World Population Awareness

Population Dynamics in the United States

July 03, 2015

In 1969, President Nixon issued to Congress a "Message on Population." Referring to the expectation of the time that the U.S. population might exceed 300 million by the year 2000, he said:

This growth will produce serious challenges for our society. I believe that many of our present social problems may be related to the fact that we have had only fifty years in which to accommodate the second hundred million Americans. In fact, since 1945 alone some 90 million babies have been born in this country. We have thus had to accommodate in a very few decades an adjustment to population growth which was once spread over centuries. And now it appears that we will have to provide for a third hundred million Americans in a period of just 30 years. doclink

U.S. Population Milestones

1915: 100,000,000     1967: 200,000,000    2006: 300,000,000 doclink


10 Countries with the Largest Projected Population Growth: American Exceptionalism

January 31 , 2013, Huffington Post   By: Howard Steven Friedman

Aa nation's population can increase through internal growth (having more births than deaths) and through external growth (having more immigration than emigration). Internal growth rates are strongly predicted by factors like the country's age distribution, desired family size, life expectancy, the use of contraceptives, and the abortion rate. Because the internal and external factors vary greatly across countries, there are sharp national differences in projected population growth. The top countries in order of the expected increase in population between 2010 and 2050 are:

(1) India 467 million
(2) Nigeria231 million
(3) Pakistan101 million
(4) Tanzania93 million
(5) United States93 million
(6) DR Congo83 million
(7) Ethiopia62 million
(8) Philippines62 million
(9) Uganda61 million
(10) Kenya56 million

The U.S. is the only wealthy country in the top 25 and is the only country in the top 10 with a total fertility rate near the replacement rate. The other top 10 countries have much higher total fertility rates, vastly exceeding the global average. The U.S. is the only country in the top 10 list with a median age of over 30 years (at 37 years). In fact, no other country in the top 25 has a median age over 30. No other country in the top 25 has more than 6% of its population foreign born (13% in the U.S.). The current American population of around 310 million is the third largest in the world, exceeding only by India and China. That means that a 1% increase in the U.S. population contributes far more to the world population than a 1% increase by Mexico, Turkey or any another OECD country. The population growth difference isn't due to the life expectancy differences.* After all, the U.S. has a life expectancy of around 78 years, near the bottom of the OECD countries. Age distribution plays some role. The U.S. has the 7th youngest population of the OECD countries, averaging about 7 to 8 years younger than Japan, Germany and Italy. doclink

Karen Gaia says: the author seems to be ignoring the large number of baby boomers entering their retirement years.

A decade ago, children under age 18 made up a significant component of annual population growth and exceeded the growth of those ages 65 and older. But by 2011, these patterns had reversed: The number of people under age 18 declined by 190,000 between 2010 and 2011, while the number of elderly increased by 917,000. Growth in the number of working-age adults, including those in prime childbearing ages, is also down sharply.

See also:

Reports That the U.S. Birth Rate in 2011 was the Lowest in History Are, Well, Wrong

November 28, 2012, Population Reference Bureau blog

Recently we heard 'news' of the U.S. "birth rate" being the lowest (n 2011) since records have been kept. But what these various sources have been calling the "birth rate" is actually the general fertility rate -- that one was the lowest ever. The total fertility rate, which is the correct measure to use, has not recently seen the lowest rate ever.

There are three "birth rates": the crude birth rate is annual births per 1,000 total population; the general fertility rate is annual births per 1,000 women of childbearing age; and the total fertility rate is the average number of children women would bear in their lifetimes if the pace of childbearing remained constant for the long term.

The U.S. National Center for Health Statistics noted that the general fertility rate (GFR) of 63.2 for 2011 was the lowest ever reported. The crude birth rate was also the lowest ever. But both of these measures are affected by age structure. The general fertility rate can also be affected by a population's age structure within the female population of childbearing age, usually 15-49.

The U.S. population now has a smaller proportion of younger women in the childbearing population than before.

The total fertility rate (TFR), on the other hand, is unaffected by age structure and is directly comparable over the years. If the rate of childbearing were the same today as it was in 1976, the U.S. would have had 3.7 million births instead of the 3.9 million it did have. In 1976 the TFR was the lowest in U.S. history and it still is. Not 2011. doclink

Statistical Malpractice at the U.S. Census Bureau? - How Fast Does the U.S. Grow?

June 10 , 2012, You Tube

It was probably Mark Twain who said, "A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth puts on its boots." He also remarked "There are three kinds of lies. Lies, damn lies, and statistics."

Examines the way in which the Census Bureau downplayed U.S. population growth during the release of the 2010 Census results. doclink

Americans Put Off Having Babies Amid Poor Economy

July 25, 2012, USA Today

The USA's birthrate has dropped to its lowest point in 25 years as young adults postpone having babies because of the poor economy.

Demographic Intelligence - a Charlottesville, Va., company that produces quarterly birth forecasts for consumer products and pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer and Procter & Gamble -- has said the fertility rate is not expected to rebound for at least two years and could affect birthrates for years to come.

The average number of births per woman has fallen 12% from a peak of 2.12 in 2007 and is projected to hit 1.87 this year and 1.86 next year -- the lowest since 1987.

The less-educated and Hispanics have experienced the biggest birthrate decline while the share of U.S. births to college-educated, non-Hispanic whites and Asian Americans has grown, telling us that "births have clearly been affected by the economy." says Sam Sturgeon of Demographic Intelligence.

The effect of this economic slump on birthrates has been more rapid and long-lasting than any downturn since the Great Depression.

Sturgeon says. "People are a bit in a wait-and-see pattern. … There's a sense of hesitancy, of 'What does better look like? How will we know?' -- especially for those of prime child-bearing age." Many young adults are unemployed, carrying big student loan debt and often forced to move back in with their parents.

"The more you delay it, the more you delay the possibility of a second or third child," says Stephanie Coontz, of the Council on Contemporary Families. "There's a growing sense that college is prohibitively expensive, and yet your kids can't make it without a college degree," so many women may decide to have just one child.

Asian and European countries, where fertility rates are as low as 1.1 (Taiwan) and 1.3 (Portugal), are worried about their populations aging and not having enough young workers to support them. Immigration has helped the USA maintain higher birthrates, but that segment has been hard hit by this downturn. The birthrate for Hispanics tumbled from 3 in 2007 to less than 2.4 in 2010.

Hispanic immigration has slowed, and studies show some immigrants have returned home. Carl Haub, demographer at the Population Reference Bureau says: "Their overall proportions of births are enormous -- roughly 25% of the U.S. total." doclink

Karen Gaia says: Having more children to support the aged is not the answer: who is going to take care of those children when they are older? Where are they going to find jobs? We already have a giant baby boom in the world. Having more children is like a giant Ponzi scheme.

In Case You Didn't Know: Increased Life Span Accounts for One-half of US Population Growth

May 06, 2012

In 2007, the former U.S. Census Director from 1994-1998, Martha Farnsworth Riche, said video that immigration accounts for maybe 1/2 of the U.S. population growth, the birth rate is at replacement level, and the primary source of population growth occurs because people are not dying as young as they used to. The video is from an online course called the Habitable Planet.

http for the link to video (see minute 14:35). doclink

Economic Crisis Slows U.S. Population Growth; the U.S. Population is Growing at the Slowest Rate Since the Great Depression After Two Decades of Robust Increases

February 16, 2012, USA Today

Since 2009, U.S. population has grown only 0.7% a year, down from 1% in previous years and the lowest since the late 1930s. The total U.S. population is now 311.6 million.

The government says the recession ended in June 2009. Although the economy has improved, the downturn's effect on birth and immigration lingers. From July 1, 2010, to July 2011 the number of babies born dropped 200,000 from the same period in 2008-09 while the number of additional immigrants fell 150,000.

"It's an indicator of an unhealthy economy," Carl Haub of the Population Reference Bureau says. "People are obviously still delaying births, and immigration has continued to drop because job opportunities are not there."

The U.S. fertility rate, formerly at 2.1 children per woman is now 1.9, estimates demographer Joseph Chamie, former director of the UN Population Division and more recently research director at the Center for Migration Studies.

Chamie said "Even with the slight current downturn in births, the U.S. population will very likely reach 400 million midcentury."

Environmental groups have questioned how many more people the nation can support, fueling a push for "sustainable" communities that encourage conserving green space and relying less on autos.

"Population does not necessarily equal economic growth anymore," says Bill Fulton, vice president for policies and programs at Smart Growth America, a coalition of environmentalists, planners and others working to slow sprawl. Las Vegas' population boom created low-paying jobs that disappeared when the housing market collapsed. But Pittsburgh lost population while household wealth went up. doclink

Karen Gaia says: we'll see how we survive peak oil, a massive debt, and the erosion of the middle class.

California's Population Takes Aim at 38 Million

January 16, 2012

California, the most populous state in the U.S., is predicted to reach a population of 38 billion in May, according to On Numbers' latest population estimates.

Texas was next, reaching 26 million on New Years Day, New York is at 19,442,080, Florida 19,221,784 and Illinois 12,906,281. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I couldn't find the On Numbers website.

Is Economy Best Birth Control? US Births Dip Again

November 17, 2011, Associated Press

For the third year in a row, U.S. births have dropped. Teens and women in their early 20s had the most dramatic dip, to the lowest rates since record-keeping began in the 1940s.

"I don't think there's any doubt now that it was the recession. It could not be anything else," said Carl Haub, a demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, a research organization.

In 2007, U.S. births reached an all-time high at more than 4.3 million. Now it is just over 4 million, according to the new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For teens, birth rates dropped 9% from 2009. For women in their early 20s, they fell 6%. For unmarried mothers, the drop was 4%.

It seems that women who are worried about money, particularly younger women, feel they can't afford to start a family or add to it.

While birth rates fell for younger women, for women 40 and older, they rose. Those who face a closing biological window for having children and may be more worried about that than the economy.

The total fertility rate, which tells how many children a woman can be expected to have if current birth rates continue fell from 2.1 to 1.9.

For Hispanic women total fertility rate rate fell from 3 children to 2.4 in just a few years. Haub suggested that some young women who immigrated to the United States for jobs or other opportunities may have left. doclink

Karen Gaia says: it would be interesting to know how much the drop in fertility rate for the total is due to the drop in fertility rate due to Hispanic women who have left.

U.S.: How the Budget Deficit Could Lead to Generational Warfare

April 18, 2011, Yahoo Finance

Today Republicans and Democrats. In the future there may be a divisive fight between generations over who should pick up the tab for baby boomer retirement and medical expenses.

Recently the House approved the 2012 budget plan which would cut $6 trillion from federal spending over the next 10 years, but it is not expected get far in the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate.

The choice is to raise the federal debt ceiling or face a recovery-ending default on U.S. securities. We should also ask who should pay for closing annual budget gaps that will add trillions of dollars to our $14 trillion-plus national debt for years and years.

There is now some hesitation to ask older Americans to pay much of the price tag for fixing the enormous structural deficits built into Medicare and Medicaid, and, to a much smaller extent, Social Security. Meanwhile, even the relatively modest $38 billion in spending cuts agreed to for the rest of this fiscal year will inflict some real social costs on younger Americans, including a half-billion dollar cut to nutrition and healthcare aid to low-income women and their young children.

All current retirees and more than half of the baby boom generation comprise a cohort of Medicare recipients that is bankrupting the system, not the much smaller population of people who will be retiring in later decades. According to a study by the Urban Institute, most Medicare beneficiaries receive much more in benefits than they pay into the Medicare trust fund in payroll taxes.

A commission appointed by President Obama proposed specific plans to close Social Security's long-term deficits. As it is now structured, Social Security will be able to pay all benefits until the year 2037, at which time it could afford to pay out only 78% of benefits. But President Obama said he would not accept reforms that reduced benefits for current Social Security recipients.

The impact of these deficit-reduction proposals is thus like a giant transfer tax on younger generations. A recent study of the U.S. budget dilemma by economists with the International Monetary Fund concluded that our deficits can only be closed at an enormous intergenerational price.

"Unless currently living Americans pay more in net taxes or unless government spending on current generations is curtailed, future Americans will face net tax rates that are about 21 1/2 percentage points" higher, the study concluded. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Sadly, this is what it means to have an aging population. 1) 65 years ago we had a baby boom and it is catching up with us today. 2) Medical advances and health insurance have enabled us to raise our life expectancy, but we have not raised our retirement age. We now have a large number of non-working adults who will live longer, but are not necessary healthier, due to environmental diseases such as auto-immune diseases, and overconsumptive diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. 3) We now have 4-5 generations alive at one time, adding to the population considerably. 4) More money may be spent now on the care of seniors, than is spent on schools, while, at the same time, our interest in having children wanes with the current economic crisis and trying to maintain a life style pumped up by debt and speculation, and comparison to rock, movie, and sports stars. One wonders where this will lead. How do we achieve a balance between old people and children?

US California: Sacramento Region Grows at Double State's Rate, Census Shows...

March 08, 2011, Sacramento Bee

Census figures show that, from 2000 to 2010 in California's population grew 10% to 37.3 million., Latinos grew by 28% to 14 million while Asians grew by 31% to 4.8 million. Non-Hispanic whites decreased by 5% and African-Americans dropped 1%.

The Sacramento region grew by 353,000, or 20%, now with 2.15 million residents. Both its Asian and Hispanic communities increased by 55%. Whites no longer make up the majority of Sacramento County's population.

Placer County grew 40% lagging behind Riverside County. The Placer County town of Lincoln grew by nearly 300%. Citrus Heights and South Lake Tahoe lost residents - a fact that could cost them millions of dollars over the next decade due to redistricting.

Since the Central Valley grew faster than the state, it will likely get more representation in the state legislature and U.S. House of Representatives. doclink

U.S. 'Heartland' Near Historic Shift From Midwest

March 09, 2011, Associated Press

U.S. Census Bureau 2010 figures show that America's population center is edging away from the Midwest, pulled by Hispanic growth in the Southwest. The historic shift is changing the nation's politics and even the traditional notion of the country's heartland long the symbol of mainstream American beliefs and culture.

The four fastest-growing states - Nevada, Arizona, Utah and Idaho - are in the West and the West has surpassed the Midwest in population.. California and Texas added to the southwestern population tilt, making up more than one-fourth of the nation's total gains since 2000.

Robert Lang, a sociology professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas said: "It's a pace-setting region that is dominant in population growth but also as a swing point in American politics."

The Phoenix suburb of Peoria, Arizona has soared past its namesake Peoria, Illinois, in population size. With Arizona on track to surpass Ohio in electoral votes by midcentury, based on projected growth, issues important to the West gain in political significance.

The Census Bureau calculates the mean U.S. center every 10 years based on its national head count. The center represents the middle point of the nation's population distribution the geographic point at which the country would balance if each of its 308.7 million residents weighed the same.

The 2010 census figures will mean a loss of House seats for states including Missouri and some of those east of it, primarily in the Midwest's declining Rust Belt.

In Arizona, which gains a House seat, Hispanics accounted for roughly half of the state's population increase since 2000, according to census estimates. Arizona has picked up at least one House seat every decade since 1950.

The Western U.S. grew 13.8% from 2000, surpassing the Midwest as the second most populous region. The West's growth rate is nearly equal to the South's, which rose 14.3% on the Sun Belt strength of Texas and Florida.

California did not gain a congressional seat. Los Angeles posted a gain over the past decade of just under 100,000 people, its smallest numerical growth since 1890-1900, as many of its Hispanic residents moved elsewhere. The state, the nation's largest with 37.3 million, continues to grow primarily from immigration and births. doclink

U.S. Population 300,888,812 for Jan. 1

December 28, 2006, United Press International

The U.S. population will be 2,863,990 greater than it was on Jan. 1, 2006, as the country continues to gain four people a minute.

With one birth every eight seconds, one death every 11 seconds and a net gain of one in immigration every 27 seconds, the overall U.S. population gains one person each 15 seconds.

The United States is No. 3 in the world in population. doclink

U.S.: Immigration, Population and Politics

June 29, 2008, Sacramento Bee

California had about 27 million residents when Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) was formed in 1986 to raise alarms about the impacts of continued population growth. California now has about 38 million residents. If California continues to grow, it faces environmental degradation.

Many of the problems facing California today have one root cause: too many people. As California's population grows by a half-million or more each year, virtually all of that growth stems from immigration, legal and illegal.

Population growth, creates the demand for more housing, more water, more schools, more highways - more of everything and that puts pressure on the environment.

Overpopulation driven by unsustainable levels of immigration is bringing on more traffic congestion, escalating energy prices, overcrowding of our beaches, parks and recreational areas, and increasing demands on our limited water supply.

That said, while the low- or no-growth policies might lessen the environmental issues, they would also create new and difficult economic and social problems.

Shortages of trained workers are looming in California. Low-growth countries such as Japan are already feeling that pinch.

Without ever-expanding, tax-generating construction, employment and retail sales, state and local governments would be compelled to raise taxes on an aging population with fixed incomes.

Changes of political policy often produce unintended consequences. doclink

Karen Gaia says: add more workers to solve the aging population problem and you will have those workers becoming aged themselves one day. Who will take care of them? It is an insane pyramid scheme to keep growing the population to take care of the aged. Regarding immigration contributing to growth, most of California's growth is due to births, many of which are unintended and can be prevented - regardless of whether or not the parents are native born. There are many legislative measures that affect California's fertility. Let us work on them!!!

U.S. Population Impact Map at NumbersUSA

July 22, 2009, NumbersUSA

NumbersUSA believes that federal immigration policies are the cause of most U.S. population growth. The clickable population maps on this website (follow the link) will help you see at a glance where immigration is driving the most population growth and radical change across the country. Nearly every county that is colored for high growth either (a) has had a lot of immigration, or (b) has had a lot of migration of Americans fleeing other parts of the state or country. You can click on the metro areas on a state map to obtain zoomed-in maps.

NOTE: the maps do an excellent job of showing population growth, which is horrific in many places. They do not actually show where growth is due to direct immigration, or flight from other areas due to traffic congestion or other factors, as opposed to a high birth rate. doclink

Karen Gaia says: For example, the map shows that California is ranked as Number 12 in growth, growing by 54% from 1980 to 2008. However, after WWII, the high growth rate was due to migration of mostly natives to California. And in the 1960's there was a large baby boom in the U.S., with an average of four children per couple. The 1980's saw the children of those baby boomers being born. California shares a border with Mexico and large numbers of legal and illegal immigrants cross the border there. Many of them go back and forth. There is no doubt that more recently immigration, if you include children born to immigrants, is responsible for the higher growth rate in the last two decades. But the birth rate is higher than the immigration rate in Calif. Best to address unintended pregnancies, which run about 50%. Even Catholics, many of them, practice birth control after 1 or 2 kids, if given the means.

Hey, You're Standing on My Foot! the U.S. Population is Projected to Reach 400 Million by 2043

June 2009, Mother Earth News

If the U.S. population, now approximately 300 million, were to keep increasing at the current rate, we'll reach 400 million by 2043. "Population growth is the ever expanding denominator that gives each person a shrinking share of the resource pie," Lester Brown of the Earth Policy says. "It contributes to water shortages, cropland conversion to non-farm uses, traffic congestion, more garbage, overfishing, a growing dependence on imported oil and other conditions that diminish the quality of our daily lives."

In other developed countries, populations have either slightly dropped or stayed constant. "It may be time for the United States to establish a national population policy, one that would lead toward population stabilization sooner rather than later," Brown says. It may be important to switch the focus toward population stabilization and then decide how to stretch the resources among society. doclink

America Galloping Toward Its Greatest Crisis in the 21st Century

May 22, 2009, - By Frosty Wooldridge

At current growth rates, America expects to add 100 million people by 2035 - only 26 years from now. Yet the mainstream media says nothing, not even our favorite, most imformative, newscasters. And environmental groups, like the Sierra Club won't address the core cause of it all: overpopulation.

No matter how many water shortage reports, climate change indicators, mass species extinctions or air pollution stories you read about, America blissfully adds 3.2 million people annually.

Another 77 million humans add themselves, net gain, to the planet annually and 1.0 billion add to the globe every 12 years.

Such a population growth cannot be sustained. Religious, cultural interests, and big business push the growth ever faster.

Distractors write that overpopulation is a New World Order myth or that the 'Illuminati' expect to kill off half the human population or some other nonsense. Mother Nature, who kills 18 million humans from starvation and related diseases annually, is ultimate population Nazi!

From 'WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE' by Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich, November 6, 2008 and (click on 'Further Information'), here is an outline what we should do:

One: put births on a par with deaths --

"Human beings have always fought against early death from accident, hunger, and sickness, and in the past century or so have employed improved sanitation and the use of pesticides and antibiotics to raise life expectancy. But given the frightening potential consequences of the explosion in human numbers that has followed reductions of the death rate, it is essential to pay equivalent attention to reducing high birthrates as well. Programs to educate and open job opportunities for women, and to make effective contraception universally available, must be an integral part of development policies in poor countries. Placing women in important cabinet posts in a new U.S. administration should have high priority and would send a strong signal in support of women's empowerment (even in developed nations, prejudice against women is widespread)."

"And, of course, a global discussion over the next several decades will be required to reach a consensus on those lifestyles and thus on the appropriate maximum population size - which we already know must be smaller than the present 6.7 billion."

Two: emphasize conserving more than consuming --

"At any given level of technology, there is a trade-off between the numbers of people in a society and the level of per capita physical affluence that can be sustainably supported. The more people there are, the smaller each one's share of the pie must be. One way of dealing with this unavoidable trade-off would be a cultural shift away from creating ever more gadgets to creating more appreciation and better stewardship of Earth's aesthetic assets." We need "careful husbandry of manufactured and natural capital (our ecological assets), and a crash program to abandon the use of fossil fuels and transition to sustainable energy technologies, would eventually permit most people to live satisfactory lives." We must abandon "the irrational idea that constant growth in consumption is automatically good and can continue forever."

Three: judge technologies not just on what they do for people but also to people and their life-support systems

"A novel synthetic chemical added to the plastic in a sports bottle may increase its durability, but if it leaches into a baby bottle's contents or into the environment and functions in tiny doses as an endocrine-disrupting agent, is the risk worth the benefit?"

Four: transform the consumption of education

"It is widely recognized that literacy and civic education are keys to 'development;' they could also be keys to sustainable development. Reform of education to help us solve the human predicament is thus crucial."

Five: rapidly expand our empathy

"We're a small-group animal, trying to live in large groups." .. "Can affluent people in the West learn to empathize enough with a child in Darfur so as to take real action to save her? Can they learn to care about the world her grandchildren will live in, and act to move that society towards peaceful sustainability? If the global community takes step five, the answers to both questions will be 'yes,' and we'll be on the kind of road that could lead to a level of global cooperation that might allow a billion or two, perhaps three billion, small-group animals to live together sustainably in relative peace, in the next century.

Six: decide what kind of world we all want

"What are the ultimate goals of our lives?" .. "Are Americans really happier traveling to work an hour or more each day wrapped in a ton or two of steel and breathing smog that threatens their lives? While the U.S. GDP has multiplied almost five times since 1958, satisfaction, as shown by surveys, has not increased at all."

"We could initiate a Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior (MAHB) to begin a discussion of what economic, social, and political systems will best fulfill human desires as we struggle to live in gigantic, culturally diverse groups." ... "The USA could meet developing cultures halfway by focusing less on 'standard of living' and more on 'quality of life,' and it could bring the experts along with it." doclink

Vasectomies Spike as Economy Sours

March 30, 2009, RH Reality Check

When the stock market fell, the bad economy increased the number of requests for vasectomies by 30% in January.

Sales of over-the-counter contraceptives jumped 10.2% in the first two months of 2009. Condom sales jumped 5% in the fourth quarter of 2008 and 6% in January, compared with last year. Sales of a non-invasive, irreversible birth control method for women were up 28% over last year.

Planned Parenthood clinics report increased traffic over the past several months.

If recent trends show that contraception is a great form of protection against uncertain times and many are opting for the permanent form. A vasectomy will cost between $500-$1000.

Family planning is a foundation on which many Americans build responsible lives. Those who have lost their jobs and health insurance are in great need of family planning. Family planning is an American value and, something we rely on in our times of need. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Right on! I run this webpage because I care about people's right and capability to control their family's future. It has been difficult to make this point without sounding racist, because Americans have been relatively well off, up to now, but the same holds true the world over. People and governments who feel they suffer bad economic times benefit by cutting down their planned family size or delaying a pregnancy. Resources are not without limit!

More U.S. Babies Born in 2007 Than Any Other Year

March 19, 2009, Chattanooga Times Free Press

More U.S. babies entered the world in 2007 than any other year in the nation's history and represents a 1% increase over the prior year. Some are concerned about another year's rise in teen births, after hitting an all-time low in 2005, and a record number of births to unwed mothers.

The U.S. birth rate for teenagers 15 to 17 years old rose in 2007 by about 1%, to 22.2 births per 1,000 girls. Our population is at an all-time high with an increase in the number of women of childbearing age . An influx of immigrants and a growing minority of groups that tend to have higher fertility rates contributed to a higher birth rate.

In 2007, fertility rates increased in all racial groups by 1% percent, to 69.5 births per 1,000 women age 15 to 44, the highest level since 1990.

The year's total fertility rate is 2.1 children per mother, only slightly higher than past years, and the increase cannot compare to the impact of the post-World War II baby boom. Some of this boom is from single mothers.

In 2007, births to unwed mothers hit a record high of nearly 40%, continuing a trend fueled by a lessening of the stigma on single parenthood. More than three- quarters of those unmarried mothers were over 20.

As the economic recession continues, the rising birth rates may not last. The lowest birth rates in the US occurred during the Great Depression before modern contraception. doclink

Karen Gaia says: there are signs that the current economic crisis may result in a lower birth rate.

Oh, Baby! US Breaks Birth Record; Unwed Mothers Had 40 Percent of Babies Born in 2007

March 18, 2009,

More babies were born in the US in 2007 than in the nation's history. There is good and bad news for the more than 4.3 million births:

The U.S. population is more than replacing itself, a healthy trend. However, the teen birth rate was up for the second year in a row.

The birth rate rose slightly for women of all ages, births to unwed mothers reached an all-time high of about 40%. More than three-quarters of these women were 20 or older.

It's become more acceptable for women to have babies without a husband. Happy couples may be living together without getting married. Some cited a growing trend among all adult women to have children regardless of their marital status.

Countries with much lower rates face future labor shortages and eroding tax bases as they fail to reproduce enough to take care of their aging elders.

Some experts think birth rates are declining because of the economic recession that began in late 2007.

The 2007 snapshot reflected a relatively good economy coupled with cultural trends that promoted childbirth.

U.S. abortions have been dropping to their lowest levels in decades. Some attributed this decline to better use of contraceptives, but others have wondered if the rise in births might indicate a failure in proper use of contraceptives.

Teen women tend to follow what their older sisters do, so teen births are going up just like births to older women. The numbers also showed:

Cesarean sections continue to rise, to almost a third of all births, much higher than is medically necessary.

Utah continued to have the highest birth rate and Vermont the lowest.

CDC officials noted that despite the record number of births, this is nothing like what occurred in the 1950s, when a smaller population of women were having nearly four children each, on average. That baby boom transformed society, affecting everything from school construction to consumer culture.

Today, U.S. women are averaging 2.1 children each. doclink

Karen Gaia says: with the increase in population due to immigration, we don't need a natural increase of 2.1. This amounts to a net increase of around 1%, which will double our population in 70 years.

U.S.: Bad Economy Slows Population Growth in South, West

December 22, 2007, Associated Press

The nation's migration south and west is slowing, thanks to a housing crisis. Most southern and western states aren't growing as fast as they were at the start of the decade.

The development could impact the political map. Southern and western states will still take congressional seats away from those in the Northeast and Midwest. Florida could gain two House seats and Texas four. But some seats could stay put, and California could be in danger of losing a seat for the first time.

People have stopped moving - you need to know that moving and getting a new mortgage is going to pay off.

Utah was the fastest growing state with the population climbinmg by 2.5% from July 2007 to July 2008. It was followed by Arizona, Texas, North Carolina and Colorado. Nevada was ranked eighth, after 23 years of ranking in the top four each year.

Nevada was listed as the fastest growing state a year ago when the 2007 estimates were released. But adjustments to the 2007 numbers, released Monday, show that Utah was the fastest growing state in 2007 and Nevada was ranked fourth.

Michigan and Rhode Island lost population from 2007 to 2008, but growth rates fell in many states.

Foreign immigration has slowed since the start of the decade and fewer people are moving around within the nation's borders. Florida has attracted more people from other states than any other state. However, from 2007 to 2008, more people left Florida for other states than moved in, a loss of nearly 9,300 people. The state gained population from births and foreign immigration, but growth was slower. From 2007 to 2008, California had the biggest net loss of people moving to other states, more than 144,000 people. It was followed by New York, Michigan, New Jersey and Illinois.

The states that attracted the most people from other states were Texas, North Carolina, Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina.

The population shifts will be felt following the 2010 census, when the nation apportions the 435 seats in the House of Representatives.

Texas stands to be the biggest winner, picking up four seats, while Ohio could be the loser, giving up two seats.

Other states projected to lose single seats are Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. Arizona to add two seats, while Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina and Utah could add one each. Florida could add one or two seats.

As many as 13 states could gain or lose seats, depending on population trends. doclink

U.S.: Bloomberg: Good Environment Means Good Economy

April 08, 2008, Georgetown University News

Going green could actually have a positive effect on the economy, New York Mayor Bloomberg said as he opened the second Newsweek Global Environment Leadership Conference. Going green helps the bottom line by reducing energy consumption and lowering energy costs. It's also a plus in recruiting and retaining top employees. There is a demand for this. People make decisions about what they want to put into their bodies. So, they start thinking organically. Bloomberg shared the eco-friendly initiatives he's been able to put in place in New York.

His PlaNYC initiative was established to make economic growth coincide with the predicted New York population growth to 9 million by 2030.

"The growth we're forecasting will produce three-quarters of a million new jobs and billions of dollars worth of new economic activity," he said. In addition to infrastructure changes, Bloomberg said the affordable housing program would have to be broadened substantially. He estimated that 1 million new trees would have to be planted throughout the city.

PlaNYC also looks at the expansion of mass transit. In December, the city broke ground for a project that would extend subway service from Times Square to Manhattan's Far West Side. But Bloomberg said it doesn't go far enough. We've identified $50 billion worth of essential transit projects for our growing city and region. But we need a way to finance them.

The congestion pricing bill would have charged motorists an $8 entrance fee into lower Manhattan on weekdays in an effort to decrease traffic pollution and raise money marked for mass transit expansion.

Bloomberg warned that there are four basic environmental problems that the United States quickly needs to address. Energy research and development should be stepped up dramatically; subsidization should be stopped for corn-based ethanol, which is contributing to the sticker shock in supermarkets; Detroit automakers need to get more serious about building energy-efficient cars and trucks and carbon emissions should be treated as a cost of doing business.

It will demand courage from our elected officials. Without Hurricane Katrina and films such as An Inconvenient Truth, Beach said the Newsweek conference probably would not have taken place. doclink

Karen Gaia says: no mention in this article of population growth and how the growing demand for resources and growing pollution needing mitigation might wipe out any gains made by economic growth.

U.S.: Numbers Count in the Immigration Debate

November 30, 2007,

Immigrants, like native-born Americans, are good people, hard-working and patriotic. Individual immigrants are not problematic; mass immigration, both legal and illegal, is. Mass immigration is ruining the quality of life for the children and grandchildren of immigrants already in the United States. It is chewing up what little open space remains, driving up air-and water-pollution, amplifying suburban sprawl and placing a larger burden on publicly financed institutions. Most public debate ignores that immigration, both legal and illegal, has ballooned to record levels since the early 1990s.

The number of foreign-born people in the US has reached 37 million.

The most recent mass immigration, takes place when US population levels belabor and deplete the nation's natural resources.

At least half of the 10.3 million immigrants who have arrived since 2000 are illegal. About 47% of all immigrants and their young children are on Medicaid or are uninsured.

Nearly 33% of immigrant-headed households use at least one welfare program compared with 19% for natives. It is food assistance and Medicaid that explain the numbers.

On the plus side, 82% of immigrant households have at least one worker in the household, compared with just 73% of native households. In fact, 78% of immigrant households using the major welfare programs have at least one worker.

The public debate over immigration ignores the huge bubble of immigration the United States is now experiencing. It also ignores, the environmental impact of mass immigration.

The CIS describes its mission seeks fewer immigrants but a warmer welcome for those admitted.

If we want the US to become one nonstop mass of urban sprawl, we should continue to allow record levels of legal and illegal immigration. If we care about the quality of our environment and the quality of life here, we should take note of the numbers. doclink

Karen Gaia: My issue with this article is that it does not seem concerned with the future sustainability of the U.S. It mentions Medicaid, food assistance, and immigrants, but if the author were truly interested in sustainability due to population, it would advocate: 1) fewer children to native born and immigrant alike (we have a large number of unwanted pregnancies), 2) a big cut in consumption by native born and immigrant alike, and 3) public policies and planning that help (not coerce) people to achieve numbers 1 and 2.

US Among Worst in World for Infant Death

The Associated Press

The rate at which infants die in the US has dropped over the past half-century, but disparities remain among racial groups. In 2004, roughly seven babies died for every 1,000 live births before reaching their first birthday, That was down from about 26 in 1960.

Babies born to black mothers died at two and a half times the rate of those born to white mothers.

The U.S. ranks near the bottom for infant survival rates among modernized nations. The U.S. had more neonatologists and newborn intensive care beds per person than Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom - but had a higher rate of infant mortality than any of those nations.

Doctors blame disparities in access to health care among racial and income groups in the U.S.

The picture is bleaker in poorer countries, particularly in Africa. A 2005 report found infant mortality rates as high as 144 per 1,000 births in Liberia. doclink

Population and American Complacency

September 04, 2007, NPG

In 1973, when the U.S. population was about 210 million, Professor Holdren judged that our nation was already overpopulated, and that, "given that population growth aggravates or impedes the solution of a wide variety of other problems, it should be obvious that the optimum rate of population growth is zero or negative until such time as the uncertainties have been removed and the problems solved.

We have maintained that the optimum rate of population growth is negative until our U.S. population, after a period of gradual population decline, has been stabilized at a level that would be sustainable indefinitely. We judge that level to be no more than 150 million.

With the urgent need for a far smaller U.S. population apparent, we have found no other major national population, immigration reform, or environmental organization willing to join with us in calling for a negative rate of population growth.

Now, with our U.S. population 100 million larger and heading toward 420 million or more by mid-century, we hope to see these issues in an updated paper. We believe that this time his message would have much more resonance with our national opinion and business leaders, and policy makers. doclink

Immigration, Population and the Environment

September 06, 2007, Environmental Grantmakers Journal

In October 2006, the US passed the 300 million population milestone. Media coverage was oddly celebratory. Sadly, environmental groups were virtually silent on this day, which marked a doubling of the country's population in only 55 years. The environmental establishment had largely abandoned concerns about US population growth more than two decades ago. Some such as the Sierra Club, shifted their focus to address global population issues exclusively. The environmental establishment appears to view continued US population growth as irrelevant. Sprawl? Fight it with smart growth. Rising energy consumption? Promote energy conservation/efficiency and the development of alternative energy.

Both sprawl and growing energy consumption are directly attributable to our rapidly growing population. Population growth is responsible for over half of the loss of national rural lands to new development, two million acres annually. The higher the population growth, the greater the sprawl. In the absence of population growth, smart growth policies would be much more successful and encounter less opposition.

Around 87% of US growth in energy consumption and carbon-dioxide emissions is linked to the rising number of energy consumers, US population growth, and only 13% with increasing per-capita energy use. If it were not for an increase in population, energy consumption would have declined. US emissions from fossil-fuel combustion grew by almost 13% during the 1990s. US population accounted for all of the increase. US greenhouse gas emissions are projected to increase by approximately 40% between 2000 and 2020 - driven by population growth. The U.S. is the only country with massive population, massive growth, and massive per-capita consumption. If the U.S. adds another 100 million residents, any gains in reducing per-capita consumption, promoting smart growth, or better managing water resources are likely to be negated. America's ballooning population, unique in the developed world, is driven by high immigration numbers, which, combined with recent immigrants' higher fertility rates, is responsible for 70% to 80% of the 3 million people added to the population annually. While native-born fertility has been at or below replacement level since the early 1970s, immigration numbers have more than quadrupled, even without considering illegal immigration. If they had remained at the pre-1970 average, US population would be peaking in the next 15 years at approximately 250 million. Whereas, under the guest-worker bill passed by the Senate last year, the number of legal, permanent immigrants would double to more than two million per year, putting the United States on track to reach a population of 500 million by around 2050, and of one billion by 2100.

The framers of the Immigration Act had a stated goal of increasing overall growth and consumption, and a less open one of holding down wages. Thus, higher consumption is not an aftereffect of today's immigration policy; it is its intention.

A sustainable immigration policy would match immigration with emigration, at a level of about 250,000 people a year. This figure represents the country's historical average. As a result of significantly lower future numbers, most labor economists believe individual immigrants in this country would be better off in terms of higher wages/benefits/availability of jobs and education, and face less resistance from the communities they enter.

The country needs a population policy, guided by critical thinking and analysis. This policy should include efforts to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancies in the United States (which are the highest in the developed world). It is time for the environmental establishment to take off their blinders regarding US population growth, and take the lead in forging a more sustainable demographic future for our country. Our human health and welfare, and the fate of wild nature, depend on our tackling root causes, not merely symptoms, of environmental problems. doclink

Ralph says: Hurrah!!! At last here is someone who is not afraid to tell the truth. Should be on the front page of every newspaper. Karen Gaia says: one thing that is not true in this article: The Sierra Club does pay attention to U.S. population and fertility reduction.

US California;: Tough Controls on Formaldehyde Enacted

April 26, 2007, Los Angeles Times

California passed the world's toughest controls on toxic formaldehyde in wood products. Formaldehyde, used as a glue in construction materials, has been shown to cause throat cancer, respiratory ailments and other problems.

Formaldehyde is bad. We don't want it in our homes, and stores. It is not healthy. One independent distributor has switched to formaldehyde-free wood products, at the request of large customers seeking environmentally friendly products.

But there was fierce debate about how the regulations, would affect consumer prices.

California Air Resources Board said it could cost $6 more for a wood panel, but that would add just $400 to the cost of a new $500,000 home.

Trade groups testified that the stricter limits could cause prices on wood products to skyrocket. Manufacturers fretted that overseas manufacturers would issue fraudulent paperwork saying the material met the standards. But Columbia Wood said: "We think the industry will be able to comply with no additional costs. We sell for the exact same cost as veneer containing formaldehyde".

Scientists said there were conflicting studies on heath risks. But the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, said there was no known safe threshold for formaldehyde exposure. Currently there are an estimated 86 to 231 deaths annually from formaldehyde; that would decrease by 35 to 97 deaths.

The Home Depot did not return requests for comment, but composite-wood manufacturers said the home improvement chain had recently announced it would abide by European standards allowing minuscule amounts of formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde in wood has been banned or tightly regulated in many countries. California will have the most stringent standard in the world for wood resin products. doclink

Growthism & the Ruin of Everywhere

January 31, 2007,

Human activity is putting such strain on the Earth that the ability to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted. The dominant social force of our era is economic. Under these narrow and material rubrics we are to appraise and measure all human activity.

Worship of "growth" has lead to an ideology within which we now devalue and subordinate every other reason for living and being. Economic growth consists of one part productivity increase and one part population increase. However, only productivity and technological advance constitute real growth. Population expansion means a perpetual decline of our per-capita earthly space.

Growth has become a secular ideology. Growthism admits of no uncertainty or bias but fails to acknowledge any reason or necessity for balance in society or nature.

This concern with "economics" to the exclusion of all other areas of life is a reflection of the dependency of landless majorities and fears of ruling classes.

"A growing nation is the greatest ponzi game ever contrived." ..Paul Samuelson..

Social organization, and maintenance of a happy, human existence, has shrunk to an obsession with numbers. Any implementation of balance is seen as anti-growth, and anti-economic. Balance is presumed to be undesirable. Growth is never to stop, and no limits is its credo. Growth must proceed despite the fact it may be unwanted by a majority and is, generating social friction, per-capita ruin, and ecological disaster.

Growth is continually offered up as the only solution to every ill. The rise of this self-defeating philosophy and its increasingly dismal social conditions emerges from the unnatural ways in which we have come to live and work.

Many continue to believe we can neither survive nor prosper unless we grow by invading another's marketplace, securing their resources, and absorbing expanding populations. No local autonomy, democratic decision, or national or cultural freedom is to interfere with capital's "interdependency" dictated by GATT/WTO and growthism. 'Eternal Progress' is a nonsensical myth. What must be implemented is not a 'steadily expanding economy,' but a zero growth stable economy. ..Alexander I. Solzhenitsyn..

We then progressively destroy all real wealth and avoid issues of social equity, democracy, human rights, or environmental sustainability. By counting population increase as "growth" rather than per-capita decline, growth is not only synonymous with progressive ruin but devoid of reference to quality, purpose, justice, equity, natural right, ecology, and root estate. Growth means incomes may increase, and power of capital expand, while the very quality of life, and per-capita space and freedom, decline.

"To hasten growth is to hasten decay." ..Lao-Tzu..

Balance, as a motivating ethic, is sorely needed and still remains outside of economic virtues and goals.

Few community rights and majority powers are not overruled by the influence of money. Without balancing principles, ethics and forces, we are destined to grow disenfranchisement, discontent, social pathology and eco-ruin. In the interim, growthism remains the primary force in our lives due to enclosure, capital's supremacy, the extortion of labor, and a host of western, patriarchal, religio-economic, values from an age with little relation to our own. doclink

U.S. Population Projected to Rise by One Person for Every 15 Seconds

December 28, 2006, Xinhua General News Service

The U.S. population is projected to increase by one person every 15 seconds in January 2007. One birth every eight seconds, one death every 11 seconds, and a net migration of one person every 27 seconds.

On Jan. 1, 2007, the U.S. population will be 300,888,812, up 2,863,990 or 1% from the New Year's Day of 2006.

The country's population reached 300 million on Oct. 17, almost 39 years after the 200 million mark was reached on Nov. 20, 1967. doclink

Karen Gaia says: a 1% annual increase means the population will double in 70 years.

Lester Brown on the U.S. Reaching 300 Million

October 04, 2006, Earth Policy Institute

The U.S. population grows by almost 1.8 million each year, or 0.6%. U.S. growth contrasts with other industrial countries, where populations are either stable or declining slightly.

More people require more of everything, including water and we fail to recognize how much water one person uses. We drink close to a gallon of water each day but it takes some 500 gallons a day to produce the food we consume.

The U.S. annual population growth of nearly 3 million contributes to the water shortages that are plaguing the country. Water tables are falling throughout most of the Great Plains and in the U.S. Southwest. As water supplies tighten, the competition between farmers and cities intensifies and farmers almost always lose.

The seafood appetite of Americans is outgrowing the sustainable yield of its coastal fisheries. More people means more cars and in turn paving more land for roads and parking lots. For every five cars added to the U.S. fleet, an area the size of a football field is covered with asphalt.

Once paved, land is not easily reclaimed. Asphalt is the land's last crop.

The United States has paved 4 million miles of roads. More cars also translates into more traffic congestion. Longer commuting distances and more congestion combine to increase the time spent in automobiles. Car commuting time is increasing in nearly every U.S. metropolitan area. Traffic congestion in 2003 caused 3.7 billion hours of travel delay and wasted 2.3 billion gallons of fuel. More people mean that not only are our home towns more crowded, but so too are the national parks, wilderness areas, and beaches.

More people means more garbage. New York City, generates 12,000 tons of garbage a day. As population grows, so does energy consumption. The US has largely depleted its petroleum reserves. The use of oil has exceeded new discoveries for 25 years and imports climb, helping to drive up world oil prices. As population increases, so do the emissions of the carbon dioxide.

Given the negative effects of continuing population growth on our daily lives, it may be time to establish a national population policy that would lead toward population stabilization sooner rather than later. Perhaps it's time for us to stabilize the U.S. population as well, so that we never have to ask whether 400 million Americans is a cause for celebration. doclink

Karen Gaia says: The article is inconsistent when it says the U.S. grows by almost 1.8 million in one paragraph and 'nearly 3 million' elsewhere. Natural increase accounts for a U.S. growth of 1.7 million, or 0.6%, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau figures (July 1, 2004, to July 1, 2005 report), while total increase reported for the same period was 2.75 million. However, based on Census Bureau underestimation of annual growth during the 1990s, in the 2010 estimate, the actual growth will likely be found to have exceeded estimated intercensal growth by 'at least' 0.5 million per year. Since births, deaths, and legal immigration are accurately reported in the U.S., the difference will most probably be due to illegal immigration.

50 States and (almost) 300 Million People; U.S. to Hit the Population Milestone

October 13, 2006, Deseret Morning News (US)

U.S. Census Bureau projects the 300 million population landmark has been reached based on an estimate the nation will add one person every 11 seconds.

International migration is expected to add one person every 31 seconds.

One in three Americans is now a minority, and there are an estimated 34.3 million foreign-born individuals living in the US comprising 12% of the population, up from 13.5 million in 1915 and 9.7 million in 1967.

Mexico is the leading country of origin. Utah is increasingly diverse religiously, culturally and ethnically. Growth is driven largely by the Hispanic population, which boomed by 138% between 1990 and 2000.

Before 1950, most of Utah's immigrants were converts to The Church of Latter-day Saints. Since then, the economy has become a driving force.

Natural increase outpaces the nation's, migration accounts for about half Utah's population growth, with the the highest level of migration. The state is becoming more ethnically and religiously diverse.

In 1910, nearly 80% of Utah's foreign born population was mostly Northern and Western Europeans, By 2000, the driving regions had shifted to Latin America, largely Mexico, and Asia.

The population is aging and Americans are becoming more educated and living longer. Family sizes are shrinking. A baby today can expect to live to 77.8. A baby born in 1915 had a life expectancy of 54.5 years. The population age 65 and older has grown from 4.5 million in 1915 to 36.8 million. Meanwhile, households shrank from 4.5 people in 1915 to 2.6 people in 2006.

In 1915, only 13.5% of the population 25 and up had graduated from high school. That has grown to 85.2% in 2006. 91% of residents older than 25 had earned at least a high school diploma. Men today earn a median income of $34,926 and women $23,546. In 1915, workers earned an average $687. doclink

U.S.;: The Next 100 Million and the Face of America

October 10, 2006, Christian Science Monitor

There will be 400 million Americans in 2043, climbing to 420 million by midcentury. Non-Hispanic whites will have dwindled from 69% to 50.1%. Hispanics will reach 24%, Asians to 8%, African-Americans 14%. The US will be a "majority of minorities."

America could, as many voters and their elected officials now demand, clamp down on immigration. The high teen pregnancy rate could drop. Scientific advances could extend longevity.

Americans are expected to continue to gravitate west and south. The great American midsection will continue to empty.

If these regional shifts continue, membership in the US House of Representatives would change. It may shift the current alignment of "red" states and "blue" states. An increasing Hispanic population could affect the political balance.

At the same time, the population will become older.

The impact of the aging baby-boom generation will be felt on Social Security and Medicare. It could also have political impact.

Americans will marry later in life, and more of them will live alone. Experts believe that expansion to meet the housing and other community needs of a growing population is likely to remain concentrated in suburbs and exurbs.

Annual US population growth of nearly 3 million contributes to the water shortages that are a serious concern in the West and many areas in the East. Water tables are falling throughout most of the Great Plains and in the Southwest. Some lakes are disappearing and rivers are running dry.

Scarcely a day goes by in the western United States without another farmer or an entire irrigation district selling their water rights to cities. Concern about a growing populace and decreasing resources is likely to push governments toward conservation. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia now have standards that require electric utilities to use more renewable sources.

The Chinese government released its first report that measures economic growth plus the environmental consequences. Other governments and financial intuitions are being pushed in the same direction. US portfolio managers in charge of $30 trillion in assets demand carbon disclosures of all the companies in their portfolios.

By mid-century, cars will be getting 100 m.p.g. if they're still using gasoline instead of fuel cells. Cities and towns will get more compact as suburbs end up being too costly and inefficient.

Meanwhile, the US population gains about 8,000 every day. This growth rate is expected to decline a bit by mid-century but by then the numbers will have increased to some 420 million. If Congress ducks the issue of immigration reform, our population is projected to still continue its rapid growth. As the racial and ethnic mix shifts, public attitudes are likely to change. We'll have much more tolerance for people of other backgrounds, cultures and languages, points of view, and religious and belief systems.

There will be a lot more Americans. doclink

The Coming Crunch; as U.S. Population Continues to Swell, Researchers Foresee Megacities, Crowded Coasts

October 13, 2006, Wall Street Journal

The U.S. population will hit 400 million in about 35 years, and that has demographers talking.

Those additional 100 million people will further crowd cities and highways, put new strains on natural resources, end the majority status of whites, and widen the gulf between haves and have-nots.

How many more people do we want?

Even after the next 100 million people are added, the U.S. still will have one-sixth the density of Germany.

But the population is increasingly concentrating in a dozen or so states. North Dakota is losing population, Ohio is adding a mere 20,000 a year and heartland states average fewer than 14 households per square mile.

More than half the population lives within 50 miles of the coasts and in the next decade, 25 million people will join them.

That concentration of population is likely to result in megacities of 25 million or more as people head to them for jobs, raising worries about the spread of infectious diseases and of terrorism in such dense areas. At the same time, population growth is accelerating sprawl and consumption.

Most demographers agree that the economy probably can handle the growth. Baby boomers are reaching 60 at the rate of 8,000 a day and are leaving the labor force even faster. That population will grow 120% over the next 35 years, while the working-age population that will be available to replace them is expected to increase just 20%.

Households are smaller than they used to be while houses are getting bigger. That has sent people out to low-density suburbs.

Americans are driving more, 79% more miles than in 1982, and we live in gridlock. Some of the fastest-growing areas are the most vulnerable to natural disasters, like Florida, or are the most stretched for water, like bone-dry Nevada and Arizona. Most water consumption in the U.S. now goes to produce energy and irrigate crops, and those demands will grow with the population.

As the population bounds toward 400 million, the U.S. faces yawning income and education gaps. About 40% of current growth is coming from immigration and an additional 12% from the children of immigrants. A majority are Hispanic, and many are poor, uneducated and with limited access to health care.

A growing underclass of immigrants and their children could pose huge political problems. France came to face that danger when North African immigrants and their offspring rioted for a week.

Three commissions have urged the US to endorse smaller families and slowing immigration.

That report was largely shelved, as were others in 1981 and 1996 that also warned about strains on natural resources. But in the '70s, the growth rate did begin falling. It took a sharp uptick in the 1990s as the tail end of the baby boomers had children and a pulsing U.S. economy began attracting immigrants.

It's now falling again: U.S.-born women are averaging 1.8 babies each. But because of the bigger population base, the U.S. is expected to grow from 300 to 400 million a faster than it took to grow from 200 to 300 million.

Illegal immigration is accounting for some of that growth. But after historically favoring Europeans, immigration laws in the '70s became more welcoming to people from developing countries where fertility is high.

An immigration bill, passed by the Senate this spring but effectively killed by the House, would have increased immigration by more than one million a year on top of the million already arriving legally. doclink

Karen Gaia says: While most demographers agree that the economy probably can handle the growth, most demographers are not economists. The draw on the world's natural resources will soon affect the economy. People cannot eat money.

Utah Adds to US Growth

October 17, 2006, Deseret News

Utah is adding one person every seven minutes. The US is the world's third-largest nation, behind China's 1.3 billion people and India's 1.2 billion. The growth of about 1% a year is raising sustainability concerns among some who say we are depleting our resources. Americans account for only about 5% of the world's population but use 25% of its resources. We are using them in ways that is harming the land and its ability to rejuvenate.

However, Japan, Russia and much of western Europe, are about to see a steep population decline that will lead to problems such as how to pay for pension programs or maintain economies.

We are living longer, and infant mortality is down. We certainly have plenty to eat, and our homes are bigger. The world needs to change so that economies don't have to constantly grow to sustain themselves.

We cannot keep getting bigger. As immigration plays a role in sustaining the population, there is a need to ensure that both U.S.-born and immigrant children get the best education possible and the nation needs to reform programs to keep them viable as the population ages.

Utah is unique in that its growth continues to be fueled by natural increase. However, the state's economy has raised in-migration, from other states and countries, to half the total population growth. Utah is seeing the challenge of an increasing school age population. Utah's population growth isn't likely to raise sustainability concerns any time soon, as there's plenty of land and food.

If water use remains the same, it could slow growth. One way to deal with growth constraint is to change our water habits. Utah can also do more in areas from water conservation to developing a plan for renewable energy use. Rather than continuing urban sprawl into suburbs, communities should be planned in a way that brings people closer together in a smaller space. Town homes and condominiums can be developed in a way that's attractive to families.

It's sometimes hard to imagine if we live closer together that would be desirable, but there are lots of examples of thriving communities. There's a lot of benefits to living in closer proximity to others. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Japan and the western European countries face a sustainability problem if their populations don't fall. Russia is a special case - the economy fell rapidly and people cannot afford to get married and have children. Men are failing to finding jobs and drinking more - leading to a high death rate due to alcohol abuse.

US Idaho;: A Nation in Full

September 26, 2006, US News & World Report

America has grown since 1790, when there were fewer than 4 million. Since 2000 alone, the nation has added some 20 million people. Three trends emerge, migration, immigration, and the boomers, many now near retirement. As population shifts, redistricting will follow, and older Americans will also have a profound effect on government. The 1970 census reported that Idaho's main problem is growth and how to manage it.

The challenge for city planners is to find enough room, housing, and jobs for more than double-or triple-Boise's metropolitan area population. For four decades, the South and West have been America's fastest-growing areas. California's cities provide the majority of new Boise residents. That has led to lengthy discussion about land use and economic development.

In Fort Wayne the school is 13% Hispanic with the number of students taking classes in English as a second language increasing. Immigration growth is transforming the city. An estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants now live in America. The US is growing older. The median age is 36.5 and is expected to rise to 39 by 2030 before leveling off.

Wilmington, on the Cape Fear coast, has become a magnet for retirees, its pre-elderly population-ages 55 to 64-jumped 52%, the seventh-fastest rate for any city in America. Prof. William Hall, senior economist at the Center for Business and Economics Services at UNCW, estimates that retirees generate $2 for every $1 they spend.

By around 2043, the nation's population is expected to reach 400 million. The South and West will be home to roughly two thirds of the country's population.

The impact of births by new immigrants will be a larger force than immigrants crossing the border. Whites could make up just about half of the population, the black population could grow 50%, and the Hispanic and Asian populations more than double.

The over-65 population is expected to double to 71.5 million. Social Security and Medicare are headed for trouble. doclink

Column: 300,000,000

October 03, 2006, Wall Street Journal

The U.S. population has reached 300 million. Americans have been bringing a new baby into the world every eight seconds and a new immigrant arrives every 30 seconds. Equivalent to a new Chicago every year.

This is not cause for alarm, it is cause for celebration. We are on healthier and wealthier and freer than any population ever. We breathe cleaner air, drink cleaner water, earn higher incomes, have more leisure time, and live in less crowded housing. Every natural resource water, food, copper and, even oil is far more abundant today measured by affordability than when our population was 100 million. Thanks to technological progress, there's every reason to believe these resources will be still more abundant when our population reaches 400 million. But more people can mean more congestion. But America remains a vast, unpeopled land. Our farmers grow about three times as much food on one-third as many acres and a third fewer man-hours as 75 years ago and we have the capacity to feed a population many times what we have today.

A child born today in the U.S. is four times more likely to live to adulthood than one born in 1950, and 12 times more likely than one born in 1900. This good news is an eloquent rejoinder to 40 years of endless jeremiads issued by neo-Malthusians. Many highly credentialed demographers compared uncontrolled human copulation with the reproduction behavior of Norwegian field mice. But as nations have grown richer, birth rates have fallen by half. Human beings can and do control their fertility. Growth brought about through the free market is the ultimate contraceptive and ecological protector.

Sadly, many policy makers still believe in the science fiction of overpopulation. But even with continued immigration, the U.S. population is expected to grow for the next 50 years and then stabilize. By contrast, Japan and many European nations are expected to experience a debilitating absolute decline in their populations by between 10% and 25% over the next 50 years. doclink

I think the author needs to look around. Ralphs says: So with more people we breath cleaner air, have more leisure time, and live in less crowded housing? I have a bridge I will sell him. Karen Gaia says: we used to have the feed a population many times what we have today. This is no longer true.

U.S.;: 300,000,000; a Nation Takes Stock as Population Milestone Approaches;

October 01, 2006, Spokesman Review (US)

American population is growing by nearly 1% annually.

But a big reason the U.S. population is growing is immigration. There were fewer than 10 million foreign-born people here in 1967, compared with 36 million today.

America is becoming increasingly diverse, due to Hispanic immigrants.

The nation's minority population is 98 million, one-third of the total. Hispanics were the largest minority group with 42.7 million people.

Hispanics accounted for nearly half the U.S. population growth of 2.8 million people.

The 300 million figure may seem distant until you drive between Spokane and Coeur d'Alene and realize much of it wasn't here 20 years ago.

A child born in the U.S. consumes 300 times more of the world's resources as a child born in a nation like Chad. America's thirst for cheap oil, has driven the global economy since the mid-1800s.

Now, We have really tapped the easy sources for light sweet crude. As oil reserves are depleted, the economies of China and India are competing with us for the same reserves.

At the same time, as increasing the number of coal-fired power plants as China is doing and Texas is attempting will only aggravate carbon dioxide emissions.

There is stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities. doclink

Column: 299,999,999 ...; America Reaches the Big `300' Million; Let's Have a Party and Toast Our Progress

October 05, 2006, Hartford Courant

About Oct. 14, the U.S. population will be 300 million people, making us the world's third most populous country. It took us fewer than 40 years to add 100 million to our population. We're the world's fastest-growing industrial nation, growing about 1% a year. The U.S. Census Bureau calculates that there is one American birth every 7 seconds, and one death every 13 seconds. Every 31 seconds, the nation adds another immigrant. In 1900, a newborn could expect to live to age 47. Today, nearly 78.

In 34 years we will hit 400 million. Our world has changed with alarming speed as the population has increased. doclink

U.S.;: 300 Million Reasons to Worry?

October 04, 2006, Washington Post

According to census projections, the U.S. population has reached 300 million and will climb to 420 million by 2050. This is a sign of either impending calamity or enduring vitality. Aging and immigration are vexing. By 2030 the 65-and-over population will be about 20% of the total. That will involve costs for Social Security and Medicare. Meanwhile, annual immigration will be about 1 million. That will transform the nation's profile and could reshape its politics and culture. By 2050 Hispanic Americans will be almost 25% of the total. Asian Americans will be 8% by 2050, while non-Hispanic whites will drop from 69 to 50%. Blacks will stay around 14%.

Already about half of the last 100 million Americans are immigrants and their U.S.-born children.

But our character and culture are powerful and resilient. From 1950 to 1970, two-thirds of metropolitan growth occurred in suburbs. Since 1970, 84% of U.S. population growth has occurred in the South and the West. We change and adapt, even while bedrock principles and attitudes endure. But population growth has raised two serious concerns. One is that we are creating overcongested communities that will demand energy and water that won't be there or only at an exorbitant price. Population growth will cause an economic and social backlash.

But maybe people will return to Cleveland and Milwaukee, where water is plentiful and housing prices are low. Still, population growth shows why curbing energy use and greenhouse gases is so hard. Simply to keep total energy demand steady would require each American to make deep cuts in energy use.

Up to a point, America's willingness to accept immigrants is a sign of confidence. But our careless approach to immigration is creating social problems. Many Hispanic immigrants have average weekly wages are only two-thirds of the average. The predominance of poor workers frustrates assimilation. This makes immigration seem threatening to millions of Americans. Paying the retirement benefits of baby boomers could require federal tax increases of 30%/50%. A growing part of the labor force will consist of Hispanic and Asian Americans. And they may wonder why they should pay so much to support somebody else's wealthier parents. The politics could get ugly.

So if population growth backfires, we will have only ourselves to blame. doclink

Karen Gaia says: If the entire population growth of the US were to go to Cleveland and Milwaukee ... would you want to live there?

U.S.;: The Environmental Load of 300 Million: How Heavy?;

September 26, 2006, Christian Science Monitor

Wild salmon are plummeting toward extinction due to development across much of the Columbia River basin.

But Portland's natural setting along the Willamette River and its youthful techie vibe are drawing a surge of new people. As the US approaches 300 million people, that's the story of the nation as well.

Since reaching 200 million in 1967, despite using more resources and creating more waste, we've become more energy efficient.

Major environmental problems remain, and some are getting worse - all of them connected to US population growth. Some experts put the amount of land and water needed to support an individual and absorb his or her waste at 24 acres. By that calculation, the long-term "carrying capacity" is less than half of the nation's current population.

Population growth, combined with America's high rates of resource consumption, results in the largest environmental impact in the world.

The changing nature of the population also has environmental consequences.

Today's baby boomers, 26% of the population, are the largest, wealthiest, highest resource-consuming ever, and have unprecedented environmental impact.

The proliferation of bigger houses and cars are gobbling up resources and creating pollution. Land is being developed at twice the rate of population growth. When housing, shopping, schools, etc are added up, each American occupies 20% more land than 20 years ago.

Nearly 3,000 acres of farmland are converted to nonagricultural uses daily. Each American produces about five pounds of trash daily, up from less than three pounds in 1960.

More than half of all Americans live within 50 miles of the coasts where population density and its environmental impact are increasing.

The Portland metropolitan area grew about 30% during the 1990s. It's projected to grow to 2.6 million by 2010 and to 3.1 million by 2025.

Population pressures are overwhelming the Portland region's ability to absorb new people. It remains to be seen whether this growth will threaten Portland's progressive land-use planning policies.

It's no coincidence that the environmental movement began when the US population ticked past the 200 million mark 39 years ago.

It was a time when rivers were so contaminated that they caught on fire, entire towns built upon sites so toxic that the only recourse was to abandon them. But now we see our air is cleaner, our water is purer, and our land is better protected."

Increasingly, business is getting involved. Weyerhaeuser Co. is pledging to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions to 40% less by 2020.

Faith groups, including typically conservative evangelicals, have also taken up "creation care". State and local governments have pushed ahead of Uncle Sam in working to protect an environment from a population that is growing in both numbers and affluence. All over the country, communities are coming up against the issue of sustainability. Portland has had model public transit, including a light-rail system that recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.

As US laws and American attitudes toward energy and the environment have advanced, some experts argue, efficiency gains have outstripped population growth and consumption.

"The average new house today is about a third larger than in 1970, but energy consumption is about the same as the smaller house in 1970, but their environmental impact grows in other ways.

The average amount of land around houses is growing."

The US may face a stiff challenge in dealing with the environmental impact of its growing population. doclink

Alarm Sounds on US Population Boom; Report Says Growth Threatens Resources

August 31, 2006, Boston Globe

The US is the only industrialized country that has experienced strong population growth in the last decade, creating concerns that the boom will erode the nation's natural resources in coming years.

The NE remains the most densely populated region, but had the slowest population growth during the 1990s, including a 2% reduction in urban areas. The South and the West were creating new pressure on fragile environments and water sources.

The report compared population trends with environmental indicators, highlighting stresses that growing populations are placing on nature. Poor countries grew by 16.3% from 1995 to 2005, the US grew by 10.6% or 29 million people. Europe during that time grew by 504,000 people, or less than 1%.

The US boom was attributed to high birth rates, immigration, and increased longevity.

Americans consume three times the amount of water per capita than the world average and nearly 25% of the world's energy.

Those born between 1946 and 1964, about 26% of the US population were not downsizing as their children became adults, many have moved into bigger houses and the tally of homes with space greater than 3,000 square feet went up 11%.

Despite a small migration from urban areas, the NE continued to feel the pressures of development. Maine's Acadia National Park is the fifth-most polluted park in the country. But the South and West regions show the most dramatic environmental stresses. Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah all have acute water shortages.

US population increases may partly to blame for environmental headaches attributed to global warming. doclink

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

March 21, 2006, Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration

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

U.S.: Come October, Baby Will Make 300 Million Or So

January 13, 2006,

The Census Bureau pegged the resident population of the US at 297,900,000 and estimates that the total is expected to top 300 million late this year. The US ranks third in population behind China and India, and is gaining people while other industrialized nations are not. Driven by immigration and higher fertility rates, particularly among newcomers from abroad, the US population is growing by about 1% annually, the equivalent of the entire population of Chicago. What is certain is that the 300 millionth American will live to 85 or 90 on average and in a nation that will be more crowded. Today, there are wide-open spaces, with about 80 people per square mile in the nation. But some Texas counties are home to fewer than one person per square mile; Manhattan houses 67,000 per square mile. "By the time the 300 millionth individual gets to adulthood, many of the cities today we consider small and nice to live in won't be so nice," Carl Haub, a senior demographer for the Population Reference Bureau said. In 1967, David E. Lilienthal, the former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, warned in The New York Times that unbridled population growth might doom the nation to shortages of water and energy, bury it in pollution and saddle it with unmanageable poverty. It has taken 230 years for the United States to reach 300 million people and the Census Bureau projects that even with the nation growing more slowly than ever beginning in 2030, the population will top 400 million less than 40 years from now. doclink

U.S. Population to Reach 300 Million in October

January 14, 2006, Xinhua General News Service

The U.S. Census Bureau officially pegged the resident population of the United States as being close to 297,900,000, with a baby being born every 8 seconds, someone dying every 12 seconds and the nation gaining an immigrant every 31 seconds on average. The U.S. population is growing by about one person every 14 seconds and is expected to top 300 million in October. The United States is gaining people, thanks to immigration and higher fertility rates, particularly among immigrants. The Census Bureau projects that the population will top 400 million in less than 40 years from now. doclink

Time to address factors that push and pull people into the U.S. Also time to cut U.S. consumption. New Americans soon consume much more than they did in their originating countries.

US Arizona: Energy Pinch Looms

July 2005,

National energy problems already have driven prices painfully high, but the next energy pinch may grow out of this area's summer heat. Phoenix added more people, and more air conditioners, than any other city in the country last year, with 29,826 new residents. As a result, on a typical 100-degree-plus summer day, Phoenix and surrounding cities use more electricity than Manhattan. The West, over the next few years, will have problems with enough electricity available. California's 2000-2001 energy crisis, which resulted in blackouts and sky-high prices, was the most dramatic. An accident caused a fire at a Phoenix utility substation, temporarily cutting the region's supplies by 25% for more than a month. In a separate incident all three reactors at the Palo Verde nuclear plant were shut down because of potential safety problems. The West's power grid is separate from the one that serves most of the nation, and Texas is an electricity island. Supply problems here are affecting national energy planning, and could lead to higher prices everywhere for natural gas and coal. The West's demand is only starting to grow. The Census Bureau predicts that the only state that will grow more quickly than Arizona in the next 25 years is Nevada. By 2030, the two states are expected to gain more than 7.9 million people. California, which imports much of its electricity from Arizona, Nevada and other states in the West, is growing again after a brief dip. Los Angeles alone added more than 26,000 residents between July 2003 and July 2004. The Phoenix area could have problems meeting demand by 2012 and the state is planning improvements to meet the shortfall. The vice president of planning for Arizona Public Service Co. said several new power plants built in the past decade are sufficient to meet demand. To meet future demand, he said, we will acquire the capacity to meet it. They must deal with opposition to new local power plants. Several years ago, the Salt River Project wanted to expand a plant in the Tempe that would have added 825 megawatts. But residents' opposition was so fierce that it forced the utility to reduce its plan to 250 megawatts. To meet future demand, power plants may have to be built farther away from big cities. Last month, Arizona Public Service Co. was considering building a transmission line to power plants in Wyoming to help meet Arizona's future electricity needs. Last week, the Bureau of Land Management wrapped up a first round of public hearings on master plans for new or expanded energy corridors from suppliers in states such as Wyoming, Idaho and North Dakota to the region's major cities. All the new residents in the desert cities mean more demand for power. Phoenix ranked number one in the increase in population from 2003-2004, to 1.4 million, with a 29,826 increase. Next in order were: Los Angeles - 3.8 million, 26,128; San Antonio - 1.2 million, 22,095; Las Vegas - 534,847, 17,923; Fort Worth - 603,337, 17,872; North Las Vegas - 158,748, 14,204; Port St. Lucie, Florida - 18,396, 12,689; Bakersfield, Calif. - 283,936, 12,357; Chandler, Ariz - 223,991, 12,039; Gilbert, Ariz - 156,917, 11,231. doclink

U.S. Census - Population Increase in the U.S.

