the tens of billions of tones, eventually adding more to emissions than last year's combined carbon output of the US and Europe. "The permafrost carbon feedback is irreversible on human time scales," the report says. Observations "indicate that large-scale thawing of permafrost may already have started." This is a "tipping point'' - where the climate becomes trapped in a vicious cycle of warming.

    "Permafrost emissions could ultimately account for up to 39 per cent of total emissions,'' says the report's lead author, Kevin Schaefer, of the University of Colorado.

    NASA scientist Charles Miller flies his small aircraft low over the ice fields in Alaska, his electronic sensors ready to help determine the precise rate and scale of the melt. His project is called NASA's Carbon in Arctic Reservoirs Vulnerability Experiment, or CARVE. When high levels of methane or carbon dioxide are detected on the plane's sensors, the aircraft maneuvers through the boundary layer to capture data. "What we can say is that methane is significantly elevated in places - about 2000 parts per billion, against a normal background of about 1850 parts per billion,'' he says. ''It's interesting because the models are predicting one thing and what we are observing is something fairly different.'' Miller said.

    Methane, is created as the earth thaws and organic matter is consumed by tiny organisms. It is a potent but relatively short-lived greenhouse gas - 25 times as effective at trapping heat as carbon dioxide over a century, but about 75 times as potent over 20 years. "If the Arctic becomes warmer and drier, we will see it released as carbon dioxide, but if it is warmer and wetter it will be released as methane.''

    "It had been assumed that on the timescale of the 21st century, that the effects of methane release would be relatively small compared to other effects - that's why it has been largely left out of the climate models,'' Andy Pitman, a lead author of the reports by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says. "It's happening faster than we had thought. This is not good news.''

    The cost of the permafrost omission from the report could be high if measured in financial terms, says to Dr Pep Canadell, executive director of the Global Carbon Project. If you figure the price for of a ton of carbon emissions to be "$23 like Australia does, you are looking at an extra cost of about $35 billion for the permafrost,'' he says. ''That's on top of the hundreds of billions we already know it will cost to slow emissions to reach a 2-degree level."

    "There is compelling evidence, not just that permafrost will thaw but that it is already rapidly thawing,'' says Ben Abbott, a researcher at the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. ... "a lot of permafrost is at or just below freezing. The difference between minus 1 degree Celsius and 1 degree is the difference between a fresh frozen meal and a rotten mess.'' .... '' the last time a majority of permafrost carbon was thawed and lost to the atmosphere, temperatures increased by 6 degrees Celsius." ... "Mix in the potent feedbacks from the permafrost system and it becomes clear that we need to act now.'' doclink

    France: Belching Cows Join the Apocalypse

       October 10, 2005, TerraDaily

    According to a researcher, France's 20 million cows account for 6.5% of national greenhouse-gas emissions. Each year, their belches send 26 million tonnes of gases into the atmosphere. Their faeces account for 12 million tonnes. Bovine gas comprises methane and nitrous oxide, which are 21 and 310 times more effective at trapping solar heat than CO2. Methane is to blame for a fifth of the greenhouse effect of the past 200 years. Agriculture and forestry have been identified as major factors in the greenhouse debate, but data is sparse, and has made decisions difficult. Yet scientists warned that the assumption that forests are "carbon sinks" was uncertain and possibly dangerous. France's cow population accounts for 80% of emissions from farm animals, with the rest from sheep, goats, pigs and fowl. Ideas for attenuating bovine pollutioninclude higher-protein fodder as soya can reduce the gastic fermentation, and faecal waste put in a closed silo that traps the methane, which can be burned as a biofuel. Australian scientists are trying a vaccine against three species of microbe that produce methane in sheep's stomachs. doclink

    Methane Targeted by U.S. as McCain Raps Bush on Global Warming

       November 17, 2004, San Francisco Chronicle

    The U.S. signed an agreement with 13 other nations that calls for investing up to $53 million in companies that will profitably control emissions of methane, mainly from landfills. They are second behind carbon dioxide for warming the earth's climate. Earlier Sen. McCain called on President Bush to do more to fight global warming. McCain had been playing down his policy differences with Bush to support the president's re-election. McCain said the study demonstrates that climate change is real but Sen. James Inhofe, chairman of the environment committee, called the study yet another scare tactic. A study released says the Arctic is vulnerable to warming from greenhouse gases and projects that polar bears could become extinct, and seals, caribou, reindeer herds and the people who depend on them for food also could be threatened. The Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality said that the administration's strategy is broader than perceived and will reduce the greenhouse gas in the American economy by 18%. Research and technology programs exceed $5 billion yearly. The climate plan, unveiled in 2002, calls on industry to voluntarily reduce the amount of greenhouse gases released by 18% by 2012, or about 1.5% a year - about the same rate that has occurred over the past 12 years. Bush rejected an international climate treaty for controls on carbon dioxide and other gases. McCain has held hearings to build support for a bill he sponsored with Sen. Lieberman, to impose modest mandatory controls on U.S. greenhouse gases. The 13 other countries signing the agreement were Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, China, Colombia, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia and Ukraine. doclink

    Methane Hydrates Could Be Next Big Energy Source; Enviros Concerned

       March 16, 2004, Salon

    Methane hydrates under the ocean floor and the Alaskan permafrost may be the world's next energy source, if they can be extracted safely. Ten trillion tons of carbon are trapped in the compounds which form when methane is subjected to cold and high-pressure. They can explode or release methane, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Extracting and processing them is six times more expensive than traditional oil and gas drilling. The DoE is paying for technological advancements that could make it cheaper. Environmentalists worry as burning methane hydrates is like opening a Pandora's box with quite probably a genocidal genie within it. doclink

    After 200 Years of Growth, Level of Methane Stabilizes

       November 25, 2003, New York Times*

    After a 200-year rise, levels of methane have stopped growing - which shows that curbing emissions could slow global warming. Methane contributes to the formation of ozone, an ingredient of smog. Methane remains in the atmosphere for only 8 to 10 years; carbon dioxide can last a century. Human actions appear to be the cause, specifically the shutdown of oil and gas extraction after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Old production methods released gas from leaking pipelines, uncapped wells and the like. Less leaky methods are being adopted now. Emissions of methane are more controllable than carbon dioxide, but this is the first time that scientists have found a sustained plateau in methane concentrations. Methane has many sources, about 70% from fossil-fuel extraction, but also from cattle and termites, wetlands, rice paddies and garbage dumps. There was a drop in emissions in 1991 and 1992 in a region dominated by Russia and Canada and evidence pointed to Russia. The drop in methane levels have compensated for a rise in emissions from Asia. Some scientists note that the estimates of emissions from nonindustrial sources like rice cultivation, are extremely rough. Flares on oil rigs destroy only a portion of the methane and could reveal overall activity and leakage. Will methane resume the climb? Now that natural gas has become a valuable commodity, there are economic incentives to stop leaks. doclink

    Extinction Traced to Methane Burp

       July 27, 2000, Environmental News Network

    Many forms of life, including 80% of some deep-sea species, suddenly
    vanished 183 million years ago. In an article published in the journal target=_top href="">Nature, huge
    reservoirs of methane trapped beneath the ocean floor rapidly escaped during
    prehistoric volcanic-caused global warming and depleted much of the sea's
    oxygen, according to new research by Stephen Hesselbo, an Oxford University
    researcher. The study also raised questions about the stability of today's
    sea floor reservoir of methane hydrate, which the federal government plans
    to study as a possible energy source. "How easy it is to release the methane
    that is there," Hesselbo said. Methane hydrate is formed beneath the sea
    floor when algae from the surface dies and sinks. Beneath the ocean floor,
    methane exists in an ice-like state but is susceptible to changes in
    pressure and temperature. Researchers believe that during the Jurassic
    period carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases were spewed into the
    atmosphere by massive volcanic eruptions, warming the subocean floor by deep
    ocean currents, which in turn freed the methane from its suboceanic cage.
    The methane then used the oxygen in the water or atmosphere to form carbon
    dioxide, accelerating the global warming. The release was estimated to be
    20% of the present-day 14,000 billion tons of gas hydrate on the sea floor.
    The event took place over 5,000 years. Note: Other governments, including the
    Japanese, are also studing this possibility. Harvesting the methane also has
    a potential for releasing it into the atmosphere. But, as our huge
    population uses up available petroleum, the attention of energy hogs will
    turn to risky alternatives. doclink

    End of this section pg 1 ... Go to page 2

    Climate Change

    Past, Present, and Future World Population and Average Air Temperatures

       October 2014

    Population (billions)YearYears to add 1 billionTemperature (C)

    Source: UN Population Division and World Meteorological Organization.
    * For period 1880-91 **  For year 2010

       September 2010

    Global Warming "Today, for every one of the more than 5.8 billion people on Earth nearly six tons of carbon dioxide are spewed into the air annually. As a result of our activities, the atmospheric concentration of this heat-trapping gas has risen by more than 30 percent." Environmental Defense Fund

    Since loading this page, metric tons of CO2 were emitted (708 tons/sec)


    Close to Home: When Climate, Population and Food Collide

       January 11, 2015, Santa Rosa Press Democrat   By: Jeff Baldwin and Asher Sheppard

    The shift from muscle power to energy from combustion of fossil fuels releases vast amounts of carbon that living organisms took from the atmosphere hundreds of millions of years ago. Energy stored in the coal, oil and gas of Earth's crust powers large-scale industrialization, while the accompanying greenhouse gas emissions warm Earth's climate.

    Technology- intensive industrial agriculture is producing the food for many of Earth's billions. As Western Europe, North America and Japan industrialized, farmers were pushed off their lands and moved to cities. Large families became problematic as women went to work outside the home. Education and the ability to control fertility have combined with these societal changes to cut fertility rates markedly in the developed world.

    In many developing countries women commonly have more than five children -- most too poor to buy enough food should prices rise. Meanwhile rapidly developing populous countries have burgeoning middle classes desirous of more animal protein, which requires three to 15 times its weight in feed.

    In the last century, world population increased from about 2 billion to 6 billion people. Fortunately global food production kept up thanks to the industrialization of agriculture, including increased mechanization, new plant varieties, refrigeration, long-distance transportation and agrochemicals, including petrochemical fertilizers. Each of these technologies increases emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide -- the very greenhouse gases that hasten climate change and threaten agricultural productivity with drought, flood and soil loss.

    In the tropics many small-farm families have been forced onto marginal lands where they face greater threats from floods, drought, erosion, and extreme weather events. One-half the global food supply is is produced by small farmers.

    Decreasing snowfalls in the world's high mountain ranges threaten the water supplies essential for production on long-established lands and those newly brought into production by the Green Revolution. In the tropics, where the majority of humanity lives, high temperatures are expected to reduce crop production by up to 50% by 2080.

