World Population Awareness

Fertility, Births

August 04, 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

Fertility, Births

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 3, 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 6, 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 2, 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

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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

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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 7, 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.: 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.: 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

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

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

U.S.: Obama Scores a Victory with New Birth Control Solution

February 2, 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.: 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

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

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

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.: 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

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.

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.: 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.: 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.

U.S.: Some Family-Planning Wisdom From Nixon

April 13, 2011, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona said, "If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that's well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does." Based on erroneous beliefs like his, the federal government almost shut down recently, not over fiscal policy but over concerns of taxpayers funding abortion.

In fact, abortion constitutes 3% of what Planned Parenthood does. 96% of the organization's services are for contraception, cancer screening, detection and treatment of sexually transmitted disease, and other health issues.

We all know that human beings have sex, and without proper use of contraceptives, sex will lead to unintended pregnancies. The average American woman desiring two children will spend five of her reproductive years pregnant, postpartum, or