October 2005, Rural Migration News

Between April 2000 and July 2004, the US population rose to 294 million, 198 million whites, 41 million Hispanics, 39 million Blacks and 14 million Asians. The non-Hispanic white population will drop to one- half by 2050. Texas (just over 50%) joined Hawaii (77%), New Mexico (56%), and California (56%) as the fourth state in which minority groups, account for a majority of the population. California's 36 million includes 12 million Hispanics and five million Asians. Los Angeles county, 10 million residents, includes 4.6 million Hispanics and 1.4 million Asians. Of third generation Mexican-Americans only 11% earned college degrees, compared to 38% of whites and 46% of Asian Americans. Most western cities, reliant on water from far away, are more densely populated than eastern cities. The urbanized area in and around LA is the most densely populated US place. In some cases, high density in the Los Angeles area is due to immigrants crowding into conventional housing. Of the 10 US municipalities that have more than four people per household, nine are in sections of LA marked by garage conversions and back-yard sheds. Maywood, one-square-mile in southeast LA County that was built for 10,000 people, has about 30,000 residents today. One homeowner put four metal tool sheds from Home Depot in the backyard and rented them to newcomers for $150 a month each. Maywood schools have been overcrowded and operating on an emergency schedule for the past 23 years. In other parts of the US, communities are being developed on the fringes of urban areas. Today's exurbs offer large homes for those willing to endure longer commutes in exchange for lower home prices. In a Florida exurb development, almost half of the buyers were in their 30s. They were 38% Hispanic, 24% white and 16% black, and 75% had children. The median income of US households was $44,400 in 2004, down 4% from its 1999 peak and unchanged from 2003. The earnings of full-time workers employed year-round fell to $40,800 for men and $31,200 for women. The range in incomes across counties with populations of 250,000 or more was almost four to one. Fairfax County, Virginia had the highest median income in 2004, about $88,000, and Hildalgo county, Texas had the lowest, about $25,000. The poverty line was $19,307 for a family of four in 2004, and 37 million Americans, 12.7%, had incomes below the line. Poverty was at its lowest in 2000, when 32 million or 11.3% were poor. Some 45 million Americans did not have health insurance in 2004. Up to 10 million may be eligible for Medicaid. In 2004, there were 21.4 million foreign-born persons in the US labor force, 14.5% of the total work force of 148 million. Between 2002 and 2004, the foreign-born labor force rose by 1.2 million, accounting for half of US labor force growth. 66% of US- and foreign-born residents 16 and older are in the labor force. Foreign-born men had a higher labor force participation rate (LFPR) than US-born men in 2004, 81 to 72%, while foreign-born women had a lower LFPR, 54% to 60%. The biggest gap in LFPRs was for women with children under 18, 58% percent of such foreign-born women were in the labor force, compared to 73% for US-born women. Foreign-born workers earned an average of $502 a week in 2004, 76% as much as US-born workers, who averaged $662 a week. Foreign-born men earned 69% as much as US-born men, while foreign-born women earned 81% as much as similar US-born women. Immigrants are about 12% of residents, almost 15% of workers, and 20% earning less than $9 an hour. 42% of immigrant-headed families were low- income, compared to 21% of families with US-born heads of household. About 68% percent of immigrant-headed families and 83% of families with US-born heads of household got Earned Income Tax Credit benefits. 30% of foreign- born workers are believed to be unauthorized. doclink

Illegal immigration can be reduced to a large degree by enforcing current laws that regulate employment of illegals. The U.S. encourages illegal immigration only because illegals will work at slave wages.

Growth Due to Births vs Immigration

October 10, 2005, Bob Shanbrom

Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, cites an assertion in a book by Edwin Stennett that the US population can be stabilized at 400 million by 2025 if we drop our fertility rate to about that of France, or a bit lower, even if we maintain our current immigration rate[see below for a correction by Edwin Stennett]:

"Current net US immigration is about 1 million per year and the total fertility rate is 2.05 children per woman. If we could establish and maintain a fertility rate of 1.8 children per woman, we would soon stabilize our population' even with a net immigration of 1 million per year. For a wealthy nation, 1.8 is still a high fertility rate - Canada is at 1.6 and Germany 1.3." Germany has a 0% population growth rate, a 1.39 TFR and an immigration rate of 2.18/1000, according to the CIA factbook; Spain has a 0.15% growth rate, a 1.28 TFR, and a 0.99/1000 immigration rate; France is 0.37% growth/1.85 TFR/0.66 immigration. None of these figures include illegal immigration. The U.S. has a 0.92% growth rate, a 2.08 TFR, and a 3.31/1000 immigration rate. This too does not include illegal immigration which adds enough to make the immigration rate 5.0/1000 and the growth rate at about 1.1%, predicting a US population of 600 million in 2068 (adding 1.55 million people a year). While native-born Americans have a fertility rate like Germany's, immigrants have a much higher fertility rate, making the target 1.8 TFR elusive. The author feels that even if the TFR were reduced to 1.8 for native born and immigrants alike, and even if immigration were reduced to 2.5/1000 (in effect eliminating illegal immigration), the growth rate would still be around 0.4% a year. [Edwin Stennet: I acknowledge (p114 of In Growth We Trust) that if we achieve a TFR of 1.8, but the net immigration climbs to 2 million per year, then stability would not be reached until the population of the U.S. approached 1 billion people!] doclink

US California: The Central Valley Has Found Its Voice

June 14, 2005, USA Today

Carol Whiteside cares about the future of the Central Valley, California's mammoth agricultural heartland. She is founder and president of the Great Valley Center, a Modesto-based think tank that specializes in a region approximately the size of England. Whiteside's forte is finding innovative ways for the region to cope with the unintended consequences of growth. The Central Valley is made up of 19 counties and stretches 450 miles from Redding to Bakersfield. The area is home to more state prisons than any other region; perpetually suffers from high unemployment, poverty and teen pregnancy rates; and struggles with unprecedented growth and choking smog. Its population, 6.3 million today, is expected to nearly double by 2040. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation helped fund the Great Valley Center in 1997.

Whiteside is the oracle of the Central Valley, explaining the region's challenges and highpoints to elected officials and philanthropists, planners and journalists from coast to coast. in the Visalia Times-Delta she said: "We live in an area with America's highest poverty and America's fastest growth rate." .. "We are the world's most productive agricultural region and suffer the worst air quality in the United States. We need to improve our jobs base and diversification and, at the same time, preserve our strengths and culture," she said for a report by the Congressional Research Service, the public policy research arm of the U.S. Congress, showing that the San Joaquin Valley - the southern half of the Central Valley - gets dramatically less in federal spending per capita than the nation as a whole. At the same time, according to the report, the San Joaquin Valley has a much higher poverty rate than Appalachia. The Central Valley provides 25% of the U.S. food supply or a connection with the more than 300 crops raised in the flat fields between the Sierra Nevada and the Coast Ranges. doclink

U.S. Population Rises 3 Million to Nearly 294 Million

December 22, 2005, Associated Press

Idaho is fourth in the list of fastest-growing states, and it's planners are scrambling to update plans and zoning ordinances. The US added 3 million people last year for a population of 294 million. The fastest growth came in the West and South, with Nevada, Idaho, Utah and New Mexico leading the way as urbanites moved to rural areas with three things in common: affordable living, lots of outdoor recreation and plenty of space. Utah's population is 2.4 million, up 1.6% over the past year and 7% since 2000. Nevada, spurred by the growth around Las Vegas, grew 4.1% to 2.3 million. Arizona had the second-largest growth, up 3% to 5.7 million, while Florida was third with a 2.3% increase to 17.4 million. Georgia, Texas, Delaware and North Carolina also were in the top 10. Massachusetts had a population decline of 3,800 people, or 0.1%, to 6.41 million that could have been caused by an exodus of people escaping rising costs in the Boston area. In North Dakota the July 2004 population of 634,366 was 966 higher than the previous year. There also has been growth in Montana and Wyoming, due in part to folks seeking a small-town lifestyle. doclink

U.S.: More Are Calling North Carolina Home

July 2003, US Census Bureau

North Carolina is one of the 10 fastest-growing states, its population grew 1.4% from July 2003 to July 2004, adding 120,031 people. It is the 9th-fastest-growing state with a population of 8.54 million. Top-Growing states: Nevada - 4.1%, Arizona - 3%, Florida - 2.3%, Idaho - 1.9%, Georgia - 1.8%, Texas - 1.7%, Utah - 1.6%, Delaware - 1.5%, North Carolina - 1.4%, New Mexico -1.3%. Internal migration to North Carolina climbed from 25,000 last year to 46,000 this year, for the state's mild weather, good infrastructure, established industries and universities. The number of people coming to North Carolina from other countries fell from 31,000 to 30,000 which might be due to increased vigilance along the border with Mexico, the country of origin for most of North Carolina's immigrants. For the third year, North Carolina's natural increase dropped, from 45,187 in July 2003 to 43,902 in July 2004. Five of the 10 fastest-growing states are in the South: Florida, Georgia, Texas, Delaware and North Carolina and added 1.5 million people. The nation added 3 million people, growing by 1% to 293.7 million. doclink

U.S.: Aging Whites No Longer Will Be the Majority as Growth in Latino, Asian Populations Continues

March 18, 2004, Los Angeles Times

By 2010 there will be more than 110 million minority residents out of a total population of 309 million. The 2000 Census showed an increase and dispersal of the Latino and Asian populations and the country in 50 years will look more like California where Latinos could become the majority and account for 48% of the state's population in 2040. Non-Latino whites, who account for slightly less than half of Californians, will represent about 31%. According to figures released today, the total U.S. population will rise to 420 million in 2050, a 49% increase from 2000. As those born between 1946 and 1964 begins to die, the population will grow more slowly and after 2030, might be the slowest since the 1930s. The number of Latinos are projected to grow to 103 million by 2050, from 36 million in 2000. Asians would increase to 33 million, from 11 million in 2000. Non-Latino whites, who account for 70% of the U.S. population, will drop to 50% in 2050. Blacks will increase from 13% to 15%. Whites will be a minority by the mid-2050s. People 65 and older will increase from 35 million to 87 million in 2050. Those 85 and older will increase to 21 million. On the positive side, continued immigration will keep the US growing while Europe and Japan are losing population. More working-age taxpayers will shore up the programs for the elderly, such as Medicare and Social Security. We need this growing Latino population to maintain the Social Security system. Immigration is keeping us younger and is increasing our diversity. On the negative side, an ethnic edge may make it difficult to balance the right of the elderly to a secure retirement and the obligations of younger workers. You will have two interlocking dynamics: the aging of the non-Hispanic population and a very youthful Hispanic population. Most Latinos are of Mexican origin. In the 1990s, immigrants from Mexico began showing up by the thousands in much of the South and parts of the Northeast and Midwest, a trend that is expected to continue. The West will have a stronger Mexican and Latin flavor. The South will become multi-ethnic. In the Northeast, Midwest and Plains states, there will be more of the aging white population. But these estimates are not clear and are not designed to predict the changes already in progress. For example, they do not account for the growing number of mixed marriages. The children of those marriages may not identify with the racial and ethnic labels of their parents. Latinos and Asians have high rates of intermarriage and half the marriages among third-generation Latinos are to spouses who are not Latino, doclink

"We need this growing population"? The Social Security system is in trouble because we did not sufficiently invest in the retirement of the last set of baby boomers. Who will take care of the next generation, the one we are growing now to take care of this generation of boomers? A giant Ponzi scheme that will collapse when we run out of resources such as water, oil, and soil.

It was a Typical Year: California Grew by Another 600,000 Souls

February 15, 2004, Sacramento Bee

Beginning 25 years ago, California began experiencing a wave of immigration roughly 300,000 people a year. As 300,000 foreign immigrants legal and illegal arrive in California each year, 500,000-babies are born - 60% to immigrants - and 200,000 or so Californians die. The net population growth is 600,000 or 6 million each decade. A million-plus Californians left the state as the economy dipped so growth was 5 million. But we're right on track to add another 6 million in this decade. The recent population survey found that California grew by 598,000 during the 2002-03 fiscal year and should top 40 million by 2010. Immigrants tend to concentrate in urban areas which is usually the locale of most births, but there's a shift of population from urban centers into suburban and rural areas. Thus the state's fastest-growing regions are on the urban periphery, in the interior valleys north and south. Riverside was the state's fastest-growing county at 4.53%- three times the statewide rate followed by Placer County at 4.43%. The impacts of growth - such as traffic and school crowding - are felt most heavily in the suburbs. The cities are becoming dominated by non-white residents, while the suburbs are taking on white newcomers from cities. The urban areas and older suburbs becoming more Democratic and the suburbs more Republican. Most of the political issues facing the state - water distribution, housing, economic development, traffic congestion, health-care access, etc. - stem from the high, immigration-driven rate of growth. Our needs for 200,000 new housing units and a quarter-million new jobs a year, the growth of K-12 and college enrollment, the impacts of 1,000 new cars each day are growth-related. We and the politicians we elect, however, tend to avoid talking about fundamental growth issues even as we heatedly debate its impacts. While the Sierra Club beats the drums about restricting development, it talks little about immigration. Overwhelmingly white and upper middle class the Sierra Club wants to maintain political relations with Latino organizations, which oppose curbs on immigration. An anti-immigration faction [editor note: these factions are actually for immigration reduction, not stopping immigration altogether]within the Sierra Club is mounting a new drive to gain control of the Club's board and change its immigration policies. doclink

Are US Birth Rates Really at Record Low?

July 2003, Patrick Burns

The least meaningful way to measure birth rates is by calculating the crude birth rates that are swayed by the age structure. Comparing across nationalities or big time spans does not tell what is happening. A change in age structure can suggest a steeper decline than is actually happening. U.S. population has become a little older and a smaller number of women are having kids. This is temporary, and we are not close to a record low level of fertility. A better measure is the "total fertility rate" (TFR) which is calculated by adding all the age-specific fertility rates and multiplying them by five. The resulting figure (a total fertility rate) can be compared across both time and space. See for more. doclink


U.S.: Ben Franklin's Sister - Poor Jane’s Almanac

April 23, 2011, New York Times*

The Republican's new economic plan this month is called "The Path to Prosperity," a nod to an essay written by Benjamin Franklin, called "The Way to Wealth."

Franklin was the youngest of 10 sons. His sister Jane, 6 years his junior, was the youngest of seven daughters. Their family was poor, which meant that, in school, boys learned to write but girls only learned to read. Jane never went to school. Against poverty and ignorance, Franklin prevailed; his sister did not.

At 17, Franklin ran away from home. At 15, Jane married Edward Mecom; and she was probably pregnant, since a third of all brides then were. She and her brother wrote letters to each other all their lives: his were learned, warm, funny, delightful; hers were misspelled, fretful and full of sorrow.

Franklin told his sister: "You write better, in my Opinion, than most American Women," and he was right.

He wrote the "The Way to Wealth" and a famous autobiography, and his picture is on the $100 bill.

She had one child after another and struggled, and failed, to keep her familiy out of debtors' prison, the almshouse, asylums. But she read, thirsting for knowledge.

She had 12 children and buried 11 of them.

The story of Jane Mecom is a reminder that, especially for women, escaping poverty has always depended on the opportunity for an education and the ability to control the size of their families.

In 1789 when Jane Mecom was 77, Boston, for the first time, allowed girls to attend public schools. The fertility rate began declining. The American Revolution made possible a new world, a world of fewer obstacles, a world with a promise of equality.

Benjamin Franklin died in Philadelphia in 1790 at the age of 84. He left Jane the house in which she lived and he gave one hundred pounds to the public schools of Boston.

Jane Mecom died in that house in 1794. Later her house was demolished to make room for a memorial to Paul Revere. doclink

Karen Gaia says: many Americans chide other countries for the way they treat their women, but we were there in their shoes a little over 200 years ago.

U.S. Population Landmarks

January 4, 2010, George Plumb of Vermonters for Sustainable Population

1915 - Margaret Sanger brought the diaphragm from the Netherlands to the U.S. It was the first truly effective birth control device under the control of women.

1916 - Margaret Sanger organized the first birth control clinic in Brooklyn, N.Y. In 1921 she founded the American Birth Control League which later became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

1925 - Sanger's second husband financed the first manufacturing of the diaphragm in the U.S.

1950 - The U.S. population was 150 million.

1954 - The Hugh Moore Fund first used the term "population bomb" on their published pamphlet. He was a philanthropist from Pennsylvania. His mantra was "Your cause is a lost cause unless you support family planning."

1960 - The "pill" was invented and became available to women for contraception.

1965 - Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act, ending four decades of restricted immigration. This law, while removing limits based on country of origin, included provisions for family reunification, opening the door to "chain migration."

1965 - The U.S. Supreme Court decision of Buxton and Griswold vs. Conn. legalized birth control for married couples offering "privacy of the bedroom."

1967 - U.S. population reached 200 million.

1968 - The Population Bomb, by Paul R. Ehrlich was published by the Sierra Club. This book laid the foundation for widespread concern about population growth among environmentalists and others that followed in the early years of the 1970's.

1968 - The organization Zero Population Growth (ZPG) was formed. There were dozens of local chapters throughout the country. ZPG later became Population Connection, with a focus on world population.

1970 - Earth Day was declared with population growth a major issue on the agenda. Dr. Mary Steichen Calderon, past medical director of the PPFA, established the Sex, Information and Education Council (SIECUS).

1972 - The Commission on Population and the American Future report, chaired by John D. Rockefeller III, stated "We have looked for, and have not found, any convincing economic argument for continued population growth. The health of our economy does not depend upon it, nor does the vitality of business, nor the welfare of the average person." President Richard Nixon supported this and the National Security Study Memorandum 200 on population, both of which were defeated by Congress.

1972 - The Limits to Growth, is published by the Club of Rome. The book modeled the consequences of a rapidly growing population and finite resource supplies. The book was updated in 1993 and in 2004 under the name Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update. In 1996 one of the authors, Donella Meadows, founded the Sustainability Institute in Hartland, Vt.

1973 - The U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe vs. Wade affirmed a women's the right to abortion. doclink

US Ohio;: Women in Their 20s Lead Rise in Out-of-Wedlock Births

January 23, 2007, Associated Press

Up to 40% of last year's births among unmarried women, up from 29% in 1990. The birth rate among teens declined in 2006 to the lowest level on record. The increase has been led by women in their late 20s who have delayed marriage or are in live-in relationships. Behind are women in their 30s and 40s with college degrees and careers.

Appropriate partners may not be available due to death or incarceration. doclink

The United States at 300 Million

October 03, 2006,

The US is set to become the third country after China and India to have 300 million people. Within another 37 years, we are projected to pass 400 million. Natural increase drives nearly 60% population growth annually. International immigration accounts for about 40%. One of the most significant trends has been the shift of the population west and south. Between 1970 and 2000, the population share in the South and West rose from 48% to 58%. People are moving farther from central cities and their inner suburbs, pushing into woodlands and farmland.

The percent of the total population living in the suburbs of metropolitan areas grew from 38% to 50% between 1970 and 2000, while those living in central cities stayed at around 30%. People are concerned about crowding.

One-person households are more than twice as common as those of five people or more at more than 26% of the total. Young adults are moving out on their own. Older people who are divorced or widowed often choose to live alone.

Many forces underlie these changes. The age at first marriage has risen from 23 to 27 for men and from 21 to 26 for women. Increasing levels of women's education give women more options for independence outside marriage.

Children are moving back home after college. Saddled with school loans, many overcome any reservations they might have had to returning to the nest.

Between 1970 and 2004, the share of women in the labor force rose from 43% to 59%. The array of occupations include far more than the traditional options. Economic forces exerted pressure on families until it was hard for one-income families to get by.

Experts believe the current Social Security system will not be able to cover the payments promised to retirees after 2030. Of Americans ages 25 and older the share who finished high school soared from 55% to 85% between 1970 and 2004. Now more applicants are expected to have a college degree. The number of foreign-born people in the US has reached more than 35 million. But at 12% of the population, the share is lower than it was between 1860 and 1920, when it ranged to 15%.

The largest share of immigrants to the US still comes from Latin America, and from Mexico in particular.

Many are not authorized to be here. Recent estimates peg the number of unauthorized migrants at 11.5 million, with more than one-half from Mexico.

Immigrants are fueling the growth in the number of ethnic minorities. One-fifth of all children under age 18 are either foreign-born or in a family where at least one parent was foreign-born. Today, almost half of all children under age 5 are members of a racial or ethnic minority. And if current trends persist, that share will increase.

These trends could have an impact on the US. Since 1974, the under age 18 have been more likely to live below the poverty line than other age groups. In 2005, 18% of the young lived in poverty, compared with 10% of people 65 and over and 11% ages 18 to 64. Members of racial or ethnic minorities are more likely to live in poverty, with blacks the most likely 34%, Hispanics 28% and whites 14%.

If we don't address these age and race differences in poverty and well-being, today's children may be less able or willing to support the predominantly white when they reach adulthood. doclink

U.S. Population Growth and Its Effects on Our Environment Must Be Addressed, Experts Say

August 06, 2006, San Diego Union Tribune

The top-priority campaigns of the nation's big environmental groups emphasize animals, pollution and global warming.

What's missing are initiatives that tackle U.S. population growth.

The environmental establishment has abandoned talking about the nation's growing populace, particularly as it relates to immigration. The debate centers on economics and national security.

The US population has nearly doubled since 1950, and is expected to hit 300 million in October.

The link between population and the country's environmental capacity, its water supply, farmland, fisheries and other natural resources, is getting more attention from groups that aren't among the names in environmentalism.

The scientific data shows that the U.S. is reaching many of the nation's ecological limits, and that many are linked to population trends. It's a shame that environmentalists haven't found a way to get involved in a prominent way. Countries in Europe, with Russia and Japan, have shrinking populations because births aren't keeping pace with deaths.

America's relatively high population growth and high rates of consumption and pollution make result in the largest environmental impact per capita.

Americans occupy about 20% more developed land per capita for housing, schools, shopping, roads and other uses than they did 20 years ago, partly because the average number of people per household has dropped while the average size of homes has swelled. About 40% of the nation's rivers and 46% of its lakes are too polluted for fishing and swimming. Wetlands are shrinking by 100,000 acres a year, mainly because of development.

More than half the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of the coast, and can damage seaside ecosystems.

There's no universally accepted estimate of how many people the nation can accommodate.

The number is ultimately a question of balancing quality and quantity.

Technological advances that help clean the air, conserve water and grow more food on less farmland have helped to mitigate or delay predicted population-induced disasters.

Last year, one of every five immigrants worldwide lived in the United States. The National Audubon Society supports international family planning while taking no position on U.S. immigration. Greenpeace and the Natural Resources Defense Council largely stay out of domestic immigration issues, though neither explain why.

Sorting out the ecological costs and benefits of immigration and population growth can be enormously complex and has led some environmentalists to say their groups should stick with saving species, curbing pollution and preserving open space.

Aggressively advocating birth control or abortion rights could alienate church groups. The U.S. population grew by 14.9 million between April 2000 and July 2005. Immigration accounted for more than 42%.

Immigrants also play a key role in population growth once they arrive in the United tates.

A 2005 report found that there was an annual average of 84 births per 1,000 foreign-born women in the U.S., compared with 57 births per 1,000 native U.S. women.

The US has 12 million unauthorized immigrants. About 3 million of them, mostly from Mexico, live in California. doclink

Karen Gaia says: we could work harder at preventing unintended pregnancies, especially for teens, who have the highest birth rate in the developed world.

U.S.: Data on Marriage and Births Reflect the Political Divide

October 13, 2005, New York Times*

In New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts, the median age of first marriage is 29 for men and 26 or 27 for women, four years later than in Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Utah. The age of first marriage has been rising since 1970. But it is impossible to say whether the early-marrying states are moving in the same direction, at the same pace, as the later-marrying ones. In states where people marry later, there is a higher proportion of unmarried-couple households. The study found states in the Northeast and West had a higher percentage of unmarried-partner households than those in the South. In Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, unmarried couples made up more than 7% of all coupled households, twice those in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi. On teenage births, the same differences become clear. In New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, about 5% of babies are born to teenage mothers, while in Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming, 10% or more of all births are to teenage mothers. Over all, 15% of women who had given birth in the US in the previous year were not citizens. While noncitizens made up a third of the new mothers in California, and more than 20% in Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey and Texas, there were a dozen states where less than 4% of the new mothers were not citizens. While 21% of all women who gave birth in California in the last year and 14% in Arizona, Nevada and Texas did not speak English well or at all, there were 14 states where less than 2% of new mothers had limited English skills or none. There was no evidence that immigrant mothers were poorer than others. There was no correlation between language, citizenship and poverty status. doclink

Incredible Shrinking US Family

December 02, 2004, Monitor, The(Uganda)

Over the last several decades the size of US families has shrunk. The percentage of households containing five or more people has fallen by half and the number of single and two-person households has soared. Compared to the middle of the 20th century, marriage is not a universal status of adulthood. Disney films have depicted a number of untraditional family groups but the model of three children living with both their natural parents, is retro today. In 1970, 21% of households had five or more people, today it has dropped to 10% while households with one or two people increased from 46% to 60%. The number of people per household decreased from 3.14 to 2.57. The proportion of young, never-married singles has increased, particularly women 30 to 34 which has tripled since 1970. The reduced fertility is the result of the increase in the percentage of women who work and the rising expense of raising children. Parents are more concerned with putting effort into the raising of each child and unlike European societies, the US has limited government support for families. Big families may be becoming the province of the upper classes who can afford them. The US has an estimated 5.5 million stay-at-home parents, and of these, 5.4 million are women. There are only 98,000 stay-at-home dads. doclink

US Life Expectancy at All-time High, but Infant Deaths Up - Cdc

February 12, 2004, Push newsfeed

Life expectancy for 2002 reached 77.4 years, up from 77.2 in 2001. Infant mortality increased from 6.8 deaths per 1,000 in 2001 to 7.0 per 1,000 in 2002. In 2002, there were four million births and 27,977 infant deaths. The rise was due to an increase in infant deaths of less than 28 weeks old, particularly infants who died within the first week of life. The three major causes were birth defects, premature birth low birth weight, and maternal complications. SIDs declined from 2001 to 2002. The US mortality rate dropped by 855 across all ethnic groups except native Americans and non-Hispanic white females, whose death rates remained unchanged. Homicides dropped by 17% from 2001, although that figure was distorted by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Among leading causes of death, heart disease dropped 3%, stroke nearly 3%, accidents and unintentional injuries, nearly 2% and cancer, 1%. Death from HIV/AIDS, dropped 2%. HIV mortality has decreased 70% since 1995, but remains the fifth leading cause of death from people ages 25-44. doclink

A Crowded Nation on Lou Dobbs Oct. 14

October 14, 2003,

Join us for our special series of reports "A Crowded Nation." To keep up with population growth, power plants crank out more energy that causes pollution. At the same time, some factories are using more energy to create more products that cause waste. What is the impact on the quality of your air? We take an in-depth look. doclink

Fertility, Births

U.S. Deaths Reach Record as Population Grows, Ages

October 12, 2012, LubbockOnline   By: MIKE STOBBE

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that U.S. deaths reached a record of 2.5 million last year, 45,000 more deaths than in 2010 , reflecting the nation's growing and aging population. The annual number of deaths has been generally rising for decades as the population has swelled.

"If you have an older population, of course you have more deaths," said Qian Cai, a University of Virginia demographer who studies population trends. "That doesn't mean the population is less healthy or less vital."

The rate of deaths actually dropped to an all-time low - about 314 million per 100,000 people. That was offset by the fact that there are so many Americans.

U.S. life expectancy for a child born in 2011 was about 78 years and 8 months, which hasn't changed from the previous year.

The gap in life expectancy between the sexes, which was nearly 8 years at its widest in 1979, remained at less than 5 years in 2011.

The infant mortality rate dropped to a new low of 6.05 deaths per 1,000 births.

Heart disease and cancer remain the top killers, accounting for nearly half the nation's deaths. But the death rates from both continued to decline.

Increasing were the death rates for diabetes, chronic lower respiratory diseases, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, Parkinson's disease, and pneumonitis.

The rise in pneumonitis deaths is another sign of an aging population. Mainly in people 75 and older, it happens when food or vomit goes down the windpipe and causes deadly damage to the lungs.

Even though U.S. births have been falling for several years, there more than enough newborns to replace Americans who die. The number of births last year was close to 4 million. Add in immigrants, and the total population is growing by 2 million to 3 million people a year. doclink

Karen Gaia says: because of the excessive footprint of Americans, it would be best if U.S. population growth slowed from its current .9% and dropped to below zero for awhile, at least until a more sustainable U.S. footprint is achieved.

U.S.: Knocked Up and Knocked Down; Why America's Widening Fertility Class Divide is a Problem

September 26, 2011, Slate Magazine

Two new studies bring the contrasting reproductive profiles of rich and poor U.S. women into sharp relief.

Childlessness has increased across most demographic groups but is still highest among professionals. The Pew Research Center says about one quarter of all women with bachelor's degrees and higher in the United States wind up childless. This is higher than in England, where 22% of all women are childless.

At the same time, the numbers of both unplanned pregnancies and births among poor women have climbed steadily in recent years. About half of all pregnancies in this country are unplanned, with poor women now five times more likely than higher-income women to have an unplanned pregnancy, and six times more likely to have an unplanned birth, according to the Guttmacher Institute's analysis.

Women with unplanned pregnancies are more likely to smoke, drink, and go without prenatal care. Their births are more likely to be premature. Their children are less likely to be breastfed, and more likely to be neglected and to have various physical and mental health effects. The very fact of having a child increases a woman's chances of being poor.

The declining fertility of professional women highlights the extent to which our policies are deeply unfriendly to parents. Europe has policies designed to make it easier to simultaneously work and parent, yet here, because our overall birthrate is robust, we have no national paid leave law in place and no decent childcare system.

The Center for Work-Life Policy report says that professional parents are working longer and harder, shouldering new responsibilities for aging parents, and striving overtime to provide their children with all that they, in many cases, had lacked—a smooth path of success and both parents by their side. The costs are steep and include anxiety and exhaustion.

Poorer women are having more unintended pregnancies. Only about 40% of women who needed publicly funded family planning services between 2000 and 2008 got them, according to the Guttmacher Institute. During that same period, as employment levels and the number of employers offering health insurance went down, the number of women who needed these services increased by more than 1 million.

With growing poverty rates and political attacks on already inadequate family-planning funding threatening to drive the number of unintended pregnancies among poor women even higher, and little effort being made to address the pressures driving other women away from having kids, the gap between professionals and poor women could widen. Still, both are struggling with the same problem: an untenable "choice" between children and financial solvency. doclink

U.S.: The Cost of Raising a Child Has Risen 40% Over the Past Decade

September 21, 2011, CNN Money

Providing a child with the basics has become more than most parents can afford.

The cost of raising a child from birth to age 18 for a middle-income, two-parent family averaged $226,920 last year (not including college), according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It was only $60,000 10 years ago. Just one year of spending on a child can cost up to $13,830. From buying groceries to paying for gas, every major expense associated with raising a child has climbed significantly.

Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute says "Many parents are working longer hours, or another job, and they are giving up time at home. It's a complete catch-22."

Food prices, in particular, have weighed on parents' budgets as rising demand for commodities like corn and wheat, along with other factors such as rising oil prices, drought and floods, have made even a box of cereal pricey.

Another increase has been in gas prices. Between 2000 and 2010, consumers paid an average of 85% more per gallon at the pump, according to AAA.

Employers have scaled back or even did away with medical coverage in recent years, while at the same time, costs for doctors visits, medications and other health services also climbed - for families with children rising 58% over the decade, said Mark Lino, a senior economist at the USDA.

Incomes are shrinking and unemployment is near an all-time high. Over the past decade, median household income has fallen 7%, according to a recent report from the Census Bureau.

In addition a large part of the paycheck must go for child care. In 2010, the cost of putting two children in child care exceeded the median annual rent payments in every single state, according to a recent report by the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, or NACCRRA.

Also see: The anti-baby boom: Why the U.S. birth rate keeps falling - Go to this link to see a great chart of birth rates from 1910 to present, linked to various economic downturns. doclink

Karen Gaia says: According to the US Census Bureau: while the percentage of young people (under 17 years old) in the U.S. population went down slightly between 2000 and 2010, the number of young people actually went up by 1.9 million. The only age group that showed a 2010 decrease in numbers was the 25-44 year old group at minus 2.9 million.

  • So this could be another reason we see lower birth rates which are defined as births per 1000 and the 1000 includes the baby boomers. In other words, the people who can have children are still having children and we don't have to worry about going extinct.
  • People are influenced by their ability to raise children, however, and should be allowed to tailor their family size to their circumstances.
  • After all, the U.S. is still growing and this is straining our natural resources.
  • Unfortunately the cost of contraception relative to income also goes up to a point where many women can no longer afford it, while lawmakers are threatening to cut contraception from public funding.
  • Recession Makes Educated Women in Rich Countries Postpone Having Babies; Fertility Worldwide Dropped but UK Population Rose by 470,000 in 2010 Because, Say Experts, Less Educated Had More Children

    July 01, 2011, The Guardian

    A study for the European Union by the Vienna Institute of Demography shows that, in many rich countries, highly educated young women have delayed having children due to the the global recession, and -- if governments slash public spending -- may wait for an additional five to eight years.

    A steep decline in fertility rates occured in the US and Spain in 2009-10, while rates stagnated in Ireland and most European countries.

    Britain was an exception, with population rising by 470,000 to 62.2 million in 2010, the highest annual growth rate for nearly 50 years, a rise caused by natural change rather than immigration for the third consecutive year.

    Tomas Sobotka, one of the Austrian report's authors. "It is possible this is because the educated women are choosing to delay having while the less educated are having more."

    The report claimed that highly educated women delay having children, especially if they are childless, when employment is uncertain, while "less-educated women often maintain or increase their fertility under economic uncertainty."

    On the other hand, men with "low education and low skills face increasing difficulty in finding a partner or in supporting their family, and often show the largest decline in first child birth rates."

    Rising unemployment, failing consumer confidence, tighter credit and falling house prices have all affected the birth rates, says the study. 26 out of 27 EU countries had rising birth rates the year before the recession started, but by 2009, 13 countries saw their fertility rates decline and another four countries experienced stable fertility rates.

    The massive cuts in social spending in Greece, Britain, Ireland, Spain and elsewhere "could lead to a double dip fertility decline," said Sobotka.

    The present recession could have a more permanent effect on birth rates. "Women's age at first birth has reached around 28 in most European countries and Japan," Sobotka said. "This leaves women and couples less flexibility to postpone parenthood until a later age." doclink

    US Births Down for 3rd Year; Economy May Be Factor

    June 16, 2011, Associated Press

    Births in the U.S. had been on the rise for years, and the number hit an all-time high of more than 4.3 million in 2007.

    Last year, the number of births fell 3%, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The falling birth rate seemed to bottom out in October, November and December, so the decline could be slowing, but it's too early to say.

    The lower birth rates may be because women who are unemployed or have other money problems feel they can't afford to start a family or add to it.

    In 2008 and 2009, the only increase in births was in women older than 40 — considered more sensitive to the ticking of their biological clocks.

    Another factor behind the decline may be a drop in immigration to the United States, blamed on the weak job market. "Hispanics have higher birth rates," said Dr. Roger Rochat, a researcher who has studied fertility and abortion trends. doclink

    Bring on the Baby Boom

    May 6, 2009, USA Today

    Judging by magazine stories on celebrity bumps, babies dominate pop culture these days. In 2007, the total fertility rate in the USA hit 2.12 births per woman, a bit higher than 2006, and much higher than the 1.74 in 1976.

    The U.S. is one of the few developed countries to have a fertility rate above replacement level. Demographers debate the reasons, but there's a case to be made that not only is a high birthrate a good sign, we should be hoping it rises at least a bit more.

    Surveying childbearing across the developed world, America is a fecund outlier. Demographers have many theories for our exceptionality. The USA has a high teen pregnancy rate and many unplanned pregnancies.

    Across the developed world, many women say they want two kids. In the U.S., the average woman is likely to sometimes go over.

    Compared with Japan's 1.2 rate, getting families to the desired two kids is noteworthy. Our fertility rate rose 22% from 1976 to 2007, as women's workforce participation rates rose an equal amount. In other words, women think they can manage jobs and families. More professional and educated women who 10-15 years ago felt like 'I can only handle one child' say 'I can have a second.'

    Environmentalists fret that high birthrates strain the planet; a 3.8 would mean a billion-plus Americans within two generations. A rate of 2.1-2.5 keeps us growing manageably, and there's an argument for hoping it climbs within that range.

    With fewer workers supporting an aging population, Social Security, for instance, will exhaust its trust fund about 2041.

    A higher birthrate could ease that. The economic growth a rising population will shrink our debt to a more manageable percentage of GDP. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: To respond to these wild claims, send an email to: Include your full name, address and day and evening phone number so they can verify your letter. Submissions are edited for length (250 words or less), accuracy and clarity. Begin your letter by citing the article [e.g. Laura Vanderkam's column. ('Bring on the Baby Boom') misses the point.

    Large numbers of women and teens are reporting unintended or unwanted pregnancies, particularly now that some many have experienced joblessness and lowered wages. Rather than promoting more babies, we should be expanding comprehensive sex education in the schools and increasing eligibility under Medicaid for family planning services.

    An increase in fertility to 2.4 or 2.5 children per women, combined with projected immigration trends, could easily push U.S. population over the 1 billion mark by the end of the century.

    There are not enough natural resources to sustain a projected population of 9.2 billion. Why should we add more Americans to this number, particularly a child born in America has a much larger 'ecological footprint' than a child born in a developing country. Americans already account for about 25 percent of the world's consumption of scarce resources, like oil, and we emit at least 20 percent of all greenhouse gases.

    In a world of rising food prices, growing water scarcity, climate change, and projected energy shortfalls, population growth rates - particularly in the U.S. - pose far greater risks to the environment and economic well-being than any benefit that would be derived by shoring up the fiscal solvency of Social Security.

    Using what amounts to a Ponzi scheme to attempt to fix Social Security makes no sense. When the additional babies being promoted by Laura Vanderkam grow up, it will be in a poorer America due to depletion of natural resources by our growing population. America rose economically on the oil boom. This boom will soon bust. Already in urbanized areas of the world, joblessness is becoming a large problem. Will there be jobs for the next generation of baby boomers? And who will support them when they become old?

    U.S.: Birthrate is Lowest in a Century

    August 27, 2010, New York Times*

    The United States birthrate dropped for the second year in a row since the recession began in 2007. Births fell 2.6% percent last year even as the population grew. The birthrate, which takes into account changes in the population, fell to 13.5 births for every 1,000 people last year. That is down from 14.3 in 2007 and way down from 30 in 1909, when it was common to have big families.

    The situation is a striking turnabout from 2007, when more babies were born in the United States than in any other year in the nation's history. When the economy is bad and people are uncomfortable about their financial future, they tend to postpone having children. The birthrate dipped below 20 per 1,000 people in 1932 and did not rise above that level until the early 1940s.

    Nearly half of low- and middle-income women surveyed a year ago said they wanted to delay pregnancy or limit the number of children they have because of money concerns. Besides finances, experts said a decline in immigration to the United States might also be pushing births down.

    The new United States report is a rough count of births from states. It estimates there were 4,136,000 births in 2009, down from a year ago's estimate of 4,247,000 in 2008 and more than 4.3 million in 2007. doclink

    Teen Birth Rates Up in 26 States

    January 07, 2009, USA Today

    There are increases in the number of teens having births and the rate at which they are having births.

    The data shows significant increases for 2006. In the two previous years only one state in each year had a significant increase.

    In 2006, the general fertility rate hit its highest level since 1971. New data gives credence to the idea that the downturn in birth rates is over. The highest teen birth rates are Mississippi with 68.4 per 1,000, followed by New Mexico, with 64.1 and Texas, with 63.1. The lowest rates are in New Hampshire with 18.7 per 1,000, Vermont, with 20.8 per 1,000, and Massachusetts, with 21.3 per 1,000.

    Some blame a more sexualized culture and greater acceptance of births to unmarried women. Others say abstinence-only and a de-emphasis on birth control may play a part.

    The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy claims that abortion is driving higher teen birth rates and suggests that increases in high-profile unmarried births in Hollywood, movies and even politics is a factor for impressionable teens.

    The new data reflects the first decline since 1968 in the average age of first-time mothers, from 25.2 years in 2005 to 25 in 2006. doclink

    U.S.: Shaky Economy Means 'Bye-Bye Baby' for Some

    January 15, 2009,

    The economy is a worry for many Americans, with 80% saying they feel stress about their personal finances. Many have decided the time isn't right to have a child. There was a dramatic decline in fertility rates following the Great Depression in the 1930s.

    In each year after the country's last four recessions, general fertility rates dipped slightly. For example, following the 1980-1982 recession, the fertility rate [birth rate] fell from 68.4 in 1980 to 65.7 in 1983.

    How far the birth rate falls depends on how severe and long this financial crunch turns out to be. The U.S. birth rate has been at replacement levels for the past three decades, which, plus immigration, ensures the population remains robust.

    The No. 1 thing in this calendar year is postponement, But if this translated into a long-term fertility drop, it would be a big deal. Some clinics around the country are seeing signs of a financially driven baby chill.

    In vitro fertilization increased about 17% in 2008 over the prior year, and consults for new IVF patients seem to be holding steady. A middle-class family making more than $77,100 will spend nearly $300,000 raising a child from birth to age 17, not taking account of college tuition or inflation.

    For some families, postponing may mean just delaying a few months. For others, it could mean they never have children, due to age-related declines in fertility. doclink

    U.S.: Is this the next baby boom?

    July 16, 2006, USA TODAY

    A record number of babies were born in the USA in 2007. Details about the mothers won't be available until the fall, because all the agency has now is birth certificate data. The last time the number was this high was in 1957, in the middle of the baby boom years. Data for 2006 show a 3% increase over 2005. The largest single-year increase since 1989.

    It's going to be nowhere near the baby boom of the 1950s or '60s. The 2007 numbers can be attributed to: more immigrants having children, professional women who delayed childbearing until their 40s, and larger numbers of women in their 20s and 30s in the population. The average number of births per woman was 2.1 in 2006, the highest since 1971.

    From the perspective of schools, this is a real increase in the number of births and something they're going to have to deal with. But it won't be the kind of shock that we saw at the beginning of the baby boom in 1952 and '53. doclink

    Against the Trend, U.S. Births Way Up

    January 16, 2008, Associated Press Online

    The US is reporting the largest number of children born in 45 years. The nearly 4.3 million births in 2006 were mostly due to a bigger population, especially Hispanics. That group accounted for nearly one-quarter of all U.S. births. Data shows that the US has a higher fertility rate than Europe, Australia, Canada and Japan.

    Experts believe the reasons are: a decline in contraceptive use, a drop in access to abortion, poor education and poverty.

    Hispanics have fertility rates about 40% higher than the U.S. overall. Americans, especially those in middle America, view children more favorably than other Westernized countries.

    Demographers say it is too soon to know if the sudden increase in births is the start of a trend.

    To many economists and policymakers, the increase in births is good news. Countries with much lower rates face future labor shortages and eroding tax bases as they fail to reproduce enough to take care of their aging elders.

    But the higher fertility rate isn't all good. The CDC reported that America's teen birth rate rose for the first time in 15 years.

    Births are more common in nearly every age and racial or ethnic group. Total births jumped 3% in 2006, the largest single-year increase since 1989. The recent birth numbers are a result of many women having a couple of kids each, rather than a smaller number of mothers, each bearing several children.

    The 2006 fertility rate of 2.1 children is the highest level since 1971. The fertility rate among Hispanics 3 children per woman has been a major contributor. The high rate probably reflects cultural attitudes toward childbirth developed in other countries. Fertility rates average 2.7 in Central America and 2.4 in South America.

    Fertility rates often rise among immigrants. The rate among Mexican-born women in the U.S. is 3.2, but the overall rate for Mexico is just 2.4.

    Some complain that many illegal immigrants come here purposely to have children. "The child is an automatic American citizen, thus entitled to all benefits of American citizens."

    Fertility rates were also relatively high for other racial and ethnic groups. The rate rose to 2.1 for blacks and nearly 1.9 for non-Hispanic whites in 2006.

    Fertility levels tend to decline as women become better educated and gain career opportunities. Experts say those factors, along with the legalization of abortion and the expansion of contraception options, explain why the U.S. fertility rate dropped to 1.7 in 1976. The fertility rate climbed to 2 in 1989 and has hovered around that mark since.

    Other factors include: declines in contraceptive use here; limited access to abortion in some states; and opportunities for mothers to return to work. It is more common for American women to have babies out of wedlock and more common for couples to go forward with unwanted pregnancies. New England's fertility rates are more like Northern Europe's. American women in the Midwest, South and certain mountain states tend to have more children.

    The influence of religions in those latter regions is an important factor. doclink

    Report: U.S. Teen Births Rise

    December 05, 2007, Associated Press

    The nation's teen birth rate has risen for the first time in 14 years. The birth rate had been dropping since 1991, but government statisticians said it jumped 3% from 2005 to 2006.

    For 2006 births to unmarried mothers hit a new record high, and the overall birth rate has climbed to its highest level since 1971.

    The teen increase was based on the 15-19 age group, which accounted for about 99% of the more than 440,000 births to teens in 2006.

    The rate rose to 41.9 live births per 1,000 females in that age group, up from 40.5 in 2005. doclink

    U.S.;: How Many People is Too Many?

    August 14, 2006, Alternet

    This year, the USA will hit 300 million inhabitants and 400 million in less than 40 years.

    When people don't have the means and information to control their fertility, the results are that you can't go a week without seeing evidence of overpopulation, choked highways, crowded classrooms. We have to maintain not having living space and forests, farms, wetlands, etc.

    One-third of all pregnancies in this country are unintended. Yet we're wasting millions on abstinence programs that have been shown never to work. Abstinence proponents want to punish people who act, in their view, immorally.

    Current attacks on birth control are as much about making political hay as making babies.

    They see access to contraception within marriage as a negative influence: it gives easy access to adultery and therefore has reduced faithfulness in marriage. A professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary said "We've got room. Don't let the fear of overcrowding discourage you, the issue is what the Lord wants for them."

    Jennifer Shawne has published her book "Baby Not on Board: A Celebration of Life Without Kids" last year and says that it's not just religious conservatives who try to convince her of her duty to have children. She points out the unsupported assumption that political and cultural attitudes are inherited traits.

    The Oakland-based think tank Redefining Progress estimated that this nation's level of consumption and waste generation requires 269 global acres per person, almost nine times the footprint of the average in China and more than 22 times that of the average Indian or Pakistani.

    From the planet's point of view, the birth of a single American child has the potential impact of 10 births in those countries.

    What would 400 million Americans look like?

    Pat Buchanan argued that our nation's existence is threatened by insufficient enthusiasm for childbearing and growing immigration from Mexico. Buchanan urged a return to large, patriarchal families as a way of outstripping the immigrant population.

    Negative Population Growth (NPG), is a U.S. population of 150 million and advocates the two-child family and curtailment of resource consumption, but now spends most of its energy on immigration issues.

    Working for reproductive rights and smaller families without forceful action on immigration is doomed to fail.

    "If not for immigration, we already would have stabilized the U.S. population. Our problem is immigration. It's easy for one person to bring in his sisters, brothers, parents. And immigrants have more children. Pretty quickly, one immigrant can really amount to 12."

    Can we find ways of viewing immigration that lead to a less cruel course of action?

    What is really going on is capitalism operating normally. Employers gain. Native workers lose. Immigrants lose too. Both groups lose because they are not united.

    If it's hard to predict how many of us there will be, it's even tougher to know who we'll be. Jennifer Shawne said, "This culture, is constantly evolving. I'm more interested in seeing how it changes in the future than in preserving it as it is or was." doclink

    U.S.: Unplanned Pregnancy Increases Among Poor

    May 05, 2006, unknown

    Based on nationwide data from 1994 through 2001, the rate of unplanned pregnancy increased by almost 30% for women below the federal poverty line. For women above poverty (now $16,000 for a family of three), the rate of unplanned pregnancies fell by 20%.

    Some state and federal reproductive health programs have been cut back in recent years, and the decline in contraceptive use could be a result of those changes. Programs have increasingly focused on abstinence and some have argued that the switch is leading to reduced contraceptive use and more unintended pregnancies. Many social conservatives argue, that all contraceptives have limitations and the only way a woman can ensure she will not have an unintended pregnancy is to refrain from sexual intercourse.

    A larger study found that the overall abortion rate has declined steadily for years and a higher percentage of women with unintended pregnancies are carrying them to birth. Women who get abortions are doing so earlier in their pregnancies, when it is safer for the woman.

    Among poor women, the proportion of unintended pregnancies increased by almost 50% between 1994 and 2001, while it declined for women with twice the official poverty level. Poor women who had abortions did so on six days later in their pregnancy than women of greater means.

    A study found there were 6.4 million pregnancies in the US in 2001, resulting in about 4 million births. There were 1.3 million abortions and 1.1 million miscarriages. The pregnancies were evenly divided between intended and unintended, and the unintended led to almost even numbers of births and abortions.

    The growing disparities between richer and poor women appeared to be the result of higher levels of contraceptive use by the more affluent. In 20, after decades of increasing contraceptive-use rates, the trend stalled in the late 1990s and began to decline. The decline was almost entirely in poorer women.

    The overall pregnancy rate for women of child-bearing age declined from 1994 to 2001, as did the overall abortion rate. Black and Hispanic women were more likely to become pregnant than white women, and black women had the highest percentage of unintended pregnancies and abortions.

    A study found in 1994, 87 women out of 1,000 below the poverty line had unintended pregnancies. In 2001, the number was 112 out of 1,000.

    For women earning between $16,000 and $32,000 a year, the number of unintended pregnancies increased from 65 per 1,000 in 1994 to 81 per 1,000 in 2001. For women in families earning more than $32,000, the number declined from 37 to 29 unplanned pregnancies for each 1,000 women. doclink

    Unwanted Births

    December 20, 2005, The Miami Herald

    A Federal survey shows unwanted births up, and the story accurately notes that the decreasing number of abortion providers is part of the problem. The full story includes lack of access to contraception, the healthcare system, sexual health education at school and home, and lack of quick and easy access to emergency contraception. Also the proliferation of laws, such as parental notification requirements and 24-hour waiting periods, prevent women with unwanted pregnancies from accessing abortion. The survey results are disturbing because they document an assault on reproductive rights that, can lead to even more women having unwanted babies. doclink

    And this would mean a higher birth rate. The U.S. already has the highest birth rate of any of the developed countries.

    US Arizona: Latino Fiesta to Raise Funds for Planned Parenthood; Focus is on Curbing Teen Pregnancy, STDs

    November 15, 2005, Arizona Republic (US)

    A celebration aims to raise dollars to help slash Arizona's alarming Latino teen-pregnancy and STD-infection. Arizona's eighth-annual Celebracion de Noche Latina will feature a dinner buffet, no-host cocktails, an educational program and live music. Backed by corporate sponsors, the event benefits Planned Parenthood centers in Maryvale and south Phoenix that serve about 14,000 clients, most Latinos whose income is below the poverty level. Services at Planned 17 centers include contraceptives, medical exams, pregnancy testing, sterilization, abortion referrals, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. Arizona is ranked No. 2 among states in teen pregnancies and are twice as likely as whites to contract syphilis and more than twice as likely to contract HIV. Latino teens are at highest risk because Latino parents rarely talk to their children about sex and school sex-education programs focus on abstinence. doclink

    US North Carolina: Pre-natal Care in Spanish Serves Growing Population

    August 13, 2005, Associated Press

    While pregnant with her first child, Trinidad Cupil Hernandez, a 20-year-old Mexican immigrant didn't speak English and couldn't understand her doctor. She was uninsured. And she didn't drive. She's pregnant again, and sought prenatal care. She's receiving prenatal care at Duplin County Health Services where translators help her through the process. Most new Hispanic immigrants in North Carolina receive prenatal care during the first trimester, but their numbers lag behind their white or black counterparts. For Hispanics, lack of transportation, health insurance and English-speaking abilities contribute to this trend. New Hanover County welcomed 80 Hispanic babies in 2000 and 210 four years later; Brunswick County also saw an increase, from 37 in 2000 to 93 born last year. In Duplin, Pender and Columbus counties, Latino births have increased over the past four years. In New Hanover, a nonprofit resource center offers the area's only prenatal class in Spanish. Until recently, women began to attend late in their pregnancies. She hopes the prenatal class will spur women to seek care early. They depend on other people to bring them. Their husbands work and can't bring them or take the time to bring them. Many may not seek care because it costs money and they have no health insurance. Women in Mexico are used to not seeing a nurse or doctor, they even deliver alone. Topics covered at the classes include myths about being pregnant, what to eat, information about breast-feeding, types of birth control to consider after giving birth, the effect of hormones, how she'll feel after giving birth and how she can tell when she's about to give birth, in Spanish. Duplin County Health Services brings pregnant Hispanic women together, women with similar due dates meet regularly for a two-hour session. There, they weigh themselves and check their blood pressure. doclink

    Women who have prenatal and antenatal care usually have more access to birth control.

    US: Liberals Ready to Abandon US Right to Abortion

    July 03, 2005, The Observer

    Last autumn America's Democrats were fighting to protect as a constitutional right - to have an abortion. In a move of creeping conservatism, Democrats see it as the obstacle to their election. They are saying it is time to let the argument go and overturn Roe v Wade. Conservative columnist David Brooks argued that unless Roe v Wade is overturned, politics will never get better. Day O'Connor and Rehnquist could be replaced with pro-life justices this year. If Roe v Wade is overturned, women will lose what was judged in 1973 to be a constitutional right. Many fear the return of back-alley abortions. If the right to an abortion is decided state by state, 21 are likely to ban it altogether. Others would continue to protect it. Some believe there is not necessarily as much to fear as some suggest. The Supreme Court line-up has remained the same for 10 years, while Roe v Wade has been upheld. Seven of the nine have been appointed by Republicans. doclink

    U.S.: Birth Control Under Attack in Congress

    July 28, 2005, NARAL

    Anti-choice representatives in the U.S. House support pharmacies that refuse to fill birth control prescriptions, as if women have no right to birth control. Anti-choice Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told a witness, who had been denied emergency contraception by her pharmacist, that she had no right to her prescription, she only believed she did. Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) told a witness whose prescription had been rejected by a hostile pharmacist, that risking an unintended pregnancy was nothing compared to the conscience of a pharmacist. The radical right has engaged pharmacies to block women's access to birth control. Women like Julee Lacey, a 32-year-old married mother of two and first-grade teacher, are being turned away by pharmacists who think it's their job to dispense morals instead of medicine. 20 states protect pharmacists like the president of Pharmacists for Life, who says she'd lecture women customers to get off the pill. Last month Wisconsin passed a bill to block state universities from filling birth control prescriptions. doclink

    U.S.: For Birth Control, It's Back to the Future; Options Are Proliferating -- but More and More Women Use Nothing at All

    June 20, 2005, Austin American-Statesman (U.S.)

    The number of sexually active women who snubbed contraceptives over a three-month period rose from 5% in 1995 to 7% in 2002. More women were using contraception during their first premarital sexual experience. Women did not seem to be using the best contraceptives available. The percentage of women who used birth control pills remained steady between 1982 and 2002. Rates for diaphragms, foams and intrauterine devices declined, but condom use doubled, as did withdrawal, which jumped from 24% in 1982 to 56% in 2002. Why do some women forgo birth control while others rely on some of the oldest methods? Economics likely plays the biggest role. Hormonal methods run $30 to $35 a month, plus the cost of a doctor's visit. Fewer than half the states require insurance companies to provide the same coverage for birth control as for other prescriptions. Texas low-cost insurance does not cover contraception but most major insurers cover sterilization. For more than a decade, the government has offered a waiver that would increase the number of Pap smears and birth control pills given to poor women by boosting eligible income levels but while this costs the state very little, the Texas Legislature and Gov. Rick Perry have not adopted it. Although money for abortions is prohibited, some worry that the waiver is promoting abortions. There are 20 brands of approved birth control pills, several brands of foam spermicides and 66 brands of male condoms. Diaphragms are unpopular but available also female condoms, intrauterine devices (IUDs), injections, hormonal strips inserted under the skin, chemical rings and patches. The FDA has approved sales of the Today sponge. Researchers claim they are close to creating a male pill and one manufacturer is developing a spray-on contraceptive. Birth control myths are widespread and it remains an imperfect technology. The pill and sterilization remain the most popular methods. Despite our technological progress -- more contraceptives that work extremely well -- contraceptive access remains uneven. Insured, well-compensated American women have their choice of dozens of products. Uninsured, poor women also have choices, the same limited ones they've always had. doclink

    U.S.: The Only Child Stigma is Fading; More Families Are Opting to Have Just One

    May 15, 2005, Houston Chronicle

    For generations, only children and their parents have gotten a bad rap. But research suggests only children tend to be higher achievers, they get along with their peers, they aren't spoiled or lonely or aloof. From 2003, about 20% of U.S. children under 18 had no siblings at home. The country's birth rate has been deflating since 1960. A greater proportion of women have their first children at later ages. With couples delaying marriage and childbirth and mothers remaining in the workforce, single-child families are becoming more common. doclink

    U.S.: Utah May Be One of Fastest-Growing States

    May 15, 2005,

    The Census Bureau said that Utah's population is expected to increase 56%, or 1.2 million people, between 2000 and 2030. Nevada and Arizona are expected to double in population, and a gain of 80% is projected in Florida and almost 60% in Texas. In Utah at least 70% of the 2.2 million residents are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the church's emphasis is on big families. Utah's fertility rate is 2.56 - the highest in the nation. The state also has the nation's highest average of people per household, 3.13, and the lowest median age, 27.5. Its 65-and-older population has climbed 27% in the past 10 years, and will rise another 28% in the next decade. Retiring baby boomers are moving to Utah, often drawn by the red-rock beauty of the southern part of the state. Benefits include: outdoor activities, five national parks within short driving distance, theater, concerts, a new hospital, and attractive housing prices. New subdivisions astride Utah's Wasatch mountain range are creeping closer to the hills framing the Salt Lake Valley. Florida, California and Texas will account for 46% of the nation's growth between 2000 and 2030, with each gaining more than 12 million residents. The highest population growth - 88 percent - is projected in the South and West, according to the Census. doclink

    People in U.S. Living Longer; the Average Life Span of Americans is 77.6 Years, Statistics Show, and Men Are Gaining on Women.

    March 01, 2005, Los Angeles Times

    Americans are living for an average of 77.6 years and the life expectancy of men is drawing closer to that of women. Death rates from heart disease and cancer appear to be declining, while Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease have risen slightly. The report is based on more than 2.4 million death certificates - 93% of all issued in 2003. Life expectancy had increased by nearly four months from the 2002 figure of 77.3 years. The gap between women and men narrowed, from 5.4 years in 2002 to 5.3 years in 2003. Men are making better progress with heart disease than are women. The lung cancer mortality rate was going up in women while it had flattened out with men, because women began smoking en masse later than men and are reaping the consequences later. Infant mortality rates had risen slightly in 2002 and remained at that rate. Death rates declined for several major causes. Heart disease deaths dropped by 3.6%, cancer by 2.2%, suicide by 3.7% and flu and pneumonia by 3.1%. HIV-related deaths fell by 4.1%. Death rates increased for hypertension by 5.7% and kidney disease by 2.1%. It was unclear how to explain increased deaths from Alzheimer's (up 5.9%) and Parkinson's (up 3.3%). There could be changes in what doctors put on death certificates because of increased familiarity with certain disorders. Estimates of U.S. cases of Parkinson's disease could vary from half a million to 1 million and it is unwise to say there's been an increase or decrease in the number of people with Parkinson's disease. doclink

    August 2004, Alan Guttmacher Institute

    In the U.S. 62 million women are in their childbearing years, ages 15-44. About half of all pregnancies are unintended, and half of those are terminated by abortion. doclink

    US Mississippi: Teen Birth Problems Improve, but State is Still Last

    January 30, 2004, Herald, The (UK)

    In Mississippi, 18% of births are to teen moms, and 23.5% of teen moms have a second baby before age 20. 11% of Mississippi babies have low birth weight, and 17% are preterm. 46% of babies are born to unmarried women. Teen pregnancies are declining, but Mississippi remains last on teen pregnancy. Mississippi was 50th in teen birthrates per state for the last years but has decreased it by 22% in the past decade. The shrinking rate is due to sex education, and greater parental influence. Mississippi has abstinence and sex education programs in schools, but high rates of poverty in the area may affect teen pregnancy rate; 83% of teens who give birth are from low-income families. Sometimes people in poverty believe having a baby will change their lives, or, they don't see a reason not to get pregnant as a teen. doclink

    One, Two, Three Or More? Money in the Bank, Not Gender, Usually Dictates How Many Children a Family Decides to Have

    January 26, 2004, Associated Press

    Money usually dictates how many children a family decides to have. Most Americans make decisions with some planning, a lot of longing and a little luck. Wanting a child of a certain gender is just one of many factors but more important is having money in the bank. It can cost $250,000 for a middle-class couple to raise a child to 17, and that doesn't include college, about $40,000 per year with room and board at private institutions. Many women put off marriage and child-bearing until they reach career goals, with first-time motherhood in the risky mid- to late 30s. Stepfamilies ask do we need our own to be a real family and medical advances raise troubling issues. More children with birth defects are surviving longer and parents must decide whether to devote resources to the needy child or try for a healthy child. In an agricultural economy, parents needed kids to work the fields but by the 1880s, kids became more of an expense and less of an asset. The postwar baby boom slowed after the arrival of the birth-control pill in 1960. In the past 30 years birthrate fell from three children per mother to two, the replacement level. The richest parents, who can afford big families, generally have the fewest children. These parents have higher expectations of what they need to give their kids a good life: summer camps, private schools, etc. Wealthier, better-educated parents start later, which limits the number of children they can have. Many parents worry that a single child will have lifelong emotional problems despite research showing that only children are no more likely to be troubled than other kids. A generation ago, families with six kids were not uncommon but today a big family has three children. doclink

    Sexual Responsibility

    Thanks to Better Sex Ed, California's Teen Birth Rate Has Plummeted by 60 Percent

    July 19, 2013, Think Progress   By: Tara Culp-ressler

    California's teen birth rate has dropped 60% since 1991, according to new data from the state's health department.

    Public health experts attribute this to the requirement that California's public schools to offer comprehensive sex ed classes with scientifically accurate information about birth control. Family planning programs that provide community-based resources to teens were also credited with lowering rates.

    Overall, the United States' teen pregnancy rate has been plummeting due to teens gaining better access to contraceptive methods and opting to use birth control as soon as they become sexually active. Community-based youth programs are one of the most effective strategies of instilling teens with healthy attitudes and safe approaches toward sexuality.

    Teen pregnancy rates remain high in the South where adolescents there tend to receive ineffective abstinence education, and are more likely to lack access to birth control resources. doclink

    U.S.: Publicly Funded Family Planning Services Help Women Avoid Unintended Pregnancies While Generating Substantial Financial Savings

    July 16 , 2013, Guttmacher Institute

    Publicly funded contraceptive services in 2010 helped women prevent 2.2 million unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 1.1 million unplanned births and 760,000 abortions. Without these services, national levels of unintended pregnancy, unplanned birth and abortion among all women would be 66% higher and 73% higher among teens. By providing women the contraception they need to avoid pregnancies they don't want, publicly funded contraceptive services yielded $5.68 for every $1 spent.

    The number of women in need of publicly funded contraceptive services rose from 16.4 million in 2000 to 19.1 million in 2010, most likely the result of a growing number of poor women in the overall population due to the recession.

    In 2010 6.7 million women were serviced by publicly funded safety net centers and 2.2 million women received care from private doctors that was paid for through Medicaid. 4.7 million women received services through centers that received some funding through the federal Title X program. These services helped women avert 1.2 million unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 590,000 unplanned births and 400,000 abortions. Without the services provided by Title X clinics, the national incidence of these events would be 35% higher among all women and 42% higher among teens.

    Guttmacher senior researcher Jennifer Frost said, "Each year, millions of women are able to access highly effective contraceptive methods through these programs. Investing in family planning to help women avoid pregnancies they don't want and for which they are unprepared is good public health policy. Saving money as a result of that investment is just common sense." doclink

    New U.S. Study Highlights Need to Include Men in Strategies to Prevent Unintended Pregnancy

    September 2013, Guttmacher Institute   By: Laura Lindberg and Kathryn Kost

    Having children, whether intended or unintended, is a shared experience. After reviewing the results of the 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth, researchers from the Guttmacher Institute wrote "Exploring U.S. Men's Birth Intentions."

    They found that, like women, men reported that about 40% of kids they fathered were unintended, with two-thirds of these births being mistimed, and one-third being unwanted.

    The prevalence of unintended births varied by several factors.

    Both younger men and men with low education levels had more unintended births. Only 25% of births reported by married men were unintended, but 75% of single men did not intend to father a child, and about 10% of those men first learned about the pregnancy after the child was born.

    The acceptability of parenting outside of marriage varied by race and ethnicity. Among single men, more births were intended by black fathers than by white fathers. White men had the fewest unintended births (34%), while 51% of births among black men were unintended and 38% among Hispanic men.

    Hispanic fathers more commonly reported planned births than white or black fathers. Not surprisingly, men who planned the birth of a child were more likely to be happy about it than those who had not planned the birth. However, many men who had an unintended birth, particularly those who were married, reported being happy about it.

    Laura Lindberg concluded that most men preferred having children within marriage, but "others might be happy having a child as a single dad. … Regardless of a man's marital status or race, his community and health care providers should recognize his fertility desires and empower him to plan his family. We need to include men in our discussions about unintended pregnancy and foster strategies to help men work as individuals and with their partners to control when or if they have children." doclink

    The 'Condom Fairy' Gives Contraception Gifts to BU Students

    February 25, 2013   By: Joanne Hunt

    Boston University launched a program this month called the ‘Condom Fairy,' a free service that delivers contraception to students, according to BU's Office of Wellness and Prevention Services.

    Katharine Mooney, Wellness Coordinator at BU's Wellness and Prevention Services, said she believes this is the first condom-by-mail delivery service at a university. The program launched two weeks ago, she said, and since then the university has satisfied nearly 500 orders.

    "It's meant to be discreet," Mooney said. "So when you go to your mailbox, no one will know what you're getting."

    Follow the link in the headline for more. doclink

    Education Soaps From Population Media Center Now Showing in the U.S.

    February 10 , 2013, William N. Ryerson, Population Media Center


    US Abortions Drop 5 Percent During Recession; More Birth Control, Bad Economy Likely Causes

    November 21 , 2012, Washington Post

    U.S. abortions fell 5% during the recession, perhaps because women are more careful to use birth control when times are tough, researchers say. Both the number of abortions and the abortion rate dropped by the same percentage.

    Women are "more careful about birth control," said Elizabeth Ananat, a Duke University assistant professor of public policy and economics who has researched abortions.

    Not all states send in data on abortions. While experts estimate there are more than 1 million abortions nationwide each year, the CDC counted about 785,000 in 2009 because of incomplete reporting.

    Mississippi had the lowest abortion rate reported, at 4 per 1,000 women of child-bearing age. The state also had only a couple of abortion providers and has the nation's highest teen birth rate. New York, second to California in number of abortion providers, had the highest abortion rate, roughly eight times Mississippi's.

    Nationally since 2000, the number of reported abortions has dropped overall by about 6% and the abortion rate has fallen 7%.

    A government study released earlier this year suggested that about 60% of teenage girls who have sex use the most effective kinds of contraception, including the pill and patch. That's up from the mid-1990s, when fewer than half were using the best kinds.

    There are also there is an increased use of IUDs, T-shaped plastic sperm-killers that a doctor inserts into the uterus. Earlier this year the Guttmacher Institute reported that IUD use among sexually active women on birth control rose from less than 3% in 2002 to more than 8% in 2009.

    IUDs essentially prevent "user error," said Rachel Jones, a Guttmacher researcher.

    Also on the increase is the use of the morning-after pill, a form of emergency contraception that in 2006 was approved for non-prescription sale to women 18 and older. In 2009 that was lowered to 17.