    We cannot afford paralysis in face of population growth and climate change. There is reason to hope for success ahead. doclink

    The Disaster We've Wrought on the World's Oceans May Be Irrevocable

       July 2, 2014, Newsweek   By: Alex Renton

    Rising greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are causing global temperatures to rise, which is leading to the melting of the polar ice caps, which in turn has resulted in rising sea levels and a host of ecological issues.

    On the fish counters of Barcelona's central market, thousands of sea creatures making up dozens of species are on display. But by the end of this century, many of these animals may be history due to man's reckless abuse of the planet. The oceans are taking up the greenhouse gases that we dump into the air, which turns the waters deadly to its inhabitants.

    Many species on the market's fish counters are also on one or more European "at-risk" lists: under threat because of overfishing or changes in the chain of foods that supply them, or from the bigger threat of the changing ocean biogeochemistry. Bivalves such as clams, oysters and mussels use calcium carbonate to make their shells. However, in as little as 20 years they will be very different and, in some parts of the world, entirely gone.

    Other sea creatures with shells don't make their shells the same way but the acidification appears to harm the working of the gills and change the behavior of the crustaceans when they are very young.

    This acidification is the fastest change in the ocean's chemistry in 300 million years, according to scientists.

    A significant amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere comes from the burning of carbon fuels. Carbon dioxide is absorbed by seawater, lowering the pH level and increasing its acidity. "In preindustrial times the ocean's pH was 8.2. It has already gone down to 8.1," says Carles Pelejero, a scientist working in Barcelona. "Depending on what we do, it will reach an average of 7.8 or 7.7 by 2100. It hasn't been that low for 55 million years."

    The ocean is a key food supply for more than 3 billion of us.

    Along the coasts and out in the deep, huge "dead zones" have been multiplying. They are the emptiest places on the planet, where there's little oxygen and sometimes no life at all, almost entirely restricted to some unicellular organisms like bacteria. Vast blooms of algae-organisms that thrive in more acid (and less alkaline) seawater and are fed by pollution-have already rendered parts of the Baltic Sea pretty much dead. A third of the marine life in that sea, which once fed all of Northern Europe,

    What worries Pelejero most is the rapidity of today's changes. The same shifts that happened over the course of a few thousand years during the PETM (Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum) are now due to happen over just a few centuries, counting from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the widespread use of fossil fuels.

    One ray of hope is that the Obama administration announced a series of measures aimed to conserve the ocean as a key food supply. These included more ocean sanctuaries to curtail overfishing, and new funds to research ocean biochemistry, including acidification. doclink

    Modern Ocean Acidification is Outpacing Ancient Upheaval: Rate May Be Ten Times Faster

       June 2, 2014, ScienceDaily   By: Donald Penman

    In a study published in the latest issue of Paleoceanography, the scientists estimate that ocean acidity increased by about 100% in a few thousand years or more, and stayed that way for the next 70,000 years. In this radically changed environment, some creatures died out while others adapted and evolved. The study is the first to use the chemical composition of fossils to reconstruct surface ocean acidity at the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), a period of intense warming on land and throughout the oceans due to high CO2.

    The oceans have absorbed about a third of the carbon humans have pumped into the air since industrialization, helping to keep earth's thermostat lower than it would be otherwise. But that uptake of carbon has come at a price. Chemical reactions caused by that excess CO2 have made seawater grow more acidic, depleting it of the carbonate ions that corals, mollusks and calcifying plankton need to build their shells and skeletons.

    For more, follow the link at doclink

    Coal Fires are 'Global Catastrophe'

       February 14, 2003, BBC News

    Hundreds of coal fires are pumping pollutants into the atmosphere. They are most severe in China, India, and Indonesia, although smaller fires are burning in Colorado and Pennsylvania. Sunlight and oxygen can cause spontaneous combustion but they are frequently caused by humans. The burning coal may be in abandoned mines or waste piles, or coal seams ignited by heat from above-ground fires set to clear the landscape. In Indonesia, forest fires that began during 1982 started fires in outcrops of coal that still burn today and threaten national parks as well as a nature reserve used as a reintroduction site for the endangered orangutan. In 1997-98, of the resulting coal fires that started from a forest fire in Borneo, 159 are still burning and 106 have been extinguished. Goodson and Associates Inc has produced a mixture of sand, cement, fly ash, water, and foam that can be pumped around burning material to cut off the oxygen sources. Satellites are used to try to gauge the scale of the problem and are helping China detect and monitor the fires in the northern regions. Curbing coal fires could be a way of reducing CO2 emissions. Estimates suggest the Chinese fires account for 2-3% of the annual emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels. doclink

    Global Environment Reaches Dangerous Crossroads

       February 16, 2001, Worldwatch Institute

    Worldwatch Institute has released State of the World 2001. A loss of political momentum on environmental issues has coincided with signs of accelerated ecological decline; for example, the breakdown of global climate talks. The Arctic ice cap has already thinned by 42%, and 27% of the world's coral reefs have been lost. Natural disasters, due mostly to environmental degradation, have cost the world $608 billion over the last decade - as much as in the preceeding 40 years combined.

    Climate models show the Earth's temperature rising by as much as 6 degrees above the 1990 level by 2100. The impacts would be acute water shortages, declining food production, and the spread of deadly diseases like malaria and dengue fever. Due to population growth, people have had to settle in flood-prone valleys and on unstable hillsides, where deforestation and climate change have increased their vulnerability to disasters such as Hurricane Mitch.

    More clean, renewable energy is needed. For example, Iceland is pioneering an effort to harness geothermal and hydropower to produce hydrogen fuel for automobiles and fishing boats. And three oil companies are moving "beyond petroleum" to alternative energy investments. There needs to be stronger enforcement of treaties, and for increased North-South cooperation` with the help of environmentally and economically influential E9 countries: China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Russia, Japan, South Africa, and the European Union, together which account for nearly three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions.

    The U.S. alone uses more than one third of the world's transport energy. While on the good side, global production of CFCs dropped by 85% between 1986 and 1997, on the other hand, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 100,000 underground storage tanks in the United States are leaking and that nearly 60% of wells sampled in agricultural areas in the US in the 1990s contained synthetic pesticides. World meat consumption has climbed from 44 million tons in 1950 to 217 million tons in 1999, an increase of nearly fivefold. This growth is roughly double that of population growth, and raised meat intake per person has increased worldwide from 17 kilograms in 1950 to 36 kilograms in 1999. doclink

    Economic Collapse Will Limit Climate Change, Predicts Climate Scientist

       April 14, 2015, Huffington Post   By: Till Bruckner

    A World Bank report, authored by climate scientists of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and released in late 2014, drew on 1,300 publications and concluded: "There is a considerable likelihood of warming reaching 4°C above pre-industrial levels within this century"

    "Crop yields are expected to decline by 30 percent with 1.5-2°C warming and up to 60 percent with 3-4°C warming."

    Marginal rain-fed cropland will be abandoned or transformed into grazing land. Current grazing land may become unsuitable for any agricultural activity.

    With a 4°C average world temperature, in parts of Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq mean summer temperatures are expected to be up to 8°C warmer, and in the 2071-2099 period, by 2100 65% of summer months will see unprecedented heat extremes, and by 2100, percentages rises to 80%.

    The 'unprecedented heat extreme' was quantified in the report as 5-sigma. The 2003 heat wave in Europe, in which an estimated 70,000 people died during a 2.3°C hotter-than-usual summer, was only a 3-sigma event.

    Christopher Reyer, one of the co-authors of the study said that he believed that the world was headed for +8°C by 2100, but that will never happen. "We are not even on track for +6°C because economies will be collapsing long before we get there. We know that after +2°C, dangerous things start happening, and we start passing crucial tipping points, like the West Antarctica ice sheet collapse, which has reportedly already begun."

    "Two degrees is not a picnic either. Imagine events like the 2003 European heat wave, the 2010 Russian heat wave which had repercussions on the global wheat market, and Hurricane Katrina, all of them happening simultaneously everywhere in the world." doclink

    End of this section pg 1 ... Go to page 2 3 4 5 6 7

    Socio-Economic Impacts from Unsustainable Population Growth

  • Children
  • Migration
  • Urbanization
  • Joblessness
  • Poverty
  • Disasters
  • Indigenous & Tribal
  • Exploitation, Slavery
  • Conflict
  • Malnutrition
  • Democracy, Dignity
  • Bioregionalism
  • Human Impacts News
  • Human Impacts can use a section editor
  • doclink

    Children, Street Children, Child Labor, Slavery


    street children - toddler and 3-year old, in Kathmandu, Nepal, street, amongst the feet of tourists

    Unattended street children - toddler and 3-year old, in Kathmandu, Nepal street, amongst the feet of tourists. As modern medicine and sanitation improved, more and more children survived infancy and even into adulthood. Without birth control, family sizes became larger, and land had to be divided up into smaller and smaller pieces between the children. Many offspring are forced to leave and move into the cities, or even leave the country, to make a living wage. In cities, families find that, with children, economic disadvantages outweigh the benefits, and to keep from starving, some or all of the children are sent to factories, sold into slavery, married off, or sent into the streets. doclink

       August 2010, Karen Gaia Pitts - WOA!! -

    While it has always been true that there are poor people who cannot support their children and have to turn them out on the street, or sell them into servitude, or give their daughters up to child marriages, -- in current times the numbers of children given up to these sad circumstances has multiplied because 1) more children survive infancy today, meaning many more mouths to feed, 2) more families have moved to the city where food must be purchased instead of raised, and 3) human numbers have increased, increasing competition for natural resources, including food and water.

    The problem is exemplified by Egypt, where approximately 10% of the population is comprised of street children. doclink

    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

    Street Children

       February 25, 2011, Wikipedia

    Street children may be found on every inhabited continent in a large majority of the world's cities. The following estimates indicate the global extent of street child populations.

    * India 11 million

    * Egypt 1.5 million

    * Pakistan 1.5 million

    * U.S. 750,000 - 1 million

    * Kenya 250,000 - 300,000

    * Philippines 250,000

    * Congo 250,000

    * Morocco 30,000

    * Brazil 25,000

    * Germany 20,000

    * Honduras 20,000

    * Jamaica 6,500

    * Uruguay 3,000 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

    End of this section pg 1 ... Go to page 2 3

    Malnutrition, Starvation

    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 UN projected that world population will stabilize at 9.1 billion in 2050, assuming a decline from the current average global fertility rate of 2.56 children per woman to 2.02 children per woman by 2045-2050. But it is uncertain this amount of decline will happen, and, with just half a child more, on average, population will peak at 10.5 billion in 2050. { Note: In 2011 the U.N. had to revise projections upward because fertility rates weren't dropping as fast as projected.}

    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.

    In 2003, the Catholic Philippines bowed to church demands to support only "natural family planning" -- otherwise known as the rhythm method, and also as 'Vatican roulette'. The Filipino government no longer provides contraceptives for poor Filipinas, and government clinics no longer distribute donated contraceptives, including the large amount of modern birth control once provided by USAID

    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

    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.

    The Upper Ganges and the North China plain are two hotspot areas where population is particularly dense and aquifers are already strained. The Upper Ganges includes already dense areas with growing populations, like Pakistan, which has a TFR of 3.6 children per woman, and the Indian province of Uttar Pradesh, with a TFR of 3.8.

    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

    A new report from the IMF tells us that, for every 10% increase in global food prices there is a 100% increase in anti-government protests. Prices in global ag commodities are up about 20% so far this year -- it's no wonder there are Arab Fall flare ups (this time directed at America) breaking out across the globe. A 20% increase in foodstuffs would triple the levels of unrest, by the IMF formula, and that seems to be precisely what's happening.

    The food and hunger-induced chaos in 2011 was heartwarmingly marketed by propagandists as democratization. The primary cause was food inflation, not stupid remarks or films. The author hypothesizes: Food Price Index + FAO Hunger Index = Riots, Civil Wars and Revolutions.

    The FAO Global Hunger Index (GHI) measures levels of food stress around the world. A hunger level above 30 is considered extremely alarming, 20 to 29 is alarming and 10 to 19 is serious. Nigeria, where 10% of U.S. oil imports - sweet crude that cannot be substituted - come from, has a hunger index of 16. Yemen, which is in open disorder and a completely failed state, had a hunger index of 25 in 2011. Angola, another oil producer, had an alarming hunger index of 27. Cameroon, severely impacted by food riots during the 2008 commodity bubble and a small African oil producer, had a score of 18. Bangladesh and India were both ranked an alarming 24. Both countries were impacted this year by a poor monsoon period, which normally brings much-needed rain for crops. Pakistan is 21.

    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.

    End of this section pg 1 ... Go to page 2


    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

    End of this section pg 1 ... Go to page 2


    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   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

    End of this section pg 1 ... Go to page 2

    Jobslesness, Brain Drain

    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.
  • As Economy in Silicon Valley Slides, Birth Control Booms

       June 26, 2009, San Jose Mercury News

    With the ranks of the uninsured increasing along with unemployment rates, many women are taking steps to avoid having a child.

    Among gynecologists and family-planning clinics throughout the South Bay, there have been more birth-control consultations since the fall, and women are asking for more reliable, more permanent methods of contraception.

    "They want to focus their finances on the one or two kids that they have," said an OB-GYN. "Instead of going with condoms or birth-control pills, they want longer-term solutions like the intrauterine device." IUDs have a lower failure rate than birth-control pills and condoms, according to the CDC.

    A national Gallup poll revealed that 20% of women surveyed were more concerned about an unintended pregnancy during the bad economy, and 19% were more conscientious about using birth control.

    In the years straddling the market crash of the Great Depression, birthrates plummeted almost 30%. Rates peaked after World War II, then took another nose-dive following the recession of the early 1970s.

    Even lower-income women are filling the rooms of in a Planned Parenthood clinic East San Jose.

    Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, which runs 33 clinics in Northern California, including the South Bay region, sees between 40,000 and 50,000 patients every month. Last December clinics had 25% visits than the previous year, and in March, it was 16% more, with the bulk of patients coming in for birth-control consultations, refills and infection screenings and treatment. Local abortion rates went down during the same time period.

    One woman who opted for an IUD said she wanted a more reliable method since her boyfriend started having trouble finding painting and construction jobs. They can hardly pay the rent on their one-bedroom apartment, and as their public benefits run out, they're struggling with the four kids they have. "I tried the injection and I got pregnant, I tried the pill and I got pregnant. I needed something safer."

    Some women use permanent sterilization, such as the outpatient procedure of placing titanium coils in the fallopian tubes.

    Sometimes it is more than the money. For Indian immigrant women on H-1B visas that require them to be actively employed, losing a job can mean leaving the country.

    Paying for the birth control itself is usually a challenge for low income women. California's Family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment program, which provides free contraception and reproductive-health services to low-income Californians of childbearing age, received 5,000 more claims in 2008 for services than in 2007. Latinos make up the majority of enrollees in the program at 65% statewide.

    With the proposed up to $36 million in cuts to family-planning programs in the state budget, there is much to fear. The federal government matches every $1 the state spends on family planning with $9, so even more is at stake.

    Men are also undergoing more vasectomies to cushion their families against hard times. doclink

    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.

    End of this section pg 1 ... Go to page 2

    Poverty, Inequality

    Population Growth and Control in Africa

       October 1, 2013   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.

    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

    Control Population Growth Cure Poverty

       July 30, 2014

    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.

    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.
       December 6, 2013, 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?

    End of this section pg 1 ... Go to page 2

    Flooding, Earthquakes, Disasters

    Whose Fault is the Weather?

       February 1, 2014, Population Matters

    This year's floods in the UK are at least partly driven by the rising tide of humanity.

    This year's floods in the UK have affected the lives of thousands through disturbance, disruption and the loss, albeit temporary, of homes and livelihoods.

    Britain's weather is never predictable. However, the Met Office's chief scientist has linked this year's exceptional rainfall to climate change, which is linked to carbon emissions from human activity stemming from increasing per capita consumption and rising population levels.

    The rising UK population has another effect. Development pressure affects the green belt and results in much building taking place on unsuitable land where the risk of flooding is high.

    Other countries are also experiencing extreme weather, from the record snowfalls in Japan to the prolonged drought in California.

    Simon Ross, chief executive of Population Matters, commented: "The UK population has risen by 4.5 million since 2001 and is forecast to grow further by around the same amount by 2020. Household numbers will grow at an even faster rate. This growth in population and households will increase carbon emissions, and rising housing costs will push housing development into areas of increased flood risk or exposure to rising sea levels. A sensible response to this year's floods is to seek to stabilise our population and then return it to a sustainable level." doclink

    Karen Gaia says: California's recent dry weather is caused by a semi-permanent high pressure system called the Pacific Hight that has stalled over the Eastern Pacific and has been deflecting cooler, wetter weather to other parts of the country, picking up cold air coming down from the Arctic area and the colder Canadian areas, right into the central part of the country.

    So some of the weather is caused by normal fluctuations, but regardless of the cause, the impact is far greater because high density forces people to live in risky places so that more people are impacted in flooding, landslides, earthquakes, and other weather-caused disasters.

    There will also be a time when resources needed to mitigate these disasters will be stretched thin as more and more people need them.

    Andrew Revkin: Local Population Dynamics Crucial to Understanding Climate Vulnerability

       February 2014   By: Schuyler Null

    "What's become clear to me on population is that it's really a local issue," said Andrew Revkin in an interview at the Wilson Center. Demographic shifts around the world are for the most part heading in the direction people anticipated, But "ll it takes is a tiny diversion of fertility rates and things could really grow or shrink," he said.

    While some regions have stopped growing entirely and are even shrinking, others, like sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia, are still growing rapidly. This can create local resource scarcity and also put more people in the path of disasters.

    "In many of the areas around the world...where you have high fertility rates, you also have high exposure to natural hazards," he said. The population of Tacloban City, the capital of the province struck most directly by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, almost tripled over the last 40 years. So you if you've got this burst of population growth in the next 30 or 40 years and a lot of urbanization, again, in areas that are vulnerable to disasters, you're setting up a really bad situation."

    "Population was long perceived as ... more people means more demand for stuff," he said. "But in vulnerable places it actually means a bigger exposure to hazard." doclink

    Human Impacts of Rising Oceans Will Extend Well Beyond Coasts

       May 28, 2011, Science Daily

    Researchers Katherine Curtis and Annemarie Schneider from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that identifying the human impact of rising sea levels is far more complex than just looking at coastal cities on a map. Basing on current, static population data can greatly misrepresent the true extent - and the pronounced variability - of the human toll of climate change, they said.

    The researcher's report will be published online in the peer-reviewed journal Population and Environment. It will examine the impacts of rising oceans as one element of how a changing climate will affect humans. Economic and social vulnerability was linked with environmental vulnerability to better understand which areas and their populations are most vulnerable.

    Existing climate projections and maps were used to identify areas at risk of inundation from rising sea levels and storm surges, then coupled those vulnerability assessments with projections for future populations.

    "Future climate scenarios typically span 50 to 100 years or more. That's unreasonable for demographic projections, which are often conducted on the order of decades," explains Schneider. The researchers worked to better align population and climate data in both space and time, in order to describe social and demographic dimensions of environmental vulnerability.

    Four regions susceptible to flooding were studied: the tip of the Florida peninsula, coastal South Carolina, the northern New Jersey coastline, and the greater Sacramento region of northern California. Using current patterns of population change to predict future population demographics in those areas, and patterns of movement to or from those areas, they were able to determine that, by 2030 more than 19 million people will be affected by rising sea levels in just their four study areas.

    Through these migrations networks, "environmental impacts will have a ripple effect," Curtis says. For example, people who would have moved to Florida would have to remain where they started or move elsewhere if Florida floods.

    A population's demographic, social, and economic profile affects the ways in which people can respond to local disaster, she adds. For example, children or elderly require a different approach to evacuation and resettlement than a largely working-age population, while workers from the agricultural lands of northern California will face different post-displacement labor challenges than those from the industrial corridor of New Jersey.

    "As we anticipate future events, future natural disasters, we've learned how dramatic it can be -- and there are things that can be done in advance to mitigate the extent of damage in a location," Curtis says. doclink

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

       December 6, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    More Earthquakes Or Just More People?

       May 18, 2010, Californians for Population Stabilization

    Earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and Turkey lead some to wonder if seismic activity is increasing, but seismologists say that improved monitoring and instantaneous news contribute to the sense of more earthquake activity.

    A bigger factor though is that more people in a more populated world are now living in areas along fault lines. There are 130 cities with populations greater than 1 million, and more than half of those cities are on fault lines.

    Haiti, with an estimated population of 9 million, has a fertility rate of 3.81, too high to be sustainable. It's estimated there are about 100,000 Haitians living in the United States illegally and another 30,000 who were awaiting deportation at the time of the quake. doclink

    Help for Pregnant Women in Flood-Affected Pakistan

       August 12, 2010,

    The health system in areas of Pakistan was disturbed by the recent flash floods, with 30 health facilities completely destroyed and no place to seek treatment for displaced persons.

    The government in collaboration with WHO, Unicef, UNFPA, Pakistan Paediatrics Association and Pakistan Gynecologists and Obstetricians Association has begun identifing pregnant women and sick children and providing them immediate treatment. During the last four days, more than 200 displaced expecting mothers have been examined and given medication.

    Mobile treatment programmes have helped uprooted women who were at the risk of giving birth to babies in dangerous circumstances, but they were referred to hospitals where they received treatment. "We have also health education and hygiene promotion sessions with the displaced population to avoid occurrence of opportunistic ailments," a doctor said.

    300 children have undergone medical checkup. Most of them were given vitamin and other treatment.

    Most of the women and children required food and clean drinking water. doclink

    World's River Deltas Sinking Due to Human Activity, Says New Study

       September 21, 2009, New Scientist

    A study from the University of Colorado at Boulder says that most of the world's low-lying river deltas are sinking from human activity, making them increasingly vulnerable to flooding from rivers and ocean storms and putting tens of millions of people at risk.