    The economy, which was in recession from December 2007 until June 2009, is likely another factor. Americans ere still worried about anemic hiring, a depressed housing market and other problems.

    John Santelli, a Columbia University professor of population and family health, said: "The economy seems to be having a fundamental effect on pregnancies, not abortions."

    The majority of abortions are performed by the eighth week of pregnancy, when the fetus is about the size of a lima bean.

    Black women have an abortion rate four times that of white women .

    About 85% of those who got abortions were unmarried. doclink

    U.S.: Ob/Gyns Back Over-the-Counter Birth Control Pills

    November 21, 2012, Fox News

    The influential American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has declared that birth control pills should be sold over the counter, like condoms.

    But the company would have to seek government permission first, and it's not clear if any are considering it.

    And what would the cost per pack be like if it were no longer covered by insurance? The new ACA health care law requires FDA-approved contraceptives to be available without copays for women enrolled in most workplace health plans, but If the pill were sold without a prescription, it wouldn't be covered under that provision, just as condoms aren't, said a Health and Human Services spokesman.

    Already, 17 year-olds don't need to see a doctor before buying the morning-after pill - a higher-dose version of regular birth control that can prevent pregnancy if taken shortly after unprotected sex. And earlier this year, the FDA held a brainstorming meeting about how to sell regular oral contraceptives without a prescription.

    Half of the nation's pregnancies every year are unintended, a rate that hasn't changed in 20 years, said Dr. Kavita Nanda, an OB/GYN who co-authored the opinion for the doctors group, and a scientist with the nonprofit FHI 360, formerly Family Health International. "It's unfortunate that in this country where we have all these contraceptive methods available, unintended pregnancy is still a major public health problem," she said. Many women have trouble affording a doctor's visit, or getting an appointment in time when their pills are running low - which can lead to skipped doses, he added. If the pill didn't require a prescription, women could "pick it up in the middle of the night if they run out."

    ACOG's opinion says any move toward making the pill nonprescription should address that cost issue. Not all women are eligible for the free birth control provision, it noted, citing a recent survey that found young women and the uninsured pay an average of $16 per month's supply.

    The doctors group pointed out that: blood clots, while a risk of birth control pills, happens very rarely, and are a bigger threat during pregnancy and right after giving birth; women who smoke or had a previous clot should avoid the pill, other over-the-counter drugs have rare but serious side effects, such as stomach bleeding from aspirin and liver damage from acetaminophen; and women on birth control pills should be told to continue getting check-ups as needed, or if they'd like to discuss other forms of birth control such as implantable contraceptives that do require a physician's involvement.

    A study of 500 women who regularly crossed the border at El Paso, Texas into Mexico to buy birth control pills for a few dollars a pack found that the women who bought in Mexico stuck with their contraception better than another 500 women who received the pill from public clinics in El Paso. It was possibly because the clinic users had to wait for appointments, said Dr. Dan Grossman of the nonprofit research group Ibis Reproductive Health. "Being able to easily get the pill when you need it makes a difference," he said. doclink

    U.S.: New Study Confirms What Many Have Long Believed to Be True: Women Use Contraception to Better Achieve Their Life Goals

    September 25, 2012, Guttmacher Institute

    The reasons women use contraception were revealed in "Reasons for Using Contraception: Perspectives of U.S. Women Seeking Care at Specialized Family Planning Clinics," by Jennifer Frost and Laura Lindberg of the Guttmacher Institute.

    "Women value the ability to plan their childbearing, and view doing so as critical to being able to achieve their life goals." ... "They need continued access to a wide range of contraceptives so they can plan their families and determine when they are ready to have children."

    63% of participants reported that contraception allowed them to take better care of themselves or their families, 56% said it allowed them to support themselves financially, 51% : complete their education, 50% : keep or get a job.

    The single most frequently cited reason for using contraception was that women could not afford to take care of a baby at that time (65%). 25% of women reported that they or their partners were unemployed, which was a very important reason for their contraceptive use. Among women with children, nearly all reported that their desire to care for their current children was a reason for contraceptive use.

    Other reasons include not being ready to have children (63%), feeling that using birth control gives them better control over their lives (60%) and wanting to wait until their lives are more stable to have a baby (60%).

    2,094 women receiving services at 22 family planning clinics nationwide were surveyed.

    "Notably, the reasons women give for using contraception are similar to the reasons they give for seeking an abortion," according to Lawrence B. Finer, author of a previous Guttmacher study on that topic. "This means we should see access to abortion in the broader context of women's lives and their efforts to avoid unplanned childbearing, in light of its potential consequences for them and their families." doclink

    U.S.: New Study Confirms What Many Have Long Believed to Be True: Women Use Contraception to Better Achieve Their Life Goals

    September 25, 2012, Guttmacher Institute

    Most people already know it, but a new study has confirmed: women use contraception because it allows them to better care for themselves and their families, complete their education and achieve economic security.

    The study, "Reasons for Using Contraception: Perspectives of U.S. Women Seeking Care at Specialized Family Planning Clinics," was by the Guttmacher Institute. 2,094 women receiving services at 22 family planning clinics nationwide were surveyed.

    "Women value the ability to plan their childbearing, and view doing so as critical to being able to achieve their life goals," says study author Laura Lindberg. "They need continued access to a wide range of contraceptives so they can plan their families and determine when they are ready to have children."

    63% reported that contraception has had a significant impact on their lives, allowing them to take better care of themselves or their families, 56% said it allowed them support themselves financially, 51% complete their education, 50% keep or get a job.

    The single most frequently cited reason for using contraception was that women could not afford to take care of a baby at that time (65%). Almost 25% reported that they or their partners were unemployed, which was a very important reason for their contraceptive use. Among women with children, nearly all reported that their desire to care for their current children was a reason for contraceptive use. Other reasons include not being ready to have children (63%), feeling that using birth control gives them better control over their lives (60%) and wanting to wait until their lives are more stable to have a baby (60%). doclink

    Sex Education Linked to Delay in First Sex; Teens Getting Information About Both Abstinence and Contraception Have Healthier Outcomes Than Those Who Receive No Sex Education

    December 28, 2011, Guttmacher Institute

    A new study shows that teens who receive formal sex education prior to their first sexual experience demonstrate a range of healthier behaviors at first intercourse, including delaying intercourse and use of condoms or other contraceptives at first sex, than those who receive no sex education at all. This is particularly so when the instruction they receive includes information about both waiting to have sex and methods of birth control.

    66% of sexually experienced females and 55% of sexually experienced males reported having received information about both abstinence and birth control prior to first intercourse; 18% of sexually experienced females and 21% of males had received only abstinence instruction; and 16% of females and 24% of males had had no instruction on either topic. These measures do not correlate directly with any specific "abstinence-only" or "comprehensive" sex education programs.

    Those who had received only abstinence instruction were more likely to have delayed first intercourse than were those who had had no sex education, but condom use at first sex was significantly less likely among females who had had only abstinence instruction. doclink

    U.S.: Early, Adequate Prenatal Care Linked to Healthy Birthspacing

    March 01, 2012, Guttmacher Institute

    The findings of a study called "Prenatal Care and Subsequent Birth Intervals," by Julien O. Teitler, "provide strong evidence that earlier and more intensive exposure to prenatal care during a first pregnancy is associated with more optimal spacing and thus, most likely, better fertility control."

    The authors used birth records from New Jersey women who had a first birth between 1996 and 2000, and examined the relationship between the timing and adequacy of prenatal care prior to a woman's first birth and the timing of her second birth. Most women (85%) had initiated prenatal care during the first trimester. However, 12% of women had initiated prenatal care in the second trimester, and 3% in the third; fewer than 1% had had no care. The later prenatal care was initiated, the more likely women were to have had a second birth within 18 months. Additionally, the likelihood of having a second birth soon after the first was greater if women had had inadequate rather than adequate prenatal care.

    The authors suggest that providers should take advantage of their encounters with women who initiate prenatal care later in pregnancy in particular, to ensure that these women receive family planning information and services during their prenatal visits. By doing so, providers could bridge the gap left by funding and service cuts to the family planning program; the potential impact on public health is large. doclink

    Sex Education Gets Directly to Youths, Via Text

    January 01, 2012, New York Times

    ICYC (In Case You're Curious) by Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, Sex-Ed Loop in Chicago,, Hookup in California, and Real Talk in New York are all programs that use texting services as cost-effective ways to reach adolescents in the one classroom where absenteeism is never a problem: the Internet.

    One high school senior said she liked ICYC for its immediacy and confidentiality. "You can ask a random question about sex and you don't feel it was stupid." ... "Even if it was, they can't judge you because they don't know it's you. And it's too gross to ask my parents."

    An Illinois organization enlists Chicago teenagers to create text messages as well as blog posts and testimonial videos for its site.

    Only 13 states specify that the medical components of sex education programs must be accurate. Shrinking budgets and competing academic subjects have helped push it down as a curriculum priority. In reaction, some health organizations and school districts are developing Web sites and texting services as cost-effective ways to reach adolescents.

    Sex-Ed Loop is a program endorsed by the district that includes weekly automated texts about contraception, relationships and disease prevention. Hookup is a program where teens can text their ZIP codes to a number and receive locations for health clinics., a national site run by and for teenagers, offers both privacy and communities where adolescents can learn about sexuality and relationships, particularly on mobile devices, eluding parental scrutiny. Services offer links to blogs, interactive games, moderated forums, and Facebook and Twitter pages.

    The messages, rendered in teenspeak, can be funny and blunt: for Real Talk, a technology-driven H.I.V. prevention program run by the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York, teenagers made a YouTube video, shouting a refrain from a rap song, “Sport Dat Raincoat," during which a girl carrying an umbrella is pelted with condoms.

    Proponents of abstinence-based sexual education argue that these digital services presume that sexual activity among teenagers is the norm, and do not spend enough time on alternatives. Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, said her organization hopes to kick off its online service for teenagers next year.

    Although the teenage birth rate dropped 9% in 2010 from 2009, the United States still has one of the highest rates among developed countries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rates of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia among American teenagers continue to rise.

    Most online services receive grants from philanthropies, like the Ford Foundation, and health and education agencies on the state and federal level.

    Parents who fear that sex education will encourage a child to experiment are misguided, said Elizabeth Schroeder, executive director of Answer, a national sex education organization that oversees Sexetc. Studies show the opposite is true, she said.

    Even though popular culture is saturated with sex, facts and advice can be hard to find. Making sure that Web-surfing teenagers find these programs, rather than pornographic sites, has been challenging.

    “How do I write content that says ‘sex' 80,000 times so our page will pop up in a kid's search on Google near the top?" a Planned Parenthood director said.

    Real Talk held a classroom contest to see which student could send the most texts containing this prevention message: “ROFL!!!" (Translation: rolling on the floor laughing). “STDs and HIV can spread as fast as this message. Still laughing? Pass on the message not HIV/STDs. 518-HIV-TEST." Within an hour, the message had been sent to nearly 450 phones. doclink

    U.S.: Young Women's Use of Reproductive Health Services Declines

    December 19, 2011, Los Angeles Times

    A study found online in the American Journal of Public Health, from the Office of Population Research at Princeton University, reported that 8% fewer U.S. women ages 15 to 24 are receiving reproductive healthcare. 60% of young women receive services such as Pap tests, pregnancy tests, contraception prescriptions, tests for sexually transmitted disease and other gynecological and obstetric care.

    Data was taken from the huge National Survey of Family Growth. The declines were seen across all demographic and socioeconomic groups. Overall, however, economically disadvantaged women are the least likely to get care.

    This is in contrast to the period between 1995 and 2002, when reproductive health service use by young women had increased. Reasons offered for the decline: there has been a decline in public sector clinics serving economically disadvantaged women; increasing unemployment and the corresponding lack of health insurance; updated gynecological health screening guidelines that require fewer Pap tests; and legislation that has increased mandatory parental participation in adolescent sexual and reproductive health care.

    The authors of the report suggest that new provisions for care under healthcare reform may bring some of those women back into care. doclink

    U.S.: Disparities in Unintended Pregnancy Grow, Even as National Rate Stagnates; Substantial Progress Among Higher-income Women Contrasts with Dramatic Increases Among the Poor

    August 24, 2011, Guttmacher Institute

    A report entitled "Unintended Pregnancy in the United States: Incidence and Disparities, 2006" shows that following a considerable decline between 1981 and 1994, the overall U.S. unintended pregnancy rate has remained essentially flat, with about 5% of U.S. women having an unintended pregnancy every year.

    However, the rate has increased dramatically among women with incomes below the federal poverty line, going from 88 per 1,000 women aged 15-44 in 1994 to 120 in 2001 and 132 in 2006—a 50% rise over the period. At the same time the unintended pregnancy rate has decreased substantially among women with incomes at or above 200% of the poverty line, falling from 34 in 1994 to 28 in 2001 and 24 in 2006—a 29% decrease.

    The higher rate of unintended pregnancy resulted in high rates of both abortions (52 per 1,000) and unplanned births (66 per 1,000). In 2006, poor women had an unintended pregnancy rate five times that of higher-income women, and an unintended birth rate six times as high.

    Of the 6.7 million pregnancies in 2006, nearly half (49%) were unintended. 43% of these end in abortion. Higher rates of unintended pregnancy are found not only among poor and low-income women, but also among women aged 18-24, cohabiting women and minority women. However poor women have high unintended pregnancy rates nearly across the board, regardless of their education, race and ethnicity, marital status or age.

    In contrast, some women in the U.S. have had considerable success timing and spacing their pregnancies. Higher-income women, white women, college graduates and married women have relatively low unintended pregnancy rates -- one-third the national rate of 52 per 1,000, suggesting that women who have better access to reproductive health services have achieved their educational goals or are in relationships that support a desired pregnancy are more likely than other women to achieve planned pregnancies and avoid those they do not want.

    "These data suggest that women who lead stable lives—women who are older, more affluent and better-educated—tend to have better reproductive health outcomes, while women whose lives are less stable, such as younger, poorer or less educated women, have higher rates of unplanned pregnancies, unwanted births and abortions," said Finer, one of the authors of the study.

    Guttmacher Institute President and CEO Sharon Camp said: "At a minimum, however, we must ensure that all women, and particularly those who are most vulnerable, have access to the education and range of reproductive health services and counseling they need in order to plan the pregnancies they want and prevent the ones they don't."

    For more information on the impact of unintended pregnancy on public policies and programs, see "Wise Investment: Reducing the Steep Cost to Medicaid of Unintended Pregnancy in the United States," - - by Rachel Benson Gold. doclink

    US Illinois: Senate Approves Teaching 'Age Appropriate' Sex Ed

    May 26, 2011, Chicago Tribune/Associated Press

    The Illinois Senate passed legislation requiring "age appropriate" and "medically accurate" materials that emphasize not only abstinence but also contraception to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in sex education classes in grades six through 12. It was passed 30-28 over objections from some Republicans who want local school boards to decide what material is best to teach.

    Democratic Sen. Heather Steans of Chicago, who sponsored the bill argued the measure is needed because significant numbers of Illinois high school students are having unprotected sex. Some argued the measure was necessary so students get updated sex education in schools because some parents can be shy talking about it.

    Parents can ask to exempt their child from sex education classes without fear of academic or disciplinary punishment. doclink

    U.S.: Emerging Adolescent Sexuality: a Comparison of American and Dutch

    2010, Kaiser Foundation

    A study from the University of Maine, Orono, Maine, USA and NIVEL, Utrecht, The Netherlands reveals more U.S. girls than Dutch girls experiencing various sexual behaviors (intercourse, oral sex, heavy petting) in high school, earlier in life, with more partners, while less likely to use birth control. In addition, the U.S. girls were significantly more likely to say the reason for first intercourse was opportunity or peer and partner pressure, whereas the surveyed Dutch women said that love/commitment was the most important reason for first intercourse. doclink

    US Minnesota: Birthrate at 40-Year Low for Teens

    May 06, 2011, Star Tribune (US Minnesota)

    Despite elevated birth figures for minorities, Minnesota saw its lowest teen birthrate in at least 40 years, according to a study from Teenwise Minnesota. The rate dropped even though teen sexual activity increased and condom use declined, so it was concluded that increased use of birth control pills must be having an impact.

    Minnesota's teen birthrates had an increase in 2006 and 2007, but dropped in 2009 by 10% from 2008. It's the lowest rate since 1970, the earliest records go back.

    While Minnesota's overall teen birthrate is far below the national average, its rates were higher than the national averages for Hispanics and Asian-Americans, and among the worst in the nation for African-Americans. Minnesota's teen birthrate for American Indians is nearly double the national average.

    Brigid Riley of Teenwise Minnesota said disparities might persist because early childbirth is more of a norm for some racial and ethnic groups. However, she said, the current disparities are extreme -- born of inequalities in income, education and other factors.

    She said school-based teen outreach programs in the metro area are "moving from strictly the plumbing lesson into the more nuanced conversation about healthy relationships."

    Neighborhood HealthSource says it has succeeded in persuading adolescents in Minneapolis to delay childbirth.

    The Minnesota Family Council said a key federal study found that two-thirds of teens ages 15 to 17 hadn't had sexual intercourse, claiming more kids are seeing the consequences of premarital sex -- STDs, emotional pain and impact on future plans.

    Riley said abstinence still needs to be a part of any discussion, but in the context of talking with teens about what they want out of life. "The more we talk with them about all of these issues, the longer they do wait." doclink

    U.S.: An Argument for Making Birth-Control Pills Available Over The Counter

    March 01, 2011, Time online

    The Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health think tank, reports that American women spend about five years either pregnant, trying to get pregnant or postpartum; they spend three decades trying to avoid having a baby, making a case for good birth-control options - and lots of them.

    A new study from the University of California, San Francisco, found that women who had with a year's supply of birth-control pills had a much lower rate of abortions and unintended pregnancies. Another study from the University of Texas (UT) at Austin found that U.S. women who crossed into Mexico to buy OTC birth control pills are more likely to stay on the Pill longer than women who get pills by prescription at U.S. clinics.

    Women who got their pills at clinics in El Paso Texas were 60% more likely to stop taking them during the study period in comparison to women who bought pills without a prescription across the border. And those who got less than six packs of pills at a clinic visit were 80% more likely to stop taking them compared to over-the-counter users.

    However, with OTC, women may be choosing a pill that puts them at risk for complications. Women who left Mexico with pills containing synthetic estrogen and progesterone - as opposed to progesterone-only pills - were more likely than women who got prescription pills to have contraindications, or health conditions incompatible with the combination pill (hypertension or smoking over age 34, for example), according to Ibis Reproductive Health, a nonprofit research organization.

    But any pill is better than getting pregnant, health-wise.

    The progestin pill is used by smokers over the age of 34 or women with high-blood pressure, or for breast-feeding mothers because it doesn't interfere with lactation. However, only 5% of women who use oral contraceptives take it, perhaps because there's some concern it's less effective than the combo pill, although research has not borne that out.

    If oral contraception were to be dispensed without a prescription, Ibis recommends the progestin-only pill be the only one offered initially. The combination pill would probably need to be offered along with a conversation with the pharmacist, a checklist of contraindications or perhaps refills only.

    So far no birth-control pill manufacturer has applied to the FDA for OTC delivery of the Pill. doclink

    U.S.: Fighting Teenage Pregnancy with MTV Stars as Exhibit A

    April 12, 2011, New York Times*

    While MTV's teen mom programs ("Teen Mom", "16 and Pregnant", "Teen Mom 2,") have received swipes for glamorizing teenage pregnancy, and conferring girls-gone-wild celebrity on their stars, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, public-school health educators, church-group leaders, clinic nurses, social workers and parents are using the shows to prompt discussion about sex education, family and romantic relationships and shattered dreams. DVDs and guides are distributed to educators and workers who use the shows to teach life-skills.

    One teacher, in her freshman life-skills classes, and in parenting courses for older students says "They're sucked into the drama of it, but they see that they don't ever want to be in that situation. I talk about abstinence first and foremost, but I listen to them, so I know they're not abstinent. So the show offers a good opportunity to teach them about condoms and birth control."

    In her classes, she notes how MTV's teenage mothers try to manage school, sick babies, sleep deprivation, rent, errant boyfriends and rearview glimpses of their carefree lives. "Then I ask my students to make up a budget if they had to live on their own with a baby," she said.

    Educators say they have never been criticized for using the shows. But one teacher said she didn't want to test limits by showing last December's episode, "No Easy Decision." In that half-hour special, one teenager who has an infant becomes pregnant again. After much agonizing, she and her boyfriend chose abortion.

    The season finale of "Teen Mom 2" on March 29 drew 4.7 million viewers, and was the top-rated show that day in the 12 to 34 demographic.

    A poll of young people ages 12 to 19 showed 82% of those who had watched "16 and Pregnant" said the shows helped them understand the challenges of pregnancy and how to avoid it. Only 15% said the show glamorized pregnancy.

    The United States has the highest teenage birth rate among the fully industrialized countries, although that number has slowly declined over the last 20 years.

    There is much more worth reading in this article. Please go to the link above for more. doclink

    U.S.: Indiana Nonprofit Reworks Sex Ed Curriculum

    April 11, 2011, Associated Press

    Because the funding for A Positive Approach to Teen Health, or PATH, has changed, the curriculum of the agency that teaches sex education has been mandated to shift from abstinence-centered information to teen pregnancy prevention.

    PATH is the only organization in the state that received funding as part of President Barack Obama's new Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative. The initiative provides federal funding for the first time in more than 10 years to sex education programs that aren't solely based on abstinence, although some of the programs do include abstinence information.

    The programs were chosen because they were evidence-based to reduce teen pregnancy.

    From 2004 to 2010 the group received a federal grant called a Community Based Abstinence Education grant. In January 2010, the organization learned its funding source had been defunded.

    PATH's curriculum aligns with the state's guidelines, which require some abstinence education.

    Indiana Code states schools must include instruction on human sexuality and STDs, including telling students abstinence is the expected standard for school-age children, abstinence is the only 100 percent effective way to prevent a premarital pregnancy and a monogamous marriage is the best way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.

    Some teachers' approach is to teach abstinence first and then discuss the possibilities of what can happen if students choose non-abstinence, looking at not just sexually transmitted diseases, but also physical and mental changes. doclink

    U.S.: Colorado's Poorest Counties Have High Teen Pregnancy Rates

    April 11, 2011, The Denver Post

    The Colorado Children's Campaign has found that there is a wide and growing gulf between the state's affluent and its poor when it comes to how they choose to create and maintain families.

    The poorest counties have the highest rates of teen pregnancy, while, in affluent counties, new moms are more likely to be in their 30s.

    Many close to the issue are convinced that teenage pregnancy is less a matter of morals or sex education or access to birth control than it is a matter of a girl or boy feeling that they have a future. Or not. Girls with prospects do not have babies. Teen pregnancy is well established as a cause of poverty, but it may also be a result of poverty.

    Lisa Piscopo, a Colorado Children's Campaign researcher, said "I believe girls choose to have babies when they don't have a vision of any other options."

    The answer is neither handing out condoms nor preaching abstinence, but to offer more of a vision for other options. Debbie Channel made a grant-funded attempt to curtail teen pregnancies by convincing young girls that there was a big world out there and they could claim a place in it.

    In Huerfano County the average annual income just over half the statewide average and an unemployment rate that rose to over 10% last year. It has the state's highest rate of births to girls ages 15 through 17, and 54% of babies born in Huerfano County were to unmarried women.

    Nationwide five of the wealthiest states had the lowest teen pregnancy rates. But Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada had the highest teen birth rates. All but Arizona and Nevada are among the poorest states.

    In 2009, a University of Chicago study reported that by age 17, one-third of young women in foster care reported having been pregnant, and by age 19 the number was nearly half. As many as one third of girls interviewed for the study said they wanted to become pregnant, perhaps "to create the family they don't have or fill an emotional void." doclink

    U.S. Girls Ages 11 to 14 at Risk for Sex Trafficking

    March 18, 2011, Bloomberg

    In the U.S. from 100,000 to 300,000 girls are subject to sexual trafficking every year, and few cases of child rape are ever prosecuted, according to Malika Saada Saar, the founder of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights. Girls between ages 11 and 14 are particularly at risk, and more American-born than foreign-born children are being bought and sold for sex in the U.S. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that "about 293,000 American youth are currently at risk of becoming victims of commercial exploitation."

    Actor Ashley Judd spoke of a 14-year-old girl she knows who was separated from her family in the Atlanta airport. She was picked up by a man and forced to have sex with men 15 times a day.

    Saar said "We don't put the trafficker or the pimp behind bars. When you go and talk to survivors of trafficking, they talk about how they are the ones who were arrested."

    U.S. laws are being rewritten to make them tougher on traffickers and the people who pay for sex. A new law in Georgia imposes a 25-year minimum prison sentence for those found to have coerced someone under 18. But Saar said new laws aren't necessary to address the problem. "There are statutory rape laws," she said.

    The trafficking of men women and children for labor and commercial sex is a "serious" problem in the U.S., the State Department said in its 10th annual report, published in June 2010, which grades 175 nations on their efforts to fight trafficking. doclink

    Year's Supply of Birth Control: Limits on Birth Control Pills May Be Costly

    March 09, 2011, Reuters

    A study found that only 1% of lower-income California women who got a year's supply of the Pill had unplanned pregnancies compared to 3% of those women who got only enough packages for one or three months at a time.

    Currently private and public health insurance plans in the U.S. generally limit how many months' worth of birth control pills can be prescribed at once. doclink

    U.S.: Female Condoms Are Gaining Ground

    March 03, 2011, USA Today

    The female condom has been redesigned, and seems to be making a comeback in the U.S.

    Free FC2s - second-generation female condom - were handed out on Valentine's Day by San Francisco's health department, and Walgreens stocked them in about 10% of its 7,600 stores.

    The number of FC2s distributed in the USA tripled in the past year., says the founder of the Female Health Co., which makes the condoms. It's the only female condom on the U.S. market, but it's sold in more than 100 other countries.

    The first female condom in was approved 1993, but it was hard to find in stores other than Walgreens and it cost more than male condoms.

    FC1 was made of polyurethane while FC2 is made of easier-to-work-with synthetic latex and has no seams, so it's more comfortable to wear. doclink

    More Young People Scorning Sex, Study Finds

    March 03, 2011, NPR

    A new federal survey, the National Survey of Family Growth, found that 27% of young men and 29% of young women ages 15 to 24 say they've never had a sexual encounter. In 2002, only 22% of both men and women said they had never had any sort of sex.

    A senior fellow at the Guttmacher Institute, which studies sexual and reproductive health, said: "I see a generation of adolescents who are very concerned about making the right life choices - trying to take care of their health, trying to take care of their responsibilities in school. Perhaps this data reflects that."

    Interviewers talked to 13,495 people from 2006 through 2008, asking them about pregnancy, fertility, sex, and sexual identity.

    The 2002 survey was the first to report that the majority of teenagers said they had had oral sex, which raised concerns that teens were putting themselves at risk for sexually-transmitted infections, including HIV. In this new survey the researchers refined their questions, and it looks like oral sex isn't that popular a substitute for intercourse among teenagers after all.

    12.5% of women reported a same-sex encounter, compared to 5.2% of men.

    When it's time for the most delicate questions, the interviewer hands her laptop to the subject, who then listens to the questions on headphones. "The respondent can enter her answers directly into the computer," Chandra says. The interviewer never knows the answer - and neither does Mom, who may be listening from the kitchen. doclink

    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.: Simple Intervention May Reduce Reproductive Coercion

    August 30, 2010, RH Reality Check (U.S.)

    A new pilot study finds that a simple intervention--asking women visiting family planning clinics about sexual violence and coercion--can dramatically reduce the incidence of a form of intimate-partner violence known as reproductive coercion.

    Reproductive coercion can involve various actions by abusive spouses or partners. One example is pregnancy coercion, in which partners verbally pressure women to become pregnant. Another is birth-control sabotage, in which a partner secretly or overtly damages condoms, throws away or prevents her from using birth control pills or uses other means to force a woman to become pregnant. Intimate partner violence, including pregnancy coercion, is a widespread public health problem, both in the United States and globally.

    Researchers specifically asked young women whether their partners had attempted to force them to become pregnant. The study found that young women who recently experienced partner violence had a 70% reduction in the odds that they would continue to experience pregnancy coercion following the questioning. The study participants also were 60% more likely to report ending a relationship with a partner because they felt unsafe or the relationship felt unhealthy.

    This pilot study was focused on how we might better identify intimate-partner violence and reproductive coercion in clinical settings and offer women specific strategies to reduce their risk of an unwanted pregnancy and increase their safety.

    The intervention was designed collaboratively with the Family Violence Prevention Fund and reproductive health experts.

    While the odds of pregnancy coercion dropped by 70% for women who received the intervention, there was no significant change in the odds of pregnancy coercion for women who had not reported experiencing intimate-partner violence within the past three months, or for women who did not receive the intervention. However, awareness of intimate-partner violence-related resources increased in both the intervention group and the control group, the authors said.

    Given the current critical need for effective low-cost unintended- and teen-pregnancy prevention, it is extremely encouraging that this combination of screening for reproductive coercion and abuse and providing simple educational information significantly reduced women?s pregnancy coercion. doclink

    When Teen Pregnancy is No Accident; New Studies Suggest That Many Partners of Young Women Are Coercing Pregnancy, Or Sabotaging Attempts at Prevention

    May 27, 2010, NPR

    Some boyfriends of teen girls have been known to hide their birth control pills, along with beating them or locking them in a closet if they find the pills in their possession.

    Other boyfriends insist on an abortion of their girl friend becomes pregnant, continuously harrassing the girl if she continues the pregnancy.

    Expert researchers on dating violence and unintended pregnancy say such stories are all too common. Two new studies have shown the striking frequency with which young men who try to force their partners to get pregnant, not to settle down as family men but rather to exert control. This control may include attempts to force both pregnancy and abortion, even in the same relationship. This phenomenon is called "reproductive coercion," in which abusive partners subject young women already at risk of violence to the additional health risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.

    We must now understand not only who's forcing whom to get pregnant but also the meaning and causes of "unwanted" pregnancy. "If we are serious about stopping unplanned pregnancy in this country, we simply must address the sexual violence and reproductive control that often cause it," says Esta Soler, president of the Family Violence Prevention Fund, which has been a leading advocate on the issue.

    In a study of women aged 18-49 with a history of intimate partner violence, 74% reported having experienced some form of reproductive control, including forced unprotected intercourse, failure to withdraw as promised or sabotaging of condoms, and threats of violence if they had an abortion.

    The study authors recommend that service providers in women's health clinics offer birth control (such as IUDs) that can be hidden from partners if reproductive coercion is suspected.

    In a study of 1,300 16-29 year old women, "Pregnancy Coercion, Intimate Partner Violence and Unintended Pregnancy," published in the January issue of the journal Contraception. Women seeking services at five different Northern California reproductive health clinics were surveyed. Among those who had experienced intercourse, 53% ssid they'd experienced physical or sexual violence from a partner, and 20% said they had experienced pregnancy coercion; 15% said they experienced birth control sabotage, including hiding or flushing birth control pills down the toilet, intentional breaking of condoms and removing contraceptive rings or patches.

    In January, the Guttmacher Institute reported that between 2005 and 2006 the pregnancy rate among girls ages 15 to 19 had jumped for the first time since 1990, by a factor of 3%. "There are a multitude of reasons for the recent increase in teen pregnancy," ... "Reproductive coercion may be one piece of the puzzle." Recent research demonstrates that there's a clear need for relationship violence prevention to be integrated into pregnancy prevention and sexual health curricula. Preventing unwanted pregnancy appears to be about more than making contraception available.

    "It's imperative that we teach kids comprehensive sex ed that includes awareness of violence and coercion. The more we can help them understand what constitutes a good relationship and where you go for help when something's not good, the more they have a fighting chance," says Debra Hauser, executive vice president of Advocates For Youth.

    In 2009 President Obama signed into law a $114.5 million teen pregnancy prevention initiative based on medically accurate, research-based information. $75 million is reserved for programming already proven effective, and at least $25 million is earmarked for research and testing of innovative new approaches.

    The Family Violence Prevention Fund has just launched a $3 million violence-prevention initiative called Project Connect, designed to find new ways to identify and respond to domestic and sexual violence, including reproductive coercion. Working with ten state health departments and violence-prevention advocacy groups nationwide, the fund will train staff at family planning, adolescent health, home visitation and other maternal child health programs to understand domestic violence and reproductive coercion so that they recognize it when they see it and know how to help. doclink

    Contraceptive Pill First Sold in U.S. 50 Years Ago

    August 18, 2010, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Texas)

    50 years ago today, the first contraceptive pill, called Evonid was introduced in the U.S.

    In 1960, when the pill was introduced, few women worked outside the home, families were large and surprises were expected. For many women, having sex came with the fear of an unwanted pregnancy.

    Then, unmarried women could rarely buy Evonid, and prescriptions for the pill were made out to the husband.

    In 1960, the average U.S. birthrate was 3.6 children; by 1980 that number had dropped to below two.

    Before the pill, people were using abortion as a form of birth control

    The pill allowed a woman to plan her family, space out her pregnancies and improved her health.

    In 1965, 26.2 million women went to work; by 2008, the number had risen to 71.8 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

    The pill also uncoupled sex and reproduction and started a revolution.

    The pill also protected from ovarian cancer, endometriosis, and polycystic ovary syndrome, the later which interferes with the ability to have children.

    By 1965, the pill was available nationwide and was the most popular reversible form of birth control. Today, almost 20% of the 60% of women using birth control take the pill. This is followed by female sterilization - 16%, condoms - 11%, and male sterilization - 6%.

    Lower hormone doses allowed researchers to create implants and skin patches.

    "From a public perception, it has allowed women to be sexually active maybe before they should," Thornton said. "We encourage women to put off sexual activity for as long as they can. doclink

    U.S.: As the Pill Turns 50, Family Planning Too Costly for Many

    May 9, 2010,

    On May 9, 1960, the FDA approved oral contraceptives,changing the lives of women, giving them the choice of when and how to have children.

    But after 50 years, millions of the country's poorest women aren't sharing in the empowerment. 59% of women who need subsidized family planning in the U.S. aren't receiving care, according to a 2006 report from the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization that works to advance reproductive health.

    In 2006, before unemployment skyrocketed and the country sank into a recession, the national unemployment rate was 4.7%; today it is around 9.7%. In 2006, 17.5 million women of reproductive age needed assistance paying for contraception.

    The National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, which represents about 90% of federally funded family-planning clinics, predicts today's numbers are going to be worse. More women are either turning to Medicaid, going to less effective methods, or engaging in risky behavior.

    States are struggling to find room in their budgets for birth control.

    State-based options range from private-public partnerships, with providers such as Planned Parenthood, to community health centers and private physicians. The most common source of funding for subsidized and no-cost birth control is Medicaid, according to Guttmacher.

    California's Family PACT plan has been sucessfully providing free family-planning services to women who earn less than 200% of the national poverty level, which is about $22,000 for a single woman. But California has become one of the most financially unstable states. California health department's Office of Family Planning is currently serving about 1.8 million Californians.

    "The cost of the program benefit is about $311 per year per client, but when we did our last survey in 2002, we were saving the state and federal government nearly a billion dollars every two years."

    The savings are realized by preventing pregnancies in women who would need financial assistance with prenatal, birthing and postnatal care and, in some instances, treatment for pregnancy complications.

    California's system is intended to reduce or eliminate as many barriers to accessing assistance as possible. Not only is its income threshold one of the highest in the country, women also are enrolled and eligible for services on the same day. They can go to walk-in clinics and walk out with their contraceptives.

    But the Guttmacher Institute estimates that only 55% of the women who need services in California are receiving them.

    In North Carolina, only 35% of the women who need help in obtaining birth control receive it.

    "The challenge around rural areas is funding and confidentiality," according to Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina.

    "You're likely to know someone who is working in your health department. For many people, the fear of being seen or known will prevent them from going to get services."

    North Carolina, like California, is one of the 28 states that have waivers that allow them to use federal Medicaid funds to offset the cost of family planning. However, for the past 15 years the state has had an abstinence-only sex-education system. A comprehensive sex-education plan that will go into effect this fall.

    Untangling family-planning preventive measures from discussions of abortion was a key step, Johnson said. If the two issues become linked and abortion fights grab headlines, family planning gets lost in the outcry.

    "I think more and more Republicans are certainly coming around to saying that we can separate prevention and planning from abortion," said Kellie Ferguson, the executive director of the Republican Majority for Choice, an organization that supports reproductive rights.

    "Whether you're pro- or anti-choice, we all want to see the rate and need for abortion to go down." doclink

    US California: Profile of a Teen Success Participant

    March 29, 2010, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte

    Rebecca became pregnant when she was just 12 years old, and gave birth to a daughter at age 13. The father of her baby was only 13.

    Rebecca, now 16, felt isolated during the first months of the pregnancy because her family urged her to have an abortion. But she was determined to see the pregnancy through. "In my heart I felt I could take care of my daughter even though I couldn't be there financially. I could be there physically and emotionally."

    When her daughter was 14 months old, Rebecca was referred to Planned Parenthood's Teen Success program, designed to motivate pregnant and parenting teen mothers to maintain their family size and finish their education.

    At first, Rebecca feared being judged, and was reluctant to go to the meetings. But after the first session and hearing other young girls' stories, she was relieved and decided to come back the following week. Now, after 3-1/2 years, she has been faithfully attending weekly Teen Success meetings.

    She said the program has helped her with goals. For example, she was very self-conscious about being overweight after her pregnancy. The Teen Success facilitator reminded Rebecca could come to group meetings without being judged. She went on a diet and lost 50 pounds, with fellow Teen Success moms applauding her new healthy eating habits and trimmed-down shape.

    "Teen Success is real encouraging," she said. "They make you feel like you don't want to give up on anything - staying in school, being a parent, maintaining your family size or getting a job. doclink

    US California: Domestic Abuse May Affect Reproductive Freedom

    January 25, 2010, Medpage Today

    In abusive relationships, some women are sabotaged into becoming pregnant, by men poking holes in condoms and flushing birth control pills down the toilet, for example.

    In a study by Elizabeth Miller, MD, of the University of California Davis, and colleagues of 1,278 women ages 16 to 29 treated at five family clinics across northern California, about 20% of women said that their partner tried to coerce them into having a child. The results were reported in the online journal 'Contraception'.

    More than half of the women surveyed reported physical or sexual partner violence and a third of those also reported pregnancy coercion or birth control sabotage.

    Both pregnancy coercion and birth control sabotage were separately associated with unintended pregnancy, and the two together nearly doubled a woman's odds of unintended pregnancy.

    Men wanted their partners to have children for various reasons: to leave a legacy, a desire for attachment, having absolute control over her body, or to make them dependent on their partner. There have been cases where a young mother who has a child with another partner will be forced by her new boyfriend to have another baby with him.

    Key strategies include advising women about "invisible" forms of birth control such as injectable and intrauterine contraceptives, as well as easy access to emergency contraception. "If we can identify that reproductive control is going on," Miller said, "we can offer the woman methods for birth control that the partner can't mess with."

    Physicians and counsellors should talk about women's empowerment with regard to reproduction during reproductive health visits. We need to have a discussion around whether the girl is feeling ready for sex, rather than just talk about birth control. doclink

    A Dollar a Day Not to Get Pregnant

    July 9, 2009, Inside Higher Ed

    A pregnancy prevention program called College Bound Sisters, based at the University of North Carolina, pays 12 to 18 year old girls one dollar for every day they are not pregnant. The program was founded 20 years ago.

    The money, deposited into a college savings account, is given to participants only after they achieve all three goals of the program: not getting pregnant, graduating from high school and enrolling in college. The girls also receive $5 per week for transportation to the program's classes in sexual health and preparation for college. Some students who have stuck with it have received over $2,000 toward a college degree.

    The program is for girls whose sisters had a baby before the age of 18: if the sister is pregnant, the girl is at risk for similar behavior. No one in the program has parents who have been college graduates.

    Money seems to be only the initial impetus: students stay with it because of the education and support they receive. Weekly meetings give students sexual education, promoting abstinence but discussing birth control for those who are sexually active. The girls also get assistance applying for college. The program seems to help girls set their sights in the right direction.

    The program also seems to help parents and their daughters discuss the topics of sex and pregnancy more freely. One parent said the program gave her daughter something to strive for.

    The program also helps girls with long term goal-setting, and the girls learn to see not getting pregnant at a young age as part of a long-term path to success.

    Of the 125 participants who have stuck with it for more than six months, about half have made it all the way through and half have dropped out. 5% got pregnant, another 5% dropped out of high school, and others parted ways with the program for unrelated reasons. The money saved by those who do not make it through the program is divided up among the remaining girls.

    In a study of the girls who did not go through the program, these were four times more likely to become pregnant as teenagers and half as likely to enroll in college. No other colleges are known to have started a similar program.

    The operating costs at $75,000 per year pales in comparison to the expenses of a single teen pregnancy, which can cost taxpayers up to half a million dollars between healthcare and welfare expenses.

    Teen pregnancies currently cost taxpayers $9.1 billion annually, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. With teen birth rates up again for the second year in a row after 14 straight years of decline, the director stressed that "we are going to need to try new and innovative things."

    Other innovative pregnancy prevention approaches include revising classroom sexual education to focus on "relationships, not just body parts." Then there are digital messages that remind girls to take their birth control pills and online games with sexual education information.

    Sex educators are slow to respond to the need for new teaching methods. And with budget cuts, it becomes harder for the school to be the innovator in sex education programs. doclink

    Why We Need Bristol (and Levi)

    May 08, 2009, The Huffington Post

    Bristol Palin - best known as the unmarried (formerly) pregnant teen daughter of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin - debuted as a teen "ambassador" for the Candies Foundation, which raises awareness of the teen pregnancy crisis.

    At first the story was that Bristol and boyfriend Levi were in love and would marry soon after the election. Now Bristol and Levi are broken up and seem to be doing much of their communicating, including negotiating custody/ visitation arrangements for their son, on prime time TV.

    Bristol appeared on ABC and NBC, emphasizing the abstinence-only approach to pregnancy prevention on Good Morning America ("It's important for me to get involved just to advocate and promote abstinence and send my message out...abstinence is a hard choice but it's the safest choice and the best choice") and on the Today Show admitted that abstinence can be unrealistic for some teens and they should use contraception ("If you're going to have sex I think you should have safe sex.")

    While her messages are mixed, they are definitely worth listening to. While she has seemed at times brainwashed by the group which still believes abstinence is the only direction a teenager needs to get, Bristol has in fact voiced the core message of comprehensive sex ed which is: there's no better protection against pregnancy and disease than abstinence, teens should postpone becoming sexually active, but those that are having sex need to use to protection. doclink

    Out-of-Wedlock Birthrates Are Soaring, U.S. Reports

    May 13, 2009, New York Times*

    Unmarried mothers gave birth to 4 out of every 10 babies born in the United States in 2007. This ratio seems to be increasing. The figures come from "Changing Patterns of Nonmarital Childbearing in the United States," a report released by the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Before 1970, most unmarried mothers were teenagers. But in recent years the birthrate among unmarried women in their 20s and 30s has risen -- rising 34% since 2002, in women ages 30 to 34.

    In 2007, women in their 20s had 60% of all babies born out of wedlock, teenagers had 23% and women 30 and older had 17%.

    Many of the births are from parents who are living together but are not married. These cohabitation arrangements tend to be less stable than marriages, studies show.

    Government data taken from birth certificates shows that Hispanic women's unmarried birth rate has climbed 20% from 2002 to 2006, compared to 11% for Hispanic women, 7% for black women and 3% for white women.

    In Iceland, out-of-wedlock births are also rising: 66%; in Sweden, the share is 55%. While in some countries, like Japan, it is just 2%.

    "In Sweden, you see very little variation in the outcome of children based on marital status. Everybody does fairly well," said Wendy Manning, a professor of sociology at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. But increases of out-of-wedlock births in the United States are of greater concern because couples seem to be less stable than in many other countries, the U.S. has less government support for children, children of unmarried parents tend to have poorer health and educational outcomes than those born to married women, but that may be because unmarried mothers tend to share those problems.

    Decades ago, pregnant women often married before giving birth. But the odds of separation and divorce in unions driven by pregnancy are relatively high. So when a woman gets pregnant, are children better off if their parents marry, cohabitate or do neither? That question is still unresolved, Dr. Manning said.

    Marriage or cohabitation may cement financial and emotional bonds between children and fathers that survive divorce or separation, but familial instability is often damaging to children.

    It is mystery that unmarried birth rates have risen after stabilizing between 1995 and 2002 and declined among unmarried teenagers and black women. In 1940, just 3.8 percent of births were to unmarried women.

    In 2007, the District of Columbia and Mississippi had the highest rates: 59% and 54%, respectively, while Utah had the lowest rate: 20%.

    Sarah S. Brown, chief executive of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a nonprofit advocacy group, said sex and pregnancy were handled far too cavalierly in the United States, where rates of unplanned pregnancies, births and abortions are far higher than those of other industrialized nations. doclink

    U.S.: Time for Real Sex Ed

    March 17, 2009, Population Connection

    The Responsible Education About Life Act (REAL) Act authorizes federal funding for comprehensive sex education programs, which have no dedicated funding.

    The REAL Act calls for sex education that is medically and scientifically accurate, free of religious bias, and empowers young people to make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual behavior.

    With a new and more supportive Congress and President, we have a real opportunity to make a difference in the lives and health of teens. doclink

    U.S.: Sex Ed Landscape Shifting in States

    June 04, 2007,

    Eighth-graders in New Hanover, N.C. are using books that say, "There is not a lot of proof that condoms really work. Would you trust your life to one?"

    With abstinence-only classes just as likely to have premarital sex states are asking: Should we entrust our students to abstinence-only programs?

    While a majority requires that abstinence be stressed in sex education, there has been a movement toward education that teaches about contraception. Those who favor abstinence-only say comprehensive programs send mixed messages to teenagers. But advocates of comprehensive courses say abstinence-only programs don't give teens the facts they need to make informed choices.

    There are victories for comprehensive sex-education advocates, considering that, only Maine, had enacted a similar law since 2000. Currently, there are six states with a strong definition of "medical accuracy" written into their sex-education laws.

    State action could also hasten the demise of an 11-year-old federal program that gives grants to states that match 75 percent of the federal money and use the funds solely to teach abstinence-only sex education.

    As of last fall, California and Maine rejected the federal money saying that new federal regulations had gotten too strict.

    This month Democratic leaders said they would not extend the program, which is up for reauthorization this year.

    A study found that students in abstinence classes were as likely as their peers to have premarital sex. But they weren't less likely to use condoms, something critics of abstinence-only programs have claimed would happen.

    Missouri, which requires that comprehensive information be taught, is expected to roll that back with a bill that would let districts decide what kind of program to offer. The bill also would ban instructors from groups that provide or refer people to abortion services from teaching in public schools. But the sex-education landscape has changed. Washington's laws include a provision requiring the material be appropriate for all sexual orientations. doclink

    U.S.: Birth Control Prices Soar on Campuses

    March 23, 2007, New York Times*

    Prices for oral contraceptives are doubling and tripling at student health centers, the result of a change in the Medicaid rebate law that ends an incentive for drug companies to provide discounts to colleges.

    Women are paying about $22 per month for prescriptions that cost $10 a few months ago. About 39% of undergraduate women use oral contraceptives. The discounts to colleges mean drug manufacturers have to pay more to participate in Medicaid and as a result fewer companies are willing to offer discounts. doclink

    U.S.: Premarital Abstinence Pledges Ineffective, Study Finds; Teenagers Who Make Such Promises Are Just as Likely to Have Sex, and Less Likely to Use Protection

    December 29, 2008, Washington Post

    The new analysis of data found that more than half of youths became sexually active before marriage regardless of whether they had taken a "virginity pledge," but the percentage who took precautions against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases was 10 points lower for pledgers than for non-pledgers.

    Taking a pledge seems to make a difference in condom use and other birth control. The new analysis, however, focuses on teens who had similar values about sex before they took a virginity pledge and compares only apples to other apples.

    The new Obama administration is about to reconsider the $176 million in annual funding for such programs.

    The Democratic Congress needs to get its head out of the sand and get real about sex education.

    Proponents however, dismissed the study as flawed.

    The new study is the first to use a method to account for other factors that could influence the teens' behavior. Rosenbaum focused on about 3,400 students who said they had not had sex or taken a virginity pledge in 1995. She compared 289 students who were 17 years old on average in 1996, when they took a virginity pledge, with 645 who did not take a pledge but were otherwise similar.

    This study came about because somebody who decides to take a virginity pledge tends to be different from the average American teenager. The pledgers tend to be more religious and conservative.

    About 82% of those who had taken a pledge had retracted their promises, and there was no difference in the proportion of students in both groups who had engaged in any type of sexual activity. Abstinence has to come from an individual conviction rather than participating in a program.

    The percentage of students who reported condom use was about 10 points lower for those who had taken the pledge, and they were about 6% less likely to use any form of contraception. About 24% of those who had taken a pledge said they always used condoms, compared with about 34% of those who had not taken a pledge. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: abstinence is good, but only when combined with knowledge of human sexuality and of how to prevent pregnancy and disease if pledges are broken.

    US Wisconsin: Pearls of Wisdom Pay Off. Peer Educators Bask in News of Teen Birth Dip

    November 19, 2008, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    Some teen pregnancy reduction efforts are based on the premise that youths listen to their peers more readily than adults. So peer educators at 'Pearls for Teen Girls' heard that Milwaukee's teen birth rate had hit a 28-year low, they felt proud.

    Pearls for Teen Girls participants and alumnae carry a message of sexual health and abstinence into middle and high schools and YMCA sites around the city.

    Their curriculum works to reduce youths' risk for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases through discussion, games and role playing.

    The United Way funds the program, with annual grants from $30,000 to $50,000.

    Now there's a public conversation around teen pregnancy as a problem. The billboards and posters have played a recent role. They referenced teenage boys with swollen bellies and the tagline: "It shouldn't be any less disturbing when it's a girl."

    An important component of that education is creating a space for honest dialogue and not judging the younger girls they work with. That environment allows them to counter the myths girls bring into the classroom, instead they talk about how to use contraception, and resist pressure to have sex.

    One student said the decline in the teen birth rate is a sign the city is making solid progress. But the struggle continues. doclink

    Too Many People

    November 2008, Bill Denneen

    On a nature hike recently I mentioned "contraception". The reaction of some of the group was that this subject was too controversial to even be mentioned. This taboo must end. The average age of first intercourse (like it or not) is 17.

    Young people need to know about how NOT to get pregnant - especially young people that have taken the "abstinence only" vow.

    Whenever I meet a teenage female I always give my elder advice: "Don't get pregnant". I figure that as an "ancient" I can get away with this. Recently I said this to a 19 year old and she e-mailed me: "I recently met you at the opening of the Santa Maria Public Library. I regret to say that I am sorry I did. Previous to our meeting I considered you someone to look up to and an extremely respectable person. I found your advice about "not getting pregnant" presumptuous."

    As a Biologist & an "ancient" I know a "sexy" female when I see one and how zygotes are needed to keep the species going.

    Recently in the news has been the pregnancy of an unwed 17 year old. This is a common event (e.g. Santa Maria) but the mother of this gal is against sex-education, against Planned Parenthood, against contraception, against evolution, against abortion and for "abstinence only" until marriage----and this mother has a high potential of being the first female President----yikes.

    Since the Bush administration has come into power, it has spent over $1.5 billion in taxpayer money on their abstinence-only sex-education programs that studies have shown are not only ineffective but counterproductive. Planned Parenthood is an advocate for and provider of real-world sex education and reproductive health care.

    When I was born there were less than 2 billion humanoids on this small fragile planet----we are now approaching 7 billion. In other words in just one person's lifetime (mine) we have added 5,000,000,000 more people. This is a "population explosion" which in nature is always followed by a "population collapse"------basic biology.

    A century ago the average life expectancy was 40, now it is 80. There will be an increase in the death rate unless we lower the birth rate. Europe in general now has a birth rate lower than the death rate---not so for the U.S. & most of the world.

    When I first came to California there were about 12 million people which became 27 million in 1986 and which is now approaching 40 million. Drive the roads, sit in traffic, drive to L.A., go to Pismo Beach on a holiday, recall once rural Nipomo Mesa----too many people & too many cars. I call it "losangelification".

    Santa Maria has a high teenage pregnancy rate (epidemic?). Almost all hospitals are Catholic-controlled and do not offer contraception or abortion or vasectomies or even sex-education. Planned Parenthood (415 E.Chapel, 928-1679) provides all of these thus reducing the teen pregnancy rate.

    The "Abstinence Only Program" just doesn't work. The average age of first intercourse in the US is 17.---how old were you?

    Italy is 97% Catholic yet it's birth rate is so low Italians are not even replacing themselves. The Pope issues "rules" against contraception and abortion but educated Italians aren't listening. As education increases, birth rates decrease.

    Meanwhile back to CA which is adding a half million more people each year. Virtually all that growth comes from immigration and babies born to immigrant mothers. My suggestion is condom dispensers in all restrooms and free vasectomies to any male wanting one-----particularly immigrants.. It is a simple operation. Planned Parenthood offers vasectomies for free for men that can't afford it.

    Social change is slow while technological change (e.g.cell phones) is rapid. It has taken so long to even talk about contraception and sexuality. Over half the pregnancies in our country are unintended (accidents?). Every child has a right to be born wanted, planned & loved. A good start toward dialogue came with Vagina Monologue. The taboo on talking about birth control must end-------------condoms anyone? doclink

    U.S.: Out-of-wedlock Births Top 50%; Scholars Examine Impact

    September 12, 2008, The Hawk Eye

    For the first time in a half-century of record-keeping, a majority of babies born to women younger than 30 were out of wedlock.

    In 2006 unmarried women delivered 50.4% of the children born to those under 30. Sum, who directs Northeastern's Center for Labor Market Studies, warns that the burgeoning number of such families presages "disaster." "The inequality of incomes in these families is unbelievable, 40% are poor, or near-poor. A large fraction is dependent on public assistance. There's a huge fiscal cost to the rest of us."

    By and large, college-educated women are marrying later, having babies within a marriage and divorcing less. Women without a college degree are doing just the opposite in growing numbers.

    "The next generation of children is going to be much more unequal," Sum warned. "You're going to have a really elite group and a group that will massively fall behind. Sum favors providing more public assistance and tax breaks for low-income families, especially those in which the parents are married and working. "You can't raise revenue from families that have such a low income," Sum said. "And you have to spend so much more to keep them afloat."

    Taxpayers pony up about $7,000 a year to support the typical family of an unwed mother without a high-school diploma.

    The Institute for American Values pegged the annual cost to taxpayers of children living with a single parent at more than $112 billion annually.

    Barack Obama chastised men in the black community for failing to perform any duties of fathering beyond the act of conception.

    Sen. Sam Brownback, made the case that although the government has abolished the "marriage penalty" in the tax structure, it still penalizes marriage among low-income people by cutting government benefits should they marry.

    He proposed that the government experiment with maintaining benefits for three years for newly married couples to see whether it promotes marriage and family well-being.

    A research team interviewed 5,000 couples, three-fourths unwed, upon the births of their children, starting in 1998. Their lives are complicated.

    At the time of an out-of-wedlock birth, about half of the couples live together. But two-thirds dissolve by the time a child turns 5. A lot of these women form relationships with new men, and have more children. So you have a woman with three children by three fathers. Imagine the complexity, trying to arrange for child-support payments -- if they come. doclink

    U.S.: Abstaining From Federal Sex-Ed Funds; More States Are Refusing Grants to Teach Chastity, Objecting to Restrictions

    April 08, 2007, Los Angeles Times (US)

    States are unwilling to accept White House dictates that the money be used for classes focused almost exclusively on teaching chastity.

    Governors said the program had too many rules to be practical. The money cannot be used to promote condom or contraceptive use. Students are to be taught that bearing children outside wedlock is likely to harm society and have harmful psychological and physical effects.

    There is little evidence that the program has been effective. States are refusing funding and alarms abstinence-only groups, who say it will undermine progress against teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

    States have used the money to help public and private schools with educational programs, to develop classroom instruction for nonprofits, and to pay for advertising and other media campaigns.

    The President of the South Dakota-based Abstinence Clearinghouse said that kids who want to abstain should have equal time, funding and education in the classroom as kids who are having sex.

    Critics of abstinence-based education say that sexually active youth aren't getting access to information about contraceptives and disease prevention.

    The Government Accountability Office concluded that such programs were not proved to work. These are efforts by the federal government to fund ideological programs. President Bush has asked Congress to carve out $191 million for the abstinence program in fiscal 2008.

    A growing number of states are considering giving up the aid -- or trying to find ways to fund a broader curriculum.

    In Colorado, state senators passed a measure that would force school districts to incorporate science-based material in their sex education courses. California determined that the state's abstinence-only program had not been effective.

    Everyone's arguing, but everyone seems to forget that we all agree on one thing: Youth need to be educated about sex. doclink

    Does Watching Sex on Television Influence Teens' Sexual Activity?

    May 28, 2007, Rand

    The average American teenager watches three hours of television a day. Sex is often presented as a casual activity without risk or consequences. Yet, there has been little study of how watching sex on television influences teenagers' sexual behavior.

    Two recent studies examined the impact of TV sex on teenagers' sexual beliefs and activities and they support the view that shows with sexual content may influence teen sexual behavior, but some viewing effects can be positive.

    Watching TV shows with sexual content hastens the initiation of teen sexual activity.

    Shows about contraception and pregnancy can help to educate teens and foster dialogue between teens and parents.

    The first study surveyed a sample of households containing an adolescent from 12 to 17 years old. A total of 1,762 were asked about their sexual experiences and also their television viewing habits and, one year later, were surveyed again.

    The researchers measured exposure to television of three kinds of sexual content : Kissing, intimate touching, and implied or depicted intercourse, talk about sexual plans or sex that has occurred, and expert advice, and (3) talk about the risks of sexual activity: abstinence, waiting to have sex, portrayals of contraceptives, and consequences, such as AIDS, STDs, pregnancy, and abortion.

    Heavy exposure to sexual content on television related to teens' initiation of intercourse or more advanced sexual activities. Youths who viewed the greatest amounts of sexual content were twice as likely than those who viewed the smallest amount to initiate sexual intercourse. A different set of factors decreased the likelihood of first intercourse: parents who monitored teens' activities, parents who were more educated or disapproving of teens' having sexual relations, and living with both parents. Other factors included being more religious and feeling less depressed or anxious than other youths. Most of these characteristics were related to how much sex teens saw on television. Talk about sex on TV had the same effect on behavior as depictions of sexual activity.

    The other study examined television's potential as a tool for educating teens about sexual risks and safe behavior. The possibility of condom failure and the resulting consequence of pregnancy were communicated to a large adolescent audience, as was the message that condoms almost always work.

    Researchers concluded that entertainment shows that include portrayals of sexual risks and consequences can potentially teach accurate messages about sexual risks, and stimulate a conversation with adults that can reinforce those messages.

    The studies suggest the need to reduce teens' exposure to sexual content on television and to explore greater use of entertainment shows to inform teens about risk. doclink

    How Many People Can the World Sustain?

    July 25, 2008, Guardian (London)

    The year 1986 was when our species started to outgrow this planet. From that year on, as the global population accelerated, we have been running up an ever larger ecological tab.

    The British Medical Journal called for the issue of a rising global population to be urgently tackled, urging doctors to "break a deafening silence" over the use of family planning as a tool to reduce mankind's environmental impact.

    Stopping at two children, or at having one fewer than intended, is the biggest contribution anyone can make to leaving a habitable planet for our grandchildren. A sustainable UK population would be 17 million people - 43 million fewer than reside there currently. How many people can live on Earth? In 2003 the world population stood at 6.3 billion, whereas the "sustainable figure" was 5.1 billion.

    By 2050, when the UN predicts the world population will have risen to 9.2 billion, the sustainable population will be a third that. But the OPT (Optimum Population Trust) believes resource wars and starvation now "threaten the worst population crash in the history of humankind". doclink

    Karen Gaia says: I believe that making family planning choices available, along with giving women life options such as owning a small business, and girls education, make a bigger difference in birth rates than 'stop at two' or 'stop at one'. The U.S. stopped at two without being pressured when contraception became available in the 1960s - not because someone urged women to stop at two, but because women saw two as a desirable family size - the number of children that a middle class family could afford to send to college.

    U.S.: States Turn Down US Abstinence Education Grants

    June 24, 2008, The Associated Press

    States are walking away from the program the Bush administration touts for slowing teen sexual activity.

    Financially strapped states might be expected to want their share. But many have doubts that the program does any good, and they're frustrated by uncertainty that it will be kept in existence. Instructors must teach that sexual activity outside of marriage is likely to have harmful effects.

    Local providers have the knowledge to teach what's going to be best, what kind of information will help those young people be safe. Participation in the program is down 40% over two years, with 28 states still in. Arizona and Iowa intend to forgo their share of the federal grant. Lawmakers have approved 19 usually for three or six months at a time.

    The funding stream became inconsistent, we didn't have any infrastructure to put the money to use and there was mounting evidence the abstinence programs weren't effective.

    In Idaho there were 2,543 pregnancies among 15-19 year-olds in 2006 compared with 2,396 in 2004.

    More than half the states still choose to participate as their approach to addressing the sexual activity of teens.

    In Georgia, some 250,000 students have participated in abstinence education since 2000. Teachers in Georgia stress community service and doing better in school and the program has led to an almost a 50% drop in pregnancy rates since the mid-90s.

    Supporters say that abstinence is the only method that is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. Critics say abstinence doesn't stop teens from having sex, and they need information about how to reduce pregnancy and disease.

    A federally funded study found that participants had as many sexual partners as nonparticipants and had sex at the same median age. The programs taught students about human anatomy and sexually transmitted diseases.

    Under the program, states have to put up $3 for every $4 they get from the government. The program, is one of three abstinence education programs funded by the federal government.

    Applicants seeking abstinence education funding through another government program, called Community Based Abstinence Education, are required to show how they will serve high school students and how they will help young people deal with peer pressure.

    Critics say the dwindling participation is a signal that Congress should abolish the program or change it. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Abstinence is only 100% effective as long as it is practiced. Once they stop abstinence, teens are more likely to get pregnant than those who received comprehensive sex education.

    U.S.: House Hearing on Abstinence-only Programs: Advocates Admit to Program Failures.

    April 23, 2008, Population Connection

    Abstinence-only programming attempts to frighten teens away from sexual activity. Contraception is mentioned only in terms of its failure rates. Abstinence-only programming has received more than $1 billion in federal funding.

    Under tough questioning even the supporters of abstinence-only programs admitted that federally funded programs have never been proven to be effective. The clear message was that abstinence-only programs are denying young people the information they need to make responsible decisions.

    For more than a decade, abstinence-only programs have received taxpayer dollars with little accountability and no oversight. The US has the fastest growing population in the industrialized world. It's important to note that population growth is the driving factor behind increased emissions in the US. From coast to coast, you see spontaneous movements calling for slow growth or smart growth or no growth. But population growth is a national issue and our growth is being driven by teenage pregnancy and unintended pregnancy.

    More than 30% of women in this country will become pregnant before reaching 20 years of age. One-third of all births are unintended. One in four teenage girls live with a sexually transmitted infection.

    Study after study has shown that abstinence-only programs are misguided. Students in the abstinence-only programs were found to have first sex at a similar age and with similar numbers of sexual partners as their peers who were not in the programs. The overwhelming weight of the evidence shows that they don't reduce teen pregnancy or the spread of sexually transmitted infections. doclink

    Study: Teaching Only Abstinence Not Certain to Curb Teen Sex: Including Birth Control in Lessons to Curb Teen Sex Draws Criticism

    November 08, 2007, The Dallas Morning News (Texas)

    Teaching abstinence remains unproven as a way to stop teen sex, programs that discuss contraceptives and urge teens to wait have better track records. Only a couple of programs that exclusively focus on abstinence have yielded "modestly encouraging results.

    Combining the abstinence message with explicit discussions of birth control "is a realistic, effective approach that does not appear to confuse young people." In Texas, which leads the nation in teen births, backers of the comprehensive approach applauded the study, but a social conservative was quick to denounce it as "faulty science."

    The president of the Irving-based Texans for Life Coalition, said that contraception instruction was tried in the schools in the 1980s and didn't work.

    The House passed a bill that would spend $141 million on community-based abstinence education. Though the Senate approved a smaller amount, proponents of more comprehensive sex education in the schools and wider availability of birth control for teens are unhappy that the Democratic Congress hasn't killed the program.

    Planned Parenthood called on Congress to stop funding programs that focus solely on abstinence. Dr. Kirby said abstinence-alone instruction is largely unproven, though he shied away from a sweeping denunciation.

    Dr. Kirby, who has evaluated sex-education programs for the government and other groups, conducted the review for the nonpartisan National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

    He said two studies had found "weak but encouraging results" from abstinence programs but more efforts to duplicate and study them are needed.

    Mathematica Policy Research released a report that was nine years and $8 million in the making. Scientists followed middle school children enrolled in four separate abstinence programs for about five years, and found no difference in the age of first intercourse between them and their peers.

    Dr. Kirby said, "Two-thirds of the 48 comprehensive programs that supported both abstinence and the use of condoms and contraceptives for sexually active teens had positive behavioral effects, He found no evidence that supplying youngsters with a dual message hastened the initiation of sex or increased the frequency of sex."

    A San Antonio public health official who supports more comprehensive instruction, hailed the study's other findings, such as that programs in which teens do community service or get one-on-one counseling can reduce teen pregnancy. doclink

    U.S.;: Abstinence 1, S-chip 0

    October 18, 2007, New York Times*

    Democratic leaders are right to contest President Bush's veto of their bill to expand the State Children's Health Insurance program, but their "bipartisan compromise" will leave millions of young Americans vulnerable to suffering of the preventable kind.

    The House of Representatives agreed to increase money for abstinence-only sex education to a total of $200 million a year. This teaches that sexual activity outside of marriage is likely to cause psychological and physical harm.

    A 2002 survey found that 93% of American adults had had premarital sex by the age of 30.

    Abstinence-only sex education is ineffective and dangerous. A 10-year study found that students who took abstinence-only courses were no more likely to abstain from sex than other students. Programs in public schools teach false information like "the chances of getting pregnant with a condom are one out of six" and H.I.V. "may be in your body for as long as 10 years before it can be detected."

    The US has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the developed world, and the highest abortion rate in the Western world. SDI's like syphilis and gonorrhea are on the rise for the first time since the 1980s, and chlamydia is being diagnosed twice as often as a decade ago.

    Among Americans living in poverty the unintended pregnancy rate has increased 30% since 1994.

    Our teenage pregnancy and abortion rates have declined during the last decade, mainly because of increased use of condoms. Dropping the financing for abstinence-only sex ed could save enough to insure 150,000 children a year. And it would also demonstrate much needed resolve to protect all aspects of children's health. doclink

    The Birth Control Divide

    June 26, 2006, Los Angeles Times

    Poor and uneducated women have fallen behind their more affluent peers in their ability to control fertility and plan childbearing. Teenagers, college graduates and women in the middle or upper class have reduced unintended pregnancy and abortion rates. Among poor women, the unplanned pregnancy rate jumped nearly 30%. Analysts blame the problem largely on a lack of access to affordable contraception. California spends $124 on family planning for every woman in need. The state's Family PACT program offers teens and low-income couples easy access to free or affordable birth control. Yet California has one of the highest abortion rates in the country. At least 23 states, including California, offer exams and contraception to women earning up to twice the federal poverty level. But free birth control alone won't bring down the unintended pregnancy rate. Low-income women must build self-esteem and confidence in a better future. Many of the women didn't see the urgency in going out of their way to prevent pregnancy. Even when low-income women take the initiative to pick up birth control, they are often ambivalent about using it. In many cases, they just didn't use it correctly or consistently. They put a half-hearted faith in one of the many urban myths. If a woman takes a bath, or jumps around, or douches with vinegar, she won't conceive. One class trains Latinas to be health educators for their neighborhoods, with sessions on domestic violence, prenatal care and sexuality. Many of the students had never heard of newer forms of birth control. Planned Parenthood runs similar programs in Arizona, Colorado, New York and Texas and devote 30% of a $49-million educational budget to women 20 and older. The rest is aimed at teens. The federal government focuses most of its sex education resources on teens, with a strong emphasis on abstinence. Almost no intervention or prevention programs are targeted at older women. Though liberals urge more classes and cheaper birth control, some conservatives warn that expanded access will only encourage reckless behavior. doclink

    United States: Breakthrough in Male Birth Control Remains Elusive

    October 02, 2007, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    Men have basically two choices of birth control: condom or vasectomy. Many researchers say men should have more options and a shared responsibility.