    The 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report said that many river deltas are at risk from about 18 inches in sea level rise by the end of the century, but other factors are involved: upstream trapping of sediments by reservoirs and dams, man-made channels and levees that whisk sediment into the oceans beyond coastal floodplains, and the accelerated compacting of floodplain sediment caused by the extraction of groundwater and natural gas.

    24 out of the world's 33 major deltas are sinking and 85% experienced severe flooding in recent years. About 500 million people in the world live on river deltas. Each year about 10 million people are affected by storm surges.

    Hurricane Katrina in the United States, flooding in the Asian deltas of Irrawaddy in Myanmar and the Ganges-Brahmaputra in India and Bangladesh are examples. Similar disasters could potentially occur in the Pearl River delta in China and the Mekong River delta in Vietnam, where thousands of square miles are below sea level and the regions are hit by periodic typhoons.

    People have trouble coping with the fury of storm surges that can temporarily raise sea level by three to 10 meters (10 to 33 feet). The trend seems to be worsening. doclink

    Can We Save California's Water?

       February 23, 2008, AlterNet

    An effort is under way to save The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, California's least-known environmental jewel, a unique ecological, economic and cultural resource. The Delta is also a source of drinking water for two-thirds of California's 37 million residents.

    The Delta is in crisis. The levees providing flood protection and secure water supplies are crumbling. The complex system by which water is moved through the Delta is over-subscribed and under the jurisdiction of federal and state court judges.

    Seismologists predict a one-in-three chance of a catastrophic earthquake in the next 50 years that would damage or destroy major portions of the levee system and revert the Delta to an inland salt sea. Federal experts warn that Sacramento is now the most flood-prone city in the nation, exceeding New Orleans.

    There is agreement that the Delta is unsustainable and unacceptable. Political gridlock has prevented California's leaders from fashioning a solution, and those problems have mushroomed into a crisis as government leaders have failed to act.

    Governor Schwarzenegger appointed a Delta Vision Task Force to develop an independent vision for the Delta. The seven-member group began its work last March, advised by expert scientists and a group of stakeholders reflecting every conceivable interest. The resulting Delta Vision, recommends state actions approved unanimously. but will not be universally popular. It speaks some harsh truths, notably, that each day brings California closer to a major disaster. Task Force members noted that "what the nation learned from New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina is the terrible price of waiting."

    Protection of the Delta's ecosystem and a reliable water supply for California should be primary goals. Among recommendations sure to spark controversy: Repairing the Delta is likely to require reduced water diversions -- or changes in the pattern and timing of diversions; New, coordinated water conveyance and storage facilities are needed. Conservation and water system efficiency are the cornerstones of better water management; Urbanization must be halted, and the landscape should be dominated by agricultural, environmental and recreational uses. The locally-dominated governing structure must be changed, in favor of a single authority.

    The Task Force is embarking on fashioning a plan it has presented to California's political leaders. That promises to be equally daunting. But the future of the Delta, and those who depend on it, will require equally bold thinking and actions in 2008. doclink

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    Indigenous and Tribal People

    Hadzabe Facing Severe Pressure on Traditional Way of Life

       July 2, 2006, Guardian (London)

    The Hadzabe are hunter-gatherers in Tanzania.

    Their ancestral homelands covered large parts of northern Tanzania and included the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti Plain.

    Now, the Hadzabe exploit a far smaller territory that is home to a wide array of wildlife and flora that includes the baobab trees, home to the bees from which they collect wild honey.

    The Hadzabe are facing severe pressures on their traditional way of life.

    Scientists fear that the Hadzabe ethnic group could become extinct in a few years.

    According to research by Oxfam, the Hadzabe, who survive on fruit-gathering and hunting, are under threat of extinction as their habitats have been converted into conservation areas and agricultural farms.

    The researchers blamed the situation on poor government policies, which favour conservation of land for wildlife hunting. Researchers found that hunting companies were allowed to hunt in the Maswa game reserve while no locals had access.

    The pastoralist Maasai face similar restrictions on account of licensed hunting.

    Critics say that efforts to resettle Hadzabe in permanent villages have failed.

    The indigenous groups across the planet are struggling to maintain ancient ways of life in the face of the relentless encroachment of modern ways of living.

    While the Tanzanian government is not hostile to the Hadzabe way of life the politics of land in Africa are often fraught with many competing claims and full restoration in the region of Hadzabe hunting rights looks a long way off. doclink

    Ralph says: Not a single comment regarding the pressure of overpopulation that is the basic cause of their problem --- that has in the past affected us all. Karen Gaia says: The indigenous are the first to suffer from overpopulation. They are like the canaries sacrificed in the mines to tell if there was enough air.

    Exploitation, Sex Traffic, Slavery

    India: Mayel Lyang Sut Lom - Sikkim Threatened by Damming of Rivers

       November 6, 2011, International Rivers

    Mayel Lyang Sut Lom (Voices from the Hidden Land) is a 20 minute documentary showing the campaigns of the Lepcha community in Sikkim, India, against the construction of large dams in their homeland. The film shows the Lepchas struggle against the damming of the Teesta River and the destruction of the Dzongu region.

    Dzongu, on the banks of the Teesta, overlooks the sacred Khangchendzonga the worlds third highest mountain and is home to red pandas, snow leopards, and the famous Khangchendzonga National Park. The Lepcha are waiting in apprehension for the harbingers of development the giant bulldozers, the heavy cranes, the polluting crushers. The film asks whether the dams being built in the name of development will destroy the Lepchas culture, identity and socio-economic fabric. It questions whether the construction of dams on the Teesta will leave the Lepcha homeless and disconnected from their mountains and hills, their sacred rocks and springs, their forests and streams. The film seeks to uncover who loses and who benefits from this kind of development. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: When aquifers in India are depleted by overpumping necessitated by its large population, the country turns to other ways of obtaining water, including damming of rivers from the Himalayas. Energy for India's fast-growing middle class is another factor driving the building of dams.

    Half the Sky: How the Trafficking of Women Today is on a Par with Genocide

       August 19, 2010, Guardian (London)

    The authors of a new book, Half the Sky, say the slavery and abuse of women is the greatest moral outrage of our century. One of the authors of the book 'Half the Sky' is a columnist for the New York Times found that girls as young as 14 years were sold to a brothel in north-western Cambodia.

    The two authors of Blue Sky claim that the world is in the grip of a massive moral outrage no less egregious than the African slave trade of the 18th and 19th centuries or the genocides of the 20th.

    It is a key factor behind many of the most pressing economic and political issues today, yet the phenomenon is largely hidden, invisible to most of us and at best it is ignored.

    Many call it "gendercide". In this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality in the developing world.

    Kristof, one of the authors said: "I went to a village outside Phnom Penh where a very young teenage girl was having her virginity auctioned. Instead of helping her, the police were there to ensure that, if she escaped, she would be returned to her owners. These girls would be dead of AIDS by their twenties."

    It could be that one major reason why high-school girls drop out of school is that they have trouble managing menstruation, but it is likely that people who run aid organisations and write about it have never menstruated.

    Every year, at least two million girls worldwide disappear because of discrimination. The authors have begun investigationg its various forms, from sexual slavery to honour killings of women deemed to have disgraced the family, to rape as an extension of war, to genital mutilation, to the less violent but no less damaging exclusion of women from health services and education.

    We realised there was a societal attitude that doesn't allow women to be active members of society, that doesn't treat them like human beings.

    The authors give a list of action points that readers can take within 10 minutes to make a difference and they challenge us to join a historical movement to eradicate sex slavery.

    A four-hour public broadcasting TV documentary is in the works, and a videogame version of the book will be launched in an attempt to reach a younger audience. doclink

    Nigeria's Oil Fires Stoke Claims of Villagers to Spoils

       August 20, 2007, The Seattle Times

    A fire burned for 45 days, blanketing the village with ash and torching the cassava. No one would put out the fire.

    The average Nigerian lives on less than $2 a day, despite the country's rise in oil exports. Villagers saw the fire as a negotiating tool, risking their health, land and even lives to grab spoils from the multinational oil companies that rule the region.

    Pipeline explosions have killed hundreds in past years, including more than 400 in Lagos.

    Oil firms blame criminals who tap the line to steal crude, villagers argue that aged pipes rupture.

    In Kegbara Dere, village youths confessed to sabotaging the line, and village leaders refused to let the fire be extinguished without a payout.

    Foreign companies left the land riddled with polluted waterways and half-cleaned-up spills. Oil companies continue production in the rest of the delta, but in Ogoniland, residents ran Shell out in 1993, leaving the pipeline and the pollution.

    In May, 40 young men closed off pipe valves for six days to extract money from Shell. The closure cut output by about 170,000 barrels a day. The pressure from the stepped-up pipes was so intense that the ground shook.

    The rest of the village banded to reopen the valves. Shell invited the youth involved to a training session on environmental cleanup in a fancy hotel. They expected lucrative cleanup contracts, but none arrived. The young men wrote to Shell warning "the situation would be bad" if the company failed to give them contracts. When no contracts came, the fire started.

    Youth leaders said it was wrong to cut the pipes. But he said villagers now wanted $40,000 to let Shell put out the fire and repair the leak. In Lagos, the fire was a problem for Shell. The oil companies say it's not their job to pave roads or build schools. The Nigerian government owns 55% of Shell's venture in Nigeria.

    A young man from Ogoniland runs a contracting company that helps get oil companies into villages to clean up spills but he won't work in Ogoniland because of accusations that he profits off his people's misery.

    In two nearby villages, smoke continues to fill the air from pipeline fires that haven't yet been negotiated out. doclink

    Prostitution Growing in India, Says Survey

       July 2, 2006, Times Of India

    Several factors are pushing more women and young girls to take to prostitution all over India. Latest estimates show there are some three million, a majority in the 15-35 year group.

    There are several reasons why prostitution is growing, migration and poverty, political instability, erosion of traditional values, desire to earn easy money, globalization and declining job opportunities for uneducated and unskilled youths. Also urbanization, new attitudes to sex, apprehension among youths about their sexual performance, rise in hospitality industries, promiscuity as well as myths about sex with virgin women.

    But prostitution is largely an urban phenomenon; a study involved interviewing 10,000 people, mostly prostitutes, across 31 states and territories.

    Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal accounted for about a fourth of the total respondents. Girls and women from these states were operating in more than 12 states and territories. Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Bhutanese and Myanmar women also formed a small part of the prostitution market.

    There is a new form of 'commuting prostitute' where girls and women from rural areas come to cities for specific hours on the pretext of working in offices/homes. They come mainly from groups and backward castes and are of all religions.

    Call girls are from general caste groups and have had better education.

    Most prostitutes, are 15 to 35 years. Many young men look for sex for pleasure and fun. While income for the majority of prostitutes ranges from Rs.2,000 to Rs.24,000 a month some call girls earn Rs.40,000 to Rs.800,000 a month.

    But girls and women live in dilemma and duality. The study says complete eradication of prostitution is not possible. But its prevalence can be reduced. Dealing with such a problem will require sincere and sustained efforts of the government, voluntary organizations, people's group and all round support of the socio-religious and political leaders based on properly planned national line of action. doclink

    Child-theft Racket Growing in China; Thousands Are Abducted for Profit Each Year

       January 1, 2006, Los Angeles Times

    Thousands of children are snatched from their parents each year in China. Some are babes in arms. In July, 28 baby girls, none older than 3 months, were found drugged and bound in nylon duffel bags on a long-distance bus. One died; the rest were taken to an orphanage. The reasons for child trafficking are as varied as they are disturbing. Some children end up abroad. Others remain in the country, especially in rural China, where having a son is still a must for inheritance. But girls are in demand in areas where men outnumber women. Some are forced to work as prostitutes, maids or in begging rings. The problem is growing despite efforts by the government. China rescued 3,488 abducted children in 2004, only a fraction of those lost. China has laws against baby-buying and strict regulations to prevent children who have been purchased from entering international adoption channels. Nonetheless, the Hengyang orphanage was recently caught buying babies. Everyone adopts with the idea these are orphans needing a home. The amount of money Chinese orphanages receive for foreign adoptions creates a big incentive to obtain children legally or illegally and route them into foreign channels. Stealing children was unthinkable when communism was the ideology and neighborhood minders watched a person's every move. The headlong rush for material wealth since then has resulted in problems as social mores give way to greed. Most families have little chance of ever seeing their children again. Migrant workers living on the edge of China's big cities in poor neighborhoods filled with desperate people make easy pickings. As the market develops and profits soar, sophisticated gangs are replacing opportunistic freelancers. Some children are also sold willingly by their parents, in hopes they can have a son under China's one-child policy, or simply for cash. Those who snatch the kids can expect to get $36 to $60, according to confessions of those caught. Middlemen can sell them for $400 or more, with the end buyer paying upward of $1,200 for girls, and $2,000 for boys. Most parents voice support for the government's use of the death penalty against child thieves. But parents of the missing say the state should also come down heavily on those who buy children. Buyers are subject to a three-year jail sentence, but the law is almost never enforced. 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.

    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

    No Legal Caviar Exports This Year

       January 5, 2006, Environment News Service

    International trade in caviar from wild sturgeons will not be allowed until exporting countries promote sustainable fishing. This position amounts to a temporary ban on the legal export of caviar. The 169 CITES countries have set strict conditions for permitting caviar exports in an effort to control poaching and the black market in caviar. A government must show that trade is not detrimental to the long term survival of the species. Countries sharing sturgeon stocks must agree amongst themselves on catch and export quotas. They must also adopt a regional sturgeon conservation strategy and demonstrate that their catch and export quotas reflect current population trends and are sustainable. Information provided by the sturgeon exporting countries bordering the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea/lower Danube River, and the Heilongjiang/Amur River indicates that many of the species are suffering serious population declines. The proposed quotas may not fully reflect the reductions in stocks or make sufficient allowance for illegal fishing. It is currently not possible to export caviar and other sturgeon products from shared stocks. Iranian caviar from the Caspian Sea accounts for 90% of world caviar trade and at least 110 metric tons have been exported from the region each year. Consumers will be able to purchase this legal caviar as long as supplies last in shops and with online distributors. In 2001, CITES responded to high levels of poaching and illegal trade in the Caspian Sea by agreeing on a temporary ban. With the agreement of the countries where sturgeons are found, the rules on how to set quotas were made even more rigorous in 2004. The measures taken by exporting countries must be complemented by regulations in importing countries who are obligated to ensure that all imports are from legal sources. The CITES regime for international trade in caviar is comprehensive and strong enough to ensure that the trade in sturgeon products is sustainable. To ensure the long term health of the sturgeon fisheries, many states are establishing sturgeon hatcheries, and taking measures to stamp out illegal fishing. In 2001 CITES estimated the legal caviar trade to be worth some $100 million annually. Because prices of illegal caviar vary widely, it is difficult to estimate the value of illegal trade, but, it is enormous. doclink

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    Wars, Conflict, Terrorism, Refugees

    Did Climate Change Spark 2011 Syrian Uprising?

       March 3, 2015, Business Standard

    Researchers say a record drought that ravaged Syria in 2006-2010 destroyed agriculture in the breadbasket region of northern Syria, which, in turn, drove dispossessed farmers to cities, where poverty, government mismanagement and other factors created unrest that exploded in the spring 2011 Syrian uprising. The conflict has since evolved into a complex multinational war that has killed at least 200,000 people and displaced millions.

    The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Coauthor Richard Seager, a climate scientist at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory said the drought " added to all the other stressors, it helped kick things over the threshold into open conflict."

    A growing body of research suggests that extreme weather, including high temperatures and droughts, increases the chances of violence, from individual attacks to full-scale wars.

    The recent drought affected the so-called Fertile Crescent, spanning parts of Turkey and much of Syria and Iraq. The study authors showed that since 1900, the area has undergone warming of 1 to 1.2 degrees Centigrade (about 2 degrees Fahrenheit), and about a 10% reduction in wet-season precipitation. They showed that the trend matches neatly with models of human-influenced global warming, and thus cannot be attributed to natural variability.

    Global warming appears to have indirectly weakened wind patterns that bring rain-laden air from the Mediterranean, and higher temperatures have increased evaporation of moisture from soils during the usually hot summers, giving any dry year a one-two punch. While there were substantial droughts in the 1950s, 1980s and 1990s, 2006-10 was easily the worst and longest since reliable recordkeeping began.

    The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted that the already violent Mideast will dry more in coming decades as human-induced warming proceeds.

    Population growth -- from 4 million in the 1950s to 22 million in recent years -- has also made Syria vulnerable. Other factors include growing water-intensive export crops like cotton and illegal drilling of irrigation wells which dramatically depleted groundwater, said coauthor Shahrzad Mohtadi, a graduate student at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs who did the economic and social components of the research.

    The drought caused agricultural production to drop by a third. Livestock herds were practically obliterated; cereal prices doubled; and nutrition-related diseases among children saw dramatic increases. 1.5 million people fled from the countryside to the peripheries of cities that were already strained by influxes of refugees from the ongoing war in next-door Iraq. In these chaotic instant suburbs, the Assad regime did little to help people with employment or services, said Mohtadi. It was largely in these areas that the uprising began.

    High global food prices may also have been a factor.

    Research by other scientists has suggested that the Akkadian Empire, spanning much of the Fertile Crescent about 4,200 years ago, likely collapsed during a multi-year drought. doclink

    Population Growth Far Outpaces Food Supply in Conflict-Ravaged Sahel

    Researchers say conflict and climate change mean the region’s resources will be unable to sustain the increasing population
       October 22, 2014, Mail and Guardian   By: Chris Arsenault

    "The Supply and Demand of Net Primary Production in the Sahel", a study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, used satellite images to find that the Sahel's ability to produce food is not keeping pace with its growing population, and higher temperatures from global warming will only

    In the 22 countries that make up the arid Sahel in northern Africa, the population grew from 367 million in 2000 to 471 million in 2010, an increase of almost 30%. However, the production of crops remained essentially unchanged and higher temperatures will reduce crop production. The amount of carbon consumed jumped from 19% in 2000 to 41% in 2010.

    Hakim Abdi, lead author of study, said the tension in Darfur "stems partially from a lack of resources." The Sahel also faces Islamist insurgencies in parts of Libya, Chad and Niger, along with an uprising by ethnic Tuareg separatists in Mali.

    Political violence seems likely to intensify as growing populations battle for dwindling food supplies. Some of the world's fastest growing populations are located in the region. Niger, the poorest place on Earth, according to the UN's human development index, also has the world's highest birthrate, followed by Mali.

    The number of people in the Sahel is expected to rise from 30 million in 1950 to close to 1 billion by 2050.

    Ibrahim Coulibaly, a Malian farmer and activist with Via Campesina, recently told a UN panel in Rome "Producing results to overcoming food insecurity means we need to take a fresh look at innovation in family farms." Drought resistant crops and new infrastructure for processing and transporting food, along with new publicly funded training for small farmers were needed to increase resilience, he said.

    Drought resistant crops and new techniques could improve production, but might not be enough in the face of population growth and disruption linked to global warming. doclink

    The Cause of Riots and the Price of Food

       June 21, 2013, MIT Technology Review

    If we don't reverse the current trend in food prices, we've got until August 2013 before social unrest sweeps the planet, says Marco Lagi of the New England Complex Systems Institute in Cambridge, who say they've found a single factor that seems to trigger riots around the world.

    Lagi and company say that when food rises above a certain threshold, social unrest sweeps the planet.

    Two sources of data were used: the United Nations plot of the price of food against time using the food price index of FAO The second is the date of riots around the world, whatever their cause.

    Follow the link in the headline to see the graph which clearly seems to show that when the food price index rises above a certain threshold, the result is trouble around the world.

    It stands to reason that people become desperate when food is unobtainable.

    Lagi and company say that high food prices don't necessarily trigger riots themselves, they simply create the conditions in which social unrest can flourish.

    In other words, high food prices lead to a kind of tipping point when almost anything can trigger a riot, like a lighted match in a dry forest.

    Lagi and company say that two main factors have driven the increase in the food price index. The first is traders speculating on the price of food, a problem that has been exacerbated in recent years by the deregulation of the commodities markets and the removal of trading limits for buyers and sellers.

    The second is the conversion of corn into ethanol, a practice directly encouraged by subsidies.

    Those are both factors that the western world and the US in particular could change.

    The food index is rising and is likely to cross the threshold in August 2013. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: while consumption is part of the problem, everyone has to eat, so population also contributes to this problem, especially at the rate at which it is growing (1 billion every 12-14 years). Also, the graph is only for 8 years - however, it has only been the last 12 years that consumption has exceeded production 8 out of 12 of those years.

    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.

    Witches' Hats Theory of Government: How Increasing Population is Making the Task of Government Harder

       August 25, 2011, Australian Labor MP Kelvin Thomson

    In an address to Sustainable Population Australia & the Australia Institute, Australian Labor MP Kelvin Thomson told his audience that there is a clear correlation between population growth and social upheaval and unrest. The Arab Spring riots were a result of rising food prices, high unemployment, and a widening gap between rich and poor, and these riots resulted in changes of government in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.

    Due to a 70% rise in global wheat prices between June and December 2010, people simply could not afford the bread they needed to live.

    Egypt's population had grown from 22 million in 1952 to 81 million in 2010 - four times larger. This meant a high percentage of high-testosterone young males, who are prepared to risk bullets and oust dictators. After decades of exporting oil to pay for grain, Egypt now needs to import both oil and grain to meet the needs of a population that doubled under Mubarak, and didn't thank him for it.