    Dr Bremner and Dr. John Amory, conduct clinical trials testing whether hormone injections or creams adequately reduce sperm enough to prevent pregnancies. One study showed a 98% success rate in couples using a hormone male contraceptive. Side effects include weight gain and acne. One option being developed is a set of tiny implants that block the flow of sperm.

    It is more difficult to turn off sperm production than egg production. Women produce one egg per month, men produce 1,000 sperm. And male contraception is a difficult sell to pharmaceutical companies.

    Men aren't the ones at risk of getting pregnant, which carries its own hazards. The litigious nature against those in reproductive health and religious opposition are hurdles as well.

    Thirty percent of contraception is male-driven, half condom, half vasectomy, and up to 80% of men claimed they would use a new male contraceptive. About 98% of women in monogamous relationships said they would trust their partners.

    A male contraceptive will be available in five to seven years, it's going to happen. It's just a matter of time. doclink

    U.S.;: Abstinence Programs Do Not Stop Risky Sexual Behaviour Or Help in the Prevention of Unwanted Pregnancy

    August 2007, BBC News

    Sex abstinence programmes do not stop risky sexual behaviour or prevent unwanted pregnancy. A team reviewed 13 US trials involving over 15,000 people aged 10 to 21.

    Abstinence-only programmes don't work because they provide no safety net for those young people who have a sexual relationship. The study included trials comparing young people attending abstinence-only programmes against those receiving no sex education.

    One trial showed participants reporting that they were less likely to have had sex in the month following one programme, but this was offset by six other trials that showed the programmes had no effect on the participants' recent sex lives.

    Another trial showed participants were more likely to report STD's and pregnancy compared to participants using the usual services. However, other studies did not show this.

    Programmes that promote the use of condoms greatly reduced the risk of HIV.

    Young people need to know that they can say no to sex, just as they need to know how to protect themselves from pregnancy or infections if they decide that a sexual relationship is right for them. doclink

    Teen Births in California

    May 24, 2007, Public Health Institute

    In 2004 more than 50,000 teens 4% of all female teens aged 15 to 19 gave birth in California, and more became pregnant. In light of the costs associated, the State's teen birth rate of 39.7 per thousand remains high. Teen birth rates for both the U.S. and California are higher than those for every other industrialized nation. In fact, California's teen birth rate is from 4 to 10 times higher than rates for France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Japan. Adolescent women who become mothers tend to exhibit poorer psychology, lower levels of education, more single parenthood, and less stable employment. Teen mothers tend to experience more pregnancy-related problems and have less healthy infants. Pregnant teens are most likely to smoke during pregnancy and suffer from reduced lung capacity, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and middle ear disease and infections. Preschool children of teen mothers tend to show delay of cognitive development as well as more behavioral problems. Adolescent children of teen mothers experience higher rates of grade failure, delinquency, and early sexual activity. They are also more likely to experience abuse and neglect. Fathers to children of teen mothers tend to achieve less education and lower earnings than do their non-parenting peers.

    Cost analyses on teen pregnancy and parenting found the average annual cost in 2004 dollars to taxpayers for each teen birth was $2,336, and costs to society of $5,211, an annual total net cost to taxpayers of $1.5 billion and an annual total net cost to society of $3.4 billion.

    In California the Latina teen birth rate was three times higher than the White non-Latina and Asian/Pacific Islander rates. The African-American rate was twice that of the White non-Latina rate and Asian/Pacific Islander rates. California's leadership is evidenced in several areas: (1) refusal to participate in the federal abstinence-only education program; (2) state-funded reproductive programs (3) state-funded teen pregnancy prevention programs and (4) program and policy grants funded by philanthropic foundations. The estimated total for services focused directly on primary or secondary teen pregnancy prevention during the 2005-2006 budget year is more than $209 million. Had California continued its teen birth rate of 66 per 1,000 from ten years ago it would have had an additional 32,567 teen births in 2004. This represents an annual savings to California taxpayers of $988 million. doclink

    U.S.;: Stop Wasting Tax Dollars on Abstinence Programs

    April 27, 2007, Des Moines Register (US)

    A report last week said that the federal government's 10-year program to keep people from having sex before marriage has been a failure.

    Those who took the abstinence-only programs were no more or less likely to have sex than those who didn't. These programs cost $176 million a year.

    The Social Security Act has provided $50 million to the states to promote abstinence programs, which must be matched at 75% by state funds.

    The rules don't allow information about condoms or birth control.

    It's simplistic to think that the best way to prevent sex is by depriving kids of scientifically-based information.

    Congress expanded the abstinence-only program to target unmarried people up to 29 years old.

    The program has been debunked by the national Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, and the American Medical Association in favor of an approach that includes abstinence and contraception.

    Eight states have opted out of the grants because they didn't think the state matches were justified.

    Congress should scrap it pass the REAL Act (Responsible Education About Life), which would support comprehensive sex-education programs.

    The government has even been pushing this ineffective, approach abroad, through the White House faith-based initiative. But as it became clear abstinence training is irrelevant in a country where girls marry as young as 8, and 94% of girls having sex are married.

    There might be more pressing uses for government money, such as violence prevention and mental-health programs. doclink

    US Georgia;: Abortion Bill Shrouded in Hypocrisy

    March 22, 2007, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (US)

    For years, legislators have debated how to discourage abortions in Georgia. Now, they want pregnant women to be offered the chance to view an ultrasound image of the fetus to dissuade a woman from having an abortion.

    Legislators have never tried the surest way to decrease the 30,000 abortions annually in Georgia - stop unwanted pregnancies in the first place. The Legislature's sole interest starts with a conception and ends with a delivery. Once a baby is born and needs costly health care, lawmakers disappear.

    The bill fails to inform women there's not enough health care in Georgia for children. The Legislature is about to make it harder for children to qualify for the state's subsidized health insurance for kids. According to the Legislature, pregnant women who seek abortions need the state's help to steady their thinking.

    In fact, in other words, women don't think before deciding to undergo an abortion, so the General Assembly has to take charge.

    Elected officials have no right to meddle in one of the most personal and private decisions. doclink

    Church Sex Education Program Preaches More Than Abstinence; Our Whole Lives Takes Broader Approach Than Other Faith-based Classes

    March 27, 2007, Contra Costa Times (US)

    Our Whole Lives, a product of Unitarian-Universalists and the United Church of Christ, has proved popular at both churches, each has trained more than 1,000 teachers.

    Unitarian and United Church of Christ youths will lobby their congressional representatives for more money for comprehensive sex ed programs in public schools.

    Our Whole Lives stresses of abstinence, also includes birth control, safe sex practices and sexual orientation.

    These are done within the context of a loving, committed relationship. Only one family has ever opted out. In another case, the parents took the materials home and taught the course themselves.

    Many say the misinformation that abounds in the schoolyard mandates a pre-emptive approach.

    Although 15- to 24-year-olds make up a quarter of the nation's sexually active population, they account for nearly half of all new sexually transmitted infections a year. People are going to develop sexually whether ready for it or not.

    One of its goals is to open communication, so that children can chat comfortably with parents about intimate issues.

    The state requires schools to give only HIV/AIDS education, once in middle school and once in high school. A 2004 California law calls on schools that do offer broader sex ed to make sure the courses are medically accurate, age-appropriate and free of religious ideology.

    In choosing to teach about condoms and contraception, the state passed up millions of dollars the federal government makes available to abstinence-only programs.

    More than half of Americans believe that teaching teens how to obtain and use condoms does not rush them into sex. A survey found nearly two-thirds of adults and more than three-quarters of teens calling on faith institutions to do more to help prevent teen pregnancy. doclink

    US Oregon;: Sex Education to Push Envelope

    January 30, 2007, The Oregonian

    Oregon school districts are considering sex education programs that raise moral issues.

    The message is abstinence is best, but if you have sex, use protection. And they are choosing the most effective programs, even if some strategies might make parents or communities uncomfortable.

    They teach students the skills they need to make good decisions under pressure. The state Department of Education has been encouraging districts to take this approach to sex education for the past several years. The eighth-grade lesson in how to put on a condom was approved this month.

    Teen pregnancy rates have declined because teens are having less sex and using more contraception, They are concerned about sexually transmitted diseases, more cautious about sex and have access to long-lasting hormonal contraception.

    In high school, students do role plays to practice refusing or delaying sexual advances and talking with sexual partners about using birth control. Teachers also can now answer students' questions about homosexuality, abortion, pornography and some sexual acts. Parents can excuse their children, teachers can skip or adapt a lesson.

    A school board member who opposed the new curriculum said the district should have required permission from all parents for students to participate. doclink

    Catholic Leaders Criticize New York City for Distributing 20 Million Condoms

    February 20, 2007, Kaiser Network

    Roman Catholic leaders have criticized NY City's efforts to deliver 26 million condoms in the city.

    City officials have unveiled the official condom, and plan to track the programme through a survey, which polls 10,000 residents by telephone.

    NY City distributes about 1.5 million condoms monthly, at no cost to organizations, health clinics, advocacy groups, bars, restaurants, nail salons, nightclubs and prisons.

    The Catholic Cardinals criticized the programme, calling it an immoral "anything goes" policy that degrades society. They said the only way to protect against HIV and other STI's is through abstinence before marriage and fidelity among married couples.

    Mayor Bloomberg said that although he believes young people should wait until they are adults before having sex, the health department has to "work with the real world of people." doclink

    U.S.;: Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Finds Few Scientific Fans; Birth Control Taught in Shrinking Number of Schools

    February 11, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle

    In a study by the Guttmacher Institute, it was found that there is no scientific evidence that teaching abstinence to teenagers will prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. California and the Bush administration are at loggerheads over the best approach to sex ed for middle and high school students.

    More than $1 billion in federal aid has been poured into state-run abstinence-only programs. State school systems accepting the federal money are required to teach that sexual activity outside marriage is likely to have harmful effects, and that a married, monogamous relationship is the standard.

    California, Maine and Pennsylvania refused the federal education funding tied to abstinence.

    A team of scholars looked at instruction between 1995 and 2002 nationwide and found that "teenagers were significantly more likely to have received instruction about how to say no to sex than ... birth control methods" and that abstinence was being pushed in sex ed classes.

    Under an education code, teachers in California school districts are required to teach HIV prevention and comprehensive sex education. But exactly what districts teach is up to them, so long as they adhere to state guidelines and they provide information about contraception while emphasizing that abstinence is the only sure method to avoid pregnancy.

    We've put more than $1 billion into abstinence-only (education) when we do not know whether these programs work.

    Abstinence-only programs are replacing programs where we have good evidence that they do work.

    The debate is taking place amid trends that indicate the sexual practices of teens are changing.

    Since 1991, teen pregnancies in the United States have declined by one-third, 46.8% of high school students say they have had intercourse, a 13% decline over that same period. Another recent study found that 95% of Americans say they had premarital sex.

    Community-based programs in California receive abstinence-only funds from a separate federal funding stream established in 2000.

    California took a progressive approach, Texas pushed abstinence and made it a little more difficult for teens to receive contraceptives. Pregnancy did go down between 1991 and 2004, but Texas had the second-lowest decline of all states, 19%. California had the second-greatest decrease, 46%. doclink

    U.S.;: Teen Pregnancy Rates Hit All-time Low

    February 06, 2007, Washington Post

    The teen pregnancy rate in the US is at an all-time low, while Caesarean deliveries are at an all-time high.

    The birth rates for mothers 30 and older rose in 2005. Teen births fell to 40.4 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19,, the lowest rate in 65 years. But 30.2% of all births were Caesarean delivery, a 4% increase from 2004-05.

    Vaginal births after Caesarean delivery are being discouraged, and the primary rate of Caesareans is rising, so, together, that is fueling this increase. The repeat Caesarean delivery rate was over 90% in 2004.

    Part of the increase may be more older mothers, who may also have had assisted reproductive technology and may be having multiples.

    The drop in teen births shows, maybe, that we're educating the public better, providing better contraceptive choices for teens.

    This reflects a combination of programs promoting abstinence as well as those promoting safe sex.

    The decline in teen births was among girls aged 15 to 17.

    The total number of births to unmarried women rose by 4%, to 1,525,345, in 2005. More than 1.7 million people were added to the U.S. population in 2004. The general fertility rate in 2005 was 66.7 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 years, the highest since 1993. The infant mortality rate was 6.79 per 1,000 live births in 2004. The twin birth rate rose by 2% in 2004, to 32.2 twins per 1,000 total births. The rate of triplet and higher order multiple births declined by 6% in 2004, but increased by 400% between 1980 and 1998. The death rate for children aged 1 to 19 in 2004 was 32.7 per 100,000. The decrease in death rates was not statistically significant for any age group except 1- to 4-year-olds. The first and second leading causes of death in 2004 were unintentional injuries and homicide. Suicide rates for children up to 19 years increased in 2004. In 2004, Americans had a life expectancy of 77.8 years. Death rates continued to decline for nine of the 15 leading causes of death. doclink

    US Wisconsin;: Sex Education Programs Funded; Targets Include Teen Pregnancies, Boys' Sexuality

    January 23, 2007, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

    The Greater Milwaukee Foundation will fund two programs aimed at reducing teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections in the central city.

    The foundation will give $50,000 to the Milwaukee Health Department to teach adults how to talk with kids about sex and $30,000 to Planned Parenthood to support a sex- education program targeting African-American males in school.

    A report shows Milwaukee has the second-highest teen pregnancy rate of the 50 largest U.S. cities. Teen pregnancy is a big problem, and in many cases, both the cause and the result of poverty. Among teen boys, sexual activity is down, condom use is up and fewer report having multiple sex partners. Planned Parenthood sends experienced health educators to talk to adolescent African-American boys about condom use, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and how to communicate with a sexual partner. doclink

    U.S.;: Abstinence Education Assessment Lacking

    November 16, 2006, Associated Press

    Most no-sex-before-marriage programs are not scrutinised to show if they work. The materials used by the programs face limited review for scientific accuracy. Literature distributed by federally backed abstinence programs must contain accurate information about how well condoms prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

    The Administration for Children and Families' strategy is to throw money at organizations that favor the social issue agenda of the Bush administration. Of 10 states that receive money for abstinence programs, five review materials for scientific accuracy.

    Officials questioned the meaning of "scientific accuracy" as used in the report. But they would consider requiring applicants to provide written assurances that the materials they use are accurate.

    The watchdog found that most efforts to gauge the effectiveness of abstinence-until-marriage education do not meet the minimum scientific standards. There is a lack of conclusive studies on the effectiveness of sex education efforts. doclink

    US Sex-Abstinence Drive 'Flawed'

    December 01, 2006, BBC News

    The US government has promoted abstinence to cut the teenage pregnancy.

    But it accounted for just 14% of the drop in conceptions among 15 to 19-year-olds since 1995 and 86% was due to improved use of contraception.

    Pregnancy rates for 15 to 19-year-olds fell in the US by 27% between 1991 and 2000. Abstinence was responsible for a slightly higher proportion of the drop in conceptions among the 15 to 17-year-olds, but was still only 23%.

    In Britain the study was welcomed and confirms that providing young people with good information, advice and contraceptive services is the way to reduce teenage pregnancy.

    It was clear that the abstinence-only did not work.

    Young people need information and support to do it. Simply telling them not to have sex isn't enough. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: it looks to me like abstinence works for some and doesn't work for others. Unfortunately, teens are just learning about raging hormones and will power, and are often not in a position to predict whether or not they will be able to abstain consistently.

    U.S.;: Dems, Use Your Power to Push Birth Control

    November 26, 2006, Atlanta Journal-Constitution (US)

    The administration gave the job of overseeing federally funded family planning programs to Dr. Keroack who not only opposes abortions but also birth control. The position does not require Senate confirmation.

    Congress can discourage abortions by encouraging birth control. A campaign to encourage contraceptive use would do most to reduce the abortion rate. The US has about 53 births per 1,000 teenagers, Great Britain has about 20 babies per 1,000, Germany and Norway have around 11; Finland, eight; Sweden and Denmark, seven; the Netherlands, five. Western Europe has rationale discourse about sex, so that contraceptives are advertised, displayed, dispensed and widely used.

    The newly empowered Democratic majority should start by supporting the work of the Government Accountability Office, which has found that federally funded abstinence-only programs spread disinformation to adolescents. The proper use of condoms is effective in stopping the spread of HIV. The problem with abstinence-only programs is that they don't prevent teens from having sex. HHS exempted abstinence-only programs from that requirement. Savvy parents and teachers would urge teens not to have sex --- but if you do, use a condom. doclink

    U.S.;: Plan B Pill Now Readily Available

    December 06, 2006, Associated Press

    The over-the-counter morning-after pill is now available at pharmacies nationwide. The FDA declared that customers 18 and older should be able to buy it in pharmacies without a prescription.

    Girls 17 and younger need a prescription to buy Plan B, though an older person could buy it over the counter on a teenage girl's behalf.

    Supporters claimed that wider availability would reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions.

    Critics argued that Plan B will promote promiscuity and unsafe sex. Some critics consider the pill tantamount to abortion. Plan B distribution went smoothly, and the manufacturer does not expect sales information until February.

    Prices range from $30 at some clinics to $61 at some supermarket-based pharmacies.

    Some independent pharmacies are not stocking Plan B because of moral objections, but the pill is widely available. Major pharmacy chains pledge to ensure that customers can buy Plan B onsite even if a given employee declines to provide service for reasons of conscience.

    Planned Parenthood urged women to back up their regular birth control by keeping emergency contraception in their medicine cabinet. Planned Parenthood centers sell the pill; as a clinic operator, the organization gets a discount that helps it undercut pharmacy prices.

    Some worry that sexually active women using Plan B will feel less need to see a physician, reducing the odds of early detection of sexually transmitted diseases.

    Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and South Dakota allow pharmacists to opt out of providing emergency contraceptives. doclink

    Most Americans Have Had Premarital Sex

    December 20, 2006, Associated Press

    More than 9 out of 10 Americans, have had premarital sex which is normal behavior for the vast majority of Americans.

    The study, from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, was based on interviews with more than 38,000 peopl, about 33,000 women, in 1982, 1988, 1995 and 2002. 99% had had sex by age 44, and 9% before marriage.

    Even among those who abstained from sex until at least 20, four-fifths had had premarital sex by age 44. The likelihood of Americans having sex before marriage has remained stable since the 1950s, though people now wait longer to get married. Women are as likely as men to engage in premarital sex. Among women born between 1950 and 1978, at least 91% had premarital sex by 30, while among those born in the 1940s, 88% had done so by 44.

    Under the Bush administration, abstinence until mariage programs have received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.

    It would be more effective to provide young people with the information they need to be safe once they become sexually active.

    The abstinence-only approach for teenagers was defended as delaying the onset of sexual activity. However, a conservative group which supports abstinence-only education was skeptical of the findings. doclink

    US Idaho;: Planned Parenthoods Begin Selling Emergency Contraception

    December 02, 2006, Associated Press

    Plan B is not the abortion pill, it is used to prevent pregnancy, and will not work on a woman who is already pregnant.

    When taken within 72 hours after intercourse, the pill can lower the risk of pregnancy by up to 89%.

    Planned Parenthood of Idaho plans to sell a pack of pills for $35 to those over 18 without a prescription.

    Opponents contend this could lead to an increase in risky sexual behavior.

    But in a state where 10% of live births each day are to teenagers 15 to 19 years old, better access to pregnancy prevention could help reduce teen pregnancy and abortion rates. Studies have shown that emergency contraception does not lead to more promiscuity. Plan B is available at Walgreens and Rite Aid for $40. Planned Parenthood will adjust its rate according to income. doclink

    Teen-pregnancy Drop Pinned to Contraceptives

    December 01, 2006, NPR

    Over all, about 85% of the decline in pregnancy is due to contraceptive use, and about 15% to fewer teenagers having sex.

    For younger girls, abstinence plays a bigger role, but not for the older girls.

    Among the 18 to 19 year olds, all of the change in pregnancy rates can be attributed to improved contraceptive use, and none to a change in sexual activity.

    Back in 1995, 34% of girls said they used no contraceptive during the last intercourse. By 2002, the figure had dropped by almost half. Also more girls delayed their first intercourse.

    Young people are getting the message that you either don't have sex, or you must use contraception.

    Both less sex and more contraception work, although the majority explanation is more contraception.

    For those who are sexually active, there's an increase use in contraception. The other thing that is contributing to the decline in pregnancy rates is a delay in the initiation of intercourse.

    We need to have abstinence education, but also access to contraceptive services. doclink

    Family Planning in Line with American Values

    Planned Parenthood

    Ninety-eight percent of sexually active American women have used birth control. Eighty-nine percent of Americans favor more access to information about birth control, and 81% think access to birth control is a good way to prevent abortions. doclink

    Step A for Plan B: Giving the Pills Away

    December 10, 2006, New York Times*

    At least 775 people received free Plan B emergency contraceptive pills covered by the Planned Parenthood Hudson Teconic chapter.

    That is about as many as would have been prescribed in three-weeks before the FDA ruled that the pills can be sold without a prescription to over 18s.

    After years of study and debate, the FDA approved offering Plan B, without a prescription. When used within three days of unprotected sex, the pills greatly reduce the odds of pregnancy.

    Pharmacies are not legally bound to carry Plan B, but none have refused.

    Chris Slattery, founder of Expectant Mother Care, said he doubted they would have the abortion-reducing effect predicted by Planned Parenthood, and is concerned that the message is that sex can be had at all occasions, without consequences. A bill to make them available passed both houses of the State Legislature but was vetoed by Gov. Pataki.

    Assemblywoman Amy Paulin said she would introduce legislation aimed at lifting the age restrictions, setting up financing for a public awareness campaign and requiring insurance companies to cover Plan B.

    One New York insurance company, has dropped coverage of the pills, which cost about $35 a dose. doclink

    Half of Abortions Are Repeats for Women; Most Were Over 30 and Were Using Contraception at the Time, Study Finds

    November 22, 2006, Reuters

    About half of U.S. women who had abortions in 2002 had undergone at least one previous abortion.

    Women who had repeat abortions tended to be over 30, to have more children, and most were using contraception. This suggests we need to do a better job helping women prevent unwanted pregnancies.

    Most of the women seeking abortions were poor or low-income, and 60% had at least one child.

    One in 3 US women had a baby they had not planned for, and 1 in 10 have had more than one.

    The 'wall of separation' that the federal government has erected between family planning and abortion is leading to more abortions. Colorado, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania will not give any clinic state family planning funding if it has any relationship with an abortion provider. doclink


    Immigrant Human Katrina Flooding Into the United States

    February 18, 2008, - Frosty Wooldridge

    Obama, Hillary and McCain promise to give amnesty to 20-30 million illegal aliens, continue chain migration, double U.S. immigration from 1.0 to 2.0 million annually and accept millions of anchor babies. This means 70 million immigrants and their children will flood into America by 2040. The following interview with Dr. Albert Bartlett of Colorado University will give you plenty of reasons for taking action to prevent this.

    Lake Mead which provides water for millions of people in the West, will dry up by 2023. The cause comes from drought, global warming and population growth. Lake Lanier, Georgia has already dried up in 2007 while Georgia expects to add six million more people in four decades.

    We cannot change drought. At the same time, population growth devours water faster than it can be recharged. Everyone thinks population growth remains inevitable. False! Nature stops populations from growing when they cannot obtain enough water or food.

    In America, corporations, political leaders, realtors and home builders salivate at the word growth. They pour concrete onto 6,000 acres daily and 2.19 million acres annually.

    It's time to try again to correct the innumerate experts who say that growth is inevitable. They fail to recognize that after maturity, continued growth is either obesity or cancer.

    The authors of growth would like us to believe that the battle against growth is lost, so our only role is to be the best losers. We should remember that Smart Growth and Dumb Growth both destroy the environment, but Smart Growth destroys the environment with good taste.

    Our leaders yank our leash into unending, unacceptable and relentless growth? Such growth yields chronic and painful ramifications for everyone in America regarding quality of life and standard of living?

    What does growth really bring to you and me? It creates a few rich people. It brings more homeless and unemployed, more people living in poverty, more traffic congestion, higher parking fees, more school crowding, more unhappy neighborhoods, more expensive government, more and higher taxes, more fiscal problems for the state, more air and water pollution, higher utility costs, diminished democracy, crowded highways, growing costs of infrastructure maintenance, higher food costs and more destruction of the environment. You will encounter overloaded campgrounds, beaches, ski resorts, more litter, higher gas costs, greater housing costs, water shortages and loss of choices and personal freedom.

    It's not clear why the government would think that people would want these known consequences of growth. Crude oil increased from $20 a barrel in 2002 to $100 a barrel in 2008. We could look at $500 a barrel in another six years.

    Culprit? Immigration causes 80% of our growth!

    By their continued promotion of growth, the innumerates are speeding the arrival of painful but predictable shortages and consequent rationing of gasoline, natural gas and water across America.

    Bartlett concluded: The arithmetic of population, resources and growth is inexorable. The consequences cannot be avoided by believing that wishing will make it so. doclink

    Mexico: Toward a Green Agenda on Immigration

    April 18, 2006, Grist Magazine

    The debate in Congress over immigration, has touched very little on NAFTA. But the issues are related, for NAFTA stipulates that capital and goods must flow freely across the U.S.-Mexico border, while leaving policy about labor to the respective governments.

    Right now, the battle is being waged between Republicans who want to punish undocumented Mexican workers and Republicans who want to exploit them. Kennedy will succeed in cobbling together a bill that preserves a militarized border, a guest-worker program and a large disenfranchised army of undocumented workers.

    In the last decade, businesses have been able to easily relocate overseas. Meanwhile, workers fleeing Mexico's crumbling rural economy have been sneaking north. The argument that "they're taking jobs Americans don't want" doesn't tell the whole story. Illegal immigration has been a boon to Wal-Mart and its shareholders -- and not just because the retail behemoth has itself exploited it. Thus the global model embodied by NAFTA -- capital and goods move freely, while workers are restricted, has led to rising corporate profitability and stagnating wages.

    The immigration boom is a legacy of the free-trade fervor that conquered the Mexican elite in the early 1980s. The U.S. investor class has reaped the benefits.

    If we agree that a global economic system hinged on export and long-distance trade is energy-intensive, and that U.S. policy has worked to promote global trade, then a way forward comes into view.

    An environmentalism that challenges this status quo has potential to bolster sustainability. By promoting local production for local consumption on both sides of the border, the U.S. economy can wean itself from its addiction to Mexican labor. And the Mexican economy can begin to work for its own citizens. To do so means challenging the assumption that state power exists to promote long-distance trade. One place: the 2007 Farm Bill, which will govern how the government subsidizes agriculture. Since the 1970s, the federal government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars rewarding production of environmentally ruinous commodities like corn, which threaten rural livelihoods in Mexico.

    Let's work to promote organic agriculture destined for nearby consumption. Ending the commodity-corn subsidy will instantly provide relief to rural Mexicans now contemplating a trip north. doclink

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

    March 21, 2006, Midwest Coalition to Reduce Immigration

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

    Politics and Funding

    U.S.: Morning-after Pill Not Making Women Slutty

    February 17, 2013, Mother Jones

    CDC reports that 5.8 million American women have used emergency contraception (EC) between 2006 and 2010. Nearly a quarter of sexually active women ages 20 through 24 have used it.

    In 2002, only 4% of fertile, sexually active women said they had used EC, compared with 11% today.

    Only 5% of women over 30 have used it. Most respondents say they have only used it once -- disproving the theory that the morning-after pill is enabling women to be irresponsible hussies.

    Last year, HHS ruled that Plan B One Step could be sold to women under 17 only by prescription. This differed from the FDA's determination that it is safe for all women who are old enough to bear children.

    The HHS decision made it harder for all women, not just teenagers, to access EC. Now people get carded at the pharmacy, which makes it more difficult for women without ID -- or their male partners -- to purchase the drug. Delays in accessing EC can reduce its effectiveness since it must be used within 72 hours of unprotected sex.

    Black and Hispanic women - and women with no more than a high school diploma - were more likely to have used EC after unprotected sex. White women and women with a bachelor's degree or higher use it as a backup method when they feared their primary method had failed.

    The prevalence of EC will likely increase, especially when places like Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania install EC vending machines. doclink

    U.S.: FDA Allows College Campus to Make Contraception More Accessible with Plan B Vending Machine

    January 29, 2013, Think Progress

    Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania has a vending machine that dispenses emergency contraception to its students when they insert $25. The machine was installed after 85% of the student body said they thought Plan B should be available on campus grounds. Last year an uproar from anti-choice advocates prompted a review of the university's practices. The university added a feature to the vending machines that requires students to swipe their student ID to verify they attend the college and are above 17 years old. This additional feature has satisfied the FDA: under FDA guidelines, Plan B is already available to everyone over the age of 17 without a prescription.

    Students are no longer forced to delay taking the pill by having to schedule an appointment. junior Chelsea Wehking said she has "heard some kids say they'd be too embarrassed" to make a trip into the surrounding small town to purchase Plan B.

    After controversy over Obamacare's contraception mandate first erupted last year, fueled by the anti-choice community's myth that Plan B induces abortions, emergency contraception became more controversial. But the morning after pill (which is safer than aspirin) simply prevents pregnancy within the first 72 hours after intercourse. doclink

    U.S.: The White House's Contraceptives Compromise

    February 1, 2013, Washington Post   By: Sarah Kliff and Michelle Boorstein

    For religious nonprofits that object to the mandated coverage of contraceptives, the Obama administration proposed a measure that will allow large faith-based hospitals and universities to issue plans that do not directly provide birth control coverage.

    Under the plan, objecting nonprofits with self-insured plans opting out of contraceptive coverage would notify the company that administers their health benefits. That third-party administrator would then be responsible for arranging "separate individual health insurance policies for contraceptive coverage from an issuer providing such polices." This policy would stand apart from the employer's larger benefit package. Insurers who create these plans for self-insured companies will receive an offset from the federal government: lower fees to sell plans on the new health exchanges run by the Obama administration.

    The faith-based employer would not "have to contract, arrange, pay or refer for any contraceptive coverage to which they object on religious grounds." Some of the 40 lawsuits filed against the Affordable Care Act's contraceptive requirement were put on hold until the Obama administration clarified its policy on the issue.

    Last February, the Obama administration announced an accommodation to faith-based nonprofits: A third-party insurance company would cover the cost of contraceptive coverage. Religious leaders derided the policy as an "accounting gimmick," arguing that the premiums they pay to a health insurer could ultimately end up paying for the contraceptives they opposed.

    Cardinal Timothy Dolan, leader of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops - essentially the spokesman for the U.S. church said: "Today, the Administration issued proposed regulations regarding the HHS mandate. We welcome the opportunity to study the proposed regulations closely. We look forward to issuing a more detailed statement later."

    "HHS and the administration have gone out of their way to resolve the concerns of religious institutions that object to covering contraceptives in their insurance programs," said the Rev. Thomas Reese, former editor of prominent Catholic magazine America and a well-known writer. "They have also found creative ways to provide contraceptives to the employees of religious colleges and hospitals without the involvement of these institutions."

    Many women's health groups quickly supported the new policy. doclink

    U.S.: Laws Affecting Reproductive Health and Rights: 2012 State Policy Reviewed

    January 10 , 2013, Guttmacher Institute

    In U.S. state capitols over the course of the year 2012, 42 states and the District of Columbia enacted 122 provisions related to reproductive health and rights. One-third of these new provisions, 43 in 19 states, sought to restrict access to abortion services. Although 2011 saw 92 abortion restrictions enacted, 2012 saw the second highest annual number of new abortion restrictions. This analysis refers to reproductive health and rights-related "provisions," rather than bills or laws, since bills introduced and eventually enacted contain multiple relevant provisions. During the contentious presidential campaign -- in which abortion and even contraception were front-burner issues -- supporters of reproductive health and rights were able to block high-profile attacks on access to abortion in states as diverse as Alabama, Idaho, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Similarly, attacks on state family planning funding were down, and only two states disqualified family planning providers from funding in 2012, compared with seven in 2011. That said, no laws were enacted in 2012 to facilitate or improve access to abortion, family planning or comprehensive sex education*. Arizona enacted abortion seven restrictions; Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin each enacted at least three. Most of the new restrictions enacted in 2012 concerned limits on later abortion, coverage in health exchanges or medication abortion. By March 2012, ultrasound requirements were introduced in 10 states. Mandatory ultrasound provisions are intended to convince a woman to continue her pregnancy to term and require a provider to perform an ultrasound even when one is not medically necessary. In February, a firestorm erupted in Virginia when it became known that the proposed mandate would, in practice, necessitate performance of a transvaginal ultrasound. The controversy not only led to passage of a somewhat weaker requirement in Virginia but also is widely seen as having blunted efforts to mandate ultrasound in Alabama, Idaho and Pennsylvania. The new law in Virginia also requires providers to give women the option to hear a fetal heartbeat in advance of having an abortion. In addition, laws adopted in Louisiana and Oklahoma require abortion providers to make the fetal heartbeat audible to the woman prior to an abortion. In 2012, Arizona, Michigan and Virginia took steps to establish stringent regulations - Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) - that affect only surgical and medication abortion providers, but not other providers of outpatient surgical and medical care. Another TARP attempt failed in Minnesota when Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a measure that would have imposed requirements on abortion providers' facilities, but not other similar outpatient health care facilities. Legislation to require abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges was introduced in five states and enacted in three; this provision is not mandated for other outpatient surgical and medical providers. Arizona, Georgia and Louisiana enacted measures to ban abortion prior to fetal viability in direct conflict with U.S. Supreme Court decisions. The exceptions contained in these restrictions do not allow for an abortion when necessary to protect a woman's health, as required by the Court. Only the Louisiana restriction is fully in effect. It bans abortion at 20 weeks postfertilization (22 weeks after the woman's last menstrual period or LMP). Arizona's provision prohibits abortion at 18 weeks postfertilization (20 weeks LMP); enforcement of the restriction has, so far, been blocked by the ninth U.S. Circuit of Appeals. In New Hampshire a law was passed which bans the procedure before viability, even when the woman's health is endangered. When the provision goes into effect in 2013, 19 states will have bans on "partial-birth" abortion. Four states enacted provisions banning abortion coverage in the insurance exchanges being established under the Affordable Care Act. Provisions enacted in Alabama, South Carolina and Wisconsin permit coverage of an abortion in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest. Alabama also permits coverage in the case of ectopic pregnancy, and Wisconsin permits it when a woman's physical health is at serious risk. This brings the number of states restricting abortion coverage available through state insurance exchanges to 20. In 2012, three states limited provision of medication abortion by prohibiting the use of telemedicine, which is becoming a routine part of health care, particularly in rural areas. Michigan, Oklahoma and Wisconsin enacted provisions requiring that the physician prescribing the medication for the abortion be in the same room as the patient, bringing to seven the number of states that prohibit the use of telemedicine. South Dakota and Arizona enacted provisions requiring a woman seeking an abortion to obtain counseling that includes inaccurate or irrelevant information. This brings the number of states that require that women seeking an abortion be given misleading information to 18. Finally, the new ultrasound mandate in Virginia also requires that women who live less than 100 miles from the clinic undergo the ultrasound 24 hours in advance of the abortion compelling women to make two trips to the clinic before receiving an abortion. 10 states now have laws that necessitate a woman to make two trips. Three states - Montana, New Hampshire, and Ohio - adopted requirements that either mandate parental involvement or make it more cumbersome for a minor to use the judicial bypass procedure to obtain an abortion in the absence of parental involvement, bringing the total number of states requiring parental involvement in a minor's decision to have an abortion to 10. Research has found that minors typically involve a parent when deciding to obtain an abortion and many of those who do not talk to their parents report they would experience physical violence or abuse if their parents knew. Eight states adopted other measures related to abortion. In 2011, funds for family planning were cut by more than half in Montana, New Hampshire and Texas. In New Jersey family planning funds were cut drastically in 2010. However, 2012 saw steep cuts only in Maine where funding was slashed by 25%. In 2011, seven states (Kansas, Wisconsin, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Tennessee, Indiana and Texas) moved to enact new restrictions on eligibility for family planning grant funds, often including both state funds and federal funds that flowed from the state treasury to providers. Although most of these restrictions remain in effect, only two states added new restrictions in 2012. In practice, these restrictions affect only clinics operated by Planned Parenthood affiliates. These changes bring to nine the number of states that restrict access to family planning funds Provisions relating to the mandates on contraceptive services through insurance coverage -- and specifically which employers may refuse such coverage -- were introduced in eight states and enacted in two. Eight states now have an "expansive" exemption to their contraceptive coverage mandates. Between 2007 and 2010, seven states enacted legislation related to sex education, and all but one expanded access to comprehensive sex education or added requirements that the sex education provided be medically accurate. Over the past two years, however, five states enacted legislation, and all but one supported abstinence-only education, bringing to 26 the number of states which stress abstinence in sex education. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: In 2012, a law was passed and signed in California that made contraception more available in rural areas via nurse practitioners.

    U.S.: Texas: Likely Increase in Births Has Some Lawmakers Revisiting Cuts

    December 07, 2012, New York Times   By: By EMILY RAMSHAW

    When Texas state lawmakers passed a two-year budget in 2011 that moved $73 million from family planning services to other programs, the goal was largely political: halt the flow of taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood clinics.

    The Health and Human Services Commission projections now indicate that during the 2014-15 biennium, poor women will deliver an estimated 23,760 more babies than they would have, as a result of their reduced access to state-subsidized birth control. The additional cost to taxpayers is expected to be as much as $273 million — $103 million to $108 million to the state's general revenue budget alone -- and the bulk of it is the cost of caring for those infants under Medicaid.

    In the next legislative session lawmakers will grapple with an existing Medicaid financing shortfall. "I know some of my colleagues felt like in retrospect they did not fully grasp the implications of what was done last session," said Rep. Donna Howard, Democrat, who said she had been discussing ways to restore financing with several other lawmakers in both parties. "I think there is some effort they'll be willing to make to restore whatever we can."

    Planned Parenthood would still probably be excluded from future financing because they are "affiliated" with clinics that perform abortions.

    Senator Bob Deuell, Republican, said last session's family planning cuts had gone too far. He has the support of some of Texas' leading anti-abortion groups to seek more money for birth control and reproductive health care in 2013.

    Dr. Deuell, a primary care physician said he has debated this with people who say "it's not the government's role to provide family planning," .."Ultimately, they're right. But you have to look at what happens if we don't."

    The nonpartisan Legislative Budget Board estimated that the cuts would lead 284,000 women to lose family planning services, resulting in 20,000 additional unplanned births at a cost to taxpayers of $231 million.

    With Planned Parenthood largely out of the picture, will there be the political will to restore money for birth control, which has increasingly found itself lumped with abortion in Republican debates about family planning. doclink

    U.S.: State Facts About Unintended Pregnancy

    December 19, 2012, Guttmacher Institute

    There are 6.7 million pregnancies in the U.S. each year About half of these are unintended. Births resulting from unintended pregnancies have been linked to adverse maternal and child health outcomes and myriad social and economic challenges, including costs to the federal and state governments of $11 billion (2006).

    The Guttmacher Institute has launched a new tool that gives the incidence and outcomes of unintended pregnancy in each state, including the proportion of all pregnancies that are unintended; the rates of unintended pregnancy; the proportions of unintended pregnancies that result in births and abortions; and the proportion of all births resulting from unintended pregnancy;

    Also given is the public cost of unintended pregnancy in each state, and the impact in each state of publicly funded family planning services.

    Adam Sonfield, senior public policy associate at Guttmacher, said of the fact sheets: "They are a comprehensive resource that documents the significant state-level benefits of investing in publicly funded family planning services, both in helping women avert unintended pregnancies, births and abortions, and generating considerable savings to the federal and state governments." doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Sounds like a very useful tool for activists to use when having a conversation with their legislators.

    U.S.: Planned Parenthood Bill Blocked in Ohio Senate

    November 28, 2012, Toledo Blade   By: JIM PROVANCE

    In Ohio, the Senate failed to bring measures to the floor that would cut, if not eliminate, family-planning funding for Planned Parenthood and all but outlaw abortions in Ohio. This means the bills would die with the close of the two-year session in mid-December and would have to start the legislative process over next year.

    "I think you have to look at the entirety of the work that's done by Planned Parenthood, and I believe they offer much-needed services that are not available other places," said Senate President Tom Niehaus (R., New Richmond). "I chose not to take the bill up in lame-duck."

    The House committee had voted two weeks ago to send House Bill 298 to the full House. House Speaker Bill Batchelder (R., Medina) questioned whether to go forward with a House vote if the Senate would not take it up.

    The bill would have placed Planned Parenthood's 32 Ohio clinics last in line for funds behind government entities, federally qualified health centers, Community Action Agencies, hospitals, and private practices that offer comprehensive primary and preventative health care in addition to family planning services.

    Planned Parenthood could have lost up to $1.7 million in state-administered federal aid as a result.

    The so-called Heartbeat Bill, House Bill 125, will also die in the Senate. "If you look at past experience, this is the most pro-life Senate that we've had in the General Assembly," Mr. Niehaus said. But he questioned the slow speed at which proponents of the bill have offered compromises. "I still have constitutional concerns," Niehaus said.

    The bill would require a doctor to test for a fetal heartbeat and would prohibit an abortion if one is detected. A heartbeat could be detectable as early as six weeks after conception.

    Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (R., Napoleon), the sponsor of the Heartbeat Bill said he hasn't given up on a Senate vote on the Heartbeat Bill. The bill's supporters contend that presence of a heartbeat is the best indicator that a fetus is likely to be carried to full term. They hope the bill it would give the U.S. Supreme Court an excuse to reverse its 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that extended a woman's right to privacy to decisions pertaining to abortion.

    The bill would effectively outlaw abortions in most cases in Ohio, particularly if a woman doesn't realize she's pregnant until after the heartbeat is detectable.

    Kellie Copeland, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, said: "Make no mistake about it, the threat to women's health may be delayed, but it remains," ... "We fully expect anti-choice forces to reintroduce these dangerous attacks on women's health when the legislature reconvenes in January." doclink

    U.S.: Faith, Fear, and Family Planning

    October 22, 2012, Huffington Post   By: Robert Walker

    In the past year, the religious right has dominated the political discourse, making it appear that the broader electorate has taken a sharp turn to the right on contraception. But polls shown that most people of faith, like their secular counterparts, believe that women should be able to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. And that is true of practicing Catholics and Protestants alike.

    It was refreshing recently to see evangelical leaders at the National Press Club issue a statement warning that the association and the confusion of family planning with abortion has caused intense religious opposition by Christians and others with the result that opposition has extended not just to abortion, but to family planning as a whole.

    This confused opposition to family planning is an international phenomenon, and has hindered funding and support of desperately needed family planning services both in the United States and around the world.

    The statement also issued a special call to "pro-life" Christians, urging them to back off their opposition to the funding of organizations that provide both contraception and abortion services. Citing the crucial role contraception plays in preventing abortions, the statement called upon pro-life advocates to "consider how a deeply moral commitment, focusing on the flourishing of all human beings made in God's image, actually ought to lead to support for family planning."

    Unless more people of faith dare to speak out publicly, the religious right will continue to gain ground in their efforts to shut down family planning clinics. The U.S. House of Representatives wants to cut all funding for Title X, the federal program that helps to provide low-income women with access to birth control. So do Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, and spurred on by the religious right, several governors and legislatures have slashed state funding for clinics serving low-income women.

    When social conservatives win against family planning, women and their families will lose. Maternal health will suffer, and it will lead to more abortions, not fewer. doclink

    U.S.: Life Begins at Conception: That's Not the Point

    November 04 , 2012, RH Reality Check   By: Jodi Jacobson

    "Life begins at conception" is the phrase frequently invoked by anti-choicers seeking to eliminate women's basic right to control over their own bodies, and it is the premise of policies pushed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and fundamentalist evangelicals. It is the cornerstone of the so-called personhood laws attempted in both Colorado and Mississippi, and the basis for the "Sanctity of Life" bill co-sponsored by Congressmen Paul Ryan and Todd Akin. The result of all of these efforts, if they succeeded, would be a total ban on abortion without exception, and bans on many forms of contraception, in vitro fertilization, and health care for women who are or who may be pregnant - in other words, a radical shift in women's lives.

    "Life begins at conception," suggests a question: are women people with the same fundamental rights as men, or are they essentially incubators whose ability to participate in society and the economy, and, quite literally, whose ability to live is dependent on whether they are, might be, or might become pregnant.

    But the phrase is highly - and purposefully - misleading because it confuses simple biological cell division both with actual pregnancy and with actual, legal personhood, which are all very different things.

    Vice President candidate Congressman Paul Ryan said he was pro-life - not simply because of his Catholic faith, but also because of reason and science, giving the example of when he and his wife saw the seven week ultrasound of their child, and when they saw heartbeat, even though the little 'baby' was in the shape of a bean, they were convinced that life begins at conception.

    Of course life begins at conception. Having a child requires, as a first step, the successful integration of a sperm and an egg, or fertilization. By "life," we mean the essential starting place of a potential human being; a human being is the end result if the fertilized eggs go through the process of cell division, successfully implant in the uterus and develop into healthy embryos, and subsequently go successfully through the many other phases of development leading to their births.

    The fact that life begins at conception is why women and men use birth control to prevent it from happening. Humans don't need modern "reason and science" to tell them they get pregnant from sex; as Homo Sapiens they have been conceiving, carrying, and bearing babies for at least some 160,000 years, and they've been trying to prevent pregnancy and induce abortions for just as long.

    Evidence of condom use has been found in cave drawings in France dated between 12,000 and 15,000 years old and in 3,000 year-old illustrations in Egypt. Humans have used pessaries, herbs, and other objects to create barriers to fertilization when having sex, and have used many other more dangerous and less effective means in the hopes of preventing fertilization, a subsequent pregnancy, and later, the birth of a child.

    Paul Ryan needed science to believe his wife was pregnant and that his daughter's "life" began with conception, while most of us don't need an ultrasound to know that "life" begins with conception and is a frequent consequence of having sex.

    The question is not when life begins, but when does pregnancy begin? Does personhood begin at conception? Is a fertilized egg, blastocyst, embryo, or fetus a person with rights that take priority over those of the woman upon whose body it depends?

    Women know that pregnancy leads to having a baby, they don't need 'evidence'.

    Do women have the moral agency and fundamental rights to decide whether or not to commit themselves not only to the development of a life within their own bodies, but to a lifelong tie to another human being once a child is born?

    Life begins with conception, but pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg successfully implants in the uterus and develops into a healthy embryo; implantation begins six to 12 days after fertilization. There is no pregnancy until implantation happens, which is why any method that prevents fertilization or implantation can not cause an abortion. 50%-80% of fertilized eggs never successfully impant and end in spontaneous miscarriage (and before a woman even knows she is pregnant) because of insufficient hormone levels or an non-viable egg or for some other reason.

    Hormonal contraception, including emergency contraception, works to prevent fertilization in the first place. If you don't like abortion at any stage, you should be a supporter of contraception, and emergency contraception, which needs to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected intercourse to prevent fertilization from taking place.

    Anti-choicers who support "personhood" legislation intentionally or unintentionally misrepresent the mechanisms of action of contraception and the medical definition of pregnancy to blur the lines between contraception and abortion. There is this lie perpetuated by the USCCB and fundamentalist evangelicals, which is a precursor to promoting their goals of eliminating both contraception and abortion, making abortion the equivalent of murder, and by extension, controlling women's bodies and their economic and social choices. This is exactly the goal of so-called personhood amendments that have been the subject of several ballot initiatives and of the "Sanctity of Human Life" act co-sponsored by Ryan and Akin.

    In December 2011, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (who in recent years converted to Catholicism) told a reporter that he believes that human life does not begin at conception but at "implantation and successful implantation" because if you say life begins at conception "you're going to open up an extraordinary range of very difficult questions." Shortly thereafter, however, Gingrich "clarified" his statement. to the global Catholic network, ETWN, and reiterated his belief that "human life begins at conception" and that "every unborn life is precious, no matter how conceived," vowing to support pro-life legislation aimed at the ultimate goal of legally protecting "all unborn human life."

    The term "personhood" has no medical or scientific definition. The Vatican teaches that a fertilized egg is a "person" with full rights under the law. However, Jewish law and tradition does not recognize an egg, embryo, or fetus as a person or full human being, but rather "part and parcel of the pregnant women's body," the rights of which are subjugated to the health and well-being of the mother until birth. The United Methodist Church recognizes the primacy of the rights and health of women. Islamic scholars, like Jewish scholars, have debated the issues of "ensoulment" and personhood, and continue to do so with no over-riding consensus.

    Roe v. Wade allows abortions up until fetal viability, except that the "viable fetus must yield to the woman's right to have an abortion to protect her health and life."

    Women who face unintended and untenable pregnancies and choose abortion overwhelmingly prefer to terminate a pregnancy as early as possible. According to Guttmacher Institute: nearly 62% of women who terminate a pregnancy do so before nine weeks of pregnancy, before any fetus is involved. Nearly 80% of such abortions occur before 10 weeks, and nearly 90% by the end of the first trimester. It should be noted that anti-choice laws and policies such as banning early and safe medication abortion, mandated waiting periods and unnecessary ultrasounds - all serve to push early abortions later than they otherwise would be, and are, in fact, responsible for a large share of such abortions.

    Women know what being pregnant means, more than any fetal heartbeat, sonogram, ultrasound, or lecture on pregnancy can show. When considering an abortion, women weigh the responsiblities they have... to themselves and their own futures, to any born children they have or any they may plan to have at a future date. It is about whether or not a woman wants to and is able to make a lifelong emotional, financial, and physical commitment - often at substantial cost to herself and/or to her family - to the person who will exist if a pregnancy is successfully brought to term; it's not just about getting through the "inconvenience" of a pregnancy.

    Without recourse to safe abortion care, an unintended pregnancy is a forced pregnancy and a forced birth, and amounts to reproductive slavery. Only one person - the woman in question - has the right to decide whether, when, and under what circumstances to bring a new person into the world. The vast majority of women who have an abortion know they are ending biological life that they can not or do not want to sustain because the commitment to an actual child is a moral commitment they are not able, willing, or ready to make, or can not make for reasons of health or life.

    If you have no choice and control over your body, you are less than an actual person in the eyes of the law. If conservatives are so worried about abortion the closer a pregnancy gets to viability, then anti-choicers would be making sure both contraception and early, safe abortion were widely available. And when you reduce a complex reality to a slogan like "personhood", you actually minimize the personhood of women. doclink

    U.S.: Contraception and Religious Liberty

    October 03, 2012, New York Times

    Roman Catholic Church officials and many prominent Republicans have made inflammatory allegations that an Obama administration rule requiring employer health plans to cover birth control without a co-pay tramples on religious freedom.

    In early October a lawsuit filed against the Obama administration by a mining company and its owner, claiming that providing contraceptive coverage in the company health plan violated his personal religious views was dismissed by Judge Carol Jackson of Federal District Court, a George H.W. Bush appointee.

    Judge Jackson pointed out that the rule exempts churches, mosques and other houses of worship. The mining company - a secular and for-profit employer - does not qualify for that exemption. Nor would it qualify for the accommodation the administration is fashioning to relieve colleges, hospitals and other organizations with religious affiliations from having to provide contraceptive coverage directly, by putting the burden on insurance companies.

    Judge Jackson's legal analysis in this case applies broadly, providing a useful framework for assessing claims by varied religious objectors.

    The plaintiffs argued that the contraception mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a 1993 law that prohibits the federal government from taking actions that "substantially burden a person's exercise of religion" unless that action advances a compelling government interest and is the "least restrictive means" of achieving it.

    Judge Jackson said the contraception coverage requirement does not rise to the level of a "substantial" burden needed to trigger the law. The imposition on religion was trivial and remote, she explained.

    An employee's independent decision to use a plan to obtain contraceptives is no different from an employee using part of a salary to pay for contraceptives, which clearly would not harm the employer's right to free exercise of religion.

    The 1993 statute "does not protect against the slight burden on religious exercise that arises when one's money circuitously flows to support the conduct of other free-exercise-wielding individuals who hold religious beliefs that differ from one's own," Judge Jackson wrote.

    The claim that the contraceptive coverage requirement violates the First Amendment's prohibition against the establishment of religion was also dismissed, with the ruling that the regulation is a "neutral" attempt to expand women's access to health care and combat gender bias, and applies equally to all denominations. Under legal precedents, the First Amendment does not exempt individuals or entities from complying with neutral laws of general applicability based on a religious objection, however sincere.

    Hopefully the many other courts hearing similar lawsuits by companies, individuals and groups with religious affiliations will follow Judge Jackson's approach. doclink

    U.S.: Rick Perry: Ideological Crisis Pregnancy Center is the Future of the Texas Women's Health Program

    September 21 , 2012, RH Reality Check

    Texas Governor Rick Perry told the crowd at the opening of The Source, a 'crisis pregnancy center': "The Source for Women clinics, in fact, will be part of Texas's own Women's Health Program, and Planned Parenthood will not be." Perry touted The Source as the future of Texas's new Women's Health Program -- a program explicitly designed and intended to serve women who are not, and don't want to be, pregnant. [Odd, how can it be a crisis pregnancy center?]

    However, there is no overlap between the services provided by The Source and the services provided by the federally-funded Medicaid Women's Health Program, which is being phased out so that Texas can exclude Planned Parenthood from participating and create a new, state-funded Texas Women's Health Program (WHP).

    The spokesperson for Texas' Health And Human Services Department said it is "not making any changes to who the program serves," meaning the program will continue to enroll only non-pregnant women. But crisis pregnancy centers don't like to provide contraception nor are their services evidence-based. So if the future of the Texas WHP is a crisis pregnancy center, then the future of low-income women in Texas will be pregnant, like it or not.

    The Source claims to provide well-woman exams, but doesn't even offer pap smears. According to its own website, the Source for Women also does not prescribe contraceptives. Neither does it presently provide mammograms or employ any OB-GYNs. These are things that Planned Parenthood does provide.

    The Source currently provides only limited, pregnancy-related medical care and STI screenings, Gov. Perry is holding the Source as the future of comprehensive reproductive medical care for low-income Texas women.

    The CEO of The Source did say that they will eventually provide pap smears and some contraceptives. "It is still on the table at the board level as to which contraceptives will be provided," she said, adding that no "abortifacients" will be available. That's a term that has very specific meaning to anti-choice activists, who consider almost all forms of hormonal contraception and even IUD's to be "abortifacients," asserting that the pill can cause a "very early abortion," and that "the pill kills." Same goes for Depo-Provera, Norplant, and the morning-after pill. So that basically eliminates all effective contraception.

    What the Source does have an interest in is dictating to women, using sketchy non-science and thinly-veiled religious dogma, what it believes they should do with their bodies and what kind of medical care it is appropriate for them to receive. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Talk about mixed messages.

    U.S.: It's No Time to Deep-Six Title X

    September 11, 2012, Population Connection

    In the U.S., Title X (Ten) - The National Family Planning Program - has been saving money, lives and heartache for more than 40 years. It prevents unwanted pregnancies, detects cancer, treats deadly infections and helps babies get a good start in life.

    In 2008 Title X funding prevented 973,000 unintended pregnancies, 433,000 unplanned births, and 406,000 abortions. In 2010 Title X provided 5.2 million Americans with Pap tests, breast exams, family planning advice and contraception. Without it, teen pregnancies would rise, and taxpayers would have to spend more on public services. Our health care system would suffer and so would people.

    No Title X money is spent on abortion. About 69% of families served by Title X had family incomes at or below the poverty level.

    When women are able to postpone pregnancy, plan their families and space their births, they are healthier, and their babies are, too, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Teens can stay in school. College dreams can become reality. The economic pressures large families face can be avoided.

    Our planet benefits, too, by less use of the natural resources we all depend upon.

    Every dollar invested in Title X family planning programs saves $3.74 in Medicaid costs the next year, according to Guttmacher Institute.

    But for some strange reason, the House this year voted to defund Title X - and leave those 5.2 million Americans to fend for themselves.

    Talk to the politicians vowing to defund family planning programs, confront them. Ask them why they want more unintended pregnancies, extra unplanned births and a spike in the abortion rate. Ask them why they want women's lives constrained in a way that men's simply are not. doclink

    U.S.: Pro-Life Advocates Should Support Family Planning

    August 22 , 2012, Huffington Post   By: Jason Silverstein

    Pro-life advocates should hold fundraisers for family planning providers, such as Planned Parenthood, not lobby to defund them. As the Centers for Disease Control in 2008 said: "providing women with the knowledge and resources necessary to make decisions about their sexual behavior and use of contraception can help them avoid unintended pregnancies and thus reduce the number of women seeking abortion."

    According to a 2011 study, 43% of unintended pregnancies end in abortion while Intended pregnancies account for only 4% of abortions.

    Access and correct use contraception reduces the percent of unintended pregnancies to 5%, reports the Guttmacher Institute. However, lack of available family planning services disproportionately punishes the poor. Though most women experienced decreases in abortion from 2000 to 2008, the abortion rate among poor women increased by 17.5%, as their rate of unintended pregnancy climbed to more than five times greater than high-income women.

    Women who are uninsured or underinsured depend on publicly-funded family planning through Medicaid and the Title X Family Planning program. Mitt Romney claims that slashing Title X is a good way to slash spending. However the annual cost of unintended pregnancies is between $9.6 and $12.6 billion, estimates the Center on Children and Families of the Brookings Institution . Preventing unintended pregnancies will save taxpayers as much as $6.2 billion. California's Family Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment (PACT) Program provides publicly-funded family planning services, including contraception. In 2007, Family PACT helped women avert an estimated 296,200 unintended pregnancies and 122,200 abortions, which corresponds to an estimated total-cost savings of $4.05 billion (from conception to age five).

    For the five years 2001-2006 $170 million was withheld from the international family planning initiative of the United Nations Population Fund. Linda Whiteford, an anthropologist at the University of South Florida, researched the consequences of the withheld funds and reported that the results of this "pro-life" policy were "10 million unwanted pregnancies, 4 million induced abortions, 23,500 maternal deaths, 385,000 infant and children deaths." Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine demonstrated that increasing family planning and contraceptive use has decreased maternal deaths by 40% in developing countries by reducing unintended pregnancies and, thus, reducing high-risk pregnancies and increasing space between pregnancies.

    Family planning initiatives are pro-life initiatives.

    In 2010, contraception accounted for 33.5% of Planned Parenthood's affiliate medical services. By providing family planning services to nearly 2.2 million patients, Planned Parenthood estimates averting approximately 584,000 unintended pregnancies and 277,000 abortions. Paul Ryan's proposal to turn Medicaid into a state-controlled block grant would jeopardize the ability of poor women - who are already at high risk for unintended pregnancy and abortion - to access health care services.

    Cutting access to family planning only undermines the pro-life agenda at both a heavy fiscal and moral cost. doclink

    U.S.: Abortion and the Gender Gap: National GOP Could Learn From Oregon

    August 25, 2012   By: Susan Nielsen

    Even before before Roe v. Wade, Republican Gov. Tom McCall in 1969 spoke out against Oregon's abortion ban. He told legislators that "Women are discriminated against by abortion laws that are callous tools of shame instead of useful social instruments."

    Oregon became one of the first states to decriminalize abortion. Voters regularly elect pro- choice Democrats, and the state retains a pragmatic and libertarian streak on so-called "women's issues" like abortion and contraception.

    If Republicans hope to close their gender gap and win back the presidency, they won't get far by taking 1950s-era positions on reproductive rights, or picking fights with women voters, or appearing disinterested in women's health, or appearing eager to expand the government's power over private family decisions.

    The late Betty Roberts, a former Democratic lawmaker and Oregon Supreme Court justice, recounted in her memoirs: "It may be hard to believe today that women couldn't keep their birth names when they got married," she wrote, "couldn't get credit in their own names, couldn't stay at a motel alone, couldn't eat at certain restaurants at lunchtime, couldn't get insurance unless they had a husband, couldn't be admitted to some trade schools." Many laws that limited women's ability to earn a living and function as adult members of society went away. Legalizing early-term abortions and improving access to contraception were part of this larger sea change in Oregon.

    Both Portland-area Democrats and conservative Republicans from more rural parts of the state led the way. Some were persuaded by the medical testimony of doctors. Others responded to their constituents in ranching and farming towns who thought government should back off on abortion and other private family matters. Liberal empathy, plus libertarian-tinged pragmatism, made for a state that believed in family planning. This was a woman's issue, to be sure, but it was also about improving people's self-sufficiency.

    Having strong abortion rights and access to contraception hasn't sent Oregon into a moral free fall. In fact, Oregon's abortion rate and teen pregnancy rate are below the national average.

    In contrast GOP leaders on a National level just authored a platform for their national convention that opposes all abortions, including in cases of rape and incest. Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan favors a near-total abortion ban and limited funding for family planning. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has expressed every possible opinion on abortion and family planning, including full opposition to both.

    It's no wonder that Romney, who otherwise polls well against President Obama, trails so significantly among women voters. If the GOP keeps marching in an anti-woman direction, it will always provoke, always mobilize, but rarely win. doclink

    The Paul Ryan Vision of America: Ban Abortion, Defund Contraception, Outlaw In Vitro Fertilization

    August 13, 2012, Democracy Now

    We look at Mitt Romney's newly announced vice-presidential running mate Paul Ryan's record on women's reproductive rights. Ryan opposes abortion in all situations, including cases of rape and incest, and opposes abortion in cases that endanger an expectant mother's health. Planned Parenthood has also criticized his endorsement of a so-called "Personhood Amendment," which supports defining a fertilized egg as a human being. Ryan was a co-sponsor of the Sanctity of Human Life Act, which even the conservative state of Mississippi rejected last November, and is in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood. Ryan wants to dismantle Medicaid and repeal Obama's Affordable Care Act. "For Congressman Ryan to think he's the one that should be making the decision to take healthcare options away from women, that's very troubling to us," says our guest Nicole Safar, public policy director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Too bad. I could go with plans to reduce deficit spending. But, as Ayn Rand, the founder of Libertarianism said:

    "An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).

    "Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?"

    Spurious Science Triumphs as U.S. Court Upholds South Dakota "Suicide Advisory" Law

    Guttmacher Institute

    In July the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on July 24 upheld a 2005 South Dakota law requiring physicians to advise women seeking abortions that they face an increased risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts if they obtain the procedure. This requirement is unsupported by the evidence, and is one of the many hurdles states have enacted designed to dissuade women from obtaining an abortion. While these measures are labeled "informed consent" laws, on the contrary they undermine the fundamental ethical principle of informed consent by requiring health care providers to provide misinformation to their patients.

    In December 2011, a systematic review commissioned and published by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (funded by the UK Department of Health, and carried out by the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health at the Royal College of Psychiatrists) concluded that "rates of mental health problems for women with an unwanted pregnancy were the same whether they had an abortion or gave birth," that an "unwanted pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of mental health problems" and that the "most reliable predictor of post-abortion mental health problems was having a history of mental health problems before the abortion."

    This was backed up by an August 2008 report by the American Psychological Association (APA) Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion which concluded that "the best scientific evidence indicates that the relative risk of mental health problems among adult women who have an unplanned pregnancy is no greater if they have an elective first-trimester abortion than if they deliver the pregnancy."

    The court decision on the South Dakota law appears to rely heavily on the work of Priscilla Coleman, a professor of human development and family studies at Bowling Green University. However, Coleman's work has repeatedly come under strong criticism by respected members of the scientific community, including the study of March 2012 by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and the Guttmacher Institute which determined that a 2009 study by Coleman and colleagues purporting to show a causal link between abortion and subsequent mental health problems has fundamental analytical errors that render its conclusions invalid. Most egregiously, the study did not distinguish between mental health outcomes that occurred before abortions and those that occurred afterward, but still claimed to show a causal link between abortion and mental health disorders.

    Laws such as South Dakota's, which are grounded in spurious research rather than the best-available scientific evidence, not only represent a gross intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship, they also endanger the health and rights of women, by intentionally misinforming them on important medical matters. doclink

    U.S.: Why Free Birth Control is Not Free

    August 08 , 2012, Huffington Post

    Beginning the 1st of August the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health care plan began, which would give millions of women access to a full range of preventive health care services without a co-pay. These services include breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling; screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence; screening for gestational diabetes; DNA testing for high-risk strains of HPV; counseling regarding sexually transmitted infections, including HIV; screening for HIV; contraceptive methods and counseling; and well-woman visits. Also the health care plan ensures that plans must cover an array of services, vaccinations, and interventions, including those specifically needed by women, infants, children, and adolescents at different points in their lifecycle.

    However, religious and political fundamentalists at the state and federal level are trying to deny women access to reproductive health care of virtually every kind, often based on the notion that the new health care act gives women access to birth control for free.

    This is not the case, and it is misleading - and politically dangerous - to say so.

    You have to have an insurance policy to get birth control without a co-pay. Women cannot get the pill without a prescription, which first entails a visit to a doctor's office. No one without insurance can walk into a doctor's office and get an IUD or any kind of contraception for free, unless they are covered by insurance. Ten percent of women in the United States who work full time are currently uninsured. They and those who otherwise uninsured do not have access to "free" birth control.

    If you have insurance, you pay for it, either by virtue of your labor or out of your own pocket, or, depending on the situation, both. And under the ACA it is now mandated that your insurance plan cover certain benefits without a co-pay. This does not make them "free." It means that you are paying for that service as part of your premium. You earned it, you paid for it, it is yours. If you pay for it, you deserve to get it.

    Health insurance benefits, along with matching benefits for retirement, vacation time, life and disability insurance, and Social Security were either earned or paid for out of the employee's earnings.

    Insurance companies know that offering certain kinds of preventive care and making that care more accessible to more people means that a small investment in the short-term will keep costs lower in the long term. An early abnormal pap smear leading to early treatment is a lot less expensive for them than is treatment for cervical cancer later on. An unwanted pregnancy averted through use of contraception is less expensive than an abortion.

    What the Affordable Care Act does is help to begin addressing the disparities in our insurance policies and premiums to make them more equitable. Fewer working women than working men in this country have employer-based insurance; insurers have historically charged women more than men in a practice known as gender-rating; and for a very long time, women have paid more out-of-pocket for basic preventive health care services like pap smears and birth control.

    The reason that lawmakers and insurance companies did this has to do largely with the cost-savings that will be realized: healthier women mean a healthier society and reduced economic and social costs.

    We should support expanding government-funded programs to ensure that all women have access to birth control and other preventive health services, because it makes sense in terms of public health and the economy, and because such access is a basic human right. But people who earn their insurance coverage pay for it, and they deserve the benefit for which they are paying.

    Let's call the birth control benefit what it is: Women's hard-earned insurance coverage. It's ours. We earned it. We pay for it. We deserve it. doclink

    U.S.: Arizona Gov. Brewer Puts Women at Risk

    July 13, 2012

    Governor Brewer recently signed into law HB 2800 which could prohibit Planned Parenthood Arizona health centers from receiving public funding. This puts services at risk for thousands of Arizonans who depend on affordable access to preventive and life-saving treatments. Arizonans have patronized Planned Parenthood's nonprofit health centers for their health care needs for over 75 years,

    Brewer said, "we choose sides and there are winners and there are losers." And regarding minority rights, she said, "Well the majority wins….every time I've ever seen the (voting) board down there (at the legislature), the majority wins." Politicians should not be involved in the personal, private medical decisions best left up to a woman, her faith and her family, with the counsel of her doctor.

    Eighth district congressional candidate Ron Barber said: "No matter where you stand on abortion, taking away access to basic health care for women — from cancer screenings to access to birth control - is unacceptable. The State Legislature was wrong to vote to block these federal funds, and I am very disappointed that the Governor chose to sign this bill. Planned Parenthood and similar clinics provide a range of health care services for women- defunding basic care for women is just plain wrong."

    U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Rich Carmona: "I was deeply disappointed by Governor Brewer's decision to sign the bill that bans funding for Planned Parenthood and other groups that provide women's health services."

    Planned Parenthood provides a vast array of women's health care services, often reaching under-served communities where health and economic disparities make access to quality care difficult. doclink

    Sex-Selective Abortion Bans—a Disingenuous New Strategy to Limit Women's Access to Abortion; Entrenched Preference for Sons Should Be Addressed by Countering Social and Cultural Bias Against Women, Not by Eroding Their Health and Rights

    May 30, 2012, Guttmacher Institute

    Over the last four years U.S. abortion rights opponents have advanced legislation to ban sex-selective abortion at the federal level and in 13 states. Oklahoma and Arizona have already enacted such laws.