    A US sociologist, Professor Jack Goldstone, said there was a clear link between rapid population growth and social unrest, seen in events like theFrench and Russian Revolutions. He looked at the recent riots in the London suburb of Tottenham and found that the population had grown by nearly 8% between 2000 and 2005, with a high percentage of new immigrants and young people - three times the UK average for this period.

    Nigeria, Africa's most populous country saw a tripling in population from its independence in 1960 to 2010. Along with this rapid increase there have been economic booms and busts, military coups, widespread corruption, and ethnic and religious divisions.

    Ghana's population quadrupled over 50 years and saw military coups during that time, even though the country is rich in natural resources. In 1994-95 land disputes in the North erupted into ethnic violence

    Kenya's population quadrupled in the same period, and is currently growing at a brisk 2.8% per year. It has been beset by mismanagement and corruption.

    While often the instability is attributed to ethnic or religious differences, these are merely symptoms of the underlying problem - too many people for the available resources of land, food, water, fuel, housing, jobs.

    The Witches' Hats theory of government is that population growth is likely to undermine support for governments, irrespective of the prevailing political system and culture. The Witches Hats refer to the plastic orange cones used on slalom type driving courses. If you hit too many you fail. If a government fails a number of public policy tasks, it is likely to be voted out. If you're a government you're much more likely to successfully solve peoples' problems, that is, avoid those witches' hats, if you have a population that is pretty stable, rather than one that is growing rapidly.

    For example, post WWII California is described by US environmentalist Frosty Wooldridge as "the most beautiful State in the Union." California's mountains, coastline and weather beckoned. Californian condors soared through limitless blue skies. Yosemite National Park, giant sequoia redwoods, whales and seals along its coastline - created the Californian mystique. Then it housed a reasonable 10 million people. Today 38 million people cram, jam, gridlock and fume in their fumes on forever crowded freeways. It is a massive subdivision, housing sprawl. Roads, malls, schools, churches, and homes devour land. Developers demolish nature.

    California seems on its way to becoming ungovernable. Democratic governor, Gray Davis, was recalled. Governor Jerry Brown has been unable to bridge the budget gap and a sharp partisan divide. That sharp partisan divide is an increasing feature of, and blot on, United States politics -dragging the whole country down and making it nigh on ungovernable.

    Example after example is given showing a correlation between rapid population growth and unrest. The article is worth reading - just follow the link in the headline above. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: In the U.S. the population has only grown by 1% for many years, yet this growth will double the country's population in 70 years. Changes from open spaces to crowded living have become more noticeable. Perhaps this is like the parable of the lily pond where you don't notice the growth until it is almost too late. The middle class has dwindled down to almost nothing and people are sure to be upset at the high food prices. We have almost reached a point where we will have to start importing most of our food. Perhaps this is what Invade Wall Street is all about.

    Demographic Dividend Can Become a Liability for India

       August 23, 2011, India Today

    Under the Indira Gandhi government, a policy error pushed for population control through a programme of coercive sterilisation. The reaction to that policy created the concept of coalition government in India, and resulted in a population explosion which ended up creating the demographic dividend a couple of decades later.

    From this demographic dividend came a young, educated, eager- to- work population that has powered Indian IT companies to the global top league, pushed India's automotive sector to world scale volumes, and helped build the steeland- glass symbols of India's growing economic might in our mushrooming cities.

    But if the factors which make having a younger working population such a great competitive advantage - energy, drive, ambition - are not channelized productively, they can explode into anarchy and destruction.

    For example, in England this summer, riots flared into an orgy of mindless violence and looting. Most of the rioters and looters were youth with little or no role to play in the sustaining of Britain as one of the world's largest economies.

    In 2008, Jet Airways, caught in the unexpected turbulence set off by the global financial meltdown, tried to sack 1,900 staff, most of them fresh recruits meant to man the cabins of its growing fleet. The sacked staff took to the streets and approached a rabble- rousing political party. For the first time, India saw smart, educated, middle class boys and girls take to the street to voice their anger. Fortuitously, since that recession didn't last too long.

    But now things may be worse than 2008 and an estimated 611 million Indians were under the age of 25 as of 2010. These post- reform children do not understand shortages or lack of services or infrastructure. But they are young, and youth is the age of rebellion. So far they did not really have anything to rebel against. But hand them a concept they can relate to - and the idea of rebelling against an amorphous, anonymously evil idea like corruption is something young people can easily relate to - and they can explode. doclink

    World Bank: No Low-income Fragile Nation Achieves Millennium Development Goal (MDG); Enhanced Global Efforts Vital

       April 10, 2011, Xinhua

    About 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by organized violence, either currently or recovering from political violence, fragility and high levels of homicide, according to the World Bank's World Development Report (WDR) 2011.

    Economic, political and security challenges undermine development and trap fragile states in cycles of violence. National institutions must be bolstered and governance improved to value job creation, citizen security and justice, said the agency.

    "Children living in fragile states are twice as likely to be under-nourished and three times as likely to be out of school. And the effects of violence in one area can spread to neighboring states and to other parts of the world, hurting development prospects of others and impeding economic prospects for entire regions."

    Poverty rates are 20% higher in countries affected by violence over the last 30 years. Nations lose an estimated 0.7% of their annual gross domestic product (GDP) for each neighboring country involved in civil wars. In the four weeks following the unrest in Libya, global oil prices surged by 15%.

    While much of the world has made huge progress in reducing poverty over the past 60 years, countries facing political instability and criminal violence are being left far behind and face stagnation, both in terms of economic growth and disappointing human development indicators.

    Securing jobs and to paying attention to vulnerable groups of people are the "key to social stability and economic development in different nations", said a World Bank representative.

    The World Bank said it could play a constructive role helping governments to "stabilize domestic prices and to secure the supply of food to citizens."

    The report suggested improving global coordination through measures including providing more integrated assistance for citizen security, justice and jobs, forging new international consensus on the norms of responsible leadership and encouraging knowledge exchange. doclink

    Men Without Women; the Ominous Rise of Asia's Bachelor Generation

       March 14, 2011, Newsweek

    The U.N. says there are far more men than women in the world. In Asia, where there are 100 million more guys than girls. In the Western world,women outnumber men because the mortality rate for women is lower than for men in all age groups.

    In many Asian societies, girls are economically undervalued. The kind of domestic work they typically do is seen as less important than paid work done by men. So they are less looked after. And, of course, early marriage and minimal birth control together expose them to the risks of multiple pregnancies.

    Even as living standards in Asian countries have soared, the gender gap has widened because a cultural preference for sons over daughters leads to selective abortion of female fetuses, a practice made possible by ultrasound scanning, and engaged in despite legal prohibitions. People in northwestern India and China widely practice "gendercide."

    Demographer Nicholas Eberstadt reports there are about 123 male children for every 100 females up to the age of 4. In Jiangxi, Guangdong, Hainan, and Anhui provinces, baby boys outnumber baby girls by 30% or more. One in five young men will be brideless. Imagine 10 cities the size of Houston populated exclusively by young males.

    German scholar Gunnar Heinsohn says European imperial expansion after 1500 was the result of a male "youth bulge." Japan's imperial expansion after 1914 was the result of a similar youth bulge. During the Cold War, it was youth-bulge countries--Algeria, El Salvador, and Lebanon--that saw the worst civil wars and revolutions. Heinsohn has also linked the recent rise of Islamist extremism in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan to an Islamic youth bulge. Political scientists Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer warn that China and India could be the next countries to overdose on testosterone. doclink

    End of this section pg 1 ... Go to page 2

    Overuse of Land

    U.S.: The Growth Ponzi Scheme

       2011, Strong Towns

    This article originally appeared in Grist. It is available at no charge for non-commercial reprinting. Please credit Strong Towns and link back to our site at

    We often forget that the American pattern of suburban development is an experiment, one that has never been tried anywhere before. We assume it is the natural order because it is what we see all around us. But our own history - let alone a tour of other parts of the world - reveals a different reality. Across cultures, over thousands of years, people have traditionally built places scaled to the individual. It is only the last two generations that we have scaled places to the automobile.

    How is our experiment working?

    At Strong Towns, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization I cofounded in 2009, we are most interested in understanding the intersection between local finance and land use. How does the design of our places impact their financial success or failure?

    What we have found is that the underlying financing mechanisms of the suburban era - our post-World War II pattern of development - operates like a classic Ponzi scheme, with ever-increasing rates of growth necessary to sustain long-term liabilities.

    Since the end of World War II, our cities and towns have experienced growth using three primary mechanisms:

    * Transfer payments between governments: where the federal or state government makes a direct investment in growth at the local level, such as funding a water or sewer system expansion.

    * Transportation spending: where transportation infrastructure is used to improve access to a site that can then be developed.

    * Public and private-sector debt: where cities, developers, companies, and individuals take on debt as part of the development process, whether during construction or through the assumption of a mortgage.

    In each of these mechanisms, the local unit of government benefits from the enhanced revenues associated with new growth. But it also typically assumes the long-term liability for maintaining the new infrastructure. This exchange - a near-term cash advantage for a long-term financial obligation - is one element of a Ponzi scheme.

    The other is the realization that the revenue collected does not come near to covering the costs of maintaining the infrastructure. In America, we have a ticking time bomb of unfunded liability for infrastructure maintenance. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) estimates the cost at $5 trillion - but that's just for major infrastructure, not the minor streets, curbs, walks, and pipes that serve our homes.

    The reason we have this gap is because the public yield from the suburban development pattern -- the amount of tax revenue obtained per increment of liability assumed -- is ridiculously low. Over a life cycle, a city frequently receives just a dime or two of revenue for each dollar of liability. The engineering profession will argue, as ASCE does, that we're simply not making the investments necessary to maintain this infrastructure. This is nonsense. We've simply built in a way that is not financially productive.

    We've done this because, as with any Ponzi scheme, new growth provides the illusion of prosperity. In the near term, revenue grows, while the corresponding maintenance obligations -- which are not counted on the public balance sheet -- are a generation away.

    In the late 1970s and early 1980s, we completed one life cycle of the suburban experiment, and at the same time, growth in America slowed. There were many reasons involved, but one significant factor was that our suburban cities were now starting to experience cash outflows for infrastructure maintenance. We'd reached the "long term," and the end of easy money.

    It took us a while to work through what to do, but we ultimately decided to go "all in" using leverage. In the second life cycle of the suburban experiment, we financed new growth by borrowing staggering sums of money, both in the public and private sectors. By the time we crossed into the third life cycle and flamed out in the foreclosure crisis, our financing mechanisms had, out of necessity, become exotic, even predatory.

    One of humanity's greatest strengths -- our ability to innovate solutions to complex problems -- can be a detriment when we misdiagnose the problem. Our problem was not, and is not, a lack of growth. Our problem is 60 years of unproductive growth -- growth that has buried us in financial liabilities. The American pattern of development does not create real wealth. It creates the illusion of wealth. Today we are in the process of seeing that illusion destroyed, and with it the prosperity we have come to take for granted.