    Sneha Barot, author of a new Guttmacher analysis says "These proposals cynically advance a narrow agenda that starts and ends with banning abortion." ... "The experience of other countries has clearly demonstrated that such bans are not only ineffective, but they further exacerbate gender discrimination by undermining women's autonomy and creating additional obstacles to women's health care."

    Sex-selective abortion is widespread in certain countries, especially those in East and South Asia, where an inordinately high social value is placed on men over women. In those countries, sex-selective abortion has resulted in dangerously skewed sex ratios, with boys heavily outnumbering girls. In the United States, meanwhile, there is limited data indicating that sex-selective abortion may be occurring in some Asian communities, although the U.S. sex ratio, at 1.05 males for every female, is squarely within biologically normal parameters.

    "The underlying gender discrimination that drives son preference—and needs to be addressed through social, legal and economic policies that raise women's status—remains. Only South Korea has made significant progress—and researchers largely credit changes in underlying social norms that resulted from urbanization and rapid economic development." doclink

    Medicaid is at a Turning Point—with Significant Implications for the Family Planning Services it Funds

    May 30, 2012, Guttmacher Institute

    Medicaid is the public insurance program for poor and low-income Americans, includes family planning, accounting for 75% of all public family planning spending. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), slated to go into effect in 2014, the program will see a significant expansion. However, this faces two hurdles: Supreme Court decision in June on the constitutionality of the ACA and its Medicaid expansion, and national elections in November. A stronger, expanded Medicaid program should mean more and better coverage for the reproductive health needs of low-income Americans. A scaled-back Medicaid, reshaped to restrict costs, enrollment and care, would imperil the family planning safety-net and the health and well-being of the women and families who rely upon it. doclink

    Judge Permanently Blocks Oklahoma's Ban on Medication Abortion and Treatment of Ectopic Pregnancies

    May 14, 2012, Center for Reproductive Rights

    In an unprecedented ruling recognizing bodily integrity and reproductive choice as fundamental rights under the Oklahoma state constitution, an Oklahoma state judge has found that a law severely and arbitrarily restricting medical care for women seeking an abortion is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. Women seeking abortions in Oklahoma will continue to have access to non-invasive treatment options that use medications.

    Judge Worthington ruled that the bill's restrictions on medication abortion are unconstitutional because they are "so completely at odds with the standard that governs the practice of medicine that [the bill] can serve no purpose other than to prevent women from obtaining abortions and to punish and discriminate against those women who do."

    More than 1.4 million women in the U.S. have chosen to safely end an early pregnancy through medication abortion since mifepristone was approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration in 2000, and reams of scientific data clearly show that medication abortion is highly safe and effective. doclink

    U.S.: A Political History of Contraception: When the Catholic Church Nearly Approved the Pill

    February 26, 2012, Washington Post

    The battle over birth control was fought and won half a century ago. At that time, the vast majority of Americans, nearly all mainstream religious organizations and leaders in both political parties accepted contraception as beneficial to families, society and the world.

    The move toward acceptance of contraception began in the early 20th century and accelerated in the 1940s. When the Birth Control Federation of America changed its name to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Abraham Stone, medical director of the Margaret Sanger Research Bureau, explained at the time that "planned parenthood" signaled "the need for individual couples to plan their families and for nations to plan their populations."

    In 1959 President Dwight D. Eisenhower declare: "The government will not, so long as I am here, have a positive political doctrine in its program that has to do with the problem of birth control. That's not our business." But in the 1960s, President John F. Kennedy - the first Catholic US president - supported family-planning programs as part of foreign aid. Then Eisenhower came around, saying "Governments must act. . . . Failure would limit the expectations of future generations to abject poverty and suffering and bring down upon us history's condemnation."

    Thereafter, for two decades, every American president promoted contraception as an essential part of domestic and foreign policy. Even the Catholic Church considered lifting its prohibition on contraception - and almost did.

    Prior to the 1930s, the church had no official position on contraception. But on Dec. 31, 1930, Pope Pius XI issued a papal encyclical which for the first time explicitly prohibited Catholics from using contraception.

    Margaret Sanger, a daughter of Irish Catholic immigrants, protested the pope's decree; her passionate commitment to promoting birth control stemmed from watching her mother weaken and die at age 50, having given birth to 11 children. She blamed her mother's premature death on constant childbearing and lack of access to contraceptives.

    John Rock, a devout Catholic doctor - who taught at Harvard Medical School and who would become one of the leading clinical researchers responsible for developing the pill - also opposed the ban. Besides being medically necessary at times, he said it was personally desirable for maintaining happy marriages and well-planned families and essential for those who could not afford many children. In the 1940s, Rock promoted diaphragms - even though birth control was illegal in Massachusetts.

    Rock believed church would accept the pill was a means of birth control because it simply repressed ovulation and replicated the body's hormonal condition in early pregnancy. He even wrote a book on it: "The Time Has Come: A Catholic Doctor's Proposals to End the Battle Over Birth Control."

    In 1962 Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council, which resulted in a number of reforms that modernized church practices. But he died as he was putting together a committee to consider the matter of the pill. In 1964, Pope Paul appointed a commission to advise him on birth control. Many journalists, clergy and lay Catholics expected the church to lift the ban. A significant majority of its members including 60 of 64 theologians and nine of the 15 cardinals favored lifting the ban. But Pope Paul issued a formal encyclical, Humanae Vitae ("Of Human Life") in 1968, siding with the minority and reaffirming the church's prohibition of any form of artificial birth control.

    Many Catholic leaders criticized the decision. Two years after the decree, two-thirds of Catholic women were using contraception. Now, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services, Catholic women use birth control at the same rate as non-Catholic women.

    In 1984, during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the United States sent two opponents of abortion rights to a United Nations conference on population in Mexico City. These delegates established the Mexico City Policy, a global gag rule that refused U.S. government support to any agency, American or foreign, that used its own funds to support abortion services. Such facilities were prohibited from receiving any U.S. funds for family planning, even if the money would not be used for abortion-related services.

    It was after this that bipartisan support for contraception began to crumble.

    The Mexico City Policy was rescinded by Democratic President Bill Clinton, reinstated by Republican George W. Bush, and rescinded by Democratic President Barack Obama.

    Now, even though more than 99% of sexually experienced women report having used contraception, we are once again debating whether women should have access to birth control. doclink

    U.S.: Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control -- And Why We'll Still Be Fighting About it 100 Years From Now

    February 15, 2012, AlterNet

    In Congress Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) barred women from testifying at his so-called "religious freedom" hearings. Many of us thought contraception would be a non-issue; modern contraception has been around 50 years now; it feels like we've had this right, and this technology, forever. We take it so completely for granted that we simply cannot imagine that it could ever go away.

    Along with the integrated circuit, the Internet, the information revolution, and the moon landing, contraception was an important thing that changed the world in the 1900s. We may have to go back to the invention of the wheel or the discovery of fire to find something that's so completely disruptive to the way humans have lived for the entire duration of our remembered history.

    Thousands of generations of men and women have lived under the fact that, in general, women were born to bear children; they had no other life options. They were tied to home, dependent on men, and subject to all kinds of religious and cultural restrictions. Men got full economic and social control over our bodies, our labor, our affections, and our futures. They got to make the rules, name the gods we would worship, and dictate the terms we would live under. In most cultures, they had the right to sex on demand within the marriage, and also to break their marriage vows with impunity In the middle of the 20th century, all of that suddenly ended. For the first time in human history, new technologies made fertility a conscious choice for an ever-growing number of the planet's females. Women could choose to delay childbearing and limit the number of children we raise; and that, in turn, freed up time and energy to explore the world beyond the home. We could refuse to marry or have babies at all, and pursue our other passions instead. Contraception was the single necessary key that opened the door to the whole new universe of activities that had always been zealously monopolized by the men - education, the trades, the arts, government, travel, spiritual and cultural leadership, and even (eventually) war making.

    While some men have embraced this new order- perhaps seeing in it the potential to open up some interesting new choices for them, too - a global majority is increasingly confused, enraged, and terrified by it. This is what is driving the Catholic bishops into a frenzied fight against contraception. They understand how unprecedented this development is in the grand sweep of history, and the serious threat it poses to everything their church has stood for going back to antiquity. (Including, very much, the more recent doctrine of papal infallability.)

    We're only 50 years into a revolution that may ultimately take two or three centuries to completely work its way through the world's many cultures and religions. These things can take a loooong time to work all the way out.

    This article is well worth reading. I have only covered the 'gist' of it. http to read the entire article. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Or we can go the way of the Japanese. Many young women are refusing to get married because male domination is not desired.

    U.S.: Sen. Johnson's Advice to Women Who Can't Afford Contraception: Google ‘What If I Can't Afford Birth Control?'

    March 27, 2012, Think Progress

    Freshman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) has been vociferous in his attacks on the new regulation that requires insurance companies to cover birth control. His advice for women in the country who can't afford the cost of contraception was to go online and type in, "what if I can't afford birth control?" "If you can't afford it, you can get birth control in this country," Johnson explained. There's no conservative who's trying to deny women health care or contraceptives. We're just saying this is an issue of religious freedom.

    ThinkProgress went online and Googled "what if I can't afford birth control?" The very first link explained that the entire process, from the initial exam to a follow-up to the pills themselves, can cost upwards of $210 the first month. The rest of the first-page results included two sites informing women that if they can't afford contraceptives, "don't have sex," four sites attacking Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, and one site explaining how birth control is a lot more expensive than many believe.

    A recent survey found one in three American women voters have struggled with how to afford birth control. doclink

    U.S.: War on Women: Anti-Contraception Lit Handed Out at Conservative Conference Headlined by Santorum, Paul Ryan

    March 26, 2012, Think Progress

    At a Defending The American Dream Summit -- Americans For Prosperity (AFP), a conservative Koch-funded organization -- in Milwaukee on Saturday, Santorum, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). insisted that the Obama administration's rule requiring insurance companies to cover contraception actually had nothing to do with contraception, but rather was an attack on religious liberty.

    In the next room there was literature provided by American Life League warning women about the supposed dangers of birth control and telling them that "Chastity is the best choice for single people." One handout explained that contraception is unnecessary because "Saving yourself for your future spouse is guaranteed to prevent pregnancy before marriage." Another answered the question "Is it safe?" with a simple "No." The literature on emergency contraception warned that it could cause cancer before telling women simply, "Be good to yourself. Don't use the morning-after pill."

    Republican Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) pleaded last week with those in his party to "get off" the war on women. Apparently the former GOP presidential nominee's call is being completely ignored. With 70% of women agreeing that President Obama's contraception requirement is a matter of women's health, continuing to attack birth control could spell disaster for Republicans in the fall. doclink

    U.S.: Why Employers Should Want Their Workers Using Contraception

    March 14, 2012, United Nations Population Division

    Arizona House Bill 2625, authored by Republican Debbie Lesko, allows employers [not just religious employers] with religious or moral objections to contraception to deny insurance coverage of it to their employees. This is in response to the Affordable Care Act's provision that insurance be required to cover contraception without a co-pay; the Obama administration already made a compromise that should protect religious employees.

    The bill does make an exception for women who don't use birth control for sex. if it is prescribed for medical reasons other than pregnancy prevention., employers are required to cover it, but under the bill, employers get to ask their workers for proof that their baby pills are not being used for pregnancy prevention.

    You would think employers would want women who did not get pregnant. A study by Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz concludes: "Because up-front, time-intensive career investments are difficult for women with child care responsibilities, the pill encouraged women's careers by virtually eliminating the risk of pregnancy," the authors write. The pill allowed women to delay marriage, which made women with good career prospects more attractive as potential wives.

    While the birth rate fell 75% from the 1950s-early1960s to 1980, women flooded the workforce after the pill became available, tripling in numbers from 1950 to.2000. Which is good news for employers and for the economy. Our economy would likely be 25% smaller than it is today if women hadn't entered the workforce in droves, the consulting firm McKinsey estimates.

    Lately businesses have been complaining that a lack of skilled workers is threatening their productivity. Contraception makes acute business sense. Who would want to opt out of that? doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Having an employer ask personal questions of employees is an invasion of privacy that the Griswold decision protects.

    Source unknown: If you can refuse to pay for my birth control because of your moral/religious convictions, does that mean I can refuse to pay for your cancer treatments, your children's vaccines, antibiotics, pacemakers, organ transplants, and any other life saving measures because I believe those measures are interferring with God's will for your life? Stop the insanity!

    More Than Half of ALL Reproductive-age U.S. Women Now Live in States Hostile to Abortion Rights

    March 15, 2012

    The Guttmacher Institute found that, in 2011, 55% of all reproductive-age U.S. women lived in a state hostile to abortion rights. It was only 31% in 2000.

    A record number of abortion restrictions that were enacted in 2011.

    "The regional differences are striking," says Elizabeth Nash, of Guttmacher. "West Coast and Northeastern states remained consistently supportive of abortion rights. But a swath of states in the middle of the country moved from being middle-ground states in 2000 to hostile in 2011. And of the 13 states in the South, half were hostile in 2000—but all had become so by 2011."

    The authors conclude that shoring up the remaining states in the middle-ground group may be key to stopping the further national erosion of abortion rights—and that efforts to do so may well be successful. They also argue that these states may be ripe for progress on related reproductive and sexual health issues such as contraception and sex education.

    The analysis measured states in 2000, 2005 and 2011 and their provision which fell in any of 10 categories of major abortion restrictions. The categories include:

    * mandated parental involvement prior to a minor's abortion
    * required preabortion counseling that is medically inaccurate or misleading
    * extended waiting period paired with a requirement that counseling be conducted in person, thus necessitating two trips to the facility
    * mandated performance of a non-medically indicated ultrasound prior to an abortion
    * prohibition of Medicaid funding except in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest
    * restriction of abortion coverage in private health insurance plans
    * medically inappropriate restrictions on the provision of medication abortion
    * onerous requirements on abortion facilities that are not related to patient safety
    * unconstitutional ban on abortions prior to fetal viability or limitations on the circumstances under which an abortion can be performed after viability; or * preemptive ban on abortion outright in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned doclink

    Senate Democratic Women Call on Boehner to Abandon Pledge to Continue Contraception Fight

    March 08, 2012, Patty Murry Senator website

    Today, all 12 Democratic women Senators sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner calling on him to rescind his pledge to push forward with efforts to restrict women's access to contraception after the Blunt amendment was defeated in the Senate. The Senator's letter comes in the wake of Speaker Boehner's public pledge to continue efforts to limit birth control access in the House, where a similar version of the Blunt amendment has over 200 co-sponsors. Speaker Boehner's promise to continue fighting also comes despite a national outcry from women, the overwhelming majority of whom have used contraception at some point in their lifetime.

    Signed by U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). doclink

    U.S.: Virginia House Scraps Invasive Pre-abortion Requirement

    February 23, 2012, Associated Press

    A bill that would have required women seeking abortions to undergo a vaginal insertion of a wand-like device that emits ultrasonic waves that are used to create images of the fetus, has been dropped. The proposal had drawn outrage from women, national ridicule from television comedians and appeals from GOP moderates, causing Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell to oppose the invasive procedure and the Republican-controlled House of Delegates to amend the to require only an external ultrasound.

    McDonnell has been mentioned as a possible vice-presidential candidate. "Mandating an invasive procedure in order to give informed consent is not a proper role for the state," he said.

    The amended bill now returns to the Senate where its sponsor, Sen. Jill Vogel, said she will strike the legislation.

    Another bill would give embryos the full legal protection of personhood and criminalize their destruction, outlawing almost all abortions and, critics say, some forms of contraception. It would take effect only if the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortions is overturned.

    A third bill would end state Medicaid funding for abortions sought by indigent women whose fetuses are severely and grossly deformed.

    On Presidents Day, about 1,400 people, most of them women, linked arms to form a silent human cordon along the Capitol Square walkways that legislators use between the Capitol and their legislative offices. Some demonstrators wore shirts and stickers that derided the bill as state-mandated rape. McDonnell was presented with petitions collected statewide bearing the names of 30,030 voters against the bill. doclink

    Obama's Contraception Plan Won't Cut Pregnancies; President is Violating Religious Freedom for An Ineffective Plan

    February 14, 2012, Washington Times

    Note: comments to this flawed argument are below the article.

    One would think that the premise that greater access to contraceptives will lower rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion is an airtight one.

    But Washington Times writer Daniel Allott reminds us that many common contraceptives cause abortions. Intrauterine devices, the pill, the patch and Plan B (the "morning after" pill) all sometimes prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the uterine wall. And, the Obama contraceptive mandate also covers Ella (the "week after" pill), which is chemically similar to the abortion drug RU-486 but in a smaller dose and may disrupt already implanted embryos, an early abortion by any definition.

    It's an open question whether greater availability of contraceptives will lead to fewer unintended pregnancies and thus to fewer abortions.

    Contraceptives are already as accessible as they can be. If 99% of sexually active women (including 98% of Catholic women) have used contraceptives then contraceptive use and access to contraceptives must be pervasive.

    While in 2001 the Guttmacher Institute found in women who had an abortion that, of those who were not using contraception at the time they conceived, 2% said they did not know where to obtain contraception and 8% said they could not afford it, these numbers have 'probably have decreased over the past decade,' because of Title X and the 99% of employer-based health-insurance plans that cover contraceptives.

    Guttmacher found that, among the 43 million sexually active women who do not want to become pregnant, 89% are practicing contraception.

    Perhaps the more than 3 million annual unintended pregnancies and 1.2 million abortions come from the 11% of fertile, sexually active women who do not wish to conceive but do not use contraceptives? No, we need to take into account the failure rate of contraception: Spermicides fail 28% of the time, the male condom 15%; the diaphragm and cervical cap 13%; the pill 9%; implants and injectable contraceptives 2-4% of the time.

    A 2011 study found that a 63% increase in contraceptive use over a decade among Spanish women was associated with a 108% increase in the abortion rate in Spain.

    Dozens of studies have shown that increased access to "emergency contraception" (EC) had no statistically significant reduction in rates of unintended pregnancy or abortion.

    Studies in Great Britain concluded "It is clear that providing more family planning clinics, far from having the effect of reducing conception rates, has actually led to an increase. … The availability of the morning-after pill seems to be encouraging risky behavior. It appears that if people have access to family planning advice they think they automatically have a lower risk of pregnancy."

    One Guttmacher study found that 54% of women who had abortions had used a contraceptive method during the month they became pregnant. Another study found that nearly half of women seeking to avoid pregnancy had periods of non-use of contraceptives (15%) or used their method inconsistently or incorrectly (27%).

    Guttmacher found that nearly 1 in 4 women who were not trying to become pregnant said they would be very pleased if they found out they were pregnant.

    Reproductive decisions are influenced by factors well beyond the purview of a government mandate. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: The author has a lot of interesting statistics, but his conclusions are not correct.

    The Pill works by first trying to stop an ovum being released from the ovary, second by thickening the cervical mucus making it more difficult for sperm to fertilize an ovum; third by making changes to the movement of the Fallopian tubes reducing the possibility of the ovum being fertilised. But the Pill also causes changes to the lining of the womb, making a hostile environment for implantation of a fertilized egg to attach properly, if it gets that far. None of these ways the pill works is completely reliable and - if one defines pregnancy as starting at fertilization, and if the other three barriers fail, but the implantation is foiled, then the Pill can be called an abortifacient. But most people either do not think that a pregnancy starts at fertilization, or do not care that an 'abortion' takes place in the first 7 days of life (a little ball of cells that the mother usually does not even realize is there). Women weigh these things against what other things are important in their life: the well-being of the current family, the mother's health, the health of the baby if there is not enough spacing between births.

    The pill failure rate is 5%, not so high compared with doing nothing: 85%, and 'natural': 25%.

    Title X funding has failed to keep up with inflation and population growth, which belies the theory that contraception usage must be increasing.

    If 99% of women have used contraception, that does not mean they are using contraception now; one cannot argue that contraception usage 'must be' pervasive.

    Employer-based health-insurance plans that cover contraceptives will probably be replaced by Obamacare, so contraception use should be about the same before as well as after Obamacare takes affect. If the current health infrastructure provides women with contraception at low cost, then any new plan should provide the same. It's benefits to women has been widely recognized since 1970 when Nixon signed Title X into law. There should be no peddling backward because the Catholic Church balks.

    People could use condums, diaphrams or spermicides, which are in no way abortifacient, but the Catholic Church bans these as well.

    The War on Women

    December 02, 2012, Population Connection

    by Brian Dixon, vice president for media and government relations at Population Connection

    It seems that no aspect of women's health care is immune from right-wing hysteria. Breast exams for poor women? Why, that's an opportunity to attack Planned Parenthood. Birth control coverage without co-pays? That's their chance to brand the Obama administration as an enemy of religious freedom.

    Opponents have disingenuously framed their objections to the contraceptive coverage requirement as coming from concerns over religious liberty, rather than as overt opposition to birth control. In doing so, they have made statements that are offensive, dismissive and grotesquely out of touch with the real needs and day-to-day lives of women.

    One pundit dismissed women's need for birth control as "beside the point." Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., opined on a talk-radio show that birth control was "unrelated to the basic needs of health care." The current leader -- according to a recent national poll -- in the Republican race for president, Rick Santorum, said that the birth control requirement is a step toward "the guillotine." And, in an unwitting display of irony, the bishop of Phoenix said that the decision is an attempt to turn Catholics into "second-class citizens."

    Women's health is not beside the point: It is the central point. Every American woman should have the same access to affordable contraceptives. The current rule will save the average American woman some $600 in out-of-pocket health care costs. For families living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to pay for day care or get their car fixed, this could make all the difference.

    Birth control is basic health care. In the United States today, 24 women will die for every 100,000 live births, the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world.

    Nearly every American woman will use contraceptives at some point in her life, including 98% of Catholic women. Nobody seems interested in their beliefs and their liberty. More than 50% of Catholics support giving women employed by Catholic-affiliated hospitals and universities the same contraceptive coverage as everyone else.

    A respectfully balanced compromise has already been struck: Explicitly religious employers are exempt from the new requirement.

    The same opponents of this policy are working tirelessly to bar Planned Parenthood clinics from reimbursement with public funds; pass legislation to end all public funding for family planning programs in the United States and overseas; reinstate the Global Gag Rule -- essentially an international version of the Planned Parenthood ban; and to cut off aid to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for its work to increase access to contraceptives and end harmful traditional practices in the poorest countries in the world. doclink

    U.S.: Candidates on Contraception

    February 17, 2012, WOA!! website - Karen Gaia Pitts


    One of the things I will talk about that no President has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, "Well, that's okay. Contraception's okay."

    It's not okay because it's a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They're supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also , but also procreative. That's the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act. And if you can take one part out that's not for purposes of procreation, that's not one of the reasons, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women, so why can't you take other parts of that out? And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it's simply pleasure. And that's certainly a part of it—and it's an important part of it, don't get me wrong—but there's a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special.

    Again, I know most Presidents don't talk about those things, and maybe people don't want us to talk about those things, but I think it's important that you are who you are. I'm not running for preacher. I'm not running for pastor, but these are important public policy issues. These how profound impact on the health of our society.

    Ron Paul:

    Last year, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul introduced a bill in Congress that would allow states to ban contraception if they choose.

    Paul's "We the People Act," which he introduced in 2004, 2005, 2009, and 2011, explicitly forbids federal courts and the Supreme Court of the United States from ruling on the constitutionality of a variety of state and local laws. That includes, among other things, "any claim based upon the right of privacy, including any such claim related to any issue of sexual practices, orientation, or reproduction." The bill would let states write laws forbidding abortion, the use of contraceptives, or consensual gay sex, for example.

    Ron Paul is not a true Libertarian. He is anti-abortion and anti-contraception.

    As Ayn Rand said: An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).

    Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?

    Too bad, I like his other ideals. But if he is going to twist this one ideal, who knows what he will do with the others. It is not so simple after all.

    There is no way he is going to win this one. 98% of American women have used or are using contraception, and that includes 97% of Catholic women. How would you like it if you were forced, by law, to preserve all of your sperm? That's where the Mississippi Personhood law is headed.


    Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich acknowledged on Thursday that his support for a "fetal personhood" constitutional amendment would make some forms of birth control illegal.

    Earlier in the week, the candidate had signed a pledge (PDF) from the group Personhood USA that declared he would "support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and endorse legislation to make clear the 14th Amendment protections apply to unborn children."

    At a campaign event in Fort Dodge, Iowa Thursday, a young woman asked Gingrich what this meant for birth control.


    Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) told Fox News host Mike Huckabee this weekend that he would support an amendment to his state's constitution to define life as beginning at conception, which would outlaw abortion and potentially many forms of contraception as well. Noting that the state supreme court forced the inclusion of abortion coverage in Romney's universal health care law, the GOP presidential front-runner said the only way to undo the decision would be a constitutional amendment. Asked if he would support such a move, Romney replied, "absolutely":

    HUCKABEE: Would you have supported a constitutional amendment that would have established definition of life beginning of life at conception?

    ROMNEY: Absolutely.

    Texas Governor Perry

    Perry has taken large amounts of funding away from Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides most of the birth control to low-income individuals. Whether or not you think the poor deserve free birth control, it is very poor use of public funds to limit access to pregnancy prevention while spending much larger amounts to pay for Medicaid births. doclink

    U.S.: Obama Scores a Victory with New Birth Control Solution

    February 02, 2012, Coalition to Protect Womens Health

    Rank-and-file Catholic voters show strong support for the solution to the birth control policy the White House announced on Friday according to a new Public Policy Polling survey conducted on behalf of the Coalition to Protect Women's Health Care. The poll would indicate that the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Congressional Republicans who oppose the requirement for birth control coverage are significantly out of step with Catholic voters.

    According to the poll, 57% of Catholic voters and 59% of Catholic women support the new policy President Obama allowing women who work for religiously-affiliated hospitals and universities to receive coverage for prescription birth control without requiring Catholic institutions to pay for the coverage directly.

    29% opposed the policy because it still goes too far in requiring birth control coverage.

    5% oppose it because they think Catholic hospitals and universities should be required to pay for this coverage.

    Catholic Democrats (80% - 17%) favor the policy by virtually the same margin that Catholic Republicans (16% - 79%) oppose it.

    51% say they side with Barack Obama on this issue, while only 38% prefer Mitt Romney's position. 59% of Hispanic Catholic go with Obama.

    Congressional Republicans risk losing their majority in the House and squandering any opportunities in the Senate by continuing attacks on the popular birth control benefit. doclink

    U.S.: Legal Induced Abortions Safer Than Childbirth, New Study Finds

    January 26, 2012, Guttmacher Institute

    A study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology showed that maternal deaths from childbirth are 14 times higher than deaths from legal induced abortions in the United States - 0.6 deaths per 100,000 abortions, compared to 8.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. Pregnancy-related complications and illness are also much more common for childbirth than for abortion, it said.

    "Since the early 1970s, the public health evidence has been clear and incontrovertible: induced abortion is safer than childbirth," noted the co-authors Dr. Elizabeth G. Raymond of the Gynuity Health Projects and Dr. David A. Grimes of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

    Roughly half of the states have laws requiring that women seeking abortions must be given detailed, specific written or verbal information about potential risks from the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute. For example women seeking abortions in Texas must be given a 23-page pamphlet listing 11 or 12 potential complications from abortion procedures and only six possible complications from vaginal delivery and eight for cesarean sections. Some of the statistics are often expressed in terms that are difficult to understand when they should be expressed in comparisons of deaths per 100,000 events.

    Such biased mandated material thwarts informed choice and puts clinicians in the untenable position of having to be complicit in misleading their patients. "Every woman deserves factual medical information whenever she is facing a decision about a pregnancy," the authors said.

    Reasons given for the difference: Pregnancies ending in abortion are shorter than those ending in childbirth, so there is less time for complications to develop. Many complications like hypertension and abnormal placentas show up only late in pregnancy, and early abortion avoids those hazards. A third of births occur by cesarean delivery, which has substantial risk of complications and death.

    In fact, the authors said women who undergo abortion appear to be at higher risk from problems in pregnancy and childbirth than women who opt for delivery. doclink

    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

    U.S.: Health Insurance: Obama Protects Birth Control Access for Women

    January 20, 2012, Boston Globe

    Despite the fact that the Catholic organization USCCB lobbied to obtain exemptions from providing contraception in religious-affiliated employer health plans, the Obama administration announced today it will keep in place a proposed rule that says birth control is an essential service, and employer health insurance plans must cover birth control without a copay. This will ensure effective birth control is available for millions of women.

    The USCCB has also wanted to continue receive taxpayer funds to treat victims of human trafficking, but refused to use the money to provide or refer for contraceptive or abortion services - even though these are the kinds of services that many victims of human trafficking need. But the USCCB lost its case with the Obama adminstration's decision today not to renew its contract with USCCB for the trafficking program. doclink

    Population Connection says this is a good time to thank President Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Go to

    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?

    U.S.: The War on Contraception Gets Mainstream Attention

    January 15, 2012, RH Reality Check

    Podcast: Nancy Cohen explains how sex is polarizing Americans politically. The question of contraception comes up during the Republican debate, which sets the mainstream media ablaze on a subject we've been hammering for years. doclink

    U.S.: States Enact Record Number of Abortion Restrictions in 2011

    January 5, 2012, Guttmacher Institute

    Legislators introduced more than 1,100 reproductive health and rights-related provisions (not bills or laws - there are multiple provisions in a bill) in the 50 states of the U.S., up from the 950 introduced in 2010. 135 of these provisions had been enacted in 36 states, up from the 89 enacted in 2010 and the 77 enacted in 2009.

    68% of these provisions restrict access to abortion services. Last year only 26% of new provisions restricted abortion.

    In 2011 voters in Mississippi rejected the ballot initiative that would have legally defined a human embryo as a person "from the moment of fertilization," setting the stage to ban all abortions and, potentially, most hormonal contraceptive methods in the state. Five states (AL, ID, IN, KS and OK) enacted provisions to ban abortion at or beyond 20 weeks' gestation, based on the claim that a fetus can feel pain at that point. These same five states plus Nebraska have adopted a ban on abortions after 20 weeks.

    A South Dakota law would have required a woman to obtain pre-abortion counseling in person at the abortion facility at least 72 hours prior to the procedure; and it would have required her to visit a state-approved crisis pregnancy center during that time. The federal district court enjoined the law and it is not in effect. Texas now requires that women who live less than 100 miles from an abortion provider obtain counseling in person at the facility at least 24 hours in advance. North Carolina now requires counseling at least 24 hours prior to the procedure. A total of 26 states now mandate that a woman seeking an abortion must wait a prescribed period of time between the counseling and the procedure.

    Five states adopted provisions mandating that a woman obtain an ultrasound prior to having an abortion, but two, in North Carolina and Texas, were immediately enjoined by federal district courts. Both of these restrictions would have required the provider to show and describe the image to the woman. However, in AZ, FL and KS, provisions are in effect which would require the abortion provider to offer the woman the opportunity to view the image or listen to a verbal description of it. Six states now mandate the performance of an ultrasound prior to an abortion.

    Six states now limit abortion coverage in private insurance plans, including newly added Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Utah.

    16 states have provisions restricting abortion coverage available through state insurance exchanges as part of the implementation of health care reform.

    Four states enacted provisions directing the state department of health to issue regulations governing facilities and physicians' offices that provide abortion services. Supporters of the measures made it clear that the goal was to set standards that would be difficult, if not impossible, for abortion providers to meet. Enforcement of the proposed Kansas regulations has been enjoined by a state court.

    Seven states (AZ, KS, NE, ND, OK, SD and TN) adopted provisions requiring that the physician prescribing the medication for a medication abortion be in the same room as the patient (disallowing telemedicine).

    Family planning services escaped major reductions in nine (CO, CT, DE, IL, KS, MA, ME, NY and PA) of the states where the budget has a specific line-item for family planning. However FL, GA, MI, MN, WA and WI, family planning programs sustained deep cuts, although generally in line with decreases adopted for other health programs. Montana eliminated the family planning line item, and New Hampshire and Texas cut funding by 57% and 66%, respectively.

    Indiana, Colorado, Ohio, North Carolina Texas and Wisconsin, meanwhile, moved to disqualify or otherwise bar certain types of providers from the receipt of family planning funds. New Hampshire decided not to renew its contract through which the Planned Parenthood affiliate in the state received Title X funds.

    On the other hand, Maryland, Washington and Ohio took steps to expand Medicaid eligibility for family planning. With the approval of these two programs, 24 states have expanded eligibility for family planning under Medicaid based solely on income; seven have utilized the new authority under health care reform.

    Regarding sex education, Mississippi adopted provisions that make it more difficult for a school district to include subjects other than abstinence, such as contraception, in order to offer a more comprehensive curriculum. North Dakota enacted an new requirement that mandates that the health education provided in the state include information on the benefits of abstinence "until and within marriage." Including North Dakota, 37 states now mandate abstinence education. doclink

    Adolescents Deserve Better: the Critical Need for Emergency Contraception

    December 2011

    Pathfinder International reminds us that adolescence is often a period of vulnerability, all over the world. In the countries where Pathfinder works many young people begin their sexual lives, get married and begin childbearing without sufficient knowledge of their bodies and, adolescent girls in particular, very little power to stand up for themselves in the face of men, family members, community leaders, and long held traditions. Some adolescents don't have the choice to say with whom and when they want to have sex; they don't have the knowledge or resources to negotiate using contraception, including condoms; and, they face innumerable barriers to accessing the sexual and reproductive health services they require to prevent unintended pregnancies and their consequences, which can include unsafe abortion and risk of maternal mortality.

    There are obstacles young people have to overcome to seek sexual and reproductive health services, including contraception. Through Pathfinder's work, young people have access to a full range of contraceptive methods, including emergency contraception. Emergency contraception offers all women, including adolescents, a critical second chance to prevent unintended pregnancy.

    On Wednesday, the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services overruled the evidence-based recommendations of the US Food and Drug Administration and denied the approval of Plan B One-Step for over-the-counter access to women of all ages, meaning that young women under age 17 will still require a prescription for emergency contraception. Girls and young women in the US will continue to face an all too similar barrier to one we strive to break down in the communities where Pathfinder works.

    Emergency contraception can only work when women and girls have immediate and unconditional access. With this decision, the US has increased the likelihood that American adolescents will face the unfortunate situation of an unintended pregnancy—a situation we work so hard to help young girls and women in low-resource countries to avoid.

    Go here to see a cartoon expressing the irony of this situation: doclink

    U.S.: Texas May Cut Entire Health Program to Spite Planned Parenthood, Leaving 130,000 Poor Women Without Care

    December 21, 2011, Think Progress

    Texas has drastically reduced the state's family planning funding from $111 million to just $37 million, and its Republican lawmakers have constructed a "tiered priority system" that ensured Planned Parenthood clinics would be the last to receive any of the remaining Title X federal funding. Texas has a state program: the state Women's Health Program (WHP), a Medicaid-funded program created in 2007, that "provides family planning and primary care to low-income, uninsured women, and it served nearly 125,000 people in 2010 alone."

    GOP lawmakers had attempted to insert language into a new Medicaid measure that bans any family planning clinic that is even "affiliated" with an abortion provider from receiving WHP funds. Even though Planned Parenthood "corporately separated its abortion services from its family planning services in 2005," the fact that these (strictly family planning) clinics are “affiliated" with Planned Parenthood would disqualify them and the state's GOP lawmakers have asked the Department of Health and Human Services to let the state exclude the clinics accordingly.

    The Department of Health and Human Services has said that, doing so “would violate the Social Security Act" which guarantees that a Medicaid patient can obtain health services from any qualified agency. But instead of accepting the decision, health advocates say Republicans may cancel the WHP program entirely out of spite, leaving at least 130,000 low-income Texas women without services, according to Fran Hagerty, of the Women's Health and Family Planning Association of Texas.

    Gov. Rick Perry said Texas is “committed to protecting life in Texas, and state law prohibits giving state dollars to abortion providers and affiliates — a fact the Obama Administration ignores."

    Major hospitals like the University of Texas Medical Branch and Parkland in Dallas would be able to maintain some semblance of family planning services, “but nothing like what we have now." Community clinics would have to dramatically reduce services, lay off employees or shut down completely if the WHP program is shut down.

    The WHP program is set to expire on December 31. The HHS decision extends WHP for three more months, but Republicans are not accepting HHS's ruling on the matter. The Texas Humans and Health Services Commission, which requested the waiver, said HHS's decision is “inconsistent with federal law that gives states the authority to establish qualifications for Medicaid providers."

    State Sen. Robert Deuell (R) said “The problem could be solved tomorrow if Planned Parenthood just renounces abortions and just does family planning and comprehensive care, which they're capable of," he said. “Then we could provide a lot of family planning and there wouldn't be abortions and this problem would go away."

    Anna Merlen of the Dallas Observer notes, the program has “served 235,000 women so far and saved the state more than $37.6 million during its first two years by helping women avoid otherwise costly unplanned pregnancies." Currently, 28% of Texas women are uninsured, and without these clinics to provide necessary health care, the health care access problem for women is only going to get worse. doclink

    U.S.: 2011: the Year of the Abortion Restrictions

    December 30, 2011, Washington Post

    Very little related to health has made it through our polarized Congress after the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010. An exception is reproductive health, and area where a lot did happen: States passed 83 laws restricting access to abortion, nearly four times the 23 laws passed in 2010. The 2010 elections brought in a bunch of Republican legislators and governors, resulting in an increase, from 10 to 15, in the number of states in which both the governor and the legislature oppose abortion rights.

    Five states banned all abortions after 20 weeks of gestation. Seven now require an ultrasound, or the offer of one, prior to the procedure. Eight will no longer allow private insurance plans to cover the procedure. A few states are trying bar abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood, from receiving government funds, even for the non-abortion services they provide.

    A small minority of abortions happen after 20 weeks, meaning that a ban on such procedures won't touch most patients. Abortion rights supporters question whether a major legal fight over a late-term abortion law affecting relatively few women is their best strategy.

    But restrictions like those that restrict private insurance coverage of the procedure, could stand to reshape what access to abortion looks like. 87% of providers currently do pay for the procedure (this number is disputed by anti-abortion groups), a Kaiser Family Foundation study from 2002 shows.

    Americans United for Life have written up draft legislation on how to limit insurance coverage and now eight states (3 more than last year) bar any private insurance plan from covering abortion and five more will limit such coverage on the exchanges, the new health insurance marketplace. doclink

    U.S.: Meet 8 Right-Wing Groups Practicing Scorched-earth Anti-Choice Nuttery Against Women; They’ve sent a strong message to Republicans: It’s not enough to be "pro-life" anymore. They want full-on war on women and sex.

    December 11, 2011, Alternet

    Ohio Right To Life (RTL) is unwilling to lend their support or endorsement to a bill banning abortion from the time a heartbeat is detected in an embryo. There's a war breaking out between two anti-choice groups, the incrementalists and the absolutists. Both largely agree on the goals of the movement, which is a complete ban on all abortion, with severe restrictions and possibly bans on contraception as well. But incrementalists focus mainly on chipping away at abortion rights. They're wary of taking the fight to the courts, who tend to routinely shoot down any legislation perceived as an out-and-out ban on abortion.

    The absolutists, on the other hand, claim this is a failed strategy, directly attacking Roe v. Wade and taking the fight beyond abortion and even want a rapid escalation of the war on women's right to contraception and other forms of basic reproductive health care.. Absolutists have managed to pass legislation and are gaining ground in the Republican Party. They appear to be behind the highly unusual decision of the HHS to overrule the FDA's decision to make Plan B available over the counter.

    Personhood USA, the umbrella group for various state activist groups pushing to amend state constitutions to get fertilized eggs defined as legal "persons". Not only would personhood amendments ban abortion, but they would also make it illegal to treat ectopic pregnancies, save women suffering incomplete miscarriages from dying of sepsis, open up criminal investigations of miscarriages, and ban IVF and research on stem cells, and possibly even ban the birth control pill and the IUD, which they incorrectly argue work by killing fertilized eggs. The radical nature of the personhood initiative made it impossible to pass in Mississippi, arguably the most conservative state in the country, giving incrementalists ammo in their argument against the absolutist approach.

    Live Action is another absolutist organization, putting their support behind personhood initiatives and attacking Planned Parenthood not just for providing abortion, but because the organization is willing to provide STD and contraception information to minors and self-identified sex workers. Earlier this year, Live Action launched a series of deceptively edited videos that convinced the Republicans to threatening to shut down the federal government if contraception subsidies weren't immediately halted. This, even though 77% of Republican voters support contraception subsidies. The word "abortion" was thrown around a lot to justify this attack on Title X, but contraception ended up being the victim, as Title X legally cannot subsidize abortion.

    A wing of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is devoted to lobbying for for an overturn of Roe and against contraception access. They pushed for Congress to prevent private insurance companies from covering abortion care. They have taken a strong anti-contraception stance that makes fallacious, unscientific claims about contraception, including claiming that contraception artificially induces an unhealthy state (something actual medical experts would strongly argue against) and making unscientific claims about how contraception works. Currently, they are demanding that religiously affiliated organizations that take taxpayer money, such as hospitals and universities, be allowed to deny contraception coverage to the female employees, many of whom aren't even Catholic. They are also fighting the Obama administration's choice to give groups who offer complete health care to trafficking victims grants instead of giving them to Catholic organizations that refuse contraception or abortion referrals for women who have been forced into prostitution, suggesting that their main concern isn't getting women out of trafficking situations, but blocking them from having healthy and consensual sex lives after escaping forced prostitution.

    Ohio ProLife Action supports a bill that would ban all abortions after a heartbeat is detectable, a direct assault on Roe v. Wade. If a woman showed up in the emergency room with an incomplete miscarriage, doctors would not be allowed to intervene to save her life by removing the failing pregnancy until any kind of pulse in the embryo had ended, putting women at risk of sepsis and would like result in unnecessary deaths -- all the save pregnancies that were unsalvageable to begin with. Ohio RTL likely realizes that it's hard to endear yourself to voters when you stand up for torturing or even killing women for having incomplete miscarriages, so Ohio ProLife Action was formed to support this attack on women's right not just to choose, but to survive a pregnancy gone wrong.

    Susan B. Anthony List (SBA) claims that irreligious, childless Anthony would have, if she was alive today somehow miraculously supported their highly religious assault on abortion rights. In fact, Susan B. Anthony aligned herself with the 19th century "voluntary motherhood" movement that turned into the birth control movement, but the SBA List has expanded into assaults on contraception access. SBA List claim they are defunding contraception out of opposition to abortion, but in reality, the funds that they object to that go to Planned Parenthood and the United Nations Population Fund are used strictly for non-abortion reproductive health services. UNFPA does not provide abortion services or referrals, but because they prevent women from dying of botched abortions and offer contraception services, SBA List opposes them. Even under Roe, doctors were permitted to treate women suffering from botched abortions.

    In addition, SBA List has asked Republican presidential candidates to pledge a strong anti-contraception agenda with calls for the HHS and NIH to be staffed with "pro-life" leadership. This would endanger HHS regulations requiring insurance companies to treat contraception as preventive care that should be offered without a co-pay to insured women.

    Leslee Unruh with the Alpha Center was instrumental in getting complete abortion bans on the ballot in South Dakota two times (both were voted down). Having failed that, SD legislators passed a law requiring women to seek “counseling" from anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers before being allowed to have an abortion. The legislation would basically force women to go through Leslee Unruh and her staff before they could have an abortion since Unruh's CPC was right down the street from the Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls that is the sole provider of abortion in the entire state. And Alpha Center doesn't provide contraception. Unruh claims that the birth control is “playing God" and she personally would like to see “more babies".

    American Life League (ALL) has been demanding not just an overturn of Roe, but also an overturn of Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 Supreme Court decision that legalized contraception for married couples. ALL has an annual event called “Pills Kills", suggesting that contraception supposedly kills marriages. The theory is that sexual encounters that don't make babies somehow drive couples apart, a theory that the 99% of American women who have used contraception at some point in their lives would find hard to believe.

    ALL fights mandatory vaccination, linking pages that claim falsely that the MMR is made from aborted fetuses, and that these aborted fetuses cause autism. For “pro-life" people, they heavily support increasing the incidence of often-fatal disease such as cervical cancer and preventable childhood illness.

    The Kansas anti-choice movement brings the concept of extremism to a new level. Kansas RTL support s a personhood amendment, as part of their interconnections with American Life League. The Kansas Coalition for Life continues to brag about the daily harassment they dealt to Dr. George Tiller, even though the harassment campaign culminated in an assassination of Dr. Tiller. They also trade heavily in conspiracy theories around former pro-choice governor Kathleen Sebelius, accusing her of destroying evidence against Planned Parenthood in one of the various harassment lawsuits that anti-choicers in the state have filed against the organization. doclink

    How the U.S. is Becoming a 3rd World Country - Part 2

    November 29, 2011, Financial Sense

    The United States is quickly coming to resemble a post industrial neo-3rd-world country, likely by 2032.

    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 policies are defining characteristics of 3rd world countries. Other factors include poor public health, nutrition and education, as well as lack of infrastructure—factors that deteriorate rapidly in a failing economy.

    In response to the economic downturn that began in 2007 and the start of the financial crisis in 2008, the U.S. federal government and the Federal Reserve resorted to a radically inflationary policy intended to save banks and to shepherd the U.S. economy through a recession. Instead, radically inflationary policies greatly increased the concentration of wealth.

    Under ordinary circumstances, monetary inflation has the effect of redistributing wealth in favor of those recipients who receive newly created money first because they can spend it before it loses value. In a declining economy, however, the wealth redistribution effects of inflation are magnified.

    When the Federal Reserve or the federal government supports banks and financial markets through liquidity injections, bailouts, asset purchases, quantitative easing, etc., the lion's share of financial support, i.e., newly created money, is captured by the largest financial institutions and by the wealthiest 1% of Americans. Money printing skews the distribution of money over the economy while the value of money, i.e., the purchasing power of wages and savings, is reduced.

    U.S. government debt and deficit spending have markedly accelerated over the past decade. For example, The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created and the U.S. military grew to 3 million active duty and reserve personnel, not including contractors. Since 2001, the U.S. spent approximately $1 trillion on military expansion while the total cost of the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has been estimated to exceed $3.7 trillion.

    As of 2012, the majority of new federal government debt will stem from interest on existing debt. Treasury bond issues totaled $2.55 trillion in 2010, roughly 2x the federal budget deficit of $1.3 trillion.

    The U.S. federal government's fast growing debt is $14.94 trillion, approximately 100% of GDP. Additionally, future liabilities total $66.6 trillion, including Medicare at $24.8 trillion, Social Security at $21.4 trillion, and Federal debt at $10.2 trillion.

    The eventual insolvency of the U.S. federal government cannot be averted through any combination of taxes, budget cuts or realistic GDP growth. Increasing deficit spending by the federal government and debt monetization by the Federal Reserve, would devalue the U.S. dollar and potentially trigger a hyperinflationary collapse of the currency. To stave off the inevitable, interim measures might include tax increases, exchange controls, nationalization of pension funds or other measures similar to those taken in 3rd world countries.

    Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), explained that the finance industry had effectively captured the U.S. government, a state of affairs typical of 3rd world countries.

    Corruption, cronyism and weak rule of law are typical of 3rd world countries. The United States exhibits a clear corporate influence over elections and legislation and, arguably, relatively little law enforcement action where large, legally well-equipped corporations are concerned.

    Critics have alleged that, underlying the sub-prime mortgage meltdown that triggered the financial crisis in 2008 was rampant fraud. Despite an avalanche of alleged crimes under existing federal law, no firm or individual of any significance in the financial crisis has yet been prosecuted.

    More than any other aspect of America's progression towards 3rd world status, the federal government's low level of law enforcement action where "too big to fail" banks are concerned is perhaps the most insidious because it raises questions of legitimacy and of the social contract. A financial and legal system of moral hazard implies that victims face double jeopardy while they are deprived of legal recourse, i.e., those allegedly defrauded might face inflation and tax burdens stemming from preferential treatment of favored corporations or from further bailouts.

    According to the Tax Policy center at the Urban Institute, Brookings Institution, 46% of American households will pay no federal income tax in 2011. The reasons include income tax exemptions for subsistence level income, dependents and nontaxable tax expenditures for senior citizens and low-income working families with children.

    Assuming that big banks, multinational corporations and the wealthiest 1% of Americans remain off limits in terms of tax policy, the range of income taxed is likely to fall on what remains of the once much larger middle class: professionals, small business owners and dual income families in urban areas, etc. These are the households that have managed to stay ahead of inflation, declining real wages and falling household incomes.

    Among other things, U.S. tax policies will erode capital formation within the remnants of the middle class, which is the engine of small business creation and the source of most American jobs. The eventual result will be a three-tier socioeconomic structure consisting of a super rich wealthy class, a much poorer working class and a massive, politically and financially disenfranchised underclass, similar to that of a 3rd world country. doclink

    Caps Calls on President Obama to Slow Legal Immigration Until Los Angeles is Working Again

    November 29, 2011, Californians for Population Stabilization

    More than 1 million legal immigrants and temporary workers a year to come to America and take jobs despite the country's highest unemployment levels since the Great Depression.

    In Los Angeles, the unemployment rate is currently more than 11% but several areas of California have topped 16% within the last year. The national unemployment rate is around 9%.

    More legal immigrants settle in California than any other state in the country. Additionally, the Los Angeles metropolitan area is second only to New York in highest number of legal immigrants settled annually. California has been forced to borrow $40 million a day from the Federal Government to pay unemployment benefits.

    "Even if you haven't lost your job, you're paying a price for the flood of legal immigration. It's coming out of your paycheck in the form of unemployment benefits for our fellow Californians," commented Marilyn DeYoung, Chairwoman of Californians for Population Stabilization. "But you can't blame legal immigrants. Blame our country's leaders...."

    Recent studies by the Pew Hispanic Center and Northeastern University of Boston indicate that African Americans, Hispanic Americans and new immigrants have been disproportionately affected by the bad economy, with unemployment rates twice, even three times unemployment rates of the general population. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: some say we need to equalize wages between rich and poor, but bringing the 99% into the gutter will bring this nation to its knees, and along with it, funding for foreign development and family planning aid.

    President Obama seems oblivious to the plight of the unemployed and the disappearing middle class. And what will happen to us when all these bailouts result in rampaging inflation? Or when we slide down the Peak Oil cliff?

    U.S.: Obama Administration to Decide Birth Control Coverage

    November 18, 2011, Population Connection

    Earlier this year, an expert panel recommended that all forms of prescription birth control should be covered without co-pays under all new health insurance plans. The Obama administration accepted this recommendation but included an exemption for certain religious employers. That wasn't enough for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) or the Catholic Health Association (CHA). The USCCB is calling the birth control provision a violation of their religious liberty and demanding a vast expansion of the refusal clause. If they have their way, experts estimate that at least a million women across the country will not have access to this new and valuable benefit.

    The proposed rule is only a draft and a final decision will be made soon. It's time that the White House heard from those of us who support contraceptive coverage for everyone. Tell President Obama that this benefit is critical to the health and well-being of all American families and that nobody should be denied this important coverage because of the "conscience" of another. doclink

    Sustainability and the U.S. EPA

    November 16, 2011, Population Institute - Sustainable World Initiative

    The report "Sustainability and the U.S. EPA" was requested by the U.S. EPA, to "… develop an operational framework for integrating sustainability as one of the key drivers within the regulatory responsibilities of EPA."

    It recommended that the EPA should adopt and implement a comprehensive sustainability framework that includes specific work processes for incorporating sustainability into decisions and actions.

    "Sustainability is based on a simple and long-recognized factual premise: Everything that humans require for their survival and well-being depends, directly or indirectly, on the natural environment. The environment provides the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. It defines in fundamental ways, the communities in which we live and is the source for renewable and non-renewable resources on which civilization depends."

    “Sustainability is our true north. The work that we do - the research, the assessments, the policy development - is part of ensuring that we have a sustainable society, a sustainable civilization,"

    It made reference to a number of very broad sustainability principles, including a citation from the “OECD Environmental Strategy for the First Decade of the Twenty-first Century:"

    “Regeneration: Renewable resources shall be used efficiently and their use shall not be permitted to exceed their long-term rates of natural rates of natural regeneration."

    It is very encouraging to witness these new sustainability initiatives within the EPA, and to interact with the internal network of EPA employees who are thinking about this important subject. However, this positive feeling must be somewhat tempered by the occurrence of recent congressional attacks on the EPA, that are designed to constrain their enforcement activities (supposedly in the interest of greater “economic opportunity"). Such attacks are, of course, short sighted. Their very existence in today's political landscape should prompt a renewed commitment to educating the public (and policy makers) about the importance of protecting the nation's foundational environmental assets. Human well-being, now and especially in the future, depends on preserving these natural resource assets in perpetuity. doclink

    The Birth Control Solution; Contraceptives No More Cause Sex Than Umbrellas Cause Rain

    November 02, 2011, New York Times

    by Nicholas D. Kristof

    Many of the global problems that confront us have a solution. It's called family planning, but it is starved of resources due to America's religious wars, which are partly responsible for the world's population to reach seven billion so soon after reaching 6 billion 12 years ago.

    It took humans hundreds of thousands of years to reach the first billion, in 1804. It took another 123 years to reach two billion, in 1927. Since then, we've been passing these milestones like billboards along a highway.

    In 1999, the United Nations' best projection was that the world wouldn't pass seven billion until 2013, but we reached it two years early.

    Youth bulges in rapidly growing countries like Afghanistan and Yemen makes them more prone to conflict and terrorism. Booming populations also contribute to global poverty and make it impossible to protect virgin forests or fend off climate change.

    Family planning works. Women in India average 2.6 children, down from 6 in 1950. Mexico's average is 2.2, down from 7 in 1965.

    But women in Afghanistan, Chad, Congo, Somalia, East Timor and Uganda all have six or more children each. There are women in rural Africa who have never heard of birth control. The Guttmacher Institute, a respected research group, estimate that 215 million women want to avoid getting pregnant but have no access to contraception.

    It's not just contraception that's needed, but girls' education and women's rights - starting with an end to child marriages . Educated women tend to have fewer children.

    The Population Institute came out with a report that said gender inequality has replaced lack of access to contraceptives as the biggest barrier to reducing birth rates.

    We also need to find better contraceptives. A new breakthrough is an inexpensive vaginal ring that releases hormones, lasts a year and should not require a doctor. It could even contain medication to reduce the risk of an infection with the AIDS virus.

    Republican presidents like Richard Nixon and George H.W. Bush provided strong support for birth control, even though the Roman Catholic hierarchy was opposed, but then family planning became tarnished by overzealous and coercive programs in China and India, and contraception became entangled in America's abortion wars. Many well-meaning religious conservatives turned against it, and funding lagged. The result was, paradoxically, more abortions. When contraception is unavailable, the likely consequence is not less sex, but more pregnancy.

    The U.N. says that contraception already prevents 112 million abortions a year, but the United Nations Population Fund is a bête noire for conservatives, even though, through contraception it may have reduced abortions more than any organization in the world.

    Republicans want to cut more money from international family planning, resulting in more abortions and more women dying in childbirth. They also are trying to slash Title X Family Planning programs within the United States. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that in a year these domestic programs avert 973,000 unintended pregnancies, of which 406,000 would end in abortions. These programs also save taxpayers roughly $3.4 billion annually that would otherwise be spent on pregnancies and babies.

    The good news is that a group of evangelical Christians, led by Richard Cizik of The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, is drafting a broad statement of support for family planning. It emphasizes that family planning reduces abortion and lives lost in childbirth. "Family planning is morally laudable in Christian terms because of its contribution to family well-being, women's health, and the prevention of abortion," it says.

    As we greet the seven-billionth human, let's try to delay the arrival of the eight billionth. We should all be able to agree on voluntary family planning as a cost-effective strategy to reduce poverty, conflict and environmental damage. If you think family planning is expensive, you haven't priced babies. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: How's this for an idea? Go to the link in the headline of this article, print the article, and send it to each of your lawmakers

    Today group of 122 House Democrats fought back today against what they called "a systematic and baseless campaign of misinformation" from House Republicans about UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund

    From Americans for UNFPA: In an open letter to President Obama, the group urged him to reaffirm U.S. support for the agency and for its programs supporting comprehensive reproductive health care in more than 150 countries worldwide. It gave a point-by-point rebuttal of charges against UNFPA that House Republicans made in an Oct. 7 letter to Obama, which the Democrats said “misrepresented and distorted a number of facts" about UNFPA.

    U.S.: Health, Abortion Issues Split Obama Administration and Catholic Groups

    November 01, 2011, Washington Post

    The new health-care law and ongoing divisions over access to abortion and birth control have resulted in a contentious battle between Catholic groups and the Obama administration.

    In late September the Department of Health and Human Services decided to end funding to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to help victims of human trafficking, or modern-day slavery. Three other groups received the funding because the bishops organization refused to refer trafficking victims for contraceptives or abortion.

    The bishops conference is threatening legal action and accusing the administration of anti-Catholic bias, which HHS officials deny.

    On another matter, the bishops fiercely oppose the administration's decision in February to no longer defend the federal law barring the recognition of same-sex marriage.

    Also Catholic groups also have objected in recent weeks to a proposed HHS mandate - issued under the health-care law - that would require private insurers to provide women with contraceptives without charge.

    Regarding the human trafficking funding, the ACLU, in the lawsuit it filed in U.S. District Court in Boston in 2009, argued that many women are raped by their traffickers and don't speak English, making it hard for them to find reproductive services without help.

    While the bishops' organization would not refer women directly, it allowed subcontractors to arrange for the services, but it refused to reimburse the subcontractors with federal dollars.

    "The principle of church teaching is that all sexual encounters be open to life,' said Walsh, of the bishops conference. "It's not a minor matter; this is intrinsic to our Catholic beliefs.'

    The ACLU lawsuit argued that HHS allowed the Catholic group to impose its beliefs. But in defending the contract on behalf of HHS, Justice Department lawyers argued that the contract was constitutional and that the bishops had been "resoundingly successful in increasing assistance to victims of human trafficking.'

    However, this spring, as the contract approached its expiration, HHS political appointees became involved in reshaping the request for proposals, adding a "strong preference" for applicants offering referrals for family planning and the "full range" of "gynecological and obstetric care.' That would include abortions and birth control; federal funds cannot be used for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the life of the mother.

    The "strong preference" language now lies at the heart of the dispute. doclink

    Anti-Choice House Leadership Holding Hearing on Birth-Control Refusal

    November 02, 2011, Blog for Choice

    The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health - led by Rep. Joe Pitts of Pennsylvania (author of the bill dubbed "Let Women Die") - is holding a hearing on the no-cost birth-control policy going into effect as a result of the health-reform law signed by President Obama in 2010. Anti-choice lawmakers think employers who oppose contraception should be allowed to deny their employees a health plan that covers contraception due to the so-called "conscience" of corporations.

    Ninety-eight percent of women--of all faiths and backgrounds--use birth control at some point in their lives.

    NARAL Pro-Choice America submitted testimony to the subcommittee in opposition to an expansive refusal clause.

    Help us tell the White House that all women--regardless of their employer--should benefit from no-cost birth control. Follow the link in the headline to take action. doclink

    U.S.: Sex-Ed Initiative at Heart of House Bill Battle; Focus on Funding for Teen Program

    October 20, 2011, Washington Times

    The House bill that would fund the Department of Health and Human Services for fiscal 2012 has a clause that would slash Obama administration's TPP (Teen Pregnancy Prevention) program, now funded at $105 million, and divert half the money to abstinence education.

    The Senate version of the bill maintains the new TPP Initiative program, which was created by the Obama administration and a Democrat-led Congress to give grants to organizations to replicate certain "comprehensive" sex-education programs that have been proven to impact teen pregnancy and to replace Bush-era abstinence-education grant programs.

    TPP grantees must also conduct research on their programs.

    Monica Rodriguez, president and chief executive of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) said the House bill is "problematic and hypocritical." Everyone in Congress is talking about deficit reduction and cost-saving measures, but then they “decimate" the TPP program, which supports programs that work, she said, and divert money to "failed abstinence-only-until-marriage programs."

    Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA) said abstinence programs are effective, citing a NAEA report published this year that lists 22 studies - half published since 2008 - that show that abstinence programs can reduce teen sex or affect teen behaviors. Also, federal data show “a dramatic drop" in teen sexual-activity rates since 1996 — the year abstinence-education funding was first expanded, she said.

    It is unknown what will happen to the TPP program when the House and Senate bills are merged.

    The Senate version - unlike the House draft - also maintains funding for family planning and other public health programs.

    The deadline for a decision is Nov. 18, when Congress‘ temporary spending law expires. doclink

    Tennessee Commission Gives Family Planning Contract to Religious Health Group

    October 20, 2011, Care2

    The Shelby County commission has voted 9 to 4 to take their Title X funding away from Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region and instead give it to Christ Community Health Services, which promises "high-quality health care to the underserved in the context of distinctively Christian service."

    At the clinic sermons may accompany health screenings and birth control pickups. One Christ Community patient testified at the commission that,she was told: ‘If only my relationships with people and God were right, I would have fewer health problems.'"

    Emergency Contraception will be offered through a "third party," which will delay the amount of time it will take for a woman to get the medication, making it much more likely she will miss the window of the few days that the preventative drug can work. Even though EC is not an abortifacient, it will not be available on site due to "religious objections."

    No abortion referrals will be made. Christ Community Health Services' lead physician made it clear that “staffers will not direct patients to abortion clinics or make formal referrals to providers who terminate pregnancies." doclink

    U.S.: New Era for Women: Free Contraception

    August 12, 2011, National Partnership for Women & Families; By Debra L. Ness

    This summer the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that beginning next August, women will have access to all approved contraceptive methods without co-pays or added cost under the Affordable Care Act. American women have already thought of birth control as basic preventive care.

    In addition to health concerns, the ability to control our reproduction is essential to women's ability to care for our families, hold jobs and compete in the workforce, and function as equal participants in our society.

    It's important that employer-sponsored plans will no longer treat these basic women's health services differently than other important preventive health services.

    Women spend at least 30 years, on average, being sexually active while trying to avoid pregnancy. For working women, the ability to control their fertility has been integral to achieving personal, educational and professional goals. In contrast, unplanned pregnancies dramatically increase a woman's risk of failing to complete her education, living in poverty and experiencing a host of other significant challenges.

    With 30 years of fertility comes 30 years of expensive contraception - and studies show that even minimal co-pays deter women from obtaining the care they need. One study found that low-income Americans reduced their use of effective health care by 44% when required to make co-pays. In 2008, 36 million women ­-- more than half of women of reproductive age --­ needed contraceptive services and supplies. Of that group, 17.4 million needed publicly funded contraception. doclink

    U.S.: Family Planning Under Attack - the New Conservative

    September 28, 2011, Population Connection

    Excerpts from Population Connection's most recent issue of the Reporter:

    An ultraconservative columnist at The Washington Times wrote "Free birth control has nothing to do with ‘protecting women's health.' Rather, it is about consolidating the sexual revolution.The post-1960s left has been at war with Christianity. Its aim is to erect a utopian socialist state—one built upon the rubble of Judeo-Christian civilization. In short, liberals want to create a world without God and sexual permissiveness is their battering ram. Promoting widespread contraception is essential to forging a pagan society based on consequence-free sex." He then went on to call the decision "profoundly immoral."

    Fox News The Five co-host Greg Gutfield declared that "the left has figured out a way to eradicate the poor." Fox News contributor Sandy Rios suggested that what women really need to do is “stop having irresponsible sex." Bill O'Reilly argued on his show that universal coverage of contraception is pointless since “many women who get pregnant are blasted out of their minds when they have sex" and “are not going to use birth control anyway."

    The Susan B. Anthony List, an extreme anti-choice group, has called on all the candidates to sign a pledge promising that, if they become President, they will enact a laundry list of new restrictions on abortion rights, including the complete defunding of all Planned Parenthood services. Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Thad McCotter have all signed the pledge. Mitt Romney, while reiterating his opposition to reproductive rights, has declined to do so—likely in an effort to preserve his ability to “move toward the middle" in a general election. doclink

    Population Connection says: The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that providing comprehensive contraceptive coverage to women will represent a negligible cost to employers and could save up to $19 billion annually in expenses directly related to unintended pregnancy.

    News Alert: Attack on Planned Parenthood

    September 28, 2011, Planned Parenthood

    The anti-family-planning faction in Congress has launched another attack on women's health care. The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee has launched an "investigation" into Planned Parenthood's finances. Rep. Cliff Stearns(R-FL), who chairs the subcommittee on oversight and investigations, has demanded that Planned Parenthood Federation of America turn over financial and other records from every affiliate going back 12 years.

    "This investigation diverts scarce PPMM resources from providing vital health care and education to searching for and producing the long list of requested documents," said PPMM CEO Linda Williams. “Our clients who need cancer-screening, contraception, STD-testing and treatment, prenatal care and family health care are the real victims of this investigation."

    Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), the ranking member of the subcommittee, have sent a a letter to the subcommittee, saying: “We are aware of no predicate that would justify this sweeping and invasive request to Planned Parenthood. The HHS Inspector General and state Medicaid programs regularly audit Planned Parenthood and report publicly on their findings. These audits have not identified any pattern of misuse of federal funds, illegal activity or other abuse….It would be an abuse of the oversight process if you are now using the Committee's investigative powers to harass Planned Parenthood again." doclink

    What's Behind the Drop in US Birth Rates?

    September 22, 2011, Karen Gaia - WOA website

    The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently released a report revealing that the U.S. birth rate has dropped to the lowest level since national data have been available. Which brings the question to mind: are we going to follow the path of some European countries and Japan, where birth rates have dropped to an alarming low? Here are some facts you should know when considering this (some of this is from and some from and

  • The population has been aging due to the Baby Boom starting after WWII in the 1940s and continuing until the early 1960s. Not only have the Baby Boomers retired, they've stopped reproducing, meaning a smaller portion of the population is having babies. Add to this the fact that seniors are living longer, and you have a very lopsided population pyramid.
  • Part of the lowered birth rate is due to the falling birth rate of of teenagers, which fell to a new record low, continuing a decline that began in 1991. This represents a 5% decline from 2001 and a 28% decline from 1990
  • Part of the lowered birth rate is due to the fact that the birth rates of women of peak childbearing age has also been declining. Birth rates for women in their 20s and early 30s were generally down while births to older mothers (35-44) were still on the rise.
  • More than one-third of all births were to unmarried women.
  • Births fell 2.6% last year even as the population grew. The total number of births, a record 4.3 million in 2007, dropped 7% to 4 million in 2010. However, it may be that people are living longer, which may offset the drop in births
  • The United States is still growing, in fact it is the fastest growing and has the highest birth rate of any developed country in the world, and is also the third largest country. So we do not need to be worried yet about a birth dearth.
  • In 2007 more babies were born in the United States than any other year in the nation's history.
  • Part of the explanation for the birth rate could be that it follows a record for U.S. births — "an all-time high of 4,316,233 in 2007," according to the authors of the CDC study.
  • Nearly half of low- and middle-income women surveyed a year ago by the Guttmacher Institute said they wanted to delay pregnancy or limit the number of children they have because of money concerns. Half of those women also said the recession made them more focused on contraceptive use.
  • Last spring's report showed a surprising rise in births to women over 40, who may have felt they were running out of time to have children and didn't want to delay despite the bad economy.
  • By age, the largest decline was 9%, among women between 20 and 24. Fertility rates among Hispanic women also dropped by 9%.
  • Research by Stanford University sociologist Paula England, based on interviews with 17,000 college students shows that more college students are now reporting that they are virgins — even as the practice of hooking up for short-term flings or one-night stands has also increased. "Just under one-quarter (24 percent) of seniors say they are virgins."
  • Reporter Sharon Jayson of USA Today found one young man who said he has chosen not to have sex told Jayson that he and his friends try to avoid looking at porn online. But Iowa State University sociologist Teresa Downing-Matibag suggests that maybe virtual sex is competing with the real thing — and winning. "They can still be a virgin and have 100 different partners online through chat rooms or webcams."
  • Experts said a decline in immigration to the United States also may be pushing births down.
  • Reasons for not encouraging women of child-bearing age to have more children: 1) It will not improve the current dependency ration of working adults to children and seniors; instead making it far worse. 2) Resource depletion would only get worse if you produce even more children. 3) Who would take care of the new Baby Boom when they retired? It is just another Ponzi scheme.
  • Then there is this from : Japan has seen Tokyo home prices decline by about 50% over 20 years as population growth embarked on its downward trend and became negative in recent years. So in a modern economy that has had anemic economic growth for well over a decade and very little, if any, population and household growth, hit a bottom at 50% from its home pricing peak. It took 16 years for the bottom to be reached and prices have been stuck at the bottom for the last four years in Japan.
  • doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Sooner or later we will have to face the fact that we have already hit the peak of the American Dream. It is better to face that fact now and prepare. We must balance our attention between preparing our children for the future that will be theirs to control and preparing ourselves for a normal mortal life rather than a nation of old people.