    That is now our greatest immediate challenge. We've actually embedded this experiment of suburbanization into our collective psyche as the "American dream," a non-negotiable way of life that must be maintained at all costs. What will we throw away trying to sustain the unsustainable? How much of our dwindling wealth will be poured into propping up this experiment gone awry?

    We need to end our investments in the suburban pattern of development, along with the multitude of direct and indirect subsidies that make it all possible. Further, we need to intentionally return to our traditional pattern of development, one based on creating neighborhoods of value, scaled to actual people. When we do this, we will inevitably rediscover our traditional values of prudence and thrift as well as the value of community and place.

    The way we achieve real, enduring prosperity is by building an America full of what we call Strong Towns. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: This article only covers part of the problem. To be sure, no part can be neglected, but we must also look at our unsustainable drawing from the world's bank of natural resources. When a resource such as oil, per-capita soil, or per-capita water peaks, then the economy suffers and people pay the price. This usually happens with overpopulation and/or over consumption. In the U.S., both have contributed to the sprawl, paving over of farmland and wildlife habitat, and resource depletion.

    Water Hauling and Girls' Education

       June 28, 2013, Council on Foreign Relations

    Girls' education has come to be seen as one of the most potent vaccines against poverty and disease. The most recent UN Human Development Report found that "a mother's education level is more important to child survival than is household income. Shifting the emphasis from efforts to boost household income to measures to improve girls' education was found to have a far greater positive impact. "Educated women tend to have fewer, healthier and better educated children; in many countries educated women also enjoy higher salaries than do uneducated workers."

    However, 35 million girls remain out of school worldwide, with nearly half of them in Sub-Saharan Africa, says the World Bank.

    A World Bank study in Ghana found that the time a girl has to spend fetching and hauling water is directly connected to her school attendance especially in rural areas where distances to water sources are usually longer than they are in cities.

    Reducing the time to haul water by half would increase the proportion of girls aged 5-15 who attend school by 2.4% points on average, especially in rural communities, the report said. Another paper finds that both boys and girls go to school in higher numbers when it is easier to access water. For every hour less spent to walking to the water source increases girls' school enrollment rates by about 10% in Yemen, and by about 12% in Pakistan." Similar results have been found when it comes to the gathering of firewood. doclink

    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

    Population Growth and Poor Farming Methods Weigh on the Land

       August 21, 2007, International Press Service

    In Burundi, the Mbarushimana clan is receiving a lesson in the limits of natural resources. Three sons, and other relatives, are trying to survive on land inherited from their father. They have one hectare, to be shared between the three. They are busy having an uncontrolled way. What will be become of our children?" asks one of the sons, who fears the children will become landless, and even find themselves living on the streets.

    Subsistence farmers in this small Central African country are struggling to find land to cultivate.

    Plots are subdivided to meet the needs of growing families, which over-exploit the land, leading to soil degradation and its attendant problems. Agricultural land is insufficient and no longer has the quality necessary to give good harvests.

    Burundi has a population of eight million, and a surface area of 27,834 square kilometres; a population density of 270 inhabitants per square kilometre. But for an independent environmental consultant, the problems relating to land use are also a result of the lack of effective equipment, of bad agricultural practices and of a high rate of illiteracy. Population expert Evariste Ngayimpenda believes more needs to be done. "While there is not a clear national land policy, nothing will be able to slow this pressure on the land," he told IPS. Burundi's population is set to top 10 million by 2015. Burundians fear that disputes over land will cause ethnic tensions to flare. Tutsis have long been at odds with the majority Hutu group in this country.

    The return of Burundian refugees who fled conflict in their country is complicating land matters further.

    About 33,000 Burundian refugees returned from years in Tanzania, leaving roughly 400,000 Burundian refugees in Tanzania. Fear of food shortages and continued insecurity seem to account for the decline in returns, The return of refugees has multiplied conflicts over land ownership, flooding the justice system with land cases. doclink

    India Completes Huge Dam, Critics Damn It

       January 2, 2007, Planet Ark

    India completed a controversial dam on Sunday, that environmental groups say will destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands.

    Authorities hailed the completion of the Sardar Sarovar Dam as an answer to the water needs of millions in the west of the country.

    The Sardar Sarovar is the centerpiece of the multibillion- dollar Narmada Valley development project that taps the Narmada, India's fifth-largest river. The dam will connect an 86,000 kilometer (50,000 mile) network of canals and help irrigate 1.8 million hectares (4.5 million acres) of farm land and provide drinking water to 20 million people. It will help in flood control and generate 1,450 MW of peak power.

    Construction of the dam, which is 1,250 metres (4,100 ft) long, 122 metres (400 ft) high, began in 1987. But it became the focus of one of the world's longest social and environmental campaigns.

    Nearly a decade was lost over how to divide water and power and five years in legal battles with activists from the Save the Narmada Movement.

    They claim the dam will displace 320,000 people -- and the benefits are false promises.

    One said the dam showed policymakers favoured the rich in urban India, and went on a hunger strike that forced authorities to come up with better rehabilitation plans for some of those affected.

    The Sardar Sarovar project will have to prove whether it is a right combination of engineering and natural resources or a blunder of depriving farmers of their land. doclink

    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

    Dying for Firewood

       March 15, 2006, InterPress Service

    Uprooted from their homes by armed conflict, persecution and humanitarian disasters, almost 35 million people live as displaced persons (IDPs) or refugees. For women and girls in refugee settings, life is particularly grim and dangerous. Every day, millions of women and girls collect firewood at a risk of rape, assault, abduction, theft and even death. Refugee camps provide shelter, water, health care and food but rarely the fuel that cooks that food. Cooking fuel is crucial, but for refuges it cannot be taken for granted. Not only does fuel, in the form of firewood, provide the means to eat, it is often used as construction material or for health care. In addition, it is a source of income and can be sold or traded. However, the risks of collecting cooking fuel often remain overlooked by the humanitarian organisations. The burdens and risks of collecting cooking fuel fall disproportionately on girls and women. The risks are obviously hardest in situations of ongoing conflict - Darfur being perhaps the most dangerous place. Women and girls begin their search for firewood at three o'clock in the morning into the surrounding desert, hoping to find enough wood to last for the day, and to be back in time to cook breakfast before sunrise. But the finding a single tree means walking for several hours, and digging by hand in the clay soil for pieces of root. They often fall victim to the Sudanese government military forces, or the Darfur militia group which waits in the deep desert. Both are aware of the early morning treks, and feel free to commit mass rape and sexual assault. The attackers know they will not be caught, and women are well aware of what will happen when they venture out to collect firewood. In other settings, such as among the refugees that live in eastern Nepal, sexual attacks on the women and girls outside the camps occur less often. Yet local "forest guards" remain a threat for refugee girls, some who have been gang-raped and murdered in the forest. The situation becomes problematic since Nepalese law prohibits refugees to engage in any income generation activity. The women are not allowed to get firewood, therefore they cannot report the crimes they are subjected to. Fuel alternatives and firewood collection are important and urgently need to be addressed. Fuel-efficient solar-powered stoves, food that requires less cooking, and cooking techniques that require less time were some of the measures to change the situation. A report recommended sending patrols out with women as they collected firewood, as well as bringing in fuel in a humanitarian crisis. Income-generating opportunities for refugees and displaced populations must be provided. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: The article does not mention that, in these places, firewood is already scarce because of overpopulation.

    Dying for Firewood

       March 15, 2006, InterPress Service

    Uprooted from their homes by armed conflict, persecution and humanitarian disasters, almost 35 million people live as displaced persons (IDPs) or refugees. For women and girls in refugee settings, life is particularly grim and dangerous. Every day, millions of women and girls collect firewood at a risk of rape, assault, abduction, theft and even death. Refugee camps provide shelter, water, health care and food but rarely the fuel that cooks that food. Cooking fuel is crucial, but for refuges it cannot be taken for granted. Not only does fuel, in the form of firewood, provide the means to eat, it is often used as construction material or for health care. In addition, it is a source of income and can be sold or traded. However, the risks of collecting cooking fuel often remain overlooked by the humanitarian organisations. The burdens and risks of collecting cooking fuel fall disproportionately on girls and women. The risks are obviously hardest in situations of ongoing conflict - Darfur being perhaps the most dangerous place. Women and girls begin their search for firewood at three o'clock in the morning into the surrounding desert, hoping to find enough wood to last for the day, and to be back in time to cook breakfast before sunrise. But the finding a single tree means walking for several hours, and digging by hand in the clay soil for pieces of root. They often fall victim to the Sudanese government military forces, or the Darfur militia group which waits in the deep desert. Both are aware of the early morning treks, and feel free to commit mass rape and sexual assault. The attackers know they will not be caught, and women are well aware of what will happen when they venture out to collect firewood. In other settings, such as among the refugees that live in eastern Nepal, sexual attacks on the women and girls outside the camps occur less often. Yet local "forest guards" remain a threat for refugee girls, some who have been gang-raped and murdered in the forest. The situation becomes problematic since Nepalese law prohibits refugees to engage in any income generation activity. The women are not allowed to get firewood, therefore they cannot report the crimes they are subjected to. Fuel alternatives and firewood collection are important and urgently need to be addressed. Fuel-efficient solar-powered stoves, food that requires less cooking, and cooking techniques that require less time were some of the measures to change the situation. A report recommended sending patrols out with women as they collected firewood, as well as bringing in fuel in a humanitarian crisis. Income-generating opportunities for refugees and displaced populations must be provided. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: The article does not mention that, in these places, firewood is already scarce because of overpopulation.

    End of this section pg 1 ... Go to page 2

    Democracy, Development, and Dignity

    SOPA and PIPA Dropped by Congress in Wake of Largest Online Protest in History

       January 20, 2012, New York Times

    Two days ago WOA!! at went on strike, along with 1,000s of websites including Wikipedia and Redditby, by self-imposing a blackout to protest the SOPA/PIPA that would allow websites to be taken down by the government without recourse. Now it seems that the anti SOPA/PIPA activists have won the day.

    Congress has dropped the bills in the wake of the largest online protest in history. 13 million people signed a petition to implore congress to oppose the bills in order to keep the internet free of censorship.

    MPAA (one of the largest lobbies for the bills) Chairman and former Senator Chris Dodd told the New York Times in a statement that "this was a whole new different game all of a sudden."

    "This is altogether a new effect," Mr. Dodd said, likening the online community's response to the Arab spring movement. He even went so far as to comment that he could not remember seeing "an effort that was moving with this degree of support change this dramatically" in the last 40 years. doclink

    Pulitzer-Prize Winning Reporter Sues Government Over Indefinite Detention Bill

       January 18, 2012, Washington's Blog

    Pulitzer prize winning reporter Chris Hedges has filed suit against Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta for signing the indefinite detention bill into law. The suit challenges the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force as embedded in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed by the president Dec. 31. Under this act the military is authorized carry out domestic policing - for the first time in more than 200 years. As of March 3, 2012, the military can indefinitely detain without trial any U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism. And suspects can be shipped by the military to our offshore penal colony in Guantanamo Bay and kept there until "the end of hostilities."