    U.S.: Gov. Perry Cut Funds for Women's Health in Texas

    September 20, 2011, NPR

    Only 48% of Texans have private health insurance, and more than a quarter of the state's population has no insurance at all, more than any other state. Hospital emergency rooms and dozens of women's health clinics have stepped in to serve the uninsured across Texas.

    Tom Banning, CEO of the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, says "We've got universal health care in Texas, (but) the way we're financing it is beyond stupid." "In terms of accessing basic primary and preventive care, I think we fall far short."

    Over the past eight years, citing budget constraints, Gov. Rick Perry and the Republican-controlled legislature have dropped hundreds of thousands of mostly poor and working-class Texans from the rolls of government-sponsored insurance like Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program.

    Premiums in Texas' unregulated health insurance industry have soared by 105% over the past 10 years,.

    For hundreds of thousands of Texas women and teens between the ages of 13 and 50, the 71 family planning clinics in the state serve as their gateway to health care, and for many of those women, visiting the clinics is the only time they see a nurse practitioner or a doctor. But the Texas legislature and Gov. Perry cut funding for family planning clinics by two-thirds this year, a devastating blow. The funding was for birth control, Pap smears, breast cancer screening, for diabetes, thyroid disorders, anemia and high cholesterol.

    These cuts are less about saving money and more about abortion and contraception. Evangelicals and Tea Party supporters are ascendant in Texas, and Perry is their champion.

    State Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Nacogdoches) said, "Well of course this is a war on birth control and abortions and everything — that's what family planning is supposed to be about."

    Family planning clinics are routinely referred to by many Texas Republican legislators as "abortion clinics" even though none of the 71 family planning clinics in the state that receive government funding provides abortions. But most women's health clinics will refer women or teens who want an abortion to a provider.

    The state estimates nearly 300,000 women will lose access to family planning services, resulting in roughly 20,000 additional unplanned births. Texas already spends $1.3 billion on teen pregnancies — more than any other state.

    Part of the money, $8.4 million, that was cut from family planning will now go to Crisis Pregnancy Centers around the state. Crisis Pregnancy Centers are part of the pro-life movement's answer to family planning clinics.

    The centers are for women who are willing to keep their babies or give them up for adoption. But clinic president Caroline Cline says, heartbreakingly, only 1 to 2% are willing to let their babies be adopted. Cline says teens will say to her, "I'd rather abort than give my baby up for adoption." The clinic gets calls from people asking what kind of abortions they offer and how much abortions cost, Cline says. doclink

    Population Connection says: Many of those 20,000 unplanned births will likely end in abortion. Remind me again how this agenda is "pro-life?"

    Senate Committee Stands Up for Family Planning

    September 21, 2011, Population Connection

    Yesterday Population Connection asked you to email your Senators about the important vote on the Global Gag Rule expected today in the Senate Appropriations Committee - and over 1200 of you responded.

    We won. Today, the Appropriations Committee voted on the Lautenberg Amendment, which passed 18-12. Every Democrat on the committee, with the lone exception of Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted in favor, along with three Republicans: Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Mark Kirk of Illinois.

    This is an important victory in the fight to protect access to family planning for women and families around the world, and it could not happen without the support of individuals like you. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: a good reason to join Population Connection if you haven't already.

    U.S.: Don't Let Governor Perry Do This to Texas Women

    September 02, 2011, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

    Governor Rick Perry and the Texas legislature have launched an assault on Planned Parenthood and women's health that is a true threat to women in Texas and beyond. They have passed a bill that would force women seeking abortion care to view a sonogram. It would also require doctors to read an anti-choice script written by the anti-choice legislature. The only way to avoid these burdens would be for women to certify in writing that they are pregnant due to rape or incest.

    Thankfully, a federal judge stopped enforcement of the worst parts of the new law just two days before they went into effect. His ruling pointed out that this law "compels physicians to advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity, and irrespective of whether the pregnant women wish to listen."

    Governor Perry immediately vowed to appeal the bill.

    Texas has more uninsured residents than any other state. But Governor Perry recently cut family planning funding by two-thirds - which could cut off health care to more than 300,000 Texas women.Women in Texas struggle to find affordable health care, but Governor Perry is trying to shut down the Planned Parenthood health centers that provide it. doclink

    Historic Step Forward for U.S. Women’s Health: Preventative Health Essentials Without Copayments, Including Contraceptives

    August 1, 2011, PlanetWire

    The Obama administration declared eight essential preventive services that insurers will be required to make available to women without copayments. The coverage includes contraceptives and will be available Jan. 1, 2013, Also covered without cost to women beyond their health insurance premiums are annual well-woman visits; screenings for cervical cancer, HIV/AIDS and diabetes when women are pregnant; violence counseling; and breast-feeding supplies.

    "Not doing it would be like not covering flu shots," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in announcing the decision. A panel of experts from the Institute of Medicine, said prevention of unintended pregnancies is essential for women's physical, psychological and emotional health and should be covered as routine essential preventive care.

    An estimated 98% of sexually active American women have used a contraceptive at some point in their lives. 77% of Americans believe that private medical insurance should provide no-cost birth control and 74% believe that government-sponsored plans should do the same, according to a recent Thomson Reuters-NPR health poll.

    Brand-name contraceptives can cost $60 per month or more. On the other hand, family planning coverage has historically saved money not only for women but for insurers, by reducing their spending on pregnancy complications and treatments for unsafe abortions. doclink

    U.S.: Court Orders Birth-control Coverage

    June 12, 2011, ABC News

    In the first federal challenge to employers who do not cover birth control, , U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik found that women were receiving less complete coverage than men which violated federal law and ruled a company must provide contraceptives for women as part of its health insurance plan.

    "Although the plan covers almost all drugs and devices used by men, the exclusion of prescription contraceptives creates a gaping hole in the coverage offered to female employees, leaving a fundamental and immediate health care need uncovered," Lasnik wrote in his ruling.

    The lawsuit was brought by Jennifer Erickson, pharmacist, against her employer, Bartell Drug Co., a family-owned drugstore chain in the Seattle area. Erickson found that many of her female customers were surprised that birth control pills were not covered by their insurance plans.

    Women's groups, who have argued for years that not covering birth control is a form of discrimination against women, hailed the decision as important and long overdue. doclink

    Opting Out on Religious Grounds; Reproductive Freedom (Religious Wars)

    July 22, 2011, The Economist - blog

    The Family Research Council thinks your rights being violated when health-insurance plans are required to cover procedures you find objectionable due to your personal religious taboos, according to the Washington Post. Jeanne Monahan, director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, said that many Americans may object to birth control on religious grounds. They should not be forced to have to pay into insurance plans that violate their consciences.

    But more offensive is parents who discourage their children from using contraception or having abortions for religious reasons, and whose daughters wind up becoming teen mothers as a result. Our insurance premiums should not be subsidising that sort of behaviour. Those parents should be required to pay for their daughters' prenatal care and deliveries out-of-pocket, or to pay higher premiums to compensate for the increased risk of teen pregnancy they're forcing their daughters to run.

    We should be given the option of an insurance plan that will not reimburse for fundamentalism-related conditions, with a corresponding lower premium to guarantee that none of our insurance dollars are being used to pay for other people's superstitious health behaviour.

    How's that for a little religious warfare? Actually, most of us 'liberals' don't feel that way. We are willing to let our insurance premiums and Medicaid taxes cover prenatal care for teen mothers in born-again Christian families; it's not those girls' fault that they were born into that ideological milieu, and they and their babies should get decent health care regardless.

    The Family Research Council stance on birth control appears to represent approximately no American women. The Guttmacher Institute found that 98% of Catholic women and nearly 100% of evangelical women have used contraception at some point.

    America has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the developed world. Research consistently indicates there are a lot of women out there, particularly low-income women, who want to have more control than they do over their reproductive timing. They don't want to be having babies. I don't want them to be having babies they don't want, particularly if I have to pay for those babies. Requiring insurers to cover birth control and counseling will lead to these women having more control over their reproductive choices. doclink

    Free Birth Control in Obamacare 'Profoundly Immoral'

    July 22, 2011, Grubby Hub

    Editor's note: this is just to give you an idea of what many on the religious right think, and to raise the alarm that reproductive choice, including contraception, is being threatened by our new Congress.

    The Washington Times reports that the Obama administration is now contemplating forcing health insurance companies to provide free birth control - including the "morning-after" pill. In other words, Mr. Obama's government-run health care system may easily include another monstrosity: mandating that taxpayers subsidize the "morning-after" pill.

    Obamacare is an assault upon traditional America. This proposal panders to the feminist lobby, especially Planned Parenthood - the nation's largest provider of "family planning" and abortion services. Free birth control has nothing to do with "protecting women's health." Rather, it is about consolidating the sexual revolution. The post-1960s left has been at war with Christianity. Its aim is to erect a utopian socialist state - one built upon the rubble of Judeo-Christian civilization. In short, liberals want to create a world without God and sexual permissiveness is their battering ram. Promoting widespread contraception is essential to forging a pagan society based on consequence-free sex.

    Contraception violates the natural moral order. It decouples sexual intercourse from its main purpose: procreation. It entrenches the hedonistic ethic that sex is about recreation and individual gratification. It strikes at the very heart of a functioning, self-renewing civilization - having children and perpetuating one generation to another. This is why practically every major religion and most cultures have rightly believed that birth control, pornography, homosexuality and adultery are wrong. doclink

    Karen Gaia said: 79% of American women (including 70% of Catholic women), of childbearing age use contraception, making the majority of American women of childbearing age, including married women, immoral and "at war with Christianity", if you believe this article.

    U.S.: Centers Stop Dispensing Birth Control; Planned Parenthood Loses Contract

    July 8, 2011, Concord Monitor

    Two weeks ago, the all-Republican Executive Council of New Hampshire voted 3-2 against a new contract that would have provided Planned Parenthood of Northern New England $1.8 million in state and federal money for the two years starting this month.

    The six Planned Parenthood centers in New Hampshire stopped dispensing contraception last week, their retail pharmacy license contingent on having a state contract.

    Executive Councilor Dan St. Hilaire of Concord, who cast one of the three votes in opposition, said the contract should go to an organization that does not perform abortions. The councilors approved 10 other contracts for family planning services.

    The contract with Planned Parenthood, which accounts for about 20% of its annual New Hampshire budget, would have paid for education, distributing contraception, and the testing and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.

    The organization's abortion practice is paid for by private donations, president and CEO Steve Trombley, said, with audits ensuring no public money is used.

    Planned Parenthood provides contraception, breast exams, screenings for cervical cancer, and tests for sexually transmitted infections, treating 52% of patients whose care is subsidized by the New Hampshire state family planning program. 70% of its patients, 150% below the federal poverty line,pay little or nothing for birth control pills, and 70% of the center's patients lack private health insurance.

    One woman said she would like to have a child but cannot afford it, and she worries there will be a public cost if contraception is inaccessible to low-income women. "If they can't afford to have a baby, then we'll be paying for them in the long run," she said.

    Anne Hildreth, a practitioner working for Planned Parenthood, said her goal is to help prevent unwanted pregnancies. She questioned the rationale of limiting access to contraception in an effort to prevent abortions. "It's crazy to not give women birth control if you want to stop women from having abortions," she said.

    Executive councilor Raymond Wieczorek of Manchester does not believe the state should subsidize contraception. "If they want to have a good time, why not let them pay for it?" he said. doclink

    U.S.: Ohio House Approves Abortion Ban After Heartbeat

    June 28, 2011, Reuters

    The Ohio House of Representatives on Tuesday voted 54 to 43 to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, which can be as early as six weeks. Most Republicans voted in favor. It does not contain exceptions for rape, incest or the life or health of the mother.The bill will go next to the Republican-dominated Ohio Senate.

    The law, if enacted will face a court challenge because it conflicts with the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling which upheld a woman's right to an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually at 22-24 weeks.

    Two other abortion bills were passed by the House, one that would ban late-term abortions after 20 weeks if a doctor determines that the fetus is viable outside the womb; the other excludes abortion coverage from the state insurance exchange created by the federal health care law.

    The late-term ban already was passed by the Ohio Senate.

    Ohio Right to Life said the bill is unconstitutional and believes it is not wise to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer's dollars defending it. doclink

    U.S.: Religious Voices Support Access to Abortion

    June 30, 2011, The Hill

    Capitol Hill should be a reflection of the needs and values of all Americans -- not just those with the loudest voices or the strongest lobby. Often, religious voices are used to impose or support the most conservative policies, despite the diversity that exists among people of faith.

    The Catholic Declaration on Religious Freedom declares "the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom." Though we come from different backgrounds, all of us share the belief that women should have the right to make their own choice about abortion, in particular, and reproductive health choices in general.

    These choices are under fire in Congress. Even though Catholics disagree fundamentally with positions that the bishops have taken on these matters, the U.S. bishops have been the greatest obstacle to women exercising these choices.

    For Catholics, the preferential option for the poor calls us to protect the least among us. The 'No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act' (S. 906/H.R. 3) would permanently bar any federal money from being spent on abortion, thereby singling out those women who depend upon Medicaid, Medicare, or the Indian Health service, or are in the military or receive healthcare from other federal healthcare programs. doclink

    One way of looking at it: Census Reveals Plummeting U.S. Birthrates

    June 3, 2011, USA TODAY

    Children, the mainstay of suburbia and residential neighborhoods across the nation for more than a half-century, are fewer and increasingly sparse in many places.

    The share of the population under age 18 dropped in 95% of U.S. counties since 2000, according to a USA TODAY analysis of the 2010 Census.

    The number of households that have children under age 18 has stayed at 38 million since 2000, despite a 9.7% growth in the U.S. population. As a result, the share of households with children dropped from 36% in 2000 to 33.5%.

    There are now more households with dogs (43 million) than children.

    In Levittown Cini and Bachman see the impact of a shrinking child population far beyond their neighborhoods. Schools have been closed since the late 1970s and early '80s. Enrollment has dropped. The number of public school pupils generated by each housing unit in the district is 27% less than it was 20 years ago.

    Americans are getting older, and women are having children later. And when they do, they're not having as many. Births among Hispanics have not been enough to stem the overall decline.

    Because families with children tend to live near each other, the result is an increasingly patchy landscape of communities teeming with kids, and others with very few.

    The number of non-Hispanic white women of child-bearing age has dropped 6% since 2000, and they're not having having enough children to keep that population from dropping eventually.

    The USA TODAY analysis shows:

    •Children make up 24% of the nation's population, down from 25.7% in 2000. The kid population declined more precipitously in 58.6% of the country' 3,143 counties.

    A University of Southern California analysis of the state's shrinking child population found that Los Angeles County is at the center of the decline because of difficult living conditions for families facing high housing costs during economic hard times.

    "The image of the white family living in the suburb is becoming extinct," says William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution. "It's an endangered species."

    As jobs disappeared, so did young people. The 17,311-home Levittown community that once embodied the American dream became known as "Leave-it-town."

    The child population slipped more than 6% in rural counties "where young people left and older people are left behind."

    "The way to keep a community going is to keep it young."

    "Levittown was the epitome of Baby Boomers," says Jim White, 55. doclink

    Chuck says: While the percentage of young people (under 17 years old) in the U.S. population went down slightly between 2000 and 2010, the
    number of young people actually went up by 1.9 million. The only age group that showed a 2010 decrease in numbers was the 25-44 year old group at minus 2.9 million. The 45-64 age group went up by a whopping 19.5 million. ... Karen Gaia says: What is happening is the large number of BABY BOOMERS, and the comparatively low number of people of child-bearing age, make for a very skewed population pyramid, and a plummeting birth rate (births per 1,000), even though fertility rates are relatively unchanged. Not only are housing and communities and local economies affected, but the real problem is that the ratio of people actually able to work to dependents (seniors and youngsters both), is very low, and unemployment makes it worse. But, no, having more people is not the answer. That would only lead to another Baby Boom and a disaster in the future.

    U.S.: Planned Parenthood Under Fire

    May 26, 2011, USA Today

    Social conservatives in Congress failed to cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood last month, and now Legislators in several states are trying it.

    Federal law prohibits federal funding of abortions. Planned Parenthood gets government contracts and grants to provide family planning and health services. It serves about 3 million patients annually.

    President Carol Tobias of the National Right to Life Committee, which opposes abortion, says that taxpayer dollars that go to Planned Parenthood don't fund abortions directly, but the money is building their infrastructure and helping to attract clients.

    About a third of Planned Parenthood's $1.1 billion a year budget is from government funding.

    Attempts in state capitals to curtail the organization's funding are unprecedented says Roger Evans, Planned Parenthood's litigation director. "This is really ... an effort by the states to punish Planned Parenthood because of what we do with our private funds."

    Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels recently signed legislation barring any entity that performs abortions from contracting with Medicaid to provide health and preventive care. The American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood sued; a court hearing is set for June 6.

    Federal law does not allow states to prevent beneficiaries from getting other care from providers that offer abortions, according to The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is is reviewing Indiana's law and other state proposals to withhold funds from abortion providers. Recent legislative action:

    Tennessee, Wisconsin, Texas, Kansas, and North Carolina are all considering or have passed bills to restrict funding to entities, or Planned Parenthood specifically, that provide abortions. doclink

    The State Story: Growth Without Growth

    April 04, 2011, Planetizen

    by Richard Florida .. Harvard economist Edward Glaeser points out that median family incomes were $56,200, $60,800, and $56,600 in fast-growing Georgia, Nevada, and Texas, significantly lower than the $83,000, $81,000, and $66,900 found in slow-growing Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York.

    Economists agree that it is productivity growth -- fueled by invention and innovation, increased skills and human capital -- that is the main driver of economic growth and greater prosperity. Higher productivity translates into higher wages and income and improved living standards.

    The author and colleagues took a systematic look at the connection between population growth and productivity growth across the 50 states and found little connection between the two.

    Please visit the website at the headline link above to see the map charts and scatter graphics.

    The first map, color-coded by population growth, shows state population growth based on the new 2010 U.S. Census.

    The second map charts the change in productivity measured as gross state product per capita.

    The scatter-graph shows how some states that have attracted lots of people have registered meager productivity growth. This is especially true of the booming Sunbelt states that show up in the lower right-hand quadrant of the graph. Nevada, which posted the fastest rate of population growth, posted negative productivity figures. Productivity growth was also negative in the fast-expanding Sunbelt states of Georgia and North and South Carolina. And economic conditions in many of these states have likely worsened as the housing crisis has deepened.

    There are just a handful of states (upper right-hand quadrant) -- among them California, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington and Virginia -- that posted rates of productivity growth and population growth that were both above the national average. doclink

    U.S.: 5 Myths About Planned Parenthood

    April 17, 2011, Washington Post

    Myth 1: Opponents claim that giving Planned Parenthood federal dollars for Title X grant programs allows it to spend other money in its budget to provide abortions. Opponents do not understand that Congress has never appropriated enough money to take care of the estimated 17 million Americans who need publicly funded family-planning care. There always are more patients than subsidies.

    A Title X grant only helps with costs, it does not fully cover them. Family-planning programs have to find other money to support the Title X project - not the other way around. For Medicaid patients, reimbursement rates for reproductive health services are lower than the cost of the care. For typical family-planning visit consisting of exam, lab tests and contraception, Medicaid reimbursement may be only $20, but the cost may be as much as $200.

    Myth 2: 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is provide abortions. In fact, abortion care represents 3% of Planned Parenthood's medical services - 332,000 terminations out of a total of 11.4 million services provided in 2009. Most of the care offered is preventive, including contraception, testing for sexually transmitted infections, pap smears and breast exams.

    Title X funds cannot be used for abortion care, period.

    States can use their local tax dollars to support abortion care for low-income women, and 17 states do so under Medicaid.

    Myth 3: Defunding Planned Parenthood will reduce abortions. Planned Parenthood's main work is to provide information about and access to birth control, using Title X funds earmarked for that purpose. Contraception prevents the need for abortions, but most politicians who oppose abortion do not support birth control, either. 99% of Americans will use birth control in their lifetime.

    Women spend about five years either being pregnant or trying to get pregnant, and about 30 years trying not to get pregnant; the Guttmacher Institute estimates that half of the country's unintended pregnancies end in abortion. If anyone wants to prevent abortions, they should lead the charge to triple Title X funding. Planned Parenthood offers contraception to almost 2.5 million patients a year and serves 36% of all Title X patients.

    Myth 4: Planned Parenthood serves only teenagers and prostitutes. Planned Parenthood's typical patient is a working woman between 20 and 24, maybe in school, often with children. But women and men of all ages, races, income levels, and marital and social statuses are served.

    Myth 5: People don't really need Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood serves 3 million patients each year. In some areas, Planned Parenthood and the Title X-funded system are the only sexual health providers for hundreds of miles.

    "We screen people for high blood pressure, anemia and diabetes; we counsel them about smoking cessation and obesity; we connect them to other primary-care providers and social services. One in five American women has gone to Planned Parenthood at some point in her life, for respectful, compassionate, quality care."

    In a recession, more and more people are in need, while and as government funds lag and donations dwindle. But Planned Parenthood carries on. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Title X is a federal grant program that exists solely to help low-income and uninsured people access contraceptives and sexual health care; 5.2 million people use the program annually.

    Texas Passes Bill to Require Sonograms Before Abortions

    May 05, 2011, New York Times*

    A Texas bill that would require a doctor to conduct a sonogram at least 24 hours before an abortion and to give the woman the opportunity to see the results and hear the heartbeat of the fetus is on Gov. Rick Perry's desk for signature and he and is expected to sign it.

    Though the woman can choose not to view the images and hear the heartbeat, the doctor must describe what the sonogram shows, including the existence of legs, arms and internal organs.

    The bill's author, Representative Sid Miller, predicted the measure would "save numerous unborn lives."

    Oklahoma passed a bill last year requiring a doctor to provide a detailed oral description of the embryo, but a court has temporarily stayed that measure pending a lawsuit.

    Opponents say the bill is designed to dissuade women from seeking abortions, and they argue that the state should not interfere with the relationship between a doctor and patient. doclink

    U.S. Overconsumption

    Energy Cost Impacts on American Families, 2001-2012

    June 20 , 2012, EIA

    This EIA report analyzes consumer energy cost increases from 2001 to 2012 for all U.S. households and examines the pattern of energy expenditures among four income levels and for senior and minority families.

    In 2010, the median household income of U.S. families was a little under $50,000. In 2001, families with gross annual incomes below $50,000 spent an average of 12% of their average after-tax income on residential and transportation energy. By 2005, energy costs rose to 16% and in 2012, that number is expected to be 21%.

    Family incomes have not kept pace with the rising costs of energy. Since 2007, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that real (inflation-adjusted) median household income has declined by 6% (from $52,823) and is 7% below the median household income peak ($53,252) that occurred in 1999.

    The number of people in poverty in 2010 was the largest number in the 52 years since the Census Bureau began to publish poverty statistics. Poverty is more prevalent among some minority groups. Some 27% of Blacks and 26% of Hispanics lived in poverty in 2010, compared with 15% for the overall population.

    Higher gasoline prices account for nearly 80% of the increased cost of energy for consumers since 2001. Average U.S. household expenditures for gasoline will grow by 136% from 2001 to 2012 while residential energy costs for heating, cooling, and other household energy services will increase on average by 43%.

    Electricity prices have increased by only 51% in nominal dollars since 1990, well below the 72% rate of inflation in the Consumer Price Index. The nominal prices of residential natural gas and gasoline have nearly doubled and tripled, respectively, over this period.

    Because energy represents a larger portion of poorer families' household budgets, energy consumes c20% or more of the household incomes of lower- and middle-income families, reducing the amount of income that can be spent on food, housing, health care, and other necessities.

    In 2010, 62% of Hispanic households and 68% of Black households had average annual incomes below $50,000, compared with 46% of white households and 39% of Asian households.

    In 2010, the median gross income of 25.4 million households with a principal householder aged 65 or older was $31,408, 36% below the national median household income.

    The 60 million households earning less than $50,000 - representing 50.4% of U.S. households - will devote an estimated 21% of their after-tax incomes to energy, compared with 9% for households with annual incomes above $50,000. For the 28 million lower-income families with incomes between $10,000 and $30,000, energy expenditures will consume 24% of average after-tax incomes, compared with 14% in 2001. doclink

    Population Or Affluence?

    April 28, 2011, Rewilding Institute - Dave Foreman - Around the Campfire

    Refering to the IPAT equation (Impact = Population X Affluence X Technology), there seems to be a never-ending squabble over which is heavier in making Impact: Population or Affluence. It's both. We need to freeze and cut both population and consumption.

    However, without lowering population, cutting back on the high consumption can't do the job. Looking at the Ecological Footprint we see that the production and consumption of goods and services depends entirely on arable soils, forests, croplands, pasture lands, fishing grounds, clean waters and air, the atmosphere, ozone layer, climate, fossil fuels, and minerals - to perform the ecological services and provide the materials and energy and waste sinks that sustain civilization.

    Those who see Affluence or consumption as the key use the Ecological Footprint as a yardstick for lowering their Impact, such as: * Drive less/Get a higher mileage car/Take the bus/Bicycle/Walk; or Buy food grown nearby/Eat organic/Grow your own/Eat lower on the food chain; or Make your house more energy efficient/Have a smaller house/Live with others.

    Americans can lower their footprints by trimming fat - but they aren't going to give up too much. They may be willing to go to the leaner Japanese and Western Europeans lifestyles, but cutting back to how Mexicans or Nigerians or Bangladeshis live, is not an option that Americans will consider.

    We can bring our per person footprint down, but not nearly enough for generous sustainability, which includes creating societies that leave sufficient natural resources for future human generations to live good lives; and sharing the landscape generously with nonhuman beings.

    This leaves us with no choice but to freeze how many we are and begin to become fewer.

    Environmentalists who think we can double or triple U.S. population without wiping out wildlife and scalping our last wildernesses, are living in a fool's paradise.

    Research from Murtaugh and Schlax at Oregon State University shows that a hypothetical American woman who switches to a more fuel-efficient car, drives less, recycles, installs more efficient light bulbs, and replaces her refrigerator and windows with energy-saving models, would increase her carbon legacy by 40 times if she has two children.

    Murtaugh and Schlax have shown well how overweight P is in I*PAT, not only for carbon emissions, but for the consumption of fresh water, for example. We can't lower Impact only by lowering Affluence.

    And Americans have the biggest Affluence footprint per person of any people in the world. Any population growth in the United States, then, is growth of these big Affluence footprints, making U.S. population growth more harmful to the world than population growth anywhere else. The world cannot afford more Americans.

    The author has more on this in his book, Man Swarm. doclink

    What to Do About the Upcoming Peak Oil and Food Shortage Crisis?

    April 2011, Georgetown Gazette by Ray Griffiths

    In 1956, a geologist working for Shell Oil named M. King Hubbert predicted that US petroleum production would peak in 1970, and steadily decline in the years thereafter. His prediction showed that, like many other natural phenomenon, oil production over time forms a bell-shaped curve.

    It now appears that peak oil was in 2008 to 2010. Mr. Hubbert can be forgiven for missing the date, as he was a petroleum geologist, and geologists usually think in terms of millions of years.

    Oil forms in basins on the edge of oceans that are anoxic (lacking oxygen), which prevents the oxidation of the constant rain of dead algae and animals that settle to the bottom of all oceans. The preserved remains, mixed with sand, clay and other accumulations, are then capped with an impervious layer and buried between 7500-15000 feet (1.5 to 3 miles) beneath the earth. At this depth, the temperature is high enough (about 175 degrees F) to "cook" the organic sediments into petroleum. Below this range, it is cooked so far that it all turns into natural gas. The petroleum, trapped by the impervious layer, will reside there, waiting for an industrious oil company to tap it with a well rig. Early oil companies found the "light, sweet crude" that would just push up to the surface when under pressure. 'Light' because it makes a lot of gasoline, and 'sweet' because it doesn't have much sulfur.

    But other oils consist of heavy tar residue, or not have enough natural gas, and need to be pumped from great depths, or have high sulfur that takes a lot of processing to refine. Any of these flaws require energy to overcome so that the cost may rise. The Texas oil wells drilled in the early 1900's got 20+ barrels of oil for each barrel of oil it took to pump and process. Today the ratio is as low as 5 barrels of oil "costing" one barrel. If the ratio approaches one to one, there isn't any point in pumping the oil anymore.

    A pound of petroleum contains more energy than most other equivalent energy sources, and some sources are very hard to contain, (think of batteries to store electricity compared to a gas tank in a car or truck). Hydrogen would require 7 tanker trucks to carry the energy equivalent of one tanker of gasoline.

    For the last 100+ years or so, the production of oil increased almost every year. Now, there will begin to be a bit less oil every year. Over the long term, the price will increase because we are dependent on it and the cheap, easily refined oil has already been pumped. Using oil to replace human labor with machines became the basis for economic success. Now labor will become cheaper than machinery. But politicians don't mention this because a permanent decline in our economy would assure defeat at the polls.

    Employment will initially decline, so it will be a tough economy to live in. Food, and every other commodity that depends on oil to be produced or shipped will cost more.

    What can you do? Grow your own food if you can. Learn to enjoy cabbage, potatoes, and carrots in the winter. Try to move close to where you work. Get rid of the gas hog. Walk. Expect to pay lots for exotic fruit. Invest in a solar home, if you have anything to invest. Insulate. Stay healthy, and maybe think about alternative health care. Think of strategies to survive when you are poor.

    The answers, most of them, have been part of the human condition for generations.

    Many cultures have declined, but most haven't talked about it much. Rome in about 1 AD, the Maya of Central America in 700 AD, are examples. Both took involved a decade or two of decline followed by a decade or two of getting by. N

    Expect hunger, disease and war - the 'Three Horsemen' to return. On the bright side, we do know more about causes of disease than in the past, and we know how clean water and sewage handling affect public health. Hunger won't be easy either - our current system of baking all the bread at one point and shipping it around the country is likely to get pretty pricy in a while. There just won't be the funds available to rebuild so quickly after an earthquake, flood or fire. One can already see it in the response to Hurricane Katrina, there are parts of the Gulf Coast that won't return for a very long time, if ever. More locally, living in California has some definite advantages as well as disadvantages. The potential for earthquakes in LA and the Bay Area is kind of scary. On the other hand, the agricultural potential of the Central Valley isn't going to disappear, though the water to irrigate may be a problem.

    So, what strategies are likely to help? Learn a trade, grow some of your own food, make friends with your neighbors, you may need their help sooner than you think. A lot of the survival strategies are also just common sense. Look for opportunities to develop your local resources - everyone will still need to eat, drink and be merry, any way they can.

    Some of the benefits to living in California - close to food sources, relatively warm climate, many Native Americans present during "Pre-European-American contact", indicating that California had a relatively high "carrying capacity", the ability for land to support people living without petroleum.

    Some of the detriments to living in California - too many people, (though most of them are down South), fragile infrastructure supplying everyone, too many earthquakes, droughts, fires and floods.

    Some benefits/detriments to living in the Sierra Foothills - lower elevations can support agriculture if water is available, lots of oak trees supplying acorns for people to eat, but, travel is difficult and slow, we need to learn to live with fire, and, this is where everyone from the Bay Area/Southern California will come if times get tough. If we ever have a flood like we did in 1862, the Central Valley will fill with water and many of those people will head for these hills.

    From "Up and Down California in 1860-1864" by William H. Brewer: In the Winter of 1861, "The great central valley of the state is under water - a region 250 to 300 miles long and an average of at least twenty miles wide . . . Although much of it is not cultivated, yet a part of it is the garden of the state. Thousands of farms are entirely underwater - cattle starving and drowning.", and "An old acquaintance, came down from a ranch that was overflowed. The floor of their one-story house was six weeks under water before the house went to pieces. This was in the Sacramento Valley. . . . Nearly every house and farm over this immense region is gone. There was such a body of water - 250 to 300 miles long and 20 to 60 miles wide, the water ice cold and muddy - that the winds make high waves which beat the farm homes in pieces."

    Any natural disaster during our decline is likely to cause immense personal losses, which will not be compensated by government. Locally, we can rely on natural resources such as timber and firewood which will still retain value. On the other hand, we very much need to learn to manage our forest - in the past we have cut the big trees and sold the wood. Now we have a dense, overgrown forest which desperately needs to be thinned. The people who lived here for thousands of years managed the forest with fire - they were after different products of course, but the cost of fire suppression is something we will not be able to afford in the future. Planned fire prevents wildfire, and learning to control fire will be one of our most important tasks.

    Some references for readers: The Long Descent, by John Michael Greer, Beyond Oil, by Kenneth S. Deffeyes: Up and Down California in 1860-1864, by William H. Brewer, edited by Francis P Farquhar. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: While the writer has some good ideas, I disagree that we will have enough agricultural capacity without oil or alternative to farm machinery or transport food. However, it is extremely important that we, as individuals, and as political groups, prepare for the future!

    The World's Largest Bond Fund Dumped All of Its U.S. Government Debt - The Devaluing of the Dollar

    March 09, 2011, Reuters

    PIMCO Total Return is the world's largest bond fund. It has dumped all of its U.S. government-related debt in the biggest signal yet of how negative investors have become about the U.S. Treasury market.

    The move followed in the wake of a vicious Treasury market sell-off and just days after he questioned who will buy Treasuries once the Federal Reserve halts its latest round of bond purchases in June.

    Bond prices have come under severe selling pressure because of a strengthening U.S. economy and as investors brace for what could happen when the U.S. central bank ends its controversial quantitative easing program.

    PIMCO's co-chief investment officer has often railed against U.S. deficit spending and its inflationary impact. He has advocated buying bonds with "safe," higher yields -- such as emerging-market bonds -- that can withstand possible erosion of returns by inflation. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: We are following the path of unsustainability: Peak oil(when demand exceeds supply), housing speculation and debt-based economics; stagflation; rising food prices and hunger.

    Income Inequality Pushes U.S. Down in Well-Being Ranking

    November 04, 2010, Market Place, Public Radio

    The United Nations latest Human Development Index shows the gross domestic product isn't necessarily the be-all and end-all measurement of economic health. In addition to income, the Index looks at measures of health and education. In 1980, the U.S. was number one in the income ranking.

    Today, the U.S. is number 4 for well-being behind Norway, Australia, and New Zealand. What has changed is that, for the first time, the rankings were also filtered for inequality, gaps between rich and poor. Consequently the overall Human Development Index fell by about 11%, which is quite significant, dropping the U.S. from 4th to 13th in the world. , Tamara Draut, who tracks U.S. income inequality and says "The middle class has lost ground and lower income households have just been clobbered. That is the story of the last couple of decades."

    America's record on education, on the other hand, has helped its ranking on the Index. doclink

    American Psychosis: What Happens to a Society That Cannot Distinguish Between Reality and Illusion?...

    September 14, 2010, Project World

    Note: I admit that this is a very pessimistic, perhaps unrealistic article. But there many grains of truth to be found here. I know many people around me who seem to have blinders on, to be in denial. I believe Americans have gotten so accustomed to material goods, that they think they deserve them, when, in fact, they are exceeding the carrying capacity of the world ... Karen Gaia

    The United States is a country entranced by illusions, captivated by the hollow stagecraft of celebrity culture as the walls crumble. The virtues that sustain a nation-state and build community, from honesty to self-sacrifice to transparency to sharing, are ridiculed each night on television. In the cult of the self, we have a right to get whatever we desire. Once fame and wealth are achieved, they become their own justification, their own morality. It is the ethic of unfettered capitalism.

    We seem to believe that because we have the capacity to wage war we have a right to wage war. Those who lose deserve to be erased. Those who fail, those who are deemed ugly, ignorant or poor, should be belittled and mocked.

    A society that cannot distinguish reality from illusion dies. The belief that democracy lies in the choice between competing brands and the accumulation of vast sums of personal wealth at the expense of others is exposed as a fraud. The travails of the poor are rapidly becoming the travails of the middle class, especially as unemployment insurance runs out.

    America stays afloat by selling about $2 billion in Treasury bonds a day to the Chinese. It saw 2.8 million people lose their homes in 2009 to foreclosure or bank repossessions - nearly 8,000 people a day - and stands idle as they are joined by another 2.4 million people this year. It refuses to prosecute the Bush administration for obvious war crimes, including the use of torture, and sees no reason to dismantle Bush's secrecy laws or restore habeas corpus. Its infrastructure is crumbling. Deficits are pushing individual states to bankruptcy and forcing the closure of everything from schools to parks. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have squandered trillions of dollars, appear endless. There are 50 million Americans in real poverty and tens of millions of Americans in a category called "near poverty." One in eight Americans - and one in four children - depend on food stamps to eat. And yet, in the midst of it all, we continue to be a country consumed by happy talk and happy thoughts. We continue to embrace the illusion of inevitable progress, personal success and rising prosperity.

    As the gap widens between the illusion and reality, as we suddenly grasp that it is our home being foreclosed or our job that is not coming back, we react like children. We scream and yell for a savior, someone who promises us revenge, moral renewal and new glory. A furious and sustained backlash by a betrayed and angry populace, one unprepared intellectually, emotionally and psychologically for collapse, will sweep aside the Democrats and most of the Republicans and will usher America into a new dark age. It was the economic collapse in Yugoslavia that gave us Slobodan Milosevic. It was the Weimar Republic that vomited up Adolf Hitler. And it was the breakdown in Tsarist Russia that opened the door for Lenin and the Bolsheviks. A cabal of proto-fascist misfits, from Christian demagogues to loudmouth talk show hosts, whom we naïvely dismiss as buffoons, will find a following with promises of revenge and moral renewal. And as in all totalitarian societies, those who do not pay fealty to the illusions imposed by the state become the outcasts, the persecuted.

    The decline of American empire began before the first Gulf War or Ronald Reagan. It began when we shifted, in the words of Harvard historian Charles Maier, from an "empire of production" to an "empire of consumption."

    By the end of the Vietnam War, when the costs of the war ate away at Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and domestic oil production began its steady, inexorable decline, we saw our country transformed from one that primarily produced to one that primarily consumed. We started borrowing to maintain a level of consumption as well as an empire we could no longer afford. We began to use force, especially in the Middle East, to feed our insatiable thirst for cheap oil. We substituted the illusion of growth and prosperity for real growth and prosperity. The bill is now due. America's most dangerous enemies are not Islamic radicals but those who sold us the perverted ideology of free-market capitalism and globalization. They have dynamited the very foundations of our society. In the 17th century these speculators would have been hung. Today they run the government and consume billions in taxpayer subsidies.

    As the pressure mounts, as the despair and desperation reach into larger and larger segments of the populace, the mechanisms of corporate and government control are being bolstered to prevent civil unrest and instability. The emergence of the corporate state always means the emergence of the security state. This is why the Bush White House pushed through the Patriot Act (and its renewal), the suspension of habeas corpus, the practice of "extraordinary rendition," warrantless wiretapping on American citizens and the refusal to ensure free and fair elections with verifiable ballot- counting. The motive behind these measures is not to fight terrorism or to bolster national security. It is to seize and maintain internal control. It is about controlling us.

    And yet, even in the face of catastrophe, mass culture continues to assure us that if we close our eyes, if we visualize what we want, if we have faith in ourselves, if we tell God that we believe in miracles, if we tap into our inner strength, if we grasp that we are truly exceptional, if we focus on happiness, our lives will be harmonious and complete. This cultural retreat into illusion, whether peddled by positive psychologists, by Hollywood or by Christian preachers, turns worthless mortgages and debt into wealth. It turns the destruction of our manufacturing base into an opportunity for growth. It turns a nation that wages illegal wars and administers offshore penal colonies where it openly practices torture into the greatest democracy on earth. doclink

    Ralph says: Written by an author who does nor have a true understanding of our world. Karen Gaia says: the author never mentions why the consumption of Americans is not sustainable.

    'Greed Culture' Killing Planet

    January 14, 2010, Guardian (London)

    The average American consumes more than his or her weight in products each day, fuelling a global culture that is emerging as the biggest threat to the planet. In its annual report, Worldwatch Institute says the cult of consumption and greed could wipe out any gains from government action on climate change or a shift to a clean energy economy.

    "Until we recognise that our environmental problems, from climate change to species loss, are driven by unsustainable habits, we will not be able to solve the ecological crises."

    Humanity is burning through the planet's resources at a reckless rate. The world now digs up the equivalent of 112 Empire State buildings of material every day to meet surging global demand.

    The consumer culture has spread from America across the globe, with excess now accepted as a symbol of success in developing countries.

    China this week overtook the US as the world's top car market.

    Such trend are the result of efforts by businesses to win over consumers.

    The average Western family spends more on their pet than is spent by a human in Bangladesh.

    Encouraging signs are that schools are trying to encourage healthier eating habits among children; a younger generation is also more aware of their environmental impact; and US corporations such as Wal-Mart were stocking organic produce and sustainably raised fish.

    It said a wholesale transformation of values and attitudes was needed to end the world's obsession with conspicuous consumption. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: of course the deep economic recession will force us to curtail our overconsumption. This may help, unless population growth overtakes our efforts.

    Human Consumption Unsustainable

    September 26, 2009, Nipomo Free Press / The Sustainability Project

    Severn Susuki, environmental activist and daughter of Dr. David Susuki, environmentalist has some very important concerns. We consume about 40% percent of Earth's primary productivity. Every day we burn up an amount of energy the planet needed over 27 years to create.

    The U.S. population constitutes only 5% of world population, but consumes 24% of world's energy. The U.S. is losing 400,000 acres of rural land per year, while urbanized land area increased between 1969 and 1990 at twice the rate of population growth in the same time period.

    Cities lost 33-50% of their pre-1950 population density, as automobiles became the primary mode of transportation and families moved to the suburbs. The average suburban shopping center takes up as much land as the core center of the city of Florence, Italy.

    These are only a few of the statistics showing that our current levels of consumption are not sustainable. We cannot continue gobbling up our diminishing oil supplies and rural lands at the rate we have been doing. We need to bring our social, economic and environmental systems back into balance in a way that replenishes them for future generations.

    Is our city sprawling outward, or is it becoming more compact, walkable and transit oriented? Are we creating convenient transit systems, and mixed-use streetscapes that encourage walking and biking? What percentage of our land use is devoted to neighborhoods where people are within a 10-minute walk of basic necessities?

    Do city residents have greater access to public parks, plazas, community gardens and urban farms than to parking lots, strip malls and big-box stores? Are we encouraging the use of renewable energy, while reducing the use of carbon-based fuels?

    "I think this is the most exciting time to be alive in all of human history. In the following months and years, we're going to have to make some big decisions. Whether we make the right decisions or fail to make the decisions, will determine the fate, not only of all human kind, but of countless species of plants and animals.

    "This is the defining moment, when we will decide whether or not we're going to be a spectacular, flash- in-the-pan failure, or whether we can step up to the plate and show that we are capable of finding humility, compassion, patience and wisdom to truly find a sustainable path." doclink

    U.S.: Blocking Build-Build-Builders

    September 27, 2009, Orlando Sentinel

    It is frustrating to fight overzealous builders house by house, in local zoning battles. So Lesley Blackner and Ross Burnaman, both lawyers, created Florida Hometown Democracy, a proposed amendment that asks: Before turning the bulldozers loose on the environment, wouldn't you like to vote on it? If approved, Florida would become the only state in the nation requiring democratically elected urban sprawl.

    The campaign is blessed by near-perfect timing, with Florida on the edge of a depression with plunging home prices, rampant foreclosures and abandoned houses rotting in the heat and dragging down neighborhoods. There are 300,000 empty houses in Florida.

    What is more extreme than the build more-more-more mentality? "They had everything they wanted for the last five to six years. They crashed the economy. They have no solution other than bring the bubble back. Hometown Democracy is the only genuine reform on the table that can change the politics of growth once and for all," says Blackner.

    Office vacancies are skyrocketing. The state's population is declining for the first time since World War II. Yet there are requests pending to build more than 600,000 more homes, along with millions more square feet of commercial space. There are plans to create massive new cities in the middle of nowhere.

    Our development pandemic threatens the economy as much as the environment. Building more houses when the number of buyers has not increased deflates the value of houses that is going to linger for years and years. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: sounds like the population bubble has burst in Florida. Time for the "build it, they will come" mentality to be replaced.

    US Colorado: Down-Sizing County's Dream Homes

    January 27, 2008, Daily Camera

    The largest home in Boulder County is 24,953 square feet, the median house was 6,290 square feet in 2006, up from 2,881 square feet in 1990.

    County commissioners denied a request to raze the 962-square-foot house and replace it with a home 20 times the size. The technical reason was complex: The parcel of land is part of a wildlife migration corridor; the house would teeter on important riparian habitat; the land is designated of "statewide agricultural importance"; and the house would not exist "harmoniously" with its neighborhood, among other arguments.

    But Commissioner Will Toor much summed it up: "I think it's just too big," he said. doclink

    Wake Up About Overpopulation

    November 13, 2007, College of New Jersey Signal

    Any individual will encounter terms such as carrying capacity, limiting factors and exponential growth. Yet few implement the concept of sustainability.

    Until people question the existence, of the global environmental crisis, the population stabilization and reduction initiative will remain little more than a lobby largely ignored by politicians.

    The US has been unable to serve as an example. Any way of life that is unlike our own, is a threat and must promptly be democratized, modernized and westernized.

    The symptoms of a society that is straining under its own weight are all there, yet we've successfully managed to evade the issue by misdiagnosing, and offering temporary solutions to the problem. While the United States birth rate has decreased, our lenient immigration policies continue to increase our population. Experts predict that the United States population, if left unchecked, is expected to double in 70 years to a total of 540 million people.

    We must begin our public discourse when consensus is met; sacrifices will have to be made, for democracy can only deal with the ever-changing present while relegating responsibility for the future to the few who care to take it upon themselves.

    An average U.S. citizen consumes 50 times more goods and services than a Chinese citizen and approximately twice as many as a Western European.

    Only recently, during spikes in gas prices, has the engineers' task turned to designing automobiles and engines which reduce consumption and emissions. Our challenge is to stir the minds and hearts of our fellow Americans so that they may awaken to this reality, directing this change for the better before it is snatched from us. doclink

    U.S.;: Why Working Less is Better for the Globe

    May 22, 2007, AlterNet

    Americans are working harder than ever before. We seem more determined to work harder and produce more. Choosing to work less is the biggest environmental issue no one's talking about.

    The Work Less Party is a growing initiative aimed at cutting work hours while tackling unemployment, environment, and boosting leisure time. Working less would produce less, consume less, pollute less and live more.

    We work 250 hours, or five weeks, more than the Brits, and a whopping 500 hours, or 12 and a half weeks, more than the Germans. Longer hours plus labor-saving technology equals ever-increasing productivity. Without high annual growth to match productivity, there's unemployment. Maintaining growth means using more energy and resources, which results in increased waste and pollution.

    The US is the world's largest polluter. When people work longer hours, they rely increasingly on fast food, disposable diapers, or bottled water. Earning more means spending money in ways that are environmentally detrimental. When people are time-starved they don't have enough time to be conscious consumers. If Europe moved towards a U.S. based economic model, it would consume 15-30% more energy by 2050.

    The problem is, France has already begun following America's lead by increasing the workload. France's increased productivity would create even larger problems. In both the US and Europe, work hours declined from the beginning of the industrial revolution until World War II. After the war, the 40-hour workweek was legally in place. Since the 1970s, most European governments have continued shortening work hours whereas the United States has opted instead to let wages fall. The USA has declined relative to all other industrial countries in health, equality, savings, sustainability. What's happened in Europe is people have discovered it's nice to have some time in their lives, and they've wanted more. Here, business has kept that door completely shut.

    Take Back Your Time has launched a campaign in the US calling for legislation guaranteeing a minimum of three weeks of paid vacation.

    The average vacation in the United States is now only a long weekend, and 25% percent of American workers have no paid vacation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But we continue to suffer from overload, debt, and anxiety, and are stuck in a fatalistic rat race generated by heightened consumerism. Our society is focused on work that makes stuff that goes directly into landfills. Essential work such as art, music, creativity, community, the kind necessary to create a healthy society and planet, is being negated in favor of that.

    If you want to protect the environment, you have to consume less, which means you have to produce less, and you have to work less. Our standard of living will improve hugely. doclink

    Farm-Raised Fish Given Tainted Food

    May 09, 2007, New York Times*

    A chemical that American regulators have identified as a pet food contaminant may have been intentionally added to animal feed by producers seeking larger profits. Three chemical makers said Chinese animal feed producers often purchased cyanuric acid to blend into their feed because it was cheaper and helped increase protein content. American regulators had focused on melamine and animal feed producers acknowledged that for years they added melamine to animal feed to gain bigger profits.

    But American regulators have also been aware for several weeks that cyanuric acid may have played a role in causing sickness or death in pets.

    China said that it had found two companies guilty of intentionally exporting pet food ingredients containing melamine.

    China's watchdog for quality control said officials at the two companies were detained for their roles in shipping tainted goods. In China, chemical producers say it is common knowledge that for years feed producers have secretly used cyanuric acid to cheat buyers of animal feed.

    The FDA said that farmed fish had been fed meal contaminated with melamine and other contaminants but that the level was probably too low to harm anyone who ate the fish. Two of the Chinese chemical makers say that cyanuric acid is used because it is even cheaper than melamine and high in nitrogen, enabling feed producers to artificially increase protein readings. They also produce a chemical which is a combination of melamine and cyanuric acid, and that feed producers have often sought to purchase scrap material from this product.

    Scientists studying the pet food deaths say the combination of the two chemicals may have created a toxic punch that formed crystals in the kidneys of pets and led to kidney failure.

    A joint assessment by FDA and other federal agencies said there was a very low risk of danger to humans who consume meat from animals that were accidentally fed melamine-tainted feed.

    China acknowledged Tuesday that two companies had cheated pet food companies by adding a fake protein. Chemical producers of cyanuric acid say the substance is nontoxic, it's legal to add it to animal feed. The practice has been around for many years. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: what a small world this has become, now that Americans must depend on China for so many of its goods. How can anyone say the American life style is sustainable?

    The Next Added 100 Million Americans, Part 28

    April 06, 2007,

    In the days of sailing ships, sailors used to leave goats on islands to ensure fresh meat on return trips. But the animals bred faster than the sailors could eat them, and goats ate the vegetation and starved. They also screwed up the environment so that native species couldn't survive. A report blames humans for increased temperatures, melting glaciers and rising seas, they burn fossil fuels at 82 million barrels daily which does no include millions of tons of coal, natural gas and wood being burned every day by 6.6 billion humans.

    We've had virtually free energy in the form of fossil fuels. Climate change is a sign that we are exceeding the number of people Earth can sustain. Some, however, point to increased agricultural production and medical advances that fend off disease.

    Earth's carrying capacity is thought to be four to five billion people. We have 6.6 billion today and grow by 240,000 every 24 hours. Half of the world's population has little access to medicine, electricity, safe water and reliable food supplies.

    You might have 50 billion, but the quality of life might not be pleasing. The US possesses resources to sustain less than half of its current population of 300 million. Americans who make up 5% of the world's population, use 25% of its resources and cast a large footprint.

    If all 6 billion people were to share the world's resources equally, Americans would have to reduce consumption by 80% for each of us. Carrying capacity and footprint are tied to the global economy, which has quadrupled since the world's population doubled.

    That leads to a fear that slowing population growth might not ultimately curb greenhouse gas production if more people achieve Western lifestyles. China is opening an average of one coal-fired power plant a week to meet electricity demand. Everyone in China wants their own apartment and their own car. People ask how many people the Earth can sustain. That depends on whether you want to live like an Indian or an American.

    Farmers worldwide grow about two billion tons of grain a year. Each American consumes 1,760 pounds annually, mainly because of the grains used to feed farm animals. If everyone on the planet consumed that much grain, earth would support about 2.5 billion people. But in India, people consume about 440 pounds each. If everyone else in the world did likewise, the world's grain would support about 10 billion people.

    Growing one ton of grain requires 1,000 tons of water which is short in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. As water flows from agriculture to support growing urban populations, more grain must be imported.

    Soybeans are increasingly in demand for biodiesel. And ethanol production now vies with food for corn. By 2008, half of the U.S. corn crop will go to ethanol.

    70% of all corn comes from the U.S. If we grow fuel plants that would require setting aside lots of land to produce ethanol. We don't have enough land worldwide to meet those demands. Humans are drawing on capital rather than interest, and once that is exhausted, they will find Mother Nature reluctant to make a loan.

    We must take action and prevent a horrible overpopulation future for our children by taking action today. We can bring about population stabilization gracefully or nature will do it brutally. doclink

    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?

    U.S.;: The Environmental Load of 300 Million: How Heavy?;

    September 26, 2006, Christian Science Monitor

    Wild salmon are plummeting toward extinction due to development across much of the Columbia River basin.

    But Portland's natural setting along the Willamette River and its youthful techie vibe are drawing a surge of new people. As the US approaches 300 million people, that's the story of the nation as well.

    Since reaching 200 million in 1967, despite using more resources and creating more waste, we've become more energy efficient.

    Major environmental problems remain, and some are getting worse - all of them connected to US population growth. Some experts put the amount of land and water needed to support an individual and absorb his or her waste at 24 acres. By that calculation, the long-term "carrying capacity" is less than half of the nation's current population.

    Population growth, combined with America's high rates of resource consumption, results in the largest environmental impact in the world.

    The changing nature of the population also has environmental consequences.

    Today's baby boomers, 26% of the population, are the largest, wealthiest, highest resource-consuming ever, and have unprecedented environmental impact.

    The proliferation of bigger houses and cars are gobbling up resources and creating pollution. Land is being developed at twice the rate of population growth. When housing, shopping, schools, etc are added up, each American occupies 20% more land than 20 years ago.

    Nearly 3,000 acres of farmland are converted to nonagricultural uses daily. Each American produces about five pounds of trash daily, up from less than three pounds in 1960.

    More than half of all Americans live within 50 miles of the coasts where population density and its environmental impact are increasing.

    The Portland metropolitan area grew about 30% during the 1990s. It's projected to grow to 2.6 million by 2010 and to 3.1 million by 2025.

    Population pressures are overwhelming the Portland region's ability to absorb new people. It remains to be seen whether this growth will threaten Portland's progressive land-use planning policies.

    It's no coincidence that the environmental movement began when the US population ticked past the 200 million mark 39 years ago.

    It was a time when rivers were so contaminated that they caught on fire, entire towns built upon sites so toxic that the only recourse was to abandon them. But now we see our air is cleaner, our water is purer, and our land is better protected."

    Increasingly, business is getting involved. Weyerhaeuser Co. is pledging to reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions to 40% less by 2020.

    Faith groups, including typically conservative evangelicals, have also taken up "creation care". State and local governments have pushed ahead of Uncle Sam in working to protect an environment from a population that is growing in both numbers and affluence. All over the country, communities are coming up against the issue of sustainability. Portland has had model public transit, including a light-rail system that recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.

    As US laws and American attitudes toward energy and the environment have advanced, some experts argue, efficiency gains have outstripped population growth and consumption.

    "The average new house today is about a third larger than in 1970, but energy consumption is about the same as the smaller house in 1970, but their environmental impact grows in other ways.

    The average amount of land around houses is growing."

    The US may face a stiff challenge in dealing with the environmental impact of its growing population. doclink

    U.S.;: Made to Break Reveals the Roots of Our Throwaway Culture

    July 02, 2006, Grist Magazine

    The U.S. is a nation founded on the rejection of tradition and a profound belief in invention. This has given us more than two centuries of technology, but has also made Americans the world's most voracious consumers. We invented the concept of disposability.

    In the late 1800s, manufacturers began to realize the commercial potential of short-lived products. In the 1920s, as society became more urban and more women entered the workforce, manufacturers understood the potential of selling products that could be promoted as both hygienic and convenient. Marketing campaigns encouraged rapid automobile replacement and resulted in products designed not to last. Then, in the 1950s and '60s, the media began touting products whose novelty outweighed their necessity.

    In recent years, our embrace of technology and appetite for the new converged with planned obsolescence. Americans own more than 2 billion digital devices with short life spans dictated by rapidly evolving semiconductors. Some have simply been cast aside in favor of a new model.

    The result is a growing stream of hazardous waste. Millions of tons of e-waste end up in U.S. landfills each year, and millions more are exported to developing countries. Some are simply dumped there, while others are recycled. How do we undo this cycle of consumption?

    In the US we equate progress and prosperity with the ability to jettison things, the notions of reuse and recycle have been slow to take hold. During the next few years, the problem of waste will compel American manufacturers to modify industrial practices. The age of obsolescence will go the way of the buffalo. doclink

    We Need Regulation to Reduce This Waste of Energy

    July 03, 2006, The Independent

    If low-energy lighting were installed around the world, global energy could be cut by nearly a tenth. The technology is available, would curb light pollution, and could keep up to 16 billion tons of carbon out of the atmosphere over the next quarter century. Artificial lighting accounts for nearly 20 %of the world's electricity consumption, and will be 80% higher in 2030. The average American home uses 10 times the artificial light of the average Chinese home, and 30 times that of the average Indian home. Greenpeace U.K. is urging governments to mandate efficient lighting in building codes. doclink

    U.S.: 9 Ways You Can Achieve Energy Independence!

    July 09, 2006, The Independent Weekly

    Utilities project a 50% increase in electricity generation from polluting sources, but we can dramatically reduce the amount of energy we use in our homes, workplaces and congregations. Nine small steps at home to reduce the demand for energy - some don't cost anything, some cost a little and some are expensive, but will save money in the long run. 1. Sign up for GreenPower to increase the production of energy from renewable sources. A residential N.C. GreenPower contribution of $4 per month adds one block of 100 kilowatt-hours of cleaner energy to the power supply, by means that vary from families with solar photovoltaic panels on to animal farms that generate power from methane. Energy conservation through simple, measures such as replacing light bulbs with compact fluorescents. 2. Get a home energy audit to find where energy loses occur. Replace light bulbs with compact fluorescents. Seal places where outside air was blowing into the house with insulation. Get a solar hot water heater and insulated hot water lines. These things may drop your energy bill by about 20%.

    3. Design sustainable new homes. A growing number of architects and builders are taking steps to make our homes part of the energy solution.

    4. Build smarter schools.

    The debate over new schools has focused largely on how much to raise property taxes. Missing has been any consideration of the energy costs involved in powering conventional school buildings. A closer look reveals a roof-mounted solar hot water system supplying the cafeteria, photovoltaic panels that reduce the demand for outside power, and extensive classroom daylight.

    5. Help transform energy policy.

    We won't be free to choose clean energy if state rules drive the utilities to meet all future demand through more expensive and polluting coal and nuclear plants.

    6. Drive cleaner.

    Buy less processed food, shopping at local farmers' markets. Grow more food at home.

    7. Get the fuel out of our food.

    It takes about 10 fossil-fuel calories to produce and transport each food calorie in the average American diet. So if our daily food intake is 2,000 calories, it took 20,000 calories to grow that food and get it to us. About 15 percent of U.S. energy use goes toward supplying food, divided about evenly between producing crops and livestock, and food processing and packaging. If the whole world ate the way Americans eat, we would exhaust all known fossil fuel reserves in seven years, estimates David Pimentel, a professor of ecology at Cornell University. We should buy less processed food and more local products, shop at local farmers' markets, or join a community-supported agriculture farm.

    8. Connect energy and spirit

    Many of our religious institutions engage in wasteful and environmentally harmful energy-use practices.

    9. Educate yourself doclink

    A big step would be to buy your home where driving will be less.

    U.S.: Land Study on Grazing Denounced

    June 18, 2005, Los Angeles Times

    A government biologist and a hydrologist, both retired from the Bureau of Land Management, said their conclusions that the proposed new rules which might adversely affect water quality and wildlife, were replaced with language justifying less stringent regulations favored by cattle ranchers. The original draft of the analysis warned that the new rules would have a significant adverse impact on wildlife, but that phrase was removed. The bureau concludes that the grazing regulations are beneficial to animals. Eliminated was another conclusion that "The Proposed Action will have a slow, long-term adverse impact on wildlife and biological diversity in general." Also was language saying how a number of the rule changes could adversely affect endangered species. They took all of our science and reversed it 180 degrees." "They rewrote everything, it's a crime." The two scientists who criticized the rules were among more than a dozen BLM specialists who contributed to the environmental impact statement. Others could not be reached or did not return calls. A bureau official acknowledged that changes were made as part of a standard review process. Ranchers hailed the regulations as a new openness from the administration. Livestock graze on public land in 11 Western states, including 8 million acres in California. The vast acreage is needed to support a comparatively small number of livestock because topsoil is thin and grass is sparse. About 2% of the nation's beef is produced from cattle on public lands. The new rules ensures ranchers access to public land and requires federal land managers to conduct studies before taking action to limit that access. The rules reverse a policy that gave BLM experts the authority to determine whether livestock grazing was inflicting damage. The regulations also eliminate the agency's obligation to seek public input on grazing decisions. Public comment will be allowed but not required. Concerns about Western grazing land has been heightened by drought, causing bureau managers to close some pastures and prompting ranchers to sell their herds. The new rules mark a departure from regulations adopted under President Clinton that reflected the view of scientists that overgrazing in the West had degraded water resources, damaged native plants and imperiled wildlife. By 1994, studies from scientists at the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture convinced government land managers that livestock grazing was the most pervasive threat to plant and animals in the arid West. doclink

    Living Beyond Our Means: Natural Assets and Human Well-being

    May 22, 2005,

    Everyone in the world depends on nature and ecosystem services to provide the conditions for a decent, healthy, and secure life. Humans have made changes in recent decades to meet growing demands for food, fresh water, fiber, and energy. They have helped improve the lives of billions, but weakened nature's ability to deliver other services such as purification of air and water, protection from disasters, and the provision of medicines. Among the problems are the dire state of the world's fish stocks; the vulnerability of the 2 billion people living in dry regions to the loss of water supply; and the growing threat from climate change and nutrient pollution. Human activities have taken the planet to the edge of species extinctions. The pressures on ecosystems will increase unless human attitudes and actions change. Measures to conserve resources are more likely to succeed if local communities are given ownership of them, share the benefits, and are involved in decisions. Better protection of natural assets require coordinated efforts of governments, businesses, and international institutions. The productivity of ecosystems depends on investment, trade, subsidy, taxation, and regulation, among others. doclink


    Biodiversity: Next Steps: More of Us = Fewer of Them

    November 26, 2011, Center for Biological Diversity

    As the world's population counter keeps ticking higher, more and more species are being driven toward extinction.

    Just as we reached 7 billion the Vietnamese Javan rhino, the last mainland Asian rhino, was declared extinct. And this past week, its related western black rhino species in Africa was also declared extinct. Like so many rare species, these rhinos simply ran out of places to live. More humans meant fewer of them, until the last of their kind vanished.

    We recently posted a new report on 10 U.S. plants and animals threatened by the effects of overpopulation: loss of habitat, freshwater scarcity, pesticide bombing and an ever-expanding network of roads that keep the threats traveling: . Find out about imperiled species near you with our online Species Finder:

    We're also hashing it out and keeping you updated on a new Twitter feed, @EndSpcsCondoms. doclink

    U.S.: Don't Let Nevada Water Hogs Drain the Great Basin

    November 22, 2011, Center for Biological Diversity

    The Great Basin ecosystem in Nevada and Utah is under attack by the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which is trying to export groundwater via a 300-mile pipeline to Las Vegas -- a city hoping to expand in the driest desert in North America.

    This is obviously a bad bet, and we need to say so right away.

    The proposal would cut the lifeline of a wild area the size of Vermont. Species that are dependent on the Great Basin ecosystem, like the imperiled greater sage grouse (pictured here), would be hurt, while some fish and springsnails that live nowhere else on Earth could die off completely.

    Please ask the Nevada state water engineer to deny the Southern Nevada Water Authority's applications.

    There are better options for securing water for Las Vegas than laying waste to the heart of the Great Basin.

    Click on the link in the headline to see more and to take action. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: More people and more consumption means less water for wildlife, particularly in a desert state like Nevada.

    U.S.: Help Save Alaska's Beluga Whales From the Pebble Mine

    May 2011, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)


    U.S. Tells California to Cut Water Use to Save Fish

    June 2009, Reuters

    Salmon and other fish have been pushed to the brink of extinction by Californians' demand for water, ruled the National Marine Fisheries Service, a federal agency. Officials were ordered to cut water supplies by 5-7% to cities and farms.

    To turn southern desert into productive farmland, a monumental system of dams and pipelines were built, leaving less water for trout, salmon, sturgeon and other fish.

    With the state in its third year of drought, and climate change and a growing population, the fate of some salmon runs looks untenable without change.

    If water conservation, recycling and groundwater use do not offset the cuts, the state may be more tempted to build more dams and canals to capture the last trickles that bypass the system.

    U.S. Bureau of Reclamation regional director said the mounting restrictions on water "just cannot be offset in any given year and maybe over time." State and federal water projects this year have slashed deliveries to about 40 percent of most requests, due to drought, and agricultural losses are expected near $1 billion.

    The fisheries agency plans to keep more water behind big dams during the year to ensure a supply of cold water in which salmon spawn, restrict some pumping, and find ways for fish to get to historical spawning grounds upriver from dams. doclink

    U.S.: Humans: the Number One Threat to Birds

    2008, Alley Cat Allies

    Concern over the declining populations of certain bird species has generated debate about the most effective steps toward preserving and restoring those populations. The real cause of declining bird populations is the impact of the human species.

    The major cause of bird species loss is habitat destruction, caused by a myriad of human activities, including logging, crop farming, livestock grazing, mining, industrial and residential development, urban sprawl, road building, dam building, and pesticide use.

    Of 1,173 threatened bird species, habitat loss affected 83% of the species. Across the US, little land is left untouched by human development. Human activities have led to the extinction of 10% of the world's bird species, while in some locales, that number rises to 90%. Today more than a thousand bird species are listed as threatened, and between 500 and 600 of those will go extinct in the next 50 years.

    In the US, much of the impact is a result of growing population and faster-growing development of land. Between 1990 and 2000, the U.S. population grew by 33 million people, the greatest increase the country has ever seen. Future growth is predicted to add 27 million people each decade for the next 30 years.

    An analysis reveals that urbanized land increased by 47% between 1982 and 1997 and population in suburbs, increased twice as fast as in cities. By 2030, half of the buildings will have been built after the year 2000. With this level of growth, the loss of bird species - due to habitat destruction, pollution, and fragmentation - will continue for decades to come.

    The real danger to birds is humans. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: we SHOULD care about the birds: after they go, humans will follow.

    Supreme Court Hears Case on Navy Sonar, Whales

    October 09, 2008, Los Angeles Times

    The Supreme Court was closely split on whether environmental laws can be used to protect marine mammals from the Navy's use of sonar. An administration lawyer urged the court to throw out a Los Angeles judge's order that requires the Navy to turn off its high intensity sonar whenever a whale or dolphin is within 1.2 miles of a ship.

    This order disrupts the Navy's war-game exercises. U.S. Solicitor Gen. Gregory Garre disputed claims that the sonar causes harm to the whales.

    But lawyer Richard B. Kendall said beaked whales dive deeply to escape the sound, and sometimes suffer bleeding and death when they try to resurface. He also said the order has had a minimal impact on the Navy. Only on a few occasions have ships been forced to turn off their sonar.

    The case has turned into a major dispute over whether judges have the power to stop the government from conducting a crucial exercise because it had not carried out an environmental impact statement.

    Justice Stephen G. Breyer wondered "Why couldn't you work this out?" rather than having a court resolve the dispute. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: the more people you have to defend, the more animals stand in the way of "human supremacy" and have to be sacrificed.

    U.S.: Endangered-Species Protections Reinstated for Gray Wolves

    July 21, 2008, Associated Press

    A federal judge ruled that wolves should be returned to the endangered-species list, derailing plans for wolf hunts in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. The 2,000 or so gray wolves that inhabit the three states were removed from the endangered list in March; environmentalists sued to get them back on, saying populations were not yet stable. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund, over 100 gray wolves have been killed by hunters in the days since they were delisted. The federal judge will decide if the relisting should be permanent. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may appeal. doclink

    US Colorado: Local Lynx Survival in Doubt

    March 01, 2008, Durango Herald

    Federal wildlife officials will not designate land in Colorado as critical habitat for lynx. They are uncertain whether the habitat in Colorado will support a lynx population. The agency left Colorado out of its proposal to designate more than 40,000 square miles in six states as critical lynx habitat, despite the success of Colorado's reintroduction program. The agency's main concern was the decreasing number of litters born in the wild.

    Canada lynx were first released into the southern San Juan Mountains in 1999; today, about 150 radio-collared lynx roam throughout Colorado.

    The Fish and Wildlife Services' concerns are valid, in Colorado, it's still an experiment whether lynx are going to survive or not.

    The majority live on U.S. Forest Service land outside Durango. Their territory stretches from Durango north to Silverton and from Dolores east to Pagosa Springs.

    At Durango Mountain Resort, lynx are commonly spotted passing through the ski area. It seems to be an area that's very important for lynx.

    State biologists report they are in excellent health, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is concerned about a recent dip in litter numbers.

    Nearly 100 kittens were born in the wild in 2004 and 2005. Litter totals dropped to 11 in 2006 and hit zero in 2007. That was a surprise and the division will be watching litter sizes closely in the next few years. Biologists believe lynx can survive three years of low reproduction rates.

    Colorado has the habitat to allow lynx to survive well into the future.

    Environmentalists disagree, arguing that one of the best ways to protect lynx is to protect their habitat.

    On the one hand, the US Fish and Wildlife is going to designate critical habitat. On the other hand, they're saying we're not sure about the viability of lynx. Environmental groups will probably bring a lawsuit against Fish and Wildlife over the exclusion of Colorado and other areas from the proposal. Reintroduction efforts in Colorado will continue.

    We believe we can reach a sustainable population in Colorado. It can be 10, 20 years before we can really know. Our program won't change. doclink

    Death of the Bees: GMO Crops and the Decline of Bee Colonies in North America

    March 25, 2008, Global Research

    There are many reasons given to the decline in Bees, but one that matters most is the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) and "Terminator Seeds" that are being endorsed by governments and utilized as our agricultural needs of survival.

    Genetically modified seeds are produced by biotech conglomerates who manipulate government agricultural policy with a view to dominance in the agricultural industry. American conglomerates have created seeds that reproduce only under certain conditions, often linked to the use of their own brands of fertilizer and/or insecticide.

    The genetic modification leads to the concurrent genetic modification of the flower pollen. When the pollen becomes genetically modified or sterile, the bees will become malnourished and die of illness due to the lack of nutrients and the interruption of the digestive capacity of what they feed on.

    There are arguments that the blame be placed on mites, pesticides, or cell phone radiation, but digestive shutdown due to hard material in the digestive tract that compromises the immune system points to GMO flower pollen.

    This increased epidemic of the bee colony collapse has risen significantly since the use of GMO in our foods. It is also suspect in the rise of new cases of medical ailments in humans such as colon cancer, obesity, heart disease, etc.

    The Ecological Impact of horizontal gene transfer and increase of rampant disease is not fully examined and if so, is kept silent by these Conglomerates. Organic farming is relatively untouched as the bee crisis. The economic impact that the scarcity of bees will potentially have on our society is very worrisome. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: another factor mentioned elsewhere is the gathering together of a large portion of a country's bees to pollinate large mono crops such as almonds. When the bees comingle with many other bees, this exposes them to any disease than may be present - similar to the global spread of epidemics among humans. The more people there are, the more corporations profit by economy of scale, and this makes GMO research and large scale food production even more profitable. Of course, the risks are often ignored until disaster strikes.

    Alaska Governor Questions Science of Polar Bear Listing

    March 02, 2007, Houston Chronicle

    Alaska has not decided whether to list polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

    A biologist and special assistant to the Department of Fish and Game, questioned whether polar bears really need sea ice to survive. She said they are adaptable to use land for hunting, and are adapting to alternative food sources.

    She testified that a listing in the US ultimately could harm bears in Canada because Inuit villagers would no longer have an incentive to preserve them. An ESA listing would ban importation of polar bear trophy hides.

    The fear of restrictions on development from the Endangered Species Act may outweigh the desire to add more protections.

    The US Fish and Wildlife Service has been vague about what a recovery plan might entail if polar bears are listed as threatened. The law requires federal agencies to evaluate their actions with respect to habitat, in this case, sea ice.

    Supporters want the government to declare global warming as the cause of harm to polar bear habitat, and consider limits on utilities and industry producing greenhouse gasses, throughout the country.

    The idea that polar bears can adapt to living on land or can thrive on something other than seals flies in the face of the opinion of most researchers.

    There's not a credible polar bear biologist in the world who would make that statement. The driving force in the concern over polar bears is the decline in sea ice. When a species' habitat is declining due to climate change, but there are no discrete human activities that can be regulated or modified to effect change, what do you do?

    Critics say polar bears already are closely managed under international agreements. The Fish and Wildlife Service agreed, with one exception: There is no effective mechanism in place to address the recession of sea ice.

    The proposed listing is based on the presumption that sea ice will be significantly diminished and that sea ice is the most important factor for their survival. Preferred food sources such as some ice seal populations may be declining, but data indicate that the bears are adapting to use alternative food sources. But most of those food sources are not enough to maintain a viable population in the long term.

    The Fish and Wildlife Service is collecting public testimony until April 9. Its decision on listing polar bears is due next January. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: the more people, by overconsumption and overpopulation, use fossil fuels, the more likely humanity is contributing to climate change and the demise of plant and animal species whose habitat is threatened.

    US California;: Deal Would Revive San Joaquin River

    September 13, 2006, Los Angeles Times

    The most ambitious river restoration project in California's history was filed in federal court Wednesday.

    The agreement ends an 18-year legal battle over the San Joaquin River, after most of its Sierra-fed waters were diverted to 1 million acres of San Joaquin Valley agriculture.

    Returning water and salmon back to 60 miles of dead river is virtually unprecedented. The agreement among the federal government, growers and environmental groups will reduce diversions from the river by an average of 15%, releasing enough water from Friant Dam to revive a spring chinook salmon run that was completely wiped out after the dam was built. Fish passageways and screens will be constructed, the river channel will be improved and levees strengthened to contain the increased flows.

    The project will take years and cost between $250 and $800 million. Funding will come from growers, the state and the federal government.

    The settlement lays out ways to help farmers make up for the water they will lose. The river was deep and wide enough to carry steam paddleboats. Its chinook salmon runs were among the biggest on the West Coast.

    Up to the 1940s, when Friant Dam was completed, tens of thousands of spring-run chinook migrated to the San Joaquin's upper reaches to spawn.

    By the early 1950s, the spring run had been wiped out despite last-ditch rescue attempts by the state Department of Fish and Game.

    Though officials praised the agreement, representatives from irrigation districts not involved in the lawsuit expressed their concerns in Congress and at the Interior Department.

    Those districts take water from tributaries of the San Joaquin and parts of the river not covered in the settlement. The districts hope that the federal government will declare the San Joaquin's chinook run experimental, which would prevent protections from being imposed. doclink

    US Says Will Pull Alaska Wetlands From Oil Drilling

    September 22, 2006, Bloomberg News Service

    The US Interior Department says it is willing to withdraw sensitive wetlands from an area in Alaska that it wanted to open to oil and natural gas drilling.

    The US District Court of Alaska blocked the plan to allow development on lands around Teshekpuk Lake, saying the assumptions about the environmental impact were faulty.

    The department told the court it would pull the wetlands so the matter could be studied further.

    The department initially wanted to search for crude oil and natural gas on about 8 million acres. Environmentalists were concerned because 373,000 acres were being put up for lease for the first time.

    The reserve is estimated to hold between 5.9 billion and 13.2 billion barrels of oil and 39 trillion to 83 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Steps would be taken to limit the impact of drilling at the biologically sensitive areas near Teshekpuk Lake. Opponents countered the oil and gas were not worth possibly harming the wetlands habitat. The 23 million-acre National Petroleum Reserve, about the size of Indiana, was created in 1923 to provide energy supplies for the US military. doclink

    Disease, Habitat Loss and Climate Change Threatens Amphibians

    July 07, 2006, Guardian (London)

    Conservation experts are calling for a rescue mission to save frogs, newts and other amphibians from extinction. Up to 122 amphibian species have become extinct since 1980. Since the 1960s these vertebrates have gone into sharp decline. Conservationists propose a $400m (£217m) initiative, to collect endangered amphibians for captive breeding and to investigate lethal amphibian diseases and environmental changes.

    Amphibians are considered delicate sentinels of environmental change. Sudden collapses in their populations sparked research. Some scientists believe the fungal disease chytridiomycosis, may be to blame in many cases.

    Last year, English Nature said the disease was found in Britain, after infected bullfrogs, imported from North America, had escaped. The organisation destroyed 11,000 infected frogs and is investigating to see if the disease is established here. Predictions suggest that the fungus - which can wipe out 50%-80% of amphibians within four to six months of its appearance is spreading steadily, by about 17 miles a year.

    Poor waterways protection had seen freshwater biodiversity fall by half in the past 20 years. doclink

    Ralph says: A few years ago we began controlling run off from roads etc into our local lake. For the first time in many years we have this year seen frogs in some of the drainage ditches that feed the lake.

    Washington State Timber Industry Gets Exemption From Species Act

    June 05, 2006, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    For the next 50 years, the Washington timber industry will be shielded from prosecution under the Endangered Species Act for harming salmon. In return, the industry has agreed leave more trees near critical streams, reducing logging on unstable slopes, and controlling sediment runoff. The deal, applies to 9.3 million acres of timberland and 60,000 miles of streams in the state. But Native American tribes have calculated that up to 35% of that land may remain unprotected, as the deal gives breaks to landowners who have 20 acres or less. Proponents promise that salmon protection will be increased if need be, but tribes and many enviros are skeptical. doclink

    US Oregon: Judge Rules for Fish in Klamath River Dispute

    March 28, 2006, Los Angeles Times

    U.S. District Judge Saundra B. Armstrong of Oakland ordered the Bureau of Reclamation to return more water to the river in dry years to ensure that the coho salmon doesn't slide into extinction in the Klamath. He also ordered the Marine Fisheries Service to produce a study that would yield an equitable distribution of water between the fish and farmers in the Klamath Basin. Salmon populations have been hit by polluted runoff, water diversions by farmers, and dams that block fish passage and unnaturally warm the Klamath's water. The Chinook salmon, the backbone of the commercial fishing industry in Northern California and Oregon, has plummeted to a point that regulators appear poised to ban this year's catch. The decision will cause little immediate change, because the region had a wet winter. The decision could hurt farmers most during drought years when up to 43% more water would remain in the river. There's enough water now to give everyone time to plan for the future. Farmers would find ways to manage in all but times of drought. The dispute dates to 2001, when a deep drought prompted regulators to cut water to Klamath farmers. The Bush administration had a plan that ensured irrigation water for agriculture but prompted protests from environmentalists worried about the fish. In the spring of 2002, thousands of juvenile salmon died because of low water flows and 70,000 adult salmon heading upriver to spawn succumbed to a disease blamed on low flows. But federal officials continued to argue for the status quo. doclink

    Big Cat's Survival Depends on Move; While Rare Florida Panthers Are on the Rebound, a New Recovery Plan Demands More Cats in More Places, Including Outside South Florida

    February 08, 2006, Miami Herald

    If the Florida panther is to survive over the next century, it will need homes outside the South Florida marshes and forests where development has caged it. A transplanting effort is the critical, and potentially controversial, component of a new panther recovery plan that also stresses the importance of preserving panther habitat in Southwest Florida where most of the estimated 87 or so breeding adults live. But even protecting the remaining wildlands in won't be enough to ensure its future. South Florida is not big enough. The panther once roamed much of the southeastern United States. This plan only now lists transplanting cats to new locations as a top priority but does not suggest a top new site for the panthers. Biologists have identified a number of potential new grounds but it will be vital to sell the panthers' plight to a public that may be wary of inserting a large predator into an area. Panthers have never been linked to an attack on humans, but they have increasingly encountered the public as suburbs encroach on their territory. The wildlife service admitted it was relying on data that suggested the cats lived mainly in large forests, when tracking showed they ranged over prairies and pastures. The panther program has successfully reversed a staggering decline, thanks to a groundbreaking cross-breeding experiment with Texas cougars. From 30 adults a decade ago, panthers have multiplied to nearly triple that number. The plan calls for two separate populations of at least 240 cats for at least 14 years and protecting land for them. doclink

    Judge Stops Timber Sales; Ruling Reinstates Species Protections

    January 22, 2006, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    Judge Marsha Pechman has reinstated the "look before logging" rule on federal lands in the Pacific Northwest, and ordered a halt to 144 timber sales in California, Oregon, and Washington that might imperil about 300 rare animal and plant species. Federal lawyers argued that reinstating surveys would cost the government about $2.7 million a year. Although logging interests say they may restart a lawsuit to have the surveys declared illegal, environmentalists are relieved by the ruling. doclink

    Endangered Species Act Coauthor Wants to Oust Fellow Republican Pombo

    October 10, 2005, The Daily Review

    Former Rep. Pete McCloskey (R-Calif.), coauthor of the 1973 Endangered Species Act, is considering a 2006 run against the man who wants to kill it: Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.). McCloskey, has denounced Pombo's proposed rewrite of the keystone environmental law. He accuses Pombo of losing touch with his Republican roots and kowtowing to his campaign contributors. The septuagenarian moderate says he'll move to California's 11th congressional district if another viable Republican challenger doesn't turn up. Pombo's recently floated idea of selling off national park sites to help balance the budget, he said, is "so transparent ... these guys are selling the store." doclink

    Higher human population puts a strain on wildlife habitat and feeds the greed of developers to make more and more money by selling more and more houses whereever land is cheap, which is usually in areas that wildlife still lives.

    Natural Buffers Took a Beating

    September 28, 2005, Washington Post

    The Gulf Coast's estuaries, wetlands, and cypress swamps are hurting in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The storm damaged 25 national wildlife refuges, and recovery costs are expected to be at least $93 million. In Mississippi's Noxubee refuge, pine trees crucial to the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker were flattened, while the coastal Breton Island bird sanctuary was virtually washed away. Experts suspect that offshore ecosystems have been swamped by sewage-laced floodwaters, which may cause blooms of algae. And there are industrial toxins and petroleum in the water being pumped out of New Orleans. Some fear Katrina may be the final blow for many of the region's plants and critters. All of those things, unique to that part of the world, have been disappearing since 1927, and now they've disappeared altogether. doclink

    Manchester United Boss in US Clash with Greenpeace

    July 24, 2005, Richmond Times-Dispatch(US)

    At risk is the future of the menhaden fish, which breeds in Chesapeake Bay and lives along America's eastern seaboard. Vast shoals are being vacuumed up at a time, threatening the ecosystem, and this has set Greenpeace against the American billionaire Malcolm Glazer whose family owns Omega Protein Corp, which fishes the bay. Mr Glazer's son is also a director of Manchester United. Greenpeace staged a protest demanding a moratorium for the fishery, and an end to the company taking menhaden out of the bay, claiming its 66 vessels and 30 spotter planes are threatening the entire stock. Sports fishermen claim that striped bass are starving because its principal food, menhaden, is disappearing. The menhaden also filters sea water for its food, cleaning up the pollution. The demonstration was the latest in a struggle to convince US Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to control catches until the true position of this valuable fish can be assessed by scientists. 12 hearings are being held to gauge public opinion after which a decision will be taken. The commission rejected a proposal by Omega to cap its take at 135,000 tonnes annually for the next four years. Critics say the proposed cap was larger than the current catch. Against the company is a cooperative of conservation and recreation organisations. The commission is suggesting a cap of 110,400 tonnes until more research can be done. Scientists do not have a clear picture on what is happening. A former fishery biologist said a robust menhaden population would remove nutrients which avoids having to pay a tax to treat sewage going into the bay. Support for Omega came from the National Association for Colored People (NAACP). The Reedville plant employs about 250 people in the fishing season, making it the third largest fishing port in the US. Greenpeace said that at the rate Omega is going, these jobs won't be there in a couple of generations. The best type of omega-3 is found in fish, high in two fatty acids crucial to health and Western diets contain very little omega-3. Hydrogenation removes it. Omega-3 is said to benefit depression, chronic fatigue syndrome (ME), heart disease and period pain. doclink

    U.S.: West Coast Trawling Restricted, but Effects May Be Light

    June 16, 2005, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    Regulators voted to impose a permanent ban on trawling in depths beyond 700 fathoms in nearly 300,000 square miles of Pacific waters off the West Coast. The regulations apply to waters that extend from three miles to 200 miles off the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington. It is aimed at protecting coral beds, kelp forests, rocky reefs and other sensitive fish habitat. Trawl fishermen were skeptical it would boost declining stocks of groundfish but did not think the ban would hurt their livelihoods because most of the areas are too deep for trawlers. Environmentalists say trawling destroys delicate sea-floor habitat, but fishermen say there's no evidence that trawl fishing has affected groundfish stocks that make up West Coast commercial fishing. The council's decision follows a similar move by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which regulates waters off the coast of Alaska. They voted to ban trawling in more than 370,000 square miles off the Aleutian Islands. doclink

    US Oregon: Judge Orders Heavy Spills for Salmon

    June 11, 2005, The Oregonian

    A US judge in Portland ordered the government to comply with salmon advocates' request for heavy releases of river water over four dams this summer. The costs, in the form of revenues from power generation, could run to $67 million. Water spilled over dams to help salmon migrate to sea can't be used to generate electricity. Federal agencies had planned to transport them downriver by truck and barge. But the ruling on summer "spill" is the first of what could be changes in dam operations. The federal dams provide low-cost electricity, irrigation water, and barge transportation across Oregon, Washington and Idaho. The first Snake River salmon landed on the Endangered Species List in 1991. Federal officials have struggled to come up with strategies to allow the dams to operate while killing federally protected fish, now comprising 13 populations. The judge said the salmon affected by summer dam operations remain in trouble. The judge called for a fresh start and ordered the government to begin large-scale spilling of water at three Snake River dams. He denied a request by conservation groups and tribes to increase the rate of flow that would have required draining water from upriver reservoirs. Federal officials said they would try to resolve differences with conservation groups, tribes and states. The lead federal attorney, said it might be impossible, technically and legally, to come up with a program that does all the court has asked and the government could be forced to put the matter before an endangered species committee. He said spilling water over dams could make things worse for salmon, with "enormous" cost to the region. Power and industry groups maintain that transporting young salmon by barge and truck makes the most sense during a low-water year, rather than leaving fish exposed to overheated water, and predatory fish and birds. Conservation groups, asserted that the weight of evidence supports the use of spill. How the $67 million price tag will affect electricity producers and consumers is not yet clear. The governors of Idaho, Montana and Washington are focusing on salmon-saving strategies that preserve the dams. doclink

    U.S.: Decline of Wildflowers in Forests Worries Scientists

    May 17, 2005, New York Times*

    Sprawling housing developments, hungry deer, invasive plants, and other threats have sent many forest wildflower species into decline. There are limited studies on the delicate flowering plants, known as spring ephemerals, because they are only visible for a few weeks of the year and may go years without flowering at all. But the few records indicate an 18% decline in the native species, including spring ephemerals and other wildflowers, over the past 50 years. In parts of the Eastern U.S. forest density is increasing as abandoned farmland returns to the original state, research shows that much of the natural diversity is lacking. doclink

    Forest Comeback Not Expected to Last

    February 11, 2005, Duluth Tribune

    The U.S. has gained 10 million acres of forests since 1990. The increase is probably temporary. Growth is concentrated in the Northeast and Rocky Mountain states, while wooded acres dwindled in the South, Midwest and Pacific Coast. Over the past 50 years, according to the Forest Service, 24 states added woodland, seven of them more than a million acres each. New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania were the biggest gainers. Texas, Florida and California lost the most. The U.S. is a bright spot in a world that's losing its forests. Worldwide, 235 million acres of trees vanished in the past decade. Africa and South America lost the most, while Europe and China gained. China is adding 4.5 million acres of trees per year under a massive reforestation program. When European settlers began to colonize America they cut down trees for fuel and farmland, and a long, slow decline of forests began that hit bottom in 1920, when only 735 million acres of woodlands were left and 370 million acres of trees had been taken. The main reason was the switch from a country based on agriculture to an industrial economy. Large, efficient farms replaced millions of small holdings and machinery took over from horses and mules, which needed cropland for their food. Government policies have helped. A belt of trees was planted from the Canadian to Mexican borders under the Soil Bank program of the 1950s to prevent a return of the Dust Bowl. Tax incentives led to tree-planting. More trees are growing now than are being cut down and as a result, the area covered by forests has risen from 735 million to 749 million acres. Trees occupy one-third of the nation's territory. Only 10% of the land in Ohio was forested in 1910. Today trees cover more than 30%, although the population has more than doubled. New York has 6 million more acres of forest than it did in 1920. Pennsylvania gained 4.4 million acres. Almost 90% of Maine is tree-covered, up from 62% a century ago. Texas has lost 8 million acres since 1920, and Florida almost 4 million. The Forest Service projects that all areas of the country will lose woodlands by 2050. By that time, the nation will have 150 million more people and 23 million fewer acres of forest. doclink

    Shred the Roadmap to Salmon Extinction

    December 30, 2004, Los Angeles Times

    The Bush administration decided that 4 obsolete dams on the Snake River will not be dismantled. In the 1960s, Congress authorized a project to transform Lewiston, Idaho, into a seaport and the Army Corps of Engineers turned 140 miles of the Snake River into a barge channel. Wild salmon began disappearing from the lakes and rivers upstream from the dams. The the volume of barge shipments never reached expectations. The mainlines of the Burlington Northern and the Union Pacific run west to ports at Pasco, Vancouver, Tacoma and Portland and with further investment, it will be ready to handle what is now shipped by river. Farmers save 3 to 7 cents per bushel compared with shipping by rail. Shut down the barge traffic, take out the dams and give a part of the annual $36 million that would be saved to making up the cost differential with the farmers. The administration's plan to keep the dams and "save" the salmon has a cost of $6 billion over the next 10 years. Scientists conclude these proposals offer little hope of restoring the wild salmon. The dams could be dismantled, the farmers who ship on the river compensated and the small amount of electricity the dams generate replaced, for one-third of the $6 billion. doclink

    Climate Change Taking Its Toll on North American Wildlife

    December 15, 2004, Washington Post

    A three-year study by the Wildlife Society, a nonpartisan group of wildlife experts, suggests that climate change in North America is affecting migration routes, breeding habits, and blooming cycles of animals and plants across the continent. Add the destruction of wildlife habitat for development and you get a deadly combination. The new study adds to the evidence suggesting that climate shifts are having a major impact on ecosystems. doclink

    U.S.: Bird Not Likely to Get Endangered Status; Ranchers, Industry Vs. Environmentalists Over Sage Grouse

    December 05, 2004,

    The sage grouse population has fallen to 142,000 from 16 million. Interior Department biologists recommended against adding it to the endangered species list. A coalition of farmers, ranchers, oil and gas developers and other businesses praised the recommendation saying it is a win for the sage grouse, because this bird is not going to have the Endangered Species Act around its neck. Environmentalist groups sent the department three petitions to list the sage grouse as endangered were upset. "By not listing the species, damaging activities will be allowed to the detriment of sage grouse and other wildlife species." At stake is a bird whose numbers have declined to 142,000, as well as the use of Western sagebrush that provide cover and food between 4,000 and 9,000 feet elevations. At one time there may have been 16 million of the birds in the Western US and Canada. The bird is chicken-like, with a long pointed tail, weighing two to seven pounds. It is a ground-dweller among 770,000 square miles of sage brush in 11 states. Because of farming and development, that is only half its historic range. The Fish and Wildlife Service, must decide within 25 days whether to deny the bird federal protections. Interior Secretary Gale Norton made no secret they prefer to rely on private conservation work and joint efforts by federal agencies, Western states and local governments, rather than ordering new restrictions. Norton said, “Lots of people have tried to to protect the sage grouse without listing it on the endangered species list. Extending federal protections would have significant impact on development. The Bureau of Land Management, which oversees oil and gas leases and much of the sage grouse habitat, issued a conservation plan was coordinated with the Western Governors' meeting go on endangered species issues. The governors suggested the sage grouse could be conserved without federal protections. doclink

    Protect the Sage Grouse

    December 07, 2004, USA Today

    The grouse is proposed for ESA listing and it's another chance to educate the public and policy makers about the conflict between economic growth and wildlife conservation. Snowballing taxpayers into thinking it has nothing to do with economic growth is unethical and ultimately dangerous. The sage grouse joins the Florida panther, spotted owl, and others in warning us that the production and consumption of goods and services is getting too high. Species by species, ecosystems are unraveling in the face of the agricultural, extractive, and manufacturing sectors. It is time for us and our policy makers to acknowledge the conflict between economic growth and the environment, including wildlife conservation. Only then can we wrestle with achieving the proper balance. doclink

    U.S.: Salmon Habitats Face Cuts 'Critical' Areas to Be Reduced 80%

    December 01, 2004, San Francisco Chronicle

    The administration proposed an 80% reduction in habitat for Pacific salmon and steelhead, and recovering populations of the rare fish could collapse again. Twenty populations of salmon and steelhead are listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. The plan put forth by the National Marine Fisheries Service designates habitat for the endangered fish in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and California, but it is 80% less than was identified from 1999 to 2002. Critical habitat areas can be subject to restrictions of activities such as development, logging and grazing. Potential impacts on such economic activities would be weighed in the consideration of critical habitat. A spokesman for the agency said the move was procedural and would not have a major impact on salmon and steelhead protection. Original critical habitat proposals were more extensive than necessary because the agency had not completed its research and wanted to err on the side of caution. Scientific tools allow much refined determinations, that show which streams have viable populations and should be critical habitat. But a fisheries consultant who specializes said the announcement marked change in policy that could prove disastrous for the fish. Salmon and steelhead have freshwater stages, and need those areas NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) plans to abandon. Progress has been made in resuscitating populations of fish particularly in California. In California, most of the coastal and Sacramento Valley rivers and streams were considered critical habitat prior to 2002. The attorney for a group that opposes endangered-species listings said an initial reading of the proposal left him uneasy. In the past they guessed, speculated and overstated potential critical habitat. The executive director of a commercial fishing lobbying group, criticized the economic impacts and consider the economic impacts decades of habitat degradation on fisheries. The agency announced it would not consider removing federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers to facilitate endangered salmon runs as the fish could be routed around the dams via fish ladders. At one point it looked possible that four dams might be removed but there was too much opposition from interests that wanted to make sure Lewiston (Idaho) remained a deep-water port. doclink

    Global Warming Reshaping US Ecology

    November 09, 2004, Terra Daily

    Global warming in North American can be seen in the habitats of butterflies and foxes. Researchers examined the links between climate change and alterations in the ecology and the most striking were changes in the spring timetable of plants and animals such as the earlier blooming of the forest phox and the butterfly weed. By the 1980s and 1990s, the plants were blooming 15 and 18 days earlier as part of an accelerated calendar that saw spring events occurring seven days sooner than six decades before. This coincided with a temperature increase of 3C. By the 1990s, yellow-bellied marmots were emerging from hibernation 23 days earlier. The extinctions of Edith's checkerspot butterfly were probably temperature-related as the plants that host the butterfly's caterpillar started to dry up before the caterpillars could fully develop. The effect has been to concentrate the species to Canada, and upwards in elevation where temperatures are cooler. In some cases the shifts have made survival tougher as the large scale movements bring new species into contact with each other. The red fox has shifted northwards and is now encroaching on the Arctic fox's range, threatening its survival. Scientists estimate that greenhouse gases have increased the temperature in the 48 contiguous US states by 0.6C on average in the past century. But some parts of Alaska have witnessed temperature changes of 3.9C. doclink

    US Washington: Spotted Owl Remains Threatened

    June 23, 2003, Seattle Times

    The northern spotted owls face a host of threats but protecting the forest appears to be important. Threats include growth of the barred owl in spotted-owl territory, the potential spread of West Nile virus and the prospect of wildfires. Sudden oak death could attack areas of tanoak, a tree favored by the spotted owl. It is essential to maintain forests where the bird might breed and recover. A review has checked the more than 1,000 studies detailing the fate of the owl, a nocturnal bird that preys on flying squirrels, voles and small mammals. The findings will help decide whether to list the spotted owl as threatened, or upgrade it to require more stringent measures. The designation in 1990 triggered federal-lands logging policies to protect the bird and other species that inhabit old-growth forests. It also prompted more trees to be left standing around nesting areas. The owl review has been sought by timber companies, which chafed at logging restrictions and the Wildlife Service agreed to a review of literature. The findings will be examined by timber industry and conservation groups. Research claimed spotted-owl populations are faltering in protected areas so asks if restrictions can be justified by science. The review pointed to the need to thin forests that are at risk of wildfire. Troubles facing the owl underscore the need to increase protections on logged Washington private lands. doclink

    Ranking Land Protection

    September 2003, Patrick Burns

    Though we often think of the U.S. as an "environmental nation," many other countries have actually protected a greater percentage of their land. In the list below the U.S. comes in at #26, in terms of land protection (13.4% of land protected), with the following countries ranked above it, in descending order. Follow the link for more info.

    1 Ecuador 43.1%
    2 Venezuela 36.3%
    3 Denmark 32.2%
    4 Dominican Republic 31.5%
    5 Austria 28.3%
    6 Germany 27.0%
    7 New Zealand 23.6%
    8 Slovakia 21.8%
    9 Bhutan 21.2%
    10 Belize 20.9%
    11 United Kingdom 20.5%
    12 Panama 19.1%
    13 Chile 18.9%
    14 Botswana 18.5%
    15 Switzerland 18.0%
    16 Cuba 17.4%
    17 Guatemala 16.8%
    18 Cambodia 16.2%
    19 Oman 16.1%
    20 Czech Republic 15.8%
    21 Tanzania 15.6%
    22 Israel 14.9%
    23 Rwanda 14.7%
    24 Bolivia 14.4%
    25 Costa Rica 13.7%

    A Misdirected Forest Strategy

    August 12, 2003, Arizona Daily Star

    Mr. Bush reaffirmed his support for a tree thinning strategy that was passed by the House and is nearing approval in the Senate. It would increase the Forest Service's fire-prevention budget and the ability to prevent fires by thinning forests and setting controlled fires. The plan is vague and does not require the money to be spent where it would do most good, at the urbanized edges of the forests. Critics say the plan has less to do with preventing forest fires than it does with helping his friends in the timber industry. Its mandate is broad and invites commercial logging in remote areas, where fires pose little threat but the trees are the biggest. The plan would ease environmental laws, reduce public comment and restrict judicial review. The administration says it wants to stop frivolous lawsuits that block important projects, but several studies have said the citizen reviews and legal processes have posed no obstacle to fire prevention. The Arizona Daily Star noted that there had been only one legal challenge in three years to a fuel-reduction project in the Coronado National Forest, and it had been settled expeditiously. doclink

    Coastal Areas

    U.S.: Drastic Cuts in Fish Quotas Expected

    December 20, 2012, Boston Globe   By: Beth Daley

    Fishery regulators are likely to impose devastating cuts on the New England fishing fleet in the vast Gulf of Maine; however, blame for the disappearance of once-abundant cod and flounder populations is shifting from fishermen to warming waters and an evolving ocean ecosystem possibly related to man-made climate change.

    Researchers acknowledge they don't know whether prized cod and flounder stocks will ever rebound and what species will take their place. John Bullard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's regional chief. "We can control overfishing -- it's hard but we can do it -- but how do you control this?" The only option is to dramatically restrict fishing to give the fish any hope of a comeback.

    The New England Fishery Management Council would cut up to nearly 80% for some stocks of cod, as well as cuts to other species. To ease the pain, the New England Fishery Management Council, a governmental body made up fishermen, industry representatives, state officials, and environmentalists, will also decide whether to open more than 5,000 square miles of conservation area now closed to most fishermen.

    Fishermen are struggling to comprehend how the sacrifices they made in the last decade to idle boats and catch fewer fish were for naught. Only four years ago, scientists said cod populations were healthy and growing, a rosy assessment that unraveled last year when researchers discovered serious errors in their analysis had led them to overestimate Gulf of Maine cod by nearly 300%.

    Eight months into the fishing year, the entire fleet has caught just 44% of this year's cod quota. Some fisherman say that cuts may not be as drastic as they sound because so many fishermen can't catch their quota anyway.

    The sea floor is recording temperatures of 50.5 degrees. "That is almost unheard of, we should be in the mid-40s," said one fisherman. There have been cycles of cooling and warming, and scientists are not sure whether the Gulf of Maine's warming is from natural cycles, climate change, or a combination of both.

    NOAA research shows that about half of 36 fish stocks they analyzed in recent years, including cod, flounder, and lesser-known species, have been shifting northward or into deeper waters in the last four decades. While locally caught Atlantic cod are disappearing from restaurants and stores, other fish that thrive in warmer water, such as Atlantic croaker, could take their place. But it's unclear if fishermen will be able to make as much money from these species.

    The timing of spring plankton blooms -- the foundation of the marine food web -- may also be shifting, scientists say, coming earlier in the spring, as it did this year. Plankton changes, combined with rising ocean temperatures, could affect the success of young marine life because so many species time their spawning to the spring bloom.

    Predator fish that feed on cod are increasing in the area. 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

    U.S.: BP Disaster in Gulf: One Year Later

    April 21, 2011, Center for Biological Diversity

    It is the one year anniversary of the explosion on BP's Deepwater Horizon drill rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Since then we all came to realize the full, nightmarish extent of the oil spill catastrophe -- and the extent of political corruption, mismanagement and weak regulation in the offshore drilling industry.

    The Center for Biological Diversity has become the nation's leading critic of the offshore industry, uncovering rampant disregard for environmental regulation and petitioning for the protection of multiple species affected by the spill.

    The BP spill was the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history and should have been a wake-up call. But unfortunately, regulation of the offshore industry is the same as it was in April 2010 and the Department of the Interior just recently began issuing new offshore drilling permits.

    More than 200 million gallons of oil and 225,000 tons of methane were spilled into the Gulf and oiled more than 1,000 miles of shoreline.

    More than 82,000 birds; about 6,000 sea turtles; nearly 26,000 marine mammals, including dolphins; and an unknown, but no doubt staggering number of fish and invertebrates may have been harmed by the spill and its aftermath.

    More than 2 million gallons of toxic dispersants were sprayed into the Gulf -- which may actually be making waters more toxic for species -- without regulators ensuring the chemicals wouldn't harm endangered wildlife or their habitats.

    The Center for Biological Diversity has launched nine lawsuits, including a pending $19 billion suit against BP and Transocean for violations of the Clean Water Act, and ratcheted up the pressure on politicians to reform offshore oversight, halt dangerous drilling, save imperiled species and hold the federal government and BP accountable.

    It's vital that we seize this moment marking the one-year anniversary of the Gulf disaster to push ahead for real, long-term reforms that ensure people, wild places and wildlife are safe and protected.

    Here is our interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!


    Karen Gaia says: With Peak Oil - where we will have drill ever deeper and harder for oil - and until adequate transportation alternatives are found, the demand for oil will put tremendous pressures upon the earth. I am happy that the Center for Biological Diversity recognizes overpopulation as a problem for the survival of species on the earth.

    U.S.: Chesapeake Bay is Still Hurting

    April 20, 2007, Baltimore Sun

    There was little good news in the 2006 Assessment put out by the Chesapeake Bay Program. The report found degraded water quality, a decline in the blue crab population, contaminated rivers and huge losses in bay grasses.

    The University of Maryland offered a river-by-river report card for water clarity, dissolved oxygen levels and quality of life for small clams and worms. The results were equally dismal. The flush tax, which former Gov. Ehrlich Jr. signed into law in 2004, is expected to raise about $65 million a year to upgrade sewage treatment plants to reduce pollution.

    Dozens of scientists in the region are studying the bay's creatures and looking at ways to help them thrive in an increasingly toxic environment.

    Many said they have grown weary of hearing the same gloomy assessments of the bay's health.

    The VP of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said state and federal officials have long known what to do but have not the political will to do it.

    State leaders should be working to secure federal aid for the bay. Agriculture is the 800-pound gorilla when you're looking at nutrient pollution, but population growth is the 8,000-pound gorilla waiting in the wings. doclink

    California, Oregon and Washington Plan to Lobby Bush, Congress

    September 19, 2006, The Seattle Times

    The governors of California, Oregon and Washington announced a pact to safeguard the ocean and lobby Congress and the president.

    Gov. Schwarzenegger signed seven bills that his office said would "extend the state's leadership" on ocean protection.

    Our Western states have started to work together to fight global warming and protect our air, and we now join forces to make sure we are doing everything to maintain clean water and beachess, Schwarzenegger said. Members said their efforts would bolster economies by protecting coastal tourism and enhancing fisheries.

    Key concerns include pollution from urban runoff and the environmental effects of off-shore oil drilling.

    The U.S. Geological Survey announced a report that shows 66% of California's beaches have eroded over the past few decades. The states want more money to deal with the problems.

    Protecting the oceans isn't likely to leapfrog to the top of the national agenda.

    The agreement was crafted during the past six months. Similar collaboration goes back to 2004, when the three states started trading ideas for slashing air pollution. In coming months, experts from the participating states plan to meet with environmental and business leaders to develop initial recommendations.

    The governors intend to send a series of statements to the president and Congress, urging them to:

    Provide money for programs aimed at curbing urban runoff. Expand funding for key regional research efforts.

    Request that federal agencies, including the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, are directed to provide technical assistance. The governors intend to oppose expansion of offshore oil and natural gas exploration.

    Similar agreements have been negotiated among Great Lakes, Gulf Coast and New England states.

    California's marine problems have been building for years as people cram the coast with development and pollutants endanger sea life. doclink

    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

    State of the Environment - North Carolina's Most Urgent Environmental Challenge

    December 16, 2005, Charlotte Observer

    If projections from scientific experts are remotely accurate, North Carolina is in for significant change within our lifetimes related to global climate change. One estimate says 770 square miles of the coast could submerge. Air quality may worsen as temperatures rise, and the health of citizens could decline. Some will die of heat stroke. Environmental Defense, among others, has suggested a series of strategies to limit the harmful impact and prepare its residents to make some money off the changes. This year, air quality drops out of the top 10 problems because there were fewer bad air days, because controls on smokestack pollution have begun to take effect. Each of these assessments is subjective, not scientific. Summers have been getting drier, while falls have been getting wetter. As a consequence, North Carolinians have less water available than they did 100 years ago and a future with insufficient water in some areas as the state continues its dramatic urbanization. Raleigh has problems with one of its key reservoirs. Falls Lake which has been below normal level, forcing Raleigh to think about asking for a transfer from Kerr Lake. Concord and Kannapolis have sought to drain 38 million gallons a day from the Catawba River. Storm runoff, nutrients and sediment remain a top concern. Development is overwhelming the ability to keep pollution out of water supplies but the state is losing the war to protect water quality and the environment in North Carolina and America. Rapid growth and inappropriate development has been near the top of the list for 10 years. Residential growth consumes farmland, green space and forests, putting new strains on air quality and water quality. But sprawling low-density development and quality-of-life concerns could interfere with future prosperity. Growth and development has threatened places where no one ever imagined. A growth surge in coastal counties has caused problems and the land use planning program for the coast is totally broken. The very people who depend on waterfront availability for their economic survival can no longer afford that access. How North Carolina will meet its energy needs at an affordable cost will dominate debate affecting the environment. Utilities are interested in building more nuclear plants and pressure grows for the state to rescind its opposition to offshore natural gas exploration. While some fish stocks have made recoveries in N.C. waters, others have declined in alarming ways. River herring have become so depleted that catches failed to reach a quota limit. Oysters, bay scallops and blue crabs are species of "concern" because of low catches. Population growth has increased the amount of garbage going into landfills while the state might begin importing garbage in landfills proposed for sparsely populated areas an environmental threat. The state continues to search for solutions to large-scale hog farm waste. Thousands bought up the shoreline and built out-of-scale mansions to replace the fish camps and clapboard cottages. The loss of natural areas to upscale residential developments has changed what North Carolinians see from our windows. Litter accumulates along our highways, costing the state millions in collection costs and providing volunteers with more work than they can keep up with. Utility poles and wires mar the viewscape. Environmental concerns fail to consider long-term implications and doesn't recognize the interdependence of conservation and development. North Carolina has more than 17 million acres of forests and large stands of trees in national and state forests, parks and wildlife reserves. But the huge stands of hardwoods and regal longleaf pines are now a small fraction of what they once were. In a state where development has gobbled up 100,000 acres of forested lands and natural areas per year, recent legislation may make it harder for local governments to preserve land at a time the state's population continues to grow and consume more natural areas. doclink

    Sounds just like most of the states along the east coast. Most of these problems are population and consumption. Where it is a consumption problem, any population growth magnifies it. The problem with people being rich is that they are able to distract and insulate themselves from the problems, which puts them in a state of denial.

    Hard Choices Seen in Efforts to Help Louisiana Wetlands

    November 20, 2005, The Times-Picayune

    Restoring Louisiana's wetlands, or maintaining those that remain, will be impossible, according to the National Academy of Sciences. The time has come for state and local governments, businesses and citizens to start talking about which wetland areas can be preserved and which must be abandoned. The proposal put forward by the state and the Army Corps of Engineers had worthwhile elements but would not come close to halting wetland loss. The panel considered an area of about 12,000 square miles from Texas to Mississippi. Wetlands support fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, much of the nation's oil and gas production, a growing eco-tourism industry and Louisiana's Cajun culture. But since the 1930's, 1,900 square miles of marsh has been lost beneath the waters of the gulf. Many consider the wetlands a major defense against storms like Katrina, an idea panel members discounted. Marshes may dampen the effects of minor storms, but for Katrina it would not have made any difference. The panel was charged with evaluating a proposal developed after the White House complained that the 30-year, $13 billion Louisiana Coastal Area study, was too large, cost too much and looked too far into the future. The revised proposal, comprises five projects, with an estimated cost of $1.9 billion, that could get under way in 5 to 10 years. The Corps of Engineers said the narrow time frame was a response to the Bush administration, and there was wide agreement in the corps that you need to think where you go long term. The projects are: an embankment along the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, a canal from the river at New Orleans southeast to the gulf; levee culverts to carry river water into the Maurepas Swamp, and three projects south of New Orleans, a river diversion to support wetlands in the Barataria Basin, improvements to channel banks, weirs and pumps along Bayou Lafourche and a project to rebuild beaches, dunes and marshes near Port Fourchon. The canal is reviled as having accelerated marsh loss but panel members said that this could not be demonstrated but it would be a mistake to reinforce the canal before the corps decides whether to decommission it. The panel said the other projects are scientifically sound, but estimated that in aggregate they would slow marsh loss by only 20%. Wetland loss peaked in the early 1980's, when Louisiana lost about 40 square miles a year. Its annual loss now is 12 to 20 square miles. doclink

    US Louisina: Unnatural Disaster: the Lessons of Katrina

    September 02, 2005, Worldwatch News

    The overwhelming impacts of Hurricane Katrina are evidence that we have failed to account for our dependence on a healthy resource base. Alteration of the Mississippi River and the destruction of wetlands have left the area around New Orleans vulnerable to the forces of nature. The early results of global warming in the Gulf and rising sea levels may have exacerbated the destructive power of Katrina. The catastrophe is a wake-up call for decision makers around the globe. Future generations may face disasters that make Katrina-scale catastrophes a common feature in the 21st century. This will likely be the most expensive weather-related disaster the world has ever faced. The long-term lessons of Katrina include: 1. Maintaining the integrity of natural ecosystems. Indiscriminate development and ecologically destructive policies have left many communities vulnerable to disasters. Together with population growth this has contributed to economic losses from weather-related catastrophes totaling $567 billion over the last 10 years. During the past years, the US has diverted funding from disaster preparedness to help finance the Iraq War, and reduced protections for wetlands to spur economic development. Both decisions are now exacting costs that far exceed the money saved. Natural ecosystems such as wetlands and forests are more valuable when left intact. The links between climate change and weather-related catastrophes need to be addressed. No specific storm can be linked to climate change, but warm water is the fuel that increases the intensity of such storms and seas have increased in temperature. In the next few decades, water temperatures and sea levels will continue to rise, increasing the vulnerability of many communities. There is an urgent need to diversify energy supplies as the national and global economic impact of Katrina is growing by the day. The world dependent is on oil and natural gas that are concentrated in some of the world's most vulnerable regions. Biofuels and renewable resources represent viable alternatives to fossil fuels. doclink

    Biofuels are not sustainable. It takes energy to grow them. They are a worthy alternative only as long as there are subsidies for growing them.

    U.S.: OCS with Offshore LNG Coming to a Coast Near You

    April 2005,

    A controversial bill from last Congress that expands the authority of the Department of Interior (DOI) to approve drilling rigs, liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities and other offshore energy projects has reemerged. Critics say it would undermine environmental reviews and by granting the DOI prime authority, while proponents say the move is necessary to streamline the permitting process and boost domestic production. The provision, if enacted, vests the DOI with the authority to grant right-of-way on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) for energy and related purposes. It grants this authority in a more narrow area of the OCS instead of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that reaches 200 nautical miles from the coastline. The bill also allows the use of floating production, storage and offloading system that consists of tankers which store crude oil as it is produced. Smaller shuttle tankers carry the oil ashore. This is opposed by environmentalists and was not in last session's bill. The measure gave DOI primacy over expedited approval of LNG processing facilities, conversion of offshore oil platforms to new uses, seabed petroleum pipelines, and offshore wind and wave energy installations. Currently, the authority is dispersed among Coast Guard for offshore LNG terminals and the Army Corps of Engineers for offshore wind projects. DOI has permitting authority only over oil and gas exploration offshore. According to congressional sources, several prominent Democrats were expected to offer amendments to strip the language from the bill before negotiations collapsed. It is unclear if the measure will be included in a Senate version of the energy bill this Congress, but it will be opposed by coastal state lawmakers from both parties. Environmentalists say there is a need for a new licensing regime that would permit offshore energy projects. doclink

    U.S.: Gas Terminals' Impact on Fish Raises Concerns

    September 28, 2004, Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

    Federal scientists warn that liquid natural gas terminals could damage commercial fishing in the Gulf of Mexico and force the Coast Guard to suspend permits for two terminals off the Louisiana coast. When the liquid natural gas is heated back into a gas the process sucks in Gulf water containing potentially millions of fish and crustacean eggs and larvae. The terminals would pump the seawater and natural gas through a piece of equipment where the warm Gulf water would vaporize the liquid into a gas and the water would be rapidly cooled. If the organisms are not killed by the temperature drop, they won't survive the pump machinery or the chemicals used to clean the inside of the pipes. The system would then dump the water, 20 degrees to 30 degrees cooler, back into the Gulf, where it could continue to harm sea life. The process also would kill organisms that are food for fish. Using a less-damaging closed-loop system consumes too much of the natural gas as a heat source and might undercut the financial viability of the projects and increase air pollution. It is the money these terminals generate that is attractive to officials in the Gulf Coast states. An Aug. 18 letter from Gov. Kathleen Blanco said the development of several terminals could increase gas export through the existing pipelines by more than 200%, create more than 13,000 jobs, preserve over 11,000 existing jobs, and inject more than $2.3 billion into the state's economy. Sierra Club officials say approval could threaten the fishing industry and NOAA officials say the risk of wiping out entire species of commercially important fish is too great to allow further approval and applicants failed to identify the economic impact of lost fisheries. Flow-through systems should be avoided in favor of closed-loop systems. Concerns must be weighed in light of an lack of basic information about the population of various fish and crustacean species and a limited understanding of how the viability of eggs or larvae could affect those species. The locations of the terminals are a problem as most are offshore of the estuaries where many fish live and reproduce. With as many as 15 LNG terminals now proposed for the Gulf, NOAA Fisheries and state officials have become concerned about the potential effects and officials don't know how the terminals will affect the environment. Coast Guard officials notified Shell that the Gulf Landing permitting process had been suspended until company officials adequately addressed the NOAA Fisheries concerns and suspended the permit application process until the company could justify its conclusion that "egg and larvae impacts are negligible" compared with the amount of sea life in the area. doclink

    Mountains, Desserts, Rivers, Wild Areas

    Our Wilderness Gets Crowded

    August 02 , 2013,   By: Froma Harrop

    From Yosemite National Park to Rocky Mountain National Park to Rocky Mountain National Park to New Hampshire's White Mountains and so on, our favorite places have become so crowded that it is difficult to enjoy them.

    Three things have happened.

    * There has been a population explosion in the United States, regardless of what you hear from conservatives panicking over a mythical "baby bust."

    * Growing prosperity in other parts of the world has created new markets for U.S. tourism. China, Brazil and India now account for the largest growth of foreign tourists, a total of 67 million last year.

    * It used to be that Americans might take their family in a car for visit to a national park. Now, cheap airfares have made formerly remote places more accessible, fostering the fast-paced three-day weekend.

    The macro-solution is: slow population growth. U.S. population is now 314 million, but projected to grow by almost 19 million through 2050. Keeping our birthrates and immigration numbers in check would go far to stem the tide. doclink

    Evan says: A proven way to protect Yosemite would be to limit access to 1000 visitors a day. This approach has many precedents in limiting federal river and state park access. Limiting immigration has unintended side effects: The morality of limiting opportunities for the less fortunate, nativism, and feasibility (it just does not work).

    Karen Gaia says: I first became interested in population when I noticed that it was less fun to go camping in my home state California. My family went camping just about anywhere in the wild areas.. They did not need to make reservations. But when I tried to take my children camping, there were reservations and big crowds where ever we went. However, I have to admit that we were part of the problem. After WWII, huge numbers of servicemen moved their families to sunny California, then proceeded to have lots of kids (the national birthrate had risen to 3.7 by the late 1960s). Fortunately for the legalization of contraception in 1963, birthrates rapidly dropped after that.

    I agree with Evan on immigration.

    U.S.: Save the Frogs

    May 2011, Natural Resources Defense Council

    April 29 was Save the Frogs Day, and we would like your help to protect frogs from one of the biggest threats to their survival. Please ask the Environmental Protection Agency to ban a widely-used weed killer called atrazine that is threatening frog populations.

    Frogs are especially sensitive to chemicals in their surrounding environment. Their numbers have been plummeting around the world, and one of the major causes is the widespread use of pesticides like atrazine. Frogs act as an indicator species for the overall health of the environment.

    In agricultural areas, as much as 75% of all waterways contain some level of atrazine. Atrazine in our environment isn't good for us either. The European Union has already phased out its use entirely. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: the bigger the population, the more farmers relay on chemicals to produce enough food to feed us all.

    California Wildlands at Risk


    The Tioga Pass into the Sierra Nevada Range, the vast Sonoran Desert, the San Francisco Bay/ Delta and all of the Pacific Coast beach areas are at severe risk, according to a recent publication by the Endangered Species Coalition (ESC).

    While the report is primarily about risks caused by potential climate change, it states that the direct cause of damage and threat in the desert is due to unsustainable water use from explosive population growth; in the Sierra, population growth, recreation and changing land use, and in the Bay/ Delta, unrealistic human demands on water.

    UCLA geography professor Hartmut Walter said, "Land coverage change, and the rapid increase in people who need places to live and things to eat, drastically changes the ecosystems rapidly." ... "Climate change is a fact, but I believe right now in the near future the threat to California's ecosystems comes from changing land use practices and development."

    Conservation International said, "Human population pressures have rendered California one of the four most ecologically degraded states in the country, with all or part of the nation's eight most threatened ecosystems represented." They estimate that only 25% of the original vegetation of the region remains in more or less pristine condition.

    The population of the city of Indio in Riverside County has nearly quadrupled since the 1980 census, for example.. Merced, "The Gateway to Yosemite," and now home to a new University of California campus, has experienced a nearly 20% growth rate over the last census period. Population growth in Southern California affects the Bay/Delta region, which is the major conduit for north/south water transfers. More than 60% of California's population lives in Southern California and largely depends on northern water.

    In some of these areas, including Southern California, more than 30% of that population is foreign-born, somehow leading the author to conclude that the answer is to reduce immigration. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: we can also reduce population growth by addressing unintended pregnancies, which account for a large part of the growth.

    Center for Biological Diversity Announces Support for Global Population Speak Out

    February 26, 2009, Center for Biological Diversity

    The Center for Biological Diversity supports a collaborative effort to highlight overpopulation in efforts to restore the planet's ecological health. For many years human population size and growth has been the elephant in the room. Overpopulation is at the root of virtually all of the ecological threats facing our planet. Species extinction, pollution, resource depletion, and climate change can all be traced back to unsustainable population growth.

    The Center has won protection for more than 350 species and hundreds of millions of acres of habitat. But that could be overwhelmed as too many people compete for too few resources and create too many burdens for ecosystems. The correlation between human population growth and species extinction has been clearly documented.

    Humans use up to 40% of the world's Net Primary Productivity, a measure of energy from the sun that is converted into life-sustaining resources by photosynthesis. A range of extinctions can be tied directly to the energy, housing, food, and other resource demands of our population. The extinction crisis threatens to grow exponentially with climate change, and energy demands of a rapidly growing global populace. doclink

    U.S.: Envisioning a Sustainable Chesapeake

    February 17, 2008, Annapolis Capital

    It's been most inspiring to see discussions begin to address the future of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay.

    They prompt us to ask: "What does a sustainable Chesapeake really mean?"

    My vision is built upon a balanced, vibrant ecosystem teeming with fish, shellfish, underwater grasses and clear, healthy waters. But to be truly sustainable, the Chesapeake ecosystem needs to exist while also supporting the region's human population.

    Creating a sustainable Chesapeake will not be easy. But as we look around the state, we're seeing more and more positive steps being taken.

    Recently, the Maryland Commission on Climate Change made recommendations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and conserving energy throughout the state. These actions will require that we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by more than 25% within the next 12 years.

    An initiative was introduced that will seek to instill a sense of environmental stewardship among the 28,000 students graduating each year. It will also foster research and prepare the new "green" workforce.

    By changing our own actions, each of us has the ability to reduce our impact on the bay and the planet.

    As long as the region's population continues to grow, and we develop lands faster than needed to accommodate that growth, we make it more difficult to maintain the sustainability equation.

    We have struggled more than 20 years to reduce the amount of pollution flowing into the bay and we are still far from where we need to be. Another 10, 20 or 30 years of pollution-fighting efforts will still not be enough. Bay restoration efforts will be needed in perpetuity.

    We need to manage for sustainability by remaining aware of what will cross our path in the future. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: The way things are going, we will be forced to reduce our greenhouse gases because we have passed peak oil, meaning our consumption of oil will be reduced.

    Tree Huggers Embrace Eco-Friendly Logging

    August 07, 2006, Los Angeles Times

    The Conservation Fund, a 21-year-old Arlington, Va.-based organization, strives to balance natural resource protection with economic goals. Timber sales will be used to pay for forest and watershed restoration.

    The Conservation Fund is banking on transforming the sustainable production and sale of timber that has grown back on previously logged land into dollars that can be used to permanently shield the property from development while improving wildlife habitat and providing jobs.

    After buying 24,000 acres along the Garcia for $18 million in 2004, the Conservation Fund is purchasing an additional 16,000 acres in two nearby watersheds for $48.5 million, mostly with state financing. And the group hopes to buy 165,000 acres more, which would make it one of the biggest timber concerns on the North Coast.

    Private forest ownership is held by half a dozen companies and families, but is struggling, with land values rising. We are talking about very low density…development but it alters the ecosystem. Lots of animals do not like dogs, cats, horses and cars coming in and out all the time and the land still provides valuable habitat for wildlife.

    Financially stretched government agencies often cannot afford to make large-scale acquisitions to create parkland.

    Two years ago, the organization bought the Garcia lands for $18 million in partnership with the state Coastal Conservancy, the Wildlife Conservation Board and the nonprofit Nature Conservancy.

    Now the Conservation Fund has designated 35% of the property as forest reserve. On the rest, it plans to continue commercial timber production. Foresters say this would promote sustainable forestry, but it is hard to get society to accept this notion. The land has been logged repeatedly, and most trees are less than 2 feet in diameter. The key, said forester Craig Blencowe, is "cut less than you grow and leave good trees."

    The problem is the strategy might not produce enough timber to cover annual operating costs.

    When a plan was submitted to the state for logging a few hundred acres, local environmentalists questioned the proposed use of herbicides to kill tan oaks that have taken over previously logged areas.

    The proposal was withdrawn for revisions and herbicides will not be used.

    But forest activists applaud the Conservation Fund's responsiveness and its decision to run a working forest rather than a park, partly because the region needs the jobs.

    The Conservation Fund hopes to close a $48.5-million deal with Hawthorne Timber Co to acquire 11,600 acres in the Big River watershed and 4,345 acres in the Salmon Creek watershed.

    The state water board recently approved a $25-million loan for the project. The Conservation Fund wants the property because it provides habitat for endangered species and is vulnerable to development. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: There is no good indicator that growing trees for lumber can be sustainable with the U.S.'s growing population. Perhaps we need to find other ways to conserve forests.

    US Florida;: $310m Purchase Finalized; State Officials Accept Deed to Nearly 74,000 Acres of the Property

    August 01, 2006, Naples News

    Florida's biggest-ever land purchase, 74,000 acres of wild land bought by the state for over $350 million, comes with a catch, 17,000 acres of adjoining property will belong to developer Syd Kitson, who plans to build a new city. The purchase will preserve about 80% of the Babcock Ranch in the southwest of the state. It will create a corridor for wildlife, from Lake Okeechobee nearly to the Gulf of Mexico. Other green groups lament the development which clears the way for a new community with 19,500 homes, 6 million square feet of office space, and potential for 50,000 residents. The Sierra Club sued to stop the purchase, but dropped the lawsuit when Kitson promised to leave the most sensitive parts of the land undeveloped. doclink

    US Florida: Overpopulation is the Real Culprit

    January 21, 2006, Detroit Free Press. Sports Section

    Overpopulation is the culprit. Fishing was still going pretty strong in the late 1960s when lots of fish could be caught by trolling in Tampa Bay. But it had all gone to hell by 1980. Mackerel stocks had collapsed, and redfish were decimated. For a long time, like many people concerned with the environment, I was convinced the problem was habitat destruction and overexploitation. If we could just convince people to use less of the resources and preserve as much habitat as we could, things would work out. But the environmental messes we see all around us are only symptoms of the real cause, way too many people in many parts of the country, and a looming tidal wave of overpopulation that threatens to swamp any hope that our great-grandchildren will be enjoy the kind of outdoors pursuits we do. Florida's population is nearing 20 million, and some projections say it will double in 20 years. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is having an awful time trying to manage the state deer herd, but the problem doesn't lie with the deer. The problem is that when you have roughly 800,000 deer hunters, all of whom want a good chance to kill a deer, you can't satisfy the demand and still maintain a deer herd in line with what the habitat will support. Trying to preserve habitat and stop pollution is a losing battle with the kind of population growth America is experiencing. Some projections that the U.S. population will double to more than 600 million in 100 years. Do you think we could continue to maintain the kind of wildlife habitat we have now will the best efforts at controlling air and water pollution do more than slow the rate of degradation? The issue of population growth and its effects on the natural world will become more important with every passing year. doclink


    January 2005, Bill Denneen

    California has lost more than 90% of its wetlands, the largest of any state in our nation. The US had 5 million acres of wetlands with only a half million remaining. Local example of wetlands are west of Guadalupe, Cienega Valley and Black Lake Canyon. The situation gets worse as we start growing houses. Wetlands provide critical feeding, breeding,and spawning grounds for one-third of our endangered plants and animals, and a myriad of waterfowl and other wildlife. Wetlands recharge ground water supplies, control floods, purify water that flows through them and are the nurseries for the fish of the seas. Wetlands are vital to the health of our nation, yet they are being lost at 300,000 acres per year. A few years ago over 200 tractors and farmers gathered to protest regulations to protect wetlands and I carried my sign: "Save Our Creeks". The Nature Conservancy have been doing a fine job taking care of Osos Flaco Lake while ignoring the drainage into the lake. In the 1960's it had high giant willows and cottonwoods, songbirds, watercress, Yerba Manza, duckweed, Azolla, rushes, bulrushes, muskrats, black shoulded kites, raptors, cattails and all kinds of insects, anphibians, garter-snakes and horsetails. Clear water flowed in the creek. Now it is a channelized, sterile, very silted ditch. In California we have destroyed 98% of our riparian habitat that provide wildlife habitat, protect adjacent areas from flooding, filter our drinking water, and clean polluted water. The importance of wetlands may not be apparent until AFTER they are destroyed. The pressure to obliterate wetlands comes from out exploding numbers. It used to be due to high teenage pregnancy rate with Santa Maria leading until we finally reduced them. In California alone we have "exploded" to 34 million, about 30 million more than what is sustainable, the "people glut" much like the rabbits in Australia. doclink

    U.S.: Suit Challenges Roadless Repeal

    September 11, 2005, Los Angeles Times

    Gov. Ted Kulongoski sued the government for abandoning protections that had barred roads and logging in nearly 2 million acres of Oregon national forests.

    He argued that building roads in areas that have escaped development would undermine the water quality and wildlife. Kulongoski, a Democrat, joined with the attorneys general of California and New Mexico in the lawsuit. It asks a federal court to reinstate safeguards the Clinton administration had applied to roadless acres nationally. The lawsuit is a blow to the administration, which had billed its approach as friendly to the states and wants governors to submit petitions specifying which lands in their states should be protected. Kulongoski said the government created a frustrating and uncertain procedure, forcing him to repeat work done by the U.S. Forest Service. He said it keeps us from addressing larger issues of forest policy and he would not submit a petition as called for. Instead, he will ask officials to provide states a simpler and more certain way of returning protection to the roadless lands. Also, he said he would work through the Oregon Department of Forestry to make the state a partner in the revision of national forest management plans. The governor wants addressed the unpredictable logging levels on federal lands and the buildup of flammable tinder. Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire did not join the lawsuit but would be pleased to see it succeed. She is trying an approach with the Forest Service to protect most of the forest land. Under the Bush plan, states electing not to file petitions for protections leave roadless areas open to some development. The administration is providing temporary protection for roadless areas while working with states to address lands in each state. An earlier lawsuit had overturned the Clinton protections. Oregon loggers suggested Kulongoski was motivated by politics and national forest decisions should be made locally. There is no drive to develop roadless lands, and about 24 million acres would remain undeveloped under local forest blueprints. The debate has grown into a symbolic choice over the last pristine places. The lawsuit contends the Bush administration illegally reversed the 2001 roadless safeguards without considering the environmental consequences. The Clinton administration justified the forest protections by saying they were needed to stop activities that pose risks to the social and ecological values of roadless lands. The Forest Service held public meetings and received over 1 million comments, most in favor of the protection. Environmental groups said they agreed with Kulongoski, but were disappointed he will not petition the administration to protect all roadless lands in Oregon. doclink

    Out on a Limb - Experts Sound An Alarm, Saying Development is Swallowing 30,000 Acres of Forest and Woodlands Annually in California

    June 07, 2005,

    Sixty years after Edwards' father bought 520 acres of forest east of Sacramento, the son struggles to keep it from being overrun by homes. 30,000 acres of private forests and woodlands are swallowed by development each year. Experts predict that California will lose 1 million acres of forest and woodlands, 8% of its 12.2 million-acre total, to development by 2040. As housing prices rise, Californians are willing to pay more for home sites than the land is worth in timber. Private forest owners say they are tempted to sell to developers because log prices have dropped 38% to an average $292 per thousand board feet. The value of California's wood harvests has fallen from $1.1 billion in 1994 to $500 million last year. Some advocacy groups acknowledge that timber-cutting rules meant to protect forests, rivers and water are one factor conspiring to bring development and its pollution threats. More people moving into forests results in declining populations of birds and animals, new pests and tree diseases, more air pollution and watershed erosion. The harvest plans tell foresters where not to cut timber and some counties, have their own stricter rules. About 5.4 million acres of private forestland are in a Timberland Production Zone, in which an owner agrees not to sell for development for 10 years in exchange for property taxes based on timber value rather than residential value. But counties can allow large-lot parcel splits as long as the parcels remain a working forest. Rural residential zoning could allow anywhere from one home per acre to one home per 40 acres. Some new ideas include: promote "California Grown" wood, conservation easements that restrict logging while keeping forests free of development. doclink

    US Texas: Population Rise Poses Risks

    May 23, 2005, Caller-Times

    Commercial fishing, bird watching and ecotourism face challenges as Texas' population increases. Wildlife habitat will be depleted, polluted or damaged if nothing is done to preserve and manage the coast. A rising demand for water will reduce the amount of freshwater that are nurseries to sport fish, shrimp and animals that are food to birds that live in the Coastal Bend. Stormwater runoff threatens to pollute bays and estuaries while an increasing demand for water will disrupt the balance of saltwater and freshwater. Ecological richness and productivity are challenged. Water regulations in Texas require that freshwater is needed to maintain the health of bays and estuaries, but there are no minimum flows identified. Half of Texas wetlands have been developed since pre-European settlement. The number of people in Texas is expected to double by 2050 and zoning regulations now protect wetlands as the city grows. Planning can protect bays and estuaries while keeping land open for wildlife. Fewer roads mean less surface area from which pollutants can flow to Corpus Christi Bay. It makes sense to have developers build on empty lots, rather than to require the grid be extended. Sprawl on the city's Southside, which could extend to the western side of Oso Creek. There are areas that the developers do not to want to buy because it's more expensive because there are pipes there. If the city develops in outlying areas, there are negative effects on the environment as we replace our natural ecosystems with impervious surfaces. Texans are facing a future where the limits to increased fish harvests are not boats, but productive and sustainable fisheries and increased tourism and recreation are not motels and restaurants, but accessible natural habitats. The limits to irrigation and water are not pumps, electricity or delivery systems, but viable water supplies. doclink

    U.S.: Protect the Arctic Refuge

    January 12, 2005, NRDC

    President Bush knows that oil drilled in the Arctic Refuge would take ten years to get to market and would never equal more than 1 or 2% of our nation's consumption. The raid on the Arctic Refuge is symbolic. The Arctic Refuge represents everything spectacular and everything endangered about America's natural heritage. It stands for every remnant of wilderness that we, as a people, have wisely chosen to protect from the relentless march of bulldozers, chain saws and oil rigs. By unlocking the Arctic Refuge, they hope to open the door for oil, gas and coal giants to invade our last and best wild places. The real agenda is to transfer our public estate into corporate hands so it can be liquidated for a quick buck. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay said this battle over the Arctic Refuge is really a fight over whether energy exploration will be allowed in similarly areas in the future. If we let the president and Congress plunder the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for the sake of oil company profits, then no piece of our natural heritage will be safe from wholesale destruction. doclink

    Court Rules Bush Administration's Off-road Plan is Illegal Threat to Desert Web-of-life

    January 04, 2005, Center for Biological Diversity

    A federal court issued an injunction ordering the Bush administration to stop off-road vehicle damage on over half-a-million acres of critical habitat in Riverside, Imperial and San Bernardino Counties. Desert washes on U.S. BLM public lands in the NECO planning area, are off-limits to off-road vehicles until the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) completes opinions that protect habitat and promote tortoise recovery. Off-road vehicles crush desert tortoises and their burrows, and damage & kill vegetation wildlife must eat to survive. Vehicle damage can take decades to recover. The court's ruling upholds the intent of the Endangered Species Act. The court struck down permits issued by FWS that authorized off-road vehicle use on critical desert tortoise habitat but despite this ruling, the conservation groups were forced to return to court for relief. The BLM plans have been criticized by biologists over their failure to protect endangered species' critical habitat and implement endangered species recovery plans already approved by FWS. Over 500,000 acres of the CDCA remain open to unlimited off-roading, as well as over 10,000 miles of roads and trails. doclink

    Abandoned Bases

    December 2, 2004,

    Unexploded ordnance contaminates up to 50 million acres in the U.S. and would take centuries to clean up. That's the size of Minnesota or half the size of California. The Defense Department's abandoned bases alone could become the nation's 15th largest state. doclink


    U.S.: ‘Baby Bust' Blues, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Population Bomb

    April 19, 2013, CAPS - Californians for Population Stabilization   By: Leon Kolankiewicz, Caps Senior Writing Fellow

    Jonathan V. Last, senior writer at The Weekly Standard, insists that America is heading over a demographic cliff because we're not making enough babies. And the Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast, The Los Angeles Times, and others, gave him a forum.