    The NDAA is a catastrophic blow to civil liberties. We must fight this act t if we are to have any hope of pulling this country back from corporate fascism.

    Chris Hedges is a veteran war correspondent who met regularly with leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza visited the Palestine Liberation Organization leaders, including Yasser Arafat and Abu Jihad, spent time with the Revolutionary Guard in Iran and was in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey with fighters from the Kurdistan Workers' Party - all labeled terrorist organizations by the U.S. These activities do not make Chris Hedges a terrorist.

    Once a group is deemed to be a terrorist organization, the military can under this bill pick up a U.S. citizen who supported charities associated with the group or unwittingly sent money or medical supplies to front groups. We have already seen the persecution and closure of Islamic charity organizations in the United States that supported the Palestinians. Now the members of these organizations can be treated like card-carrying "terrorists" and sent to Guantanamo.

    Chris suspects bill's real purpose is to thwart internal, domestic movements that threaten the corporate state. The Department of Justice considers you worth investigating if you are missing a few fingers, if you have weatherproof ammunition, if you own guns or if you have hoarded more than seven days of food in your house. How many million people meet at least one of these criteria? Adding a few of the obstructionist tactics of the Occupy movement to this list would be a seamless process.

    Dissent is increasingly equated in this country with treason. Enemies supposedly lurk in every organization that does not chant the patriotic mantras provided to it by the state. And this bill feeds a mounting state paranoia. It expands our permanent war to every spot on the globe. It erases fundamental constitutional liberties. It means we can no longer use the word "democracy" to describe our political system.

    What Obama has done is unforgivable, unconstitutional and exceedingly dangerous. Al-Qaida - which Hedges covered - poses only a marginal threat, despite the attacks of 9/11, posing no existential threat to the nation. It has been so disrupted and broken that it can barely function. So why do these draconian measures need to be implemented?

    This bill ignores our Fifth Amendment rights-"No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law"-as well as our First Amendment right of free speech.

    The oddest part of this legislation is that the FBI, the CIA, the director of national intelligence, the Pentagon and the attorney general didn't support it. FBI Director Robert Mueller said he feared the bill would actually impede the bureau's ability to investigate terrorism because it would be harder to win cooperation from suspects held by the military. "The possibility looms that we will lose opportunities to obtain cooperation from the persons in the past that we've been fairly successful in gaining," he told Congress.

    Hedges suspects the bill passed because the corporations, seeing the unrest in the streets, knowing that things are about to get much worse, worrying that the Occupy movement will expand, do not trust the police to protect them. They want to be able to call in the Army. And now they can. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: I've heard it said that 'Population Dilutes Democracy' and now it is happening. Is this what our Vietnam, Iraq, and WWII veterans fought for?

    US Colorado: Boulder Overpopulation Reduces Citizen Opportunities For Democracy

       February 13, 2011, Daily Camera - Albert Bartlett

    Recently the Boulder City Council acted to reduce speaking times from 3 minutes to 2 minutes for citizens wishing to address the Council at public meetings. This is a symptom of a deep illness, where overpopulation is the illness and the large number of people seeking to speak is the symptom. The Council's action is like prescribing aspirin for cancer.

    In 1950 Boulder had about 20,000 people and 9 members on the Council. In 2011 Boulder has five times as many people and there are still just 9 members on the Council. It is likely that today there are about 5 times as many people wanting to speak to Council on any given issue as there were 60 years ago. Thus, we have only one fifth of the democracy that we had 60 years ago.

    Today's crowded Council agendas and reduced speaking time per citizen are the direct consequence of actions of past Councils promoting population growth in Boulder, but news stories have failed to suggest this.

    Despite the fact that the Council has made sincere and earnest efforts to advance the cause of sustainability in Boulder, the new constructions of homes, apartments, condos and other buildings, all approved by the Council, resulted in increasing Boulder's population. In fact they have moved Boulder farther away from sustainability and will further reduce democracy in Boulder.

    The Council should be mindful of the First Law of Sustainability: "You cannot sustain population growth; you cannot sustain growth in the rates of consumption of resources." This Law cannot be repealed. doclink

       Isaac Asimov

    Democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn't matter if someone dies. The more people there are, the less one individual matters. ... doclink

    Bet on India for Long Term

       March 9, 2006, San Jose Mercury News

    Despite the world's focus on China's rise, India, a nuclear power, is not out of the race for economic leader and may become the world's largest economy within the next 45 years. President Bush is trying to reverse prohibitions on U.S. sales to India's nuclear programs. His goal is to enlist New Delhi as a counterweight to China and Iran. India won't displace China overnight. Although the GDPs of the two countries were roughly the same in 1990, China today is ahead of India, with an economy that's twice as large and growing faster. But China has vulnerabilities, the lack of the rule of law and due process for example, has led to corruption, inequality and social unrest. India's cumbersome democracy, lack of central planning and unrestrained population growth, could be long-term advantages. China's leaders have adopted an export-led growth strategy and incentives have been created to produce national savings of more than 40% of GDP, and the money guided into public infrastructure projects and export-oriented manufacturing companies. Foreign investment has been courted in strategic targeted industries. These investments, with inexpensive but hardworking and literate labor, have made China the location of choice for production of everything. It passed the US to become the world's biggest exporter of advanced technology products. Ciaco predicted that China will become the information-technology center of the world between 2020 and 2040. The IMF believes that China can maintain 7% to 8% annual growth for the next 10 to 15 years and could be on a par with the US by 2040. All urban homes have at least one television and a washing machine, while about 60% have both mobile phones and air conditioners. Although India's economy is growing at 6% to 7% annually, it will not match China in near term. Nearly 40% of India's population is illiterate. At 25% of GDP, India's savings rate is half that of China's, while its rate of investment is less than half. Only 40% of urban households have a color television and about 20% have washing machines. Mobile phones and air conditioning are still mostly owned by the wealthy. But the high savings and investment rates of China are excessive. Japan and Korea, which had similar rates, eventually suffered from the costs of collapsing bubbles. China is wasting capital by building too many factories whose production will be in excess of market demand. One measure is that with double the investment, China's GDP is growing only a 2% faster than India's. China's banking and financial industry remains unsophisticated and subject to government "guidance" that generates the loans that waste capital. The proposed solutions threaten to make it worse. China's financial authorities think the solution to bad lending practices is bureaucratic directives rather than letting interest rates and market forces do their work. The authoritarian approach has the possibility that it will birth a backlash. China's leaders can move quickly because they don't have to worry about democratic procedures. But corruption is rampant and such actions ignited protest demonstrations last year. In another 10 years the one-child policy will begin to bite as China's population starts to age and shrink. In short, China will get old before it gets rich. India, in contrast, enjoys many long-term advantages. Although its literacy rate is lower than China's, its Institutes of Technology rival MIT and are better than such schools in China. Only 10% of Chinese engineers have the skills to work in a global company, while for India it is 25%. India's banking and financial institutions are established and have been lending on the basis of market-based analysis. Although India's democratic system can be cumbersome and slow, it is stable. English is the common language of Indians and makes it easier for India to fit into an international business system. India's growth has been a matter of deregulating and getting out of the way of aggressive, private-industry entrepreneurs who have focused on high tech and services. India's growth has so far been on developing innovative new services and high-tech products. Finally, India's demographics are favorable. Its population is growing and will surpass China's around 2035. That, combined with steady growth, means India's GDP will probably surpass China's in the latter half of this century. Half of India's population is under the age of 25, which means that India will have no problem paying for elders' future health care and pension costs. doclink

    Ralph says: Excellent article that then falls head over heels in the last paragraphs. When will our so called "experts" recognise that the world population cannot just continue to grow and grow. How will business flourish when we do not have enough food or clean water to sustain our people?

    Issac Asimov and Dignity


    In an interview ( Moyers 1989 ) Bill Moyers asked Isaac Asimov: What happens to the idea of the dignity of the human species if this population growth continues at its present rate? Asimov responded: It will be completely destroyed. I like to use what I call my bathroom metaphor: if two people live in an apartment and there are two bathrooms, then both have freedom of the bathroom. You can go to the bathroom anytime you want to stay as long as you want for whatever you need. And everyone believes in freedom of the bathroom; it should be right there in the Constitution. But if you have twenty people in the apartment and two bathrooms, no matter how much every person believes in freedom of the bathroom, there is no such thing. You have to set up times for each person, you have to bang on the door, "Aren't you through yet?" and so on. Asimov concluded with the profound observation: In the same way, democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive. Convenience and decency cannot survive. As you put more and more people onto the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn't matter if someone dies, the more people there are, the less one person matters.



    Globalism vs Bioregionalism

    The World After Oil Peaks

       May 23, 2006, Earth Policy Institute

    Even though peak oil may be imminent, most countries are counting on higher oil consumption in the decades ahead. Yet in a world of declining oil production, no country can use more oil except at the expense of others.

    Some segments of the global economy will be affected more than others, among these are the automobile, food, and airline industries. Cities and suburbs will also evolve.

    Stresses within the U.S. auto industry were already evident and their affiliated industries will also be affected, including auto parts and tire manufacturers.

    Food will become more costly, diets will be altered as people move down the food chain and consume more local, seasonally produced food. Rising oil prices will draw agriculture into the production of fuel crops, setting up competition between affluent motorists and low-income food consumers. Airlines, both passenger travel and freight, will continue to suffer and cheap airfares may become history.

    Air freight will be hit hard and one of the early casualties could be the transport of fresh produce from the southern hemisphere during the northern winter as the price becomes prohibitive.

    During the century of cheap oil, an enormous automobile infrastructure was built in industrial countries that requires large amounts of energy to maintain. The United States, for example, has 2.6 million miles of paved roads, covered mostly with asphalt, and 1.4 million miles of unpaved roads to maintain even if world oil production is falling.

    Modern cities depend on concentrating food and materials and then disposing of garbage and human waste. As cities grow larger garbage must be hauled longer distances and the cost of garbage disposal also rises. At some point, many throwaway products may be priced out of existence.

    People living in poorly designed suburbs are often isolated from their jobs and shops. Suburbs have created a commuter culture. Shopping malls and discount stores, were all subsidized by artificially cheap oil. Isolated by high oil prices, suburbs may prove to be ecologically and economically unsustainable.

    In the coming energy transition, countries that fail to plan ahead may experience a decline in living standards. The inability of national governments to manage the energy transition could lead to failed states.

    Political leaders seem reluctant to plan for the downturn in oil even though it will become one of the great fault lines in the history of civilization. Developing countries will be hit doubly hard as expanding populations combine with a shrinking oil supply to steadily reduce oil use per person. This could translate into a fall in living standards. If the US, the world's largest oil consumer and importer, can reduce its use of oil, it can buy the world time for a smoother transition to the post-petroleum era. doclink