    The U.S. has relentlessly added 2 to 3 million people per year for decades —33 million in the 1990s, 27 million in the 2000s. We added more than 100 million in the last 40 years, and in the next 40 to 50 years, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, we will add another 100 million, most of it directly and indirectly from immigration.

    Our current population of 315 million runs a substantial ecological deficit that is pushing us ever deeper into ecological debt, according to the Global Footprint Network, which says: if every country in the world were as overpopulated and resource- intensive as the United States, it would take more than four Earths to support us all. But we only have one planet at our disposal.

    Part of caring for our planet is having the collective wisdom to live within limits, including limiting the size of our families and population.

    We are busily sawing off the limb upon which the entire human enterprise rests—degrading and squandering the "natural capital" that makes sustainable economic prosperity possible.

    Mr. Last quotes Julian Simon who said that "…growing populations lead to increased innovation and conservation. Think about it: Since 1970, commodity prices have continued to fall and America's environment has become much cleaner and more sustainable—even though our population has increased by more than 50%. Human ingenuity, it turns out, is the most precious resource."

    Commodity prices did fall from 1970 to 2000, but in the 2000s prices for almost all raw materials have increased sharply. Americans mistook temporary abundance of nonrenewable natural resources like the fossil fuels and metals as permanent sufficiency. It's a miscalculation with monumental consequences.

    We have fewer wetlands, fewer free-flowing rivers, less available surface and groundwater, less open space, fewer remaining fossil fuels and high grade metal and mineral ores, fewer arable soils, fewer healthy and more diseased forests, more wildfires and droughts, record temperatures, fewer fish, less de facto wilderness, more threatened and endangered species, more harmful invasive species, higher carbon dioxide emissions, and more crowded parks and beaches than ever before. The climate is becoming more erratic; sea level is rising, and the oceans are becoming more polluted and acidic.

    Julian Simon once bragged: “We now have in our hands—in our libraries, really—the technology to feed, clothe, and supply energy to an ever-growing population for the next 7 billion years."

    Physicist Al Bartlett calculated that after just 17,000 years (only 0.00024% of 7 billion years), a population growing at the underwhelming but steady rate of 1% annually—about equal to the U.S. growth rate—would produce as many humans as atoms in the known universe. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: It was once said that immigration added 1/3 to the U.S. population, natural births added 1/3, and births to immigrants added 1/3. However, more seniors living longer lives has also added to our population. And, as for solutions, the births (natural and immigrant) can treated by addressing the 50% unintended pregnancies in the U.S. by making contraception more accessible, affordable and effective.

    Furthermore, Americans can do the world a big favor by consuming less. Americans are the biggest consumers in the world.

    U.S.: Roughly 125,000 New Jobs Need to Be Created Each Month in the United States Just to Take Care of Population Growth.

    October 04, 2012, Al Bartlett website   By: Al Bartlett

    Politicians and business people seem to think it is a sign of progress the number of new jobs created in the US increases. Recently, the monthly number of new jobs has been in the range from 40,000 to 100,000.

    The population of the US is a little over 300 million and the current population growth rate is a little under 1% per year which means that the population of the US is increasing by about 3 million people per year. About half of these people are workers and the other half are dependents so that is an increase of about 1.5 million workers per year in the US or 125,000 new jobs needed each month to accommodate population growth in the US. This agrees with figures sometimes pointed in U.S. media.

    It's no wonder that the employment rate has not gone down even though lots of jobs have been created.

    Mitt Romney promised in one of the presidential debates, "I will create-help create 12 million new jobs in this country with rising incomes." 12 million new jobs in 8 years amounts to 125,000 new jobs a month - just enough to keep up with population growth without any reduction of the number of people now unemployed.

    The availability of resources, including water, needed to support these new people and new jobs is declining rapidly, causing prices to rise. This leads to hardships for all and it will lead to limits to growth.

    How long do you suppose it will take before someone in the Congress or the Administration in Washington, DC connects the dots and concludes that it's urgent for us in the US to stop our country's population growth? doclink

    Weather Extremes Leave Parts of U.S. Grid Buckling

    July 26, 2012, New York Times

    From highways in Texas to nuclear power plants in Illinois, the concrete, steel and sophisticated engineering that undergird the nation's infrastructure are being taxed to worrisome degrees by heat, drought and vicious storms.

    Recently a US Airways regional jet became stuck in asphalt that had softened in 100-degree temperatures, and a subway train derailed after the heat stretched the track so far that it kinked — inserting a sharp angle into a stretch that was supposed to be straight. Clay-rich soils under highways in East Texas shrink, leading to "horrendous cracking". Highway sections expand beyond their design limits, press against each other and "pop up," creating jarring and even hazardous speed bumps.

    A nuclear plant in Chicago had to get special permission to keep operating this month because the pond it uses for cooling water rose to 102 degrees, just over its license limit. In a different power plant the body of water from which it drew its cooling water had dropped so low that the intake pipe became high and dry.

    "We've got the ‘storm of the century' every year now," said Bill Gausman, a senior vice president at the Potomac Electric Power Company, which took eight days to recover from the June 29 "derecho" storm that moved across the Midwest to the Eastern Seaboard and knocked out power for 4.3 million people in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

    There has been a multibillion-dollar effort to increase the height of levees and flood walls in New Orleans because of projections of rising sea levels and stronger storms to come. In the Washington subway system, trains will be ordered to slow down if it gets too hot, causing rails to become too long and risk kinking.

    After the derecho last month, both the District of Columbia and Montgomery County, Md. are discussing the option to put power lines underground.

    Heat waves are changing the pattern of electricity use, raising peak demand higher than ever. "We build the system for the 10 percent of the time we need it," said Mark Gabriel, a senior vice president of Black & Veatch, an engineering firm. And that 10 percent is "getting more extreme."

    Violent storms and forest fires can be expected to affect water quality and water use: runoff from major storms and falling ash could temporarily shut down reservoirs.

    Many agencies have officially expressed a commitment to plan for climate change, but sometimes the results from the Federal government on the ground can be frustrating. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: If our economy continues to go down due to depletion of resources, such as oil and arable farmland, how much longer will we be able to brace up our already-deteriorating infrastructure?

    U.S.: An Unfair Fight for Renewable Energies

    December 02, 2011, Washington Post

    By Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California

    More energy from the sun hits Earth in one hour than all the energy consumed on our planet in an entire year.

    In those terms, it is absurd that our federal government spends tens of billions of dollars annually subsidizing the oil industry, which pulls diminishing resources from underground, while the industry focused above ground on wind, solar and other renewable energies is derided in Washington.

    Federal support for development of new energy sources is lower today than at any other point in U.S. history, and our government is forcing the clean-energy sector into a competitive disadvantage. To bring true competition to the energy market, ensure our national security and create jobs here rather than in China or elsewhere, we must level the playing field for renewable energies. In this presidential primary, Americans need to hear where the candidates stand on this critical issue.

    When the oil, gas and nuclear industries were forming, federal support for those energies totaled as much as 1 percent of federal spending. Subsidies available to the renewables industry today are just one-tenth of 1 percent.

    To read more, click on the link in the headline above. doclink

    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.

    How the Economy is Killing Americans

    October 20, 2011, The Credit Blog

    Follow the link in the headline for an informative chart on current American health.

    In the last year, there's been a .6% increase in Americans who smoke, a 2% decrease in Americans who say they eat healthfully all day, a 1.9% decrease in those who eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables 4 days a week, and a .7% decrease in those who exercise for at least 30 minutes 3 days a week.

    77% of workers say they constantly feel "burned out" at work, and 43% report their on-the-job stress level has increased in the last half year. This also costs the economy $300 billion a year in no-shows, accidents, insurance and medical claims.

    Medical patients feel the economy has affected their health, including 35% of people with heart disease, 21% of cancer patients and 39%. 19% of diabetics have skipped or put off medical appointments for financial reasons, while 15% have postponed tests. 18% have said they can't follow the prescribed diets for their condition, either.

    Almost 25% of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes patients have incurred credit card debt in order to pay for their care.

    Almost 33% of Americans say the economy has affected their sleep, and economic woes account for about 30% of calls made to suicide hotlines. The strongest mental impact of job loss and pay cuts is depression, which 71% of laid off/fired people and 51% of recipients of a pay cut experienced. One in six Americans can't afford the food they need-there are 49 million Americans without enough food, and 16 million of those are children. doclink

    American jobs went overseas when there were millions of educated people in other parts of the world who were willing to work for less. The world can no longer afford to support the life styles of so many middle class Americans. U.S. debt - public, private, and individual - as well as the overdrawing of natural resources - was a sign that things were not going well, sustainability-wise.

    U.S.: Time to Get Real: Demographics is a Bigger Problem Than Health Care Costs

    June 23, 2011, Keith Hennessey website

    The rapid growth of per capita health spending in the U.S. needs to be addressed. However the aging of the population is the primary driver of our federal budget problems over the next 30-40 years.

    America is rapidly aging, due to two factors: people are living longer and the Baby boomers.

    People living longer means that people will be collecting benefits for more years. That's good for older people and expensive for the government.

    The Baby Boom is due to fertility rates surging after World War II from about 2.2 in 1946 to 3.6 babies per woman in 1960. These rates went down from there to 2.0, where it is predicted to stay.

    The first cohort of Baby Boomers started collecting their checks at age 62 in 2008.

    Current workers pay, by way of payroll taxes, for the Social Security and Medicare benefits of current retirees. In 1950, there were 16 workers paying payroll taxes for each retiree collecting Social Security benefits. Today, there the number is 3.3 workers, In the future there will be only 2.

    [A recent analysis showed that, to maintain the SS and Medicare systems at projected costs, a 45% payroll tax would be necessary, or 60% to include other projected federal expenditures.] doclink

    Karen Gaia says:

  • Another thing to consider is that seniors require more health care than younger people
  • Medicare began 45 years ago, in the days of President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Life expectancies were 5-years less than now. Woman now take benefits 33% longer and men 44% longer than the days of LBJ. It was expected that wages for American workers would continue to rise, but today they are either stagnant or declining
  • In a poll of students of economics, about 70% indicated they would never be a recipient of SS and Medicare
  • Last, there is nothing in the works to protect retires against loss of the value in their homes, and inflation, which is sure to come with the huge deficit.
  • U.S.: Collapsing Empire Watch

    October 11, 2010,

    In 1950, the United States was fifth among the leading industrialized nations with respect to female life expectancy at birth, surpassed only by Sweden, Norway, Australia, and the Netherlands. In 1999, the U.S. was ranked by the World Health Organization as 24th in life expectancy. As of September 23, 2010, the United States ranked forty-ninth for both male and female life expectancy combined.

    In 2009, the National Center for Health Statistics ranked the U.S. in 30th place in global infant mortality rates. Out of 20 "rich countries" measured by UNICEF, the U.S. ranks 19th in "child well-being." Out of 33 nations measured by the OECD, the U.S. ranks 27th for student math literacy and 22nd for student science literacy. In 2009, the World Economic Forum ranked 133 nations in terms of "soundness" of their banks, and the U.S. was ranked in 108th place, just behind Tanzania and just ahead of Venezuela.

    The U.S.also ranks highest in number of prison inmates per total population. doclink

    Which Countries Match the GDP and Population of America's States?

    January 13, 2011, Economist

    We Americans like to think we live in a rich country, but looking at it state by state, you will be surprised. This map of the United States shows an equivalent country in terms of GDP. California's GPD is nearly the same of Italy, and Idaho's is nearly the same as Sudan, for example.

    A second comparison is done with population, but it would have been useful to do a map with per capita GDP equivalencies. doclink

    U.S.: Upside of a Recession

    January 2010, News and Review, Sacramento California

    Except for the 15.4 million Americans unemployed—up from 7.5 million two years ago—and the 7.1 million properties foreclosed since January 2008, the recession has done a ton of positive stuff.

    The recession is good for the environment. It must be because the California Air Resources Board said so at a seven-hour hearing on diesel emissions standards in early December.

    Air quality has improved because of the recession, a stagnant housing market sharply reduces the noxious fumes being belched into the atmosphere by cement mixers, heavy trucks and earth-moving equipment.

    The closure of several major retailers, as well as numerous smaller businesses, reduces carbon-dioxide emissions. Empty, darkened retail space also reduces energy consumption and costs.

    The recession has also been a boon for natural resources. If no houses are built, the land stays dirt and grass, nurturing a vast, circle-of-life ecosystem in which flora and fauna thrive.

    Here's an air-quality-habitat conservation two-fer: demand is now reduced for a slew of products whose creation harms the environment. Consider this: If fewer houses are being built, there's less need for wood framing. Ergo, fewer trees are felled and continue to proudly stand, sequestering carbon dioxide. Where's the banner headline?

    So when the naysayers prattle about the recession's horrors, recognize they are simply looking through the wrong end of the telescope. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: another upside: people are having fewer children and immigrants are returning to their homeland. But there are environmental downsides overlooked: I can see people cutting down trees and poaching wildlife to survive. And degradation of the soil and overpumping of wells will continue until the population declines. Pesticides may be up if soil is poorer - to continue to feed the many mouths.

    Economic Scene: is Population Growth a Ponzi Scheme?

    August 17, 2009, Christian Science Monitor

    Forty-five nations worry about the costs of supporting an aging society and the loss of national and economic power.

    But notions that population growth is a boon for prosperity are "Ponzi demography," says Joseph Chamie, former director of the population division of the UN.

    By 2050, countries as diverse as Cuba, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Japan, South Korea, and Russia will lose at least 10% of their people, the UN estimates.

    In the rich, developed nations, the average age is rising at the fastest pace. Today they have 264 million aged 60 or over. By 2050, that number is expected to rise to 416 million.

    By that time, the world's population should stabilize. Some nations are fighting back for families to have more children. The US is bucking the trend with its relatively high immigration rate.

    Growth, for business, means a boost in the demand for products and also a surge in low- and high-skilled workers, which keep a lid on wages. Religious and ethnic groups want more immigrants of their own faith and ethnicity to raise their political and social clout. The military regards young immigrants as potential recruits.

    But the public pays for a bigger population with more congestion on highways, more farmland turned into housing developments, more environmental damage, including the output of pollutants associated with climate change.

    In the US, one costly question is whether insurance covers some 11 million illegal immigrants.

    There are also costs for countries with stable or declining populations.

    They will need to spend more looking after older citizens and, some industries, like housing, will shrink.

    Raising the average retirement age does far more to increase the working population than increasing immigration levels. Industrial nations with large service industries have plenty of employment opportunities for seniors, as opposed to poor countries where many jobs, say planting crops, are hard work.

    The costs of an aging but stable population would be more manageable than those of a population boom.

    Does America need more than its current 309 million people? A stable or falling population, is a success. doclink

    Interview with Albert Bartlett: "Arithmetic, Population, and Energy" – Puzzling Growth Rates

    January 15, 2009,

    Albert Bartlet, Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder, has given his lecture Arithmetic, Population, and Energy over 1,600 times since September, 1969. He says that people didn't understand the large numbers that result from steady growth rates.

    The business of promoters, builders and architects is promoting growth. But growth doesn't pay for itself, not at the community level or national level. The more you grow the greater your debt load. Colorado has had decades of wild and largely uncontrolled growth and is now practically bankrupt.

    People don't like the constant increases in taxes needed to pay the costs of growth and they vote for tax limitation measures. Then the growth promoters to find ways around these limitations, so the growth continues and the consequent problems escalate rapidly. This happens in California as well as in Colorado.

    From a book "Better Not Bigger", Eben Fodor wrote that every new house built in Oregon costs the Oregon taxpayer something in the order of $25,000 in costs not paid by taxes on the construction of the home itself.

    Utilities are now fighting for the right to tax customers for the costs of planning and construction. The investors should be required to bear these responsibilities, and when the plant was finished you could figure the cost into the rate system- so that the people that built it would be reimbursed. State regulators are allowing utilities to charge payers for planning costs- even if it isn't clear that the plants need to be built. This is a perpetual growth promoting situation.

    Investors need to realize that there's a time to grow, but as some point, any further growth is detrimental.

    In Bartlett's book titled, "The Essential Exponential for the Future of our Planet," overpopulation raises the number of constituents per elected official, making it harder for individuals to gain access to representatives and have a voice in politics. Also, overpopulation breeds more government regulation to cope with problems caused by population pressure.

    In the 1990's the US population grew by 13.1%, while the number of members in the House of Representatives didn't grow at all; another way of saying that democracy declined by 13.1%.

    With the number of constituents per representatives multipling, it's much easier as a politician to take your ideas from the lobbyist who has plenty of money.

    The terms "sustainable" and "sustainability" are popularly used to describe "activities that are ecologically laudable," but unsustainable. How can the reader decide whether publications are seeking to illuminate or obfuscate?

    Both smart growth and dumb growth destroy the environment. The only difference is that smart growth destroys the environment with good taste.

    In Al Gore's book & film, "An Inconvenient Truth," Gore never mentions curbing population growth. This is a silent lie, very discouraging.

    Those who profit from (uneconomic)growth will use their considerable resources to convince the community that the community should pay the costs of growth.

    The Tragedy of the Commons relates to things like the world's fisheries a type of "commons". This is tragic for local fishermen who have lived off the oceans for centuries.

    The economist, Kenneth Boulding, is known for saying "Anyone who thinks that steady growth can continue indefinitely, is either a madman or an economist." Boulding's Three Laws are "The Dismal Theorem" : If the only ultimate check on the growth of population is misery, then the population will grow until it is miserable enough to stop its growth; "The Utterly Dismal Theorem" : any technical improvement can only relieve misery for a while, for so long as misery is the only check on population, the improvement will enable population to grow, and will soon enable more people to live in misery than before. The final result of improvements, therefore, is to increase the equilibrium population which is to increase the total sum of human misery; "The moderately cheerful form of the Dismal Theorem" : If something else, other than misery and starvation, can be found which will keep a prosperous population in check, the population does not have to grow until it is miserable and starves, and it can be stably prosperous.

    The last US president that worried about population was Richard Nixon. He charted a major study called "The Rockefeller Commission Report." The conclusion was that they couldn't see any benefit to further population growth in the US. The study was put on the shelf and forgotten.

    Bartlett says that Malthus presents population problems very clearly. Translated to today's problems, Malthus would read something like this: "Population growth has the potential to outstrip the growth in production of any of the resources that are necessary to sustain our population."

    The notion of many is that science and technology will save us, so why worry about it? A state senator once said to Bartlett, "I'm not worried about running out of petroleum, you (pointing to me) scientists will figure out what ever we need." When asked what was the last new source of energy scientists found, he didn't have an answer. Innovation on the large scale required by our overpopulated society will take time and costs billions of dollars.

    Newly created jobs in a community temporarily lowers the unemployment rate, but then people move into the community to restore the unemployment rate to its earlier higher value. For years, we have promoted an insane policy of exporting jobs and importing people. Any country that has to import people to do the work of the country is unsustainable.

    Carrying capacity is a measure of how many people can be supported indefinitely. Sustainability requires that the size of the population be less than or equal to the carrying capacity of the ecosystem for the desired standard of living.

    Social Security and such projects are Ponzi schemes. They depend on having more and more people paying every year or they collapse.

    If you change fertility rates it can take 50-70 years before you see the full effects of a change in fertility. This is called population momentum which is a mismatch to our democracy. Politicians implement changes that benefit us in the short term over the long term.

    David Pimentel, a global agricultural scientist at Cornell University says that a sustainable world population living at current US dietary level would consist of two billion people. Also, he suggests that a sustainable US population at current dietary levels would have to be around 130-150 million people, which is the population of the US around World War II.

    The key is to make family planning available widely throughout the US and the world - with the goal that every child is a wanted child.

    With increased growth you have to provide police, fire, schools, waste removal, clean water, and a variety of other infrastructure projects. These services aren't paid for by growth. Schools, for example, get their operating expenses from the taxes and to get capital expenses they have to issue bonds. Thus, all tax payers have to pay higher taxes to accommodate schools for new kids.

    The solution is to tax growth, put a tax on real estate transactions and use this tax to fund new projects.

    Economists think of infinite substitutability. They cite the shifting out of whale oil to petroleum or from wood to coal. We already know the substitutes that exist are very costly to access.

    Growth never pays for itself. Now the federal government is paying for state schools, highways, sewage systems, bridges. This has happened because the local economy can't support local population growth.

    But inflation is a tax on everyone; if the federal government issues bonds to pay for the consequences of growth (infrastructure, etc) this is likely to result in inflation. Looking at our national debt levels, the inflation could be very severe.

    The US population growth rate is the highest of any industrial nation. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Prof Bartlett is very good at stating the problem, but needs to expand on the solutions since many people are queasy about the China solution. Bartlett needs to tell how the U.S. lowered its fertility rate from 4.0 in the 1960s, to around 2 in the 1980s - all voluntarily, once modern contraception became available.

    Energy Use, CO2 Emission and Immigration

    July 26, 2009

    U.S. energy consumption and the resulting environmental impact of the production of greenhouse gasses has been steadily increasing in total amounts even though per capita consumption has been decreasing. U.S. energy consumption increased by about 34% from 1973 to 2007. Over this same period, per capita energy consumption decreased by 6.4%. The reason for the increase in energy consumption is due to the 43.1% increase in the U.S. population.

    Between 1974 and 2007 legal immigration accounted for 31.5% of the U.S. population increase; adding illegal immigration and the children born to the immigrants after their arrival, the share of population growth attributable to immigration is still higher. During this period, the entire 44.7% increase in residential energy use was entirely a factor of population growth. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Why does the author overlook the large numbers of unintended pregnancies in the U.S.? If these were prevented or aborted, population growth would slow considerably, as it has in European countries where fertility rates are around 1.2 - 1.8. The article could just as well be named: "Energy Use, CO2 Emission and Immigration."

    U.S.: Hold Steady

    June 09, 2009, Earth Island Journal

    If we don't stabilize population growth, life as we know it is unlikely to continue. With so many of us burning fossil fuels, gobbling up renewable resources, and generating toxic trash, our life support ecosystems are threatened.

    In the central North Pacific Ocean gyre, swirling plastic fragments now outweigh plankton 46 to one. CO2 in the atmosphere is higher today than anytime in the past 650,000 years. Nearly one in four mammals is threatened with extinction, and worse - one in three amphibians and a quarter of all conifers. In many parts of the world, including the High Plains of North America, human water use exceeds annual average water replenishment; by 2025 1.8 billion people will be living in regions with absolute water scarcity, according to the UN. Unsustainable farming practices cause the destruction and abandonment of almost 30 million acres of arable land each year.

    The number of humans is still increasing by 1.18% per year, or 80 million annually, the equivalent of nearly two Sudans, or three and a half Taiwans. Even though China is only growing by 0.5% annually, it is still growing by eight million people each year. The US, with a 1% population grow rate, increases by more than 2.9 million people annually,

    the equivalent of almost four new San Franciscos.

    Many argue that a decrease in human numbers would lead to a fiscal catastrophe, seeing that, in the last 200 years,

    unprecedented economic growth has been accompanied by an equally unprecedented increase in world population. During the 1800s and 1900s, up to half of world economic growth was likely due to population growth; Georgetown University environmental historian John McNeill explains: "A big part of economic growth to date consists of population growth.

    More hands, more work, more things produced."

    Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a measure of economic success or failure, is the number of people multiplied by per capita income. Slow population growth, and economic growth will likely slow as well unless advances in productivity and spending increase at rates high enough to make up the difference. This perhaps explains why population policy is not a popular issue.

    Instead We should be looking at per capita GDP, which corrects for population growth. While Japan's economy has been touted as 'bad', based on its national GDP it has actually enjoyed the biggest gain in average income among the big three rich economies. GDP is 'bad' only because its population is shrinking. Population decline may slow economic growth on a nationwide basis, "but it would not necessarily reduce per capita wealth or, indeed, per capita growth."

    Nicholas Eberstadt, a political economist at the American Enterprise Institute, suggests "an orderly and relatively slow reduction in population, and not a chaotic plunge in our numbers as a result of war, disease, a breakdown in healthcare systems, or natural catastrophe." What is necessary is to match low death rates with low birthrates.

    Daniel O'Neill of the Center for the Advancement of a Steady State Economy says: "t this point in history, having too many people, or too high a level of consumption, is much more likely to result in the end of economic progress, via ecological collapse, than having too few." The costs of economic growth in the U.S. began to exceed the benefits sometime in the late 1970s.

    An economic "slowdown" that results from slowing and eliminating population growth is distinctly different from that caused by a credit crunch or the messy bursting of a speculative bubble. While it's true there will be fewer mouths to feed, there will also be fewer pairs of hands needing employment. In many poorer nations, having more children means increasing the supply of labor, and lowering wages.

    Unfortunately,'GDP' does not differentiate between costs and benefits and we end up spending more money to fix the problems caused by population growth. The costs of mitigating the stress imposed by a ballooning population on roads, schools, parks, agricultural land, air and water quality, government services, and ecosystems add to the total pool of a country's economic transactions.

    "Sure, population decline will slow down aggregate demand. On the other hand, it's going to increase the amount of resources per capita," Daly says.

    While reducing population growth in an orderly fashion promises more economic good than ill, it will bring about social and economic challenges that even proponents of shrinking the population do not dismiss lightly. Of particular concern are the challenges associated with reducing the number of working age people relative to retirees.

    If we have fewer people, we will be spared the problems caused by overpopulation, save on natural resources, and in the long run be more able to provide for the social security of our aging population. doclink

    U.S.: Secular Sign Posts: the View From 30,000 Feet

    November 12, 2008, Financial Sense

    The core demographic for consumption is the age group entering their prime in terms of income. The distribution of consumer spending reflects a bell-shaped curve in which the middle-aged demographic represents the largest income brackets. As a rise in the rate of change in consumer spending increases with the higher earning income's relative population, so too does the stock market which reflects a rise in GDP. Japan's post WWII baby boom crested in 1990, and Japan's Nikkei 225 index peaked. Since the baby boom in 1990, Japan has suffered from a rising retiree population and a deceleration of consumption spending as the higher income earners retired and the lower income earners grew in relative numbers. The bottom of the Nikkei 225 also coincided with the trough in the relative population ratio of the 35-49 year old to 20-34 year old groups.

    This ratio between the higher wage earner and spender (35-49) relative to the lower wage earner and spender (20-34) relating to aggregate consumption and stock prices has also played out in the U.S. . Peaks in the relative population demographic coinciding with peaks in real stock prices (S&P 500). Rising real stock prices are associated with rising relative population ratios of the higher wage earner relative to the lower wage earner.

    While there is a positive relationship between productivity and relative population demographics, there is a negative relationship between productivity and inflation. We can infer that there is a negative relationship between inflation trends and relative demographic trends with productivity trends providing the associating link. We can look at what the future may hold. The relative demographic ratio peaked in 2000 and was coincident with the real S&P 500 peak, and does not bottom until 2015. The conclusion is that the secular bear market we entered back in 2000 will not likely end until roughly 2015, and the secular inflationary trend that began in 2003 will be in place until 2015 as well. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: Unfortunately this time we have peak oil and depletion of resources to deal with. After the initial tightening of belts by consumers, population numbers will again catch up and resource depletion will continue. It is foolish to think that there is no end to resources and that throwing money at the problem will help.

    U.S.: Mines to Get Freer Hand to Dump Waste; New Rule Eases Water Protections

    October 20, 2008, Washington Post

    The Interior Department is poised to issue a rule that will make it easier for mining companies to dump their waste near rivers and streams. This overhauls a 1983 regulation protecting water quality and marks a step over how companies should dispose of the rubble created. The rule will take effect after a 30-day review. For 25 years, the government has prohibited mining operators from dumping debris within 100 feet of any stream if the material harms the water quality or reduces its flow.

    Mining companies have frequently disregarded the law. The revised rule calls on companies to avoid the 100-foot stream buffer zone "or show why avoidance is not possible."

    The agency said the change would have a "slightly positive" effect on the environment "because it requires coal mining operations to minimize certain impacts. But the implications of this ruling are devastating.

    Mountaintop-removal mining is used widely in West Virginia and Kentucky, and provides access to low-sulfur coal seams but generates large amounts of waste. President Clinton pushed to restrict dumping of mining waste but left office before enacting changes. The Bush administration has been seeking to rewrite the law.

    EPA administrator Johnson must certify that the environmental impact statement is adequate. Environmental groups will fight the regulation in court. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: when we were rich, we could afford to mitigate the impacts of population. Now that our economy is failing, we are even having trouble funding family planning. But there is a perceived need the coal because we are depleting oil and we haven't acted fast enough on renewables.

    U.S.: Change ... by Bill Denneen

    November 2008, Bill Denneen

    Change is always difficult but our culture must change if it is to continue.

    There is a movement that is coming from the people/citizens. It has been given a title of Green but I prefer Sustainable. Basically it is change from a high consumption rate to living within the capacity of our habitat. Resources are being depleted as corporations push us to buy, buy, buy.

    When the price of gasoline went up American moved in the direction of using less gas. This worried the oil corporations so the price came down. In Europe where the price of gas is about $10. per gallon they walk, ride their bicycles, use bus and trains, have tiny vehicles----many not using any gasoline at all. Hummers SUVs & gas-guzzlers don't even exist in Europe----here they are no longer selling.

    Hybrids can not be made fast enough as demand is so high.

    The monster houses being built locally and priced at $750,000 and up are not selling. People want small, sustainable, affordable homes.

    Bush's 700 billion "bailout" with taxpayer money is designed to continue the monster mansion industry.

    Our culture must move in the direction of what many are already doing. I have attempted to become independent of outside energy sources. I live on one acre. The sun shines on this one acre on which I grow bushes & trees-------birds love it. These plants capture the sun's energy by photosynthesis. The plants that grow feed my goats or are burned in my insert fireplace to heat my home in winter. It requires a lot of chopping, cutting & hauling but the sun is providing the energy---not nuclear power (Diablo).

    The sun shines on my solar-panels which heat my water. Of course, no sun, no hot water. In summer I have plenty of hot water for my hot tub. In winter or rainy days I have to supplement solar heat with natural gas to heat water for my hot-tub.

    The sun activates my photo-voltaic (PV) panels which produces my electricity. There are essentially no P.V.'s or solar panels on any of the estimated 5,000 new houses in Nipomo ----why?

    A clothesline dries my laundry-----not Diablo. If you don't dry your laundry in our abundant sun you are part of the over-consuming problem. I got rid of my lawn years ago as it requires a lot of water, pesticides and herbicides. I replaced it with native plants and friendly exotics which the birds love and feed my goats.

    I attempt to eat from my one acre. My pork comes from homegrown pigs. Visitors often ask "How can you eat an animal you've named & raised?" It is easy & delicious. My pigs have a happy life with a straw bed, talked to daily and gets petted often. I avoid "factory raised meat" as the animals have a terrible life in small pens & crowded conditions. I do not buy factory raised meat.

    I have goats which provides me with plenty of delicious fresh milk with no chemicals. My happy chickens live on the ground, scratch a lot & lay more nutritious eggs than caged, factory raised hens which go for soup after a laying cycle. My 40 hens and 3 roosters live a long life and enrich my farm ambiance so very much.

    Children enjoy visiting & are welcome. The 3 roosters have names & personalities all their own. My garden & orchard do provide some food but production is variable. For example I get more blackberries than I could possibly eat for about three weeks in early summer & then "none".

    Nipomo doesn't get much rain (13 inch average/year). We are depleting our water supply---over-draft. Water from my inside toilets go to a septic system whose leach lines water my plants. Lines from my shower, hot tub, sink and laundry all go to water plants. My outside toilet doesn't even use any water & fertilizes my trees. I enjoy listening to the birds & seeing the sun come up.

    The large mansions that Bush's 700 billion bailout is attempting to continue is the wrong direction. Small sustainable homes, bicycles and consuming less is the future. The auto industry learned the hard way when the SUV's, Hummers & Cadillacs stopped selling. If there is to be a future-----sustainable living will have to be the emphasis. The bailout is an attempt of our leaders to keep us buying.

    If there is to be a future for America we must change to sustainable living. Our current leadership is headed us in the wrong direction-----democracy CAN work----speak up !! For further reading go to Al Gore's article in the most recent Mother Jones magazine page 38. Some of his comments: "The survival of the United States as we know it is at risk", "...the future of human civilization is at stake", "Were borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet.", "We need to act now." doclink

    Poll Finds Most Americans Facing Serious Financial Challenges, Including Health Care Costs

    July 03, 2008, Kaiser Family Foundation

    The June Health Tracking Poll finds 59% of Americans reporting major financial issues as a result of the recent economic downturn. People are most likely to cite paying for gas as a serious problem (43%), followed by getting a well-paying job or a raise (27%) and paying for health care costs (25%), paying for food (19%), credit card or other personal debt (16%), losing money in the stock market (15%) and paying their rent or mortgage (14%). doclink

    Karen Gaia says: as most developing countries know, overpopulation breeds poverty.

    U.S.: Envisioning a Sustainable Chesapeake

    February 17, 2008, Annapolis Capital

    It's been most inspiring to see discussions begin to address the future of Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay.

    They prompt us to ask: "What does a sustainable Chesapeake really mean?"

    My vision is built upon a balanced, vibrant ecosystem teeming with fish, shellfish, underwater grasses and clear, healthy waters. But to be truly sustainable, the Chesapeake ecosystem needs to exist while also supporting the region's human population.

    Creating a sustainable Chesapeake will not be easy. But as we look around the state, we're seeing more and more positive steps being taken.

    Recently, the Maryland Commission on Climate Change made recommendations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and conserving energy throughout the state. These actions will require that we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by more than 25% within the next 12 years.

    An initiative was introduced that will seek to instill a sense of environmental stewardship among the 28,000 students graduating each year. It will also foster research and prepare the new "green" workforce.

    By changing our own actions, each of us has the ability to reduce our impact on the bay and the planet.

    As long as the region's population continues to grow, and we develop lands faster than needed to accommodate that growth, we make it more difficult to maintain the sustainability equation.

    We have struggled more than 20 years to reduce the amount of pollution flowing into the bay and we are still far from where we need to be. Another 10, 20 or 30 years of pollution-fighting efforts will still not be enough. Bay restoration efforts will be needed in perpetuity.

    We need to manage for sustainability by remaining aware of what will cross our path in the future. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: The way things are going, we will be forced to reduce our greenhouse gases because we have passed peak oil, meaning our consumption of oil will be reduced.

    Partisan Divisions on Nevada Growth

    November 14, 2007, PBS NewsHour

    From an interview by Judy Woodrow of PBS. See who the interviewees are at the bottom of the article.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: has growth on balance been good or bad for this state?

    BILLY VASSILIADIS: It depends on who you ask I think Dean would probably say not great. Those of us who invested in Las Vegas businesses would say it's necessary.

    The growth in this state fuels schools, transportation, fuels health care. It's a part of our life and something we have to come to grips with.

    If growth stops, many, bad things happen to the economy of this state. Ron Smith I think there are serious concerns environmentally. Water's just one of them. Breaking the crust of the desert around our urban landscapes is causing dust problems.

    DEAN BAKER, Rancher: Growth has been necessary for Nevada, but it's unsustainable. It can't go on forever, to grow.

    We should revise our tax structure so that growth is sustainable and life is held even.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: So water is the main problem?

    DEAN BAKER: From my perspective, yes. It will do away with part of the state of Nevada the size of Maine to sustain the growth in southern Nevada.

    These are multi-state issues. The entire west is impacted.

    JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you feel your concerns are being listened to by the people who could make a difference in whoever occupies the White House in January 2009?

    LISA MAYO-DERISO: I haven't heard anybody talk about those specific issues that are specific to the west.

    ILLY VASSILIADIS: Politics have become fairly fractured because of growth in this state.

    You've got geographic divisions that have become deeper. Growth has been part of that issue. Folks in the north feel that they are unfairly being tapped into to help support southern Nevada's growth.

    Southern Nevadans are saying, "Wait a minute, we're paying most of the state's educational funding.

    RON SMITH: I would add one thing. I think there's a huge amount of people in the middle that are neither pro-growth or anti-growth. They are not cognizant at all of what the issues are. We've got 5,000 people moving here a month at this point. The real issue is, do we have the political and social will to deal with sustainability? That is the issue.

    The closer we get to water issues, gridlock, environmental issues, I think the will will be formed, that people will demand action, and it'll happen.

    Interviewees: *Ron Smith, University of Nevada, Las Vegas and director of the Urban Sustainability Initiative *Lisa Mayo-DeRiso, a Las Vegas-based businesswoman and a community activist *Billy Vassiliadis, CEO of R&R Partners, a marketing, communications and government affairs firm *Dean Baker, a farmer and a cattle rancher from the eastern part of the state doclink

    What all Presidential Candidates Refuse to Talk About

    Frosty Woolbridge

    What factor facing the United States stands immune from public, political and religious discussion? The runaway overpopulation as we add three million people to the USA annually!

    Our leaders, citizens and religious elite continue on a path of population growth without responsibility, without limits and without end.

    Consumption of critical resources is breaking records, and undermining life on the planet. The world is running out of time to head off catastrophic climate change. This summer, the European Union had environmental devastation including fires in Greece and the Canary Islands, floods in England and heat waves across the Continent.

    Humanity degrades every ecosystem beyond its capacity to sustain life. Fossil fuel usage in 2005 produced 7.6 billion tons of carbon emissions. Meat production hit a record 276 million tons in 2006 and is one of the factors driving soybean demand. Expansion of soybean plantations could displace 22 million hectares of forest and savanna in the next 20 years. The rise in seafood consumption comes as many fish species become scarcer.

    The warming climate is accelerating habitat loss, altering the timing of animal migrations and plant flowerings, and shifting some species towards the poles and to higher altitudes. Climate change is altering fish migration routes, pushing up sea levels, intensifying coastal erosion, raising ocean acidity, and interfering with currents that move vital nutrients upward from the deep sea. The only hope is for the U.S. to begin reducing its emissions. The U.S. expects to add 30 million people from immigration by 2017. Everything we're doing proves to be pointless unless we deal with population stability.

    We should be promoting the balancing of our population to fit our carrying capacity, whereby we define how many people can live in each state with enough water, land and food. Promote an International Population and Family Planning Policy to help overloaded nations move toward stable populations. This would prevent immigration toward viable countries.

    Bangladesh has 144 million people in a landmass less than the size of Iowa. They expect to double to 290 million people in 35 years. No wonder they flee their countries by the millions. Once we add 100 million people to the USA, nothing will save us from our consequences. This crisis proves the number one issue in the 21st century, but our leaders deny, hide from, pretend and run away from it like the plague. If we don't deal with it; it will deal with us - rather brutally. doclink

    Heating Up

    October 03, 2007, Tallahassee Democrat

    Significant change can't happen without talking, educating and persuading. It's important that local citizens understand that many of the most meaningful responses must be accomplished in our backyard.

    It is crucial that policies be forged to reduce carbon emissions and slow the warming of the Earth. But if we are not aware on the local level that we all have a responsibility, the effort will be useless.

    Leadership must come not only from elected officials, but also average citizens who care about the future.

    Everyone has a stake in this struggle, for example, Leon County government is not required by law to have a landfill gas-collection system. But the county installed one at the Apalachee Parkway facility at a cost of $625,000.

    More gas can be collected if more wells were added. Meanwhile, discussions are being held with a private firm to increase landfill gas production. But government could and should be doing a lot more.

    Policies that promote sprawl and discourage alternative transportation options result in increased carbon emissions.

    With Florida's population expected to grow by 50% over the next 25 years, habitat fragmentation, and reduced agricultural and forest lands will be the inevitable result unless growth is managed wisely with attention to enhancing sustainability.

    Citizens have an important role by considering other ways to get around besides driving, insisting on more responsible land-use, and recycling more. The chairman of the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce, is promoting public-private cooperation to improve recycling efforts among local businesses. Our air, water and climate don't respect political boundaries. As long as we consider environmental protection someone else's responsibility, we hasten its deterioration. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: nevermind addressing the root cause: population. It's a hush-hush topic. Let's just "manage" the growth. Apparently there is no limit as to how many people whose consumption and waste we can "manage"

    New Sustainability Measure Shows Utahns Have a Big Eco-footprint

    June 28, 2007, The Salt Lake Tribune

    The Utah Population and Environment Coalition calculated that it takes about 9.9 global hectares to support each Utahn, while Utah lands provide 8.9 global hectares.

    "It's important to start this discussion about choices for our future," said one of the researchers.

    "We hope this will be a community discussion and that Utah will take a leadership role. The average Utahn's share of that consumption has grown along with the state's population. In 1990, the population was 1.7 million and the state's overall footprint was 15.2 million global hectares, compared with 23.8 in 2003, when the population had reached 2.4 million.

    The population growth put such a great demand on resources that now we consume more than the land can supply on a sustainable basis. The state now has a deficit of about 2.4 million hectares.

    Americans are resource hogs compared to the rest of the world. It would take five earths to sustain everyone if people worldwide had the same eco-footprint as Utahns. doclink

    $1.6 Trillion is Needed Over a Five-year Period to Fix Infrastructure for Growing U.S. Population

    August 02, 2007, USA Today

    Cities are raising utility rates, and trying to modernize public works systems that are straining under the demand of ever-increasing populations. The USA is likely to add 100 million more people by 2040.

    It is estimated that $1.6 trillion is needed over 5 years to modernize the nation's systems, but only about $1 trillion is being invested.

    Atlanta is spending $3.9 billion on an overhaul of drinking water and wastewater systems and has raised water and sewer rates an average of 10% a year, making them some of the nation's highest.

    Preliminary results show that of 330 cities, more than half reported up to 50 water main breaks annually. Many don't have the money to upgrade their systems and are getting little federal help.

    By 2030, when New York City will add about 1 million more residents, nearly all of its public works systems will be a century old. To meet the demand, Mayor Bloomberg has unveiled 127 initiatives that would modernize the networks and make them safer. doclink

    Ralph says: Why do we need 1 million more people in NY City? ... Karen Gaia says: as if it were a given that population growth is inevitable and that we must always turn our heads when people stream across our southern border [sh-h-h - we need those people for cheap labor]. Such hypocrisy!

    When is Hawaii's 'Carrying Capacity' Maxed Out?

    June 25, 2007, Hawaii Reporter

    It would seem logical to determine what is the carrying capacity of our Hawaiian islands. There are water conservation advisories on a regular basis. Our sewer system is in need of constant repair. Flooding is common. Road rage is rampant. All boats have a finite carrying capacity. I submit so do islands and what is the carrying capacity of Hawaii?

    The criterion for determining whether a region is overpopulated is not land area, but carrying capacity.

    That refers to the number of individuals who can be supported in a given area within natural resource limits, and without degrading the natural social, cultural and economic environment for present and future generations.

    The carrying capacity is not fixed. It can be altered by improved technology, but mostly it is changed for the worse by population increase.

    As the environment is degraded, carrying capacity shrinks, leaving the environment unable to support even the number of people who could formerly have lived in the area.

    The average "ecological footprint" on the mainland is about 12 acres, an area far greater than that taken up by one's residence and place of school or work and the Hawaiian footprint is larger. doclink

    US Arizona;: Technology Can Help Sustain Desert Living

    June 09, 2007, Arizona Republic

    The decade long drought in Arizona may turn into a 1930s-style Dust Bowl. Night-time temperatures may keep on rising. Freeway construction may never relieve the traffic.

    More frequent hurricanes traumatize the Gulf Coast. Climbing gas prices threaten our nation's mobility. Conversion of corn into ethanol causes the cost of foodstuffs to skyrocket. New diseases like bird flu spread across the globe. The sustainability of our lifestyle suddenly seems at risk. Societies are confronted by limits that they did not worry about before.

    In the spirit of optimism, Arizona organizations are working together to understand the challenges of sustainability and possible remedies.

    The Global Institute of Sustainability, or GIOS, researches rapid urbanization, which uses Greater Phoenix as its main laboratory.

    ASU receives millions of federal, state and industry dollars to study how cities grow. Among the major questions being addressed are:

    How does the expansion of metro Phoenix affect the Sonoran Desert ecosystem? How do commercial and government managers make decisions about water allocation? How can changes in construction materials reduce the urban heat island effect? How might information-sharing technology allow the police departments to more quickly identify criminals? How can "green" energy technologies reduce a city's reliance on vulnerable, distant fuel sources? Where does the Valley's air pollution come from?

    These questions may seem diverse, but can be solved only through an interdisciplinary approach. Their solutions offer new business opportunities by creating "sustainable technologies." doclink

    Transforming Los Angeles Into a Sustainable City

    February 12, 2007, WorldChanging

    Los Angeles (LA) Deputy Mayor Sutley outlined environmental initiatives from energy and transportation to waste management and the revitalization of the LA River.

    The majority of energy for LA comes from coal plants in Arizona and Utah. Only 6% is renewable. The goal is to use 20% green energy by 2010. Southern California Edison is building a solar farm in the Mojave Desert. The LA Department of Water and Power is working on geothermal projects in the Salton Sea.

    LA has a pilot project whereby biosolids from sewage plants is disposed in abandoned oil wells and methane is produced that powers a fuel cell. Decreasing LA's demand for energy means embracing green building practices and all new public buildings to meet standards provided by the US Green Building Council. LA is working with private developers to build green.

    The water supply is inefficient. Too much energy is spent treating and transporting water. LA has a long history of water conservation and consumption has remained steady even with a 15% increase in population.

    LA will tackle water usage for landscaping, at the city-wide level. The plans include installing smart irrigation systems in parks, diverting more treated waste water and creating more green space with native trees and plants to absorb storm runoff.

    The city has focused on building carpool lanes, making the city bike-friendly and expanding public transport. The goal is to move away from diesel buses with expansions to the light rail and subway system.

    LA produces 8,000 tons of garbage every day and was a pioneer of curbside recycling. 62% of waste is diverted from landfills and the goal is to increase that to 70%. Other projects are to help green LA and by creating more parking spaces and building community. The LA River is undergoing a revitalization with a 20 year plan to remove concrete add bike paths and parks and make the way for new real estate development.

    Many of one million new trees will be planted on public property. Trees that maximize sustainability are recommended.

    A tree canopy analysis will be used to forecast future environmental and social benefits. Planting will be guided by this information. Sutley represents Los Angeles in the Large Cities Climate Group, an organization of mayors founded in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative.

    The city is broken up into neighborhoods and driving from one to another, you often feel like a tourist rather than a local. I hope that the initiatives will help bring the communities together. doclink

    Turning Point in US as More Women Choose Not to Marry: Majority Live Without a Spouse, Census Shows Marriage No Longer the Norm

    January 17, 2007, Guardian (London)

    Some 51% (59.9 million) women were living without a spouse in 2005, a rise from 35% in 1950. Of the more than 117 million American women above the age of 15, 63 million are married, 3.1 million are legally separated and 2.4 million are married to husbands who are not living at home.

    Some of the women have outlived their husbands. In 1960s and 1970s, the family was a focus of baby boomers' rebellion.

    Forty years later, the growing independence of women has produced a generation of women who see choices other than marriage.

    Men and women are waiting until they are well into their 30s to marry, or live together. In 1950, some 42% of women below the age of 24 were married; by 2000, the figure had fallen to 16%, the census data found.

    The proportion of married women between 25 and 34 fell to 58% in 2000 from 82% in 1950.

    Those women who do marry and go on to divorce take longer to remarry than men, or may choose to live with a partner without being legally married.

    The declining incidence of marriage was pronounced among African-Americans, with only 30% of women living with a spouse.

    About 60% of Asian woman are living in married households.

    Social forces have created a society where women no longer need to rely on husbands for financial support. This has created a society where people spend half of their adult life alone. We will never go back to the 1950s. That dominant social norm is gone forever. doclink

    Sustainable Growth is Unsustainable - the Next Added 100 Million Americans - Part 14

    December 28, 2006,

    So-called "sustainable growth" is unsustainable.

    Richard Stengel, of Time Magazine, wrote, "We need to continue growing but in smarter more sustainable ways."

    Stengel illustrated our past population growth and projected adding 100 million people in three decades. He neglected to state that millions of those are immigrants from overpopulated countries that can't feed their populations. Stengel neglected to understand that you can't maintain a 'healthy' and 'sustainable' growing population ad infinitum.

    Let's get down to brass tacks on the absurdity of unending growth and sustainability!

    "Sustainable growth" implies "increasing endlessly," which is an oxymoron.

    Enormous problems and suffering are being experienced every day throughout the underdeveloped world. Is it possible to have an increase in economic activity without having increases in the rates of consumption of nonrenewable resources. Sustainable development can only be pursued if population size and growth are in harmony with the changing productive potential of the ecosystem.

    The issue is not just numbers of people, but how those numbers relate to available resources. Urgent steps are needed to limit population growth.

    There's no way we need to or can add 100 million people to the United States by 2040. America walks on the thin ice edge of our own demise with 300 million people. We either stabilize our population, or become victims of our own numbers.

    We cannot sustain unlimited growth. We cannot add 40 million more people to California and think we can provide water for all to live a decent life. We must enact a 10 year moratorium on all immigration. We must develop alternative energy at breakneck speed. We are approaching desertification, rising sea level, habitat destruction, the disappearance of sea life, and wars over drinking water.

    Growth is adding one billion people to our planet every 12 years, 90% from the developing world. Millions are forced to migrate, straining the infrastructure and good will of richer nations. doclink

    Listing Service Will Note Green Homes

    September 07, 2006, The Oregonian

    Portland real estate agents soon will be able to search for new homes that have met national standards for earth-friendly construction. The Regional Multiple Listing Service has decided to incorporate green building programs in its listings. This will enable real estate professionals to search for houses that have met green building standards. It shows the rising popularity of energy efficiency standards. People want energy efficiency in their homes, indoor air quality and lower energy bills. It shows the market for houses built to reduce production of greenhouse gases and overall energy consumption.

    The search criteria will be restricted to real estate agents, appraisers and other professionals. This policy will mostly affect new homes, which will be searchable by the names of inspection programs. Other environmentally-friendly amenities will be searchable individually. The change will help builders and homeowners realize the value energy efficient homes add. This could encourage lenders to give bigger loans to borrowers with efficient houses. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: the vast majority of houses in Portland are old homes that are far from energy efficient.

    A World of Hurt Will Follow Population Explosion

    October 13, 2006, Chicago Tribune

    Demographers figure the American population will soon reach 300 million. But it is common analysis among immigration experts that if Congress passes even a guest-worker program, 100-200 million more people will be here by 2050. If immigration is not controlled, it's not far to the 1 billion mark and that means deadly competition for water and land between farmers and cities. The cost of congestion caused by our 226 million cars has paved 4 million miles of roads. Traffic congestion in 2003 caused 3.7 billion hours of travel delay, and wasted 2.3 billion gallons of fuel. The total bill was $63 billion. Why is so little being said about the 300 million step toward 500 million and beyond?

    The issue seems to break down into two warring groups. The one that dominates is the "man-as-consumer" group which likes to point to America's growth as beneficial, compared with Europe's declining populations. But we need a population with a sustainable base.

    The other group's thinking sees man as a citizen whose personality and soul must be nurtured by sustainable growth and respect and love for his fellow citizen and the environment. But it's the opposite. Look at the war between the desert and the rainforest, a conflict between the herders and farmers. If you look around the world where population is burgeoning, these are all places where the water tables are falling. Wars where people are fighting for resources and space. The countries that have controlled population (Singapore, Taiwan, Tunisia, to mention only a few) have blossomed.

    Professionals in the field are saying we should have a "population policy," that would lay down desired markers for the future or promote a civil national discussion on population. doclink

    Is a Bigger Nation Richer?; as the US Population Clock Approaches 300 Million, Experts Examine a Possible Link Between Growth and Prosperity.

    September 12, 2006, Christian Science Monitor

    In the past 39 years, the United States has added 100 million people and at the same time, sustained greater economic growth. Is there a link?

    By any socioeconomic standard, most American workers are better off today than they were in 1967. The economy that boosted their earnings has also provided many more jobs.

    Today the fastest-growing job types are computer design and support, systems analysis, desktop publishing, and healthcare.

    The most significant change is the rise of women in the workforce.

    Back in 1967, 41% worked outside the home. Today, it's 59%.

    At $23,546, median annual earnings for women are more than $10,000 a year less than they are for men.

    Families in Europe and Japan are not having enough children to keep their populations growing in the long term. That stands in contrast to the US, which alone among the developed nations is expected to see its population surge in the coming decades.

    A younger, growing population stimulates a workforce to produce more while energizing research and development and increasing the market for goods and services.

    Not every expert agrees with these assessments. You can have economic well-being with a steady-state population. Ireland, for example, has a fertility rate that is below the replacement level. That change coincides with the country's extraordinary economic surge.

    A nation's population can grow too fast and overwhelm its resources. In the US the rate of growth is slowing. But adding more people than ever before in absolute numbers because the population base is so much bigger than it was.

    Today's poverty rate is a bit less than it was when there were 200 million Americans in 1967. The real incomes of lower- and middle-class households have fallen since 1970, while those of the top fifth have increased dramatically. But poor Americans have been enjoying progressively higher living standards. In Oregon, dozens of sawmills in rural areas have shut down while high-tech facilities have blossomed near cities. The largest private employer in the state now is computer chipmaker Intel - which recently announced that it will eliminate more than 10,000 jobs worldwide. doclink

    Karen Gaia says: the U.S. jobless rate is much higher than the government tells us. Faced with a declining source of oil and an increased demand, per capita oil will drop. Oil runs the U.S., and enough renewable energy is a long way off. Other natural resources: water, soil, natural gas, fertilizer, along with precious and industrial metals, are starting to be in short supply. Add to that, the national debt is extremely high, the trade deficit is high, and the housing bubble has burst.

    US Massachusetts: As Some Talk Wind Farms, Others Want to Harness the Tides

    June 13, 2006, Boston Globe

    The Massachusetts Tidal Energy Co. is considering building an underwater tidal energy project in state waters off Martha's Vineyard and Naushon Island and is seeking approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a feasibility study. The project would harness ocean currents by using underwater propeller blades 20 to 50 feet in diameter connected to a generator. The devices would be anchored at varying depths, and the power would be sent to electric transmission lines in Falmouth or Tisbury, Martha's Vineyard.

    The tidal project is expected to be largely unseen. Massachusetts Tidal is a subsidiary of Oceana Energy Co., based in Washington, D.C., that has filed seven other applications for permits to study sites across the country. The proposal could require some areas to be off limits to navigation. The project would have to work in harmony with fishing, boating, and other uses in the Sound.

    The project sparked concerns and questions about developers seizing public space for development. Cape Wind Associates proposes to use 24 square miles of Nantucket Sound for a wind energy project, a deal that delights clean energy advocates but concerns residents. Some environmentalists said they would wait to hear more details about the tidal proposal before judging it. The Vineyard Sound location was eyed by the developer because of its strong currents, it's also close enough to shore to connect fairly easily to electric transmission lines. An FERC permit would give the developer three years to develop the technology, investigate the site, and work with stakeholders on the proposal.

    The developer would also need to file plans with state environmental regulators, who would evaluate effects on fish or marine life. The industry-funded Electric Power Research Institute has been evaluating the potential for tidal projects in New England, several other states, and two Canadian provinces. doclink

    US Oregon: Now That's Intelligent Design Schools Curbing Energy Costs by Building Green

    January 22, 2006, Grist Magazine

    School officials in Oregon are learning from a prototype classroom which uses technologies to enhance and regulate the natural light coming into the space. The project demonstrates that classrooms can be built or retrofitted at competitive cost with no need for artificial lighting during the day. Even on an overcast day, the classroom was very, very bright. The Portland public school district spent more than $6 million for lighting and heating in the last school year. Oregon school districts are reporting significant energy savings by adopting green-building techniques, from using groundwater for heating and cooling to installing natural ventilation systems. doclink

    Opinion: a Growing Threat We Can't Ignore

    November 08, 2005, Star Tribune (US)

    by Ray Warner .. On Hwy. 169, the northbound lanes turn into parking lots that pollute the air and waste thousands of hours and gasoline. The problem is increasing population density. The carrying capacity of any region is the population it can sustain over the long haul without environmental degradation. Experts have agreed that Earth's carrying capacity is about 2.5 billion people, a point passed some 65 years ago. And we're rapidly closing in on a global-population three times that large. Some renewable resources have ceased to renew themselves, for example, most of the ocean's species have been overfished, to the point of collapsed breeding stocks. Growing population is the most dire threat to civilization. But it's too easy to ignore if one chooses to be in denial. In view of the devastating cost of exceeding carrying capacity, why do so many public figures advocate further population increases? Probably they believe that "economic growth follows population growth." The clich' "smart growth" is an oxymoron when the growth is beyond carrying capacity. Religious leaders are population boosters when they fight against the availability and use of contraception. We have politicians who declare that abortion is the most pernicious practice in the world today, and then by arbitrary decision guarantee a surge in abortions. For four years Congress has approved $34 million needed to pay UNFPA, and each year the administration has withdrawn the appropriation. The U.N. estimates that the result has been 800,000 additional abortions, 4,700 maternal deaths, 77,000 infant deaths, and some 2 million unwanted pregnancies. Contraception must be provided worldwide at low or no cost with comprehensive sex education. We must put an end to illegal immigration and stop importing large groups of people. We can stabilize population by methods that are straightforward and humane. Or we can let nature take over and use famine, pestilence and war, all already in vigorous action. The choice is ours. doclink

    U.S.: Local Commons Survey Project

    Tomales Bay Institute

    The Local Commons Survey Project is recruiting communities across the U.S. to conduct audits of the hidden common wealth, the sky, water, open spaces, wildlife, quiet, etc, that belongs to all, but needs protection if we want to pass it to future generations. The project also offers new ways to talk about the thing we advocate for in the frame of "the Commons," or shared ownership and responsibility. We are joint owners of hidden wealth in our own communities that is essential to life itself. If communities were to conduct audits of this hidden wealth, politicians and the media would have to take notice. Common Wealth is all the gifts of nature that sustain us physically and emotionally and includes the shared creations of society: parks and public spaces, community gardens, language, local culture, the processes of democracy, and much more. Economists have written it off as "tragic" because it does not fit their preconceptions about how the world works. Yet the commons is as important as the private and public sectors. If the commons were to collapse, life would not exist. Until the word commons or an equivalent project becomes part of the local vernacular, we will not be able to advocate for the thing. Equally important, voters need to become aware of the condition of their local commons, and of the performance of local officials in managing it. To the extent possible, TBI will provide informal help to local groups that want to undertake commons surveys on their own. and these pilot projects will become the basis for a handbook to guide similar projects all over the country. The project has two goals, to help local groups to complete reports that will impact their communities and second to establish a framework and methodology that groups can use all across the country. doclink

    US Louisina: Unnatural Disaster: the Lessons of Katrina

    September 02, 2005, Worldwatch News

    The overwhelming impacts of Hurricane Katrina are evidence that we have failed to account for our dependence on a healthy resource base. Alteration of the Mississippi River and the destruction of wetlands have left the area around New Orleans vulnerable to the forces of nature. The early results of global warming in the Gulf and rising sea levels may have exacerbated the destructive power of Katrina. The catastrophe is a wake-up call for decision makers around the globe. Future generations may face disasters that make Katrina-scale catastrophes a common feature in the 21st century. This will likely be the most expensive weather-related disaster the world has ever faced. The long-term lessons of Katrina include: 1. Maintaining the integrity of natural ecosystems. Indiscriminate development and ecologically destructive policies have left many communities vulnerable to disasters. Together with population growth this has contributed to economic losses from weather-related catastrophes totaling $567 billion over the last 10 years. During the past years, the US has diverted funding from disaster preparedness to help finance the Iraq War, and reduced protections for wetlands to spur economic development. Both decisions are now exacting costs that far exceed the money saved. Natural ecosystems such as wetlands and forests are more valuable when left intact. The links between climate change and weather-related catastrophes need to be addressed. No specific storm can be linked to climate change, but warm water is the fuel that increases the intensity of such storms and seas have increased in temperature. In the next few decades, water temperatures and sea levels will continue to rise, increasing the vulnerability of many communities. There is an urgent need to diversify energy supplies as the national and global economic impact of Katrina is growing by the day. The world dependent is on oil and natural gas that are concentrated in some of the world's most vulnerable regions. Biofuels and renewable resources represent viable alternatives to fossil fuels. doclink

    Biofuels are not sustainable. It takes energy to grow them. They are a worthy alternative only as long as there are subsidies for growing them.

    U.S.: All for Want of a Few Veggies

    June 09, 2005, Portland Tribune

    A Bay Area-based group called SustainLane was set to rank Portland the No. 1 city in sustainability practices. But new information emerged, and San Francisco is 1st, and Portland is 2nd. Portland, San Francisco and other cities are achieving things that are incredible in environmental protection and renewable energy. Saltzman said that whether Portland is No. 1 or No. 2, he's glad to see other cities follow Portland's sustainability with economic development. SustainLane, a for-profit group that specializes in gathering information on sustainable practices, collected data from 20 public and private organizations for the survey. It ranked 25 cities in 12 of transportation, air quality, drinking water quality, food and agriculture, land use, zoning, planning, green building, energy, solid waste, city innovation and knowledge base. Berkeley took third place and Seattle fourth. Portland and San Francisco are in a class by themselves. SustainLane launched a Web site that targets Portland and other West Coast cities with resources and community discussions on things such as how to build a greenhouse and thoughts on owning a hybrid Toyota Prius. doclink

    Proposal Would Allow Fish Farming Off US Coasts

    June 08, 2005, The Christian Science Monitor

    Citing pilot projects off New Hampshire, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, the administration is sending a bill to Congress to establish regulations for fish farming. Currently in the United States it focuses largely on freshwater fish, though there also are some ocean farms raising shellfish as well as shrimp and salmon. Farming of saltwater species has become increasingly common, with much of the catch sold in the US. Fish farming has drawn criticism from environmentalists, saying the problems with fish farms include the discharge of solid waste, the use of pesticides, antibiotics, and other potentially harmful chemicals and the escape of farmed fish. Seafood demand is expected to increase and the NOA Administration say the US has fallen behind. Currently the US imports 70% of the seafood eaten here. Currently, the US does not have a structure in place to allow aquaculture operations in federal marine waters. The bill would permit fish farming up to 200 miles off the coast, to be regulated by NOAA. "Our goal is to develop a sustainable aquaculture program that balances the needs of fishermen, coastal residents and visitors, seafood consumers, the environment, and the aquaculture industry," said NOAA. There are advantages to locating fish farms off shore including water depth, currents, and water quality. Maine salmon-farming companies say they have complied with state regulations but they were sued over alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act. Currently, only 14 of the 45 permanent ocean pens where salmon grow off Maine's coast are being utilized because of a federal court ruling. At New Hampshire's Open Ocean Aquaculture program nine miles offshore, fish scientists are experimenting with farming cod, Atlantic halibut, haddock, summer flounder, and other species. The project hopes to show that these species can be raised offshore without harming the environment. doclink

    Protecting Our Environment

    February 4, 2005, Delta Farm Press

    The report from the World Economic Forum ranked the U.S. 45th of 146 countries in its index of environmental sustainability. With all the strides this country has made over the past three decades in correcting the grossest of our environmental failings, one would think we'd have fared better. Less understandable are the above-the-U.S. rankings of several European and Latin American nations, which were years behind us in adopting unleaded gasoline and anti-pollution technology for automobiles. Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Switzerland, and other northern-clime countries were at the top of the list with lower density populations. Spain, the United Kingdom, Portugal, and Mexico. Much the U.S. EPA have been cussed over the past 30 years, America is now the better. The EPA cut air pollution through emission controls, and the cost has been enormous, but how much is breathable air worth? Though it was a long time coming, the smoke-belching diesel trucks are now having to clean up their act. The U.S. electric power industry are light years ahead of where they were. Rivers and streams are now much improved. Agriculture has cleaned up its act, reduced chemical exposure to humans and wildlife, and is providing additional protection for fields, forests, and habitat. We may not be at the top, but given the vast scope of this country and the monetary resources available, we've come a long way. doclink

    Finland Tops Environmental Scorecard at World Economic Forum in Davos

    February 4, 2005, EurekaAlert!

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

    Tax Credits Help Fuel Growth of Wind Power

    January 05, 2005, The Shreveport Times

    Nearly 30 energy companies are rushing to take advantage of a 2005 tax break and plan to install thousands of windmills in 21 states. In Louisiana there are plans to install three turbines on abandoned offshore oil rigs as studies show the Louisiana coast ranks seventh out of 1,800 potential sites. Wind power produces less than 1% of America's electricity today, while 22% is by nuclear generators and 55% by coal plants. A California company switched on a wind farm in Tehachapi that will produce 60 megawatts - enough to light up 20,000 homes. The federal government is offering wind producers a 1.8-cents-per-kilowatt-hour tax credit to make the cost of generating wind power more competitive and states are requiring utilities to produce some of their electricity from green power. New turbines can produce 3.6 megawatts of electricity. But problems have cropped up as not everyone wants a windmill within eyesight. Alameda County, California, placed a moratorium on new wind farms because turbines had killed birds of prey and bats were killed at a wind farm in West Virginia. Some residents oppose a wind farm off Cape Cod because it would spoil their view. New Jersey announced a state moratorium on offshore wind farms in December and was applauded by state surfing, fishing and environmental groups worried about the effects of large wind turbines. doclink

    Looks like the old problem of "Not in my back yard" Perhaps the complainers would prefer an atomic power station, there are not too many alternatives.

    Energy Sources Scarce

    November 15, 2004, Dell Erickson

    270 million barrels is the minimum crude inventories for gasoline refining. For the week ending November 19 there were 292 million barrels; stocks are more than adequate and prices should be less volatile. If inventories hit 260m, production will be unable to meet demand. The last refinery was built was 1976 and targeted diesel fuel with lower sulfur levels due mid-2006 is unlikely to be achieved. Two reasons for no new refinery: increasing pollution rules and oil companies are aware of Peak Oil and it makes no sense to add expensive refining capacity when petroleum production is about to go into decline. Minnesota's 2002 ethanol production could have fed 1,000,000 people. In the UK, the government wants to increase the use of biodiesel that would literally end food production in Britain. To run UK vehicles on biodiesel would require 25.9m hectares and there are only 5.7m in the UK. The EU's more target of 20% by 2020 would consume almost all our cropland and the adoption of biofuels would be a humanitarian and environmental disaster. Computer models project energy, pollution, population, etc., scenarios. 2010-2020 was the period extremes were forecast and "natural corrections" toward sustainable levels begun. North America's falling natural gas supply may precipitate the unwinding of existing U.S. and Canadian society; the population/resource imbalance (e.g., overpopulation) is a significant factor. Dr. Duncan's two fundamental conclusions: 1. Historic data of world energy production, world population, and the ratio of the two were presented, discussed, and graphed from 1850 to 2003. Economic success is accomplished by energy consumption. Per capita energy peaked in the late 1970s and will decline exponentially from circa 2007. In China coal production has failed to match the demand for power and dozens of cities suffered brown-outs during the summer. From January to October, China imported 99.6m tonnes of crude oil and are expected to reach 120m tonnes, the second largest in the world after the US. America has no better than a 10% percent chance of avoiding economic "Armageddon" because of inflation. Paying for oil and natural gas is a primary reason for the growing deficit. The primary driver behind increasing U.S. energy consumption is population growth, primarily from "refugees", and legal and illegal immigration. The world is now in the process of reaching peak rate of oil extraction and soon (2005 is likely) to begin an irreversible decline. North America has reached overshoot and collapse: North America --U.S. And Canada-- has begun to implode. Mild weather has been our only salvation. Because of the very mild summer and fall, natural gas in storage never fell to typical low levels and are higher than at the end of the previous year. However, reservoirs declined 88 billion cubic feet from the previous week despite the warm weather. Canadian natural gas imports into the U.S. will fall off about three years earlier than projected and natural gas production and offshore natural gas production in the U.S. are lower than the 2004 outlook. North America is over the natural gas "cliff" and falling fast. Expensive LNG imports cannot replace depletion let alone extraction demands. It is costing us more to get it out of the ground and to the wellhead. And then a lot of our gas is piped directly to an electric utility. One-third of the U.S. natural gas based fertilizer industry has permanently closed its doors. doclink

    US Virginia: Fire Department Suffers from Population Boom

    June 23, 2004, The News Tribune

    The Tacoma Fire Department will need to increase staff and build several fire stations in the next 10 years to keep up with population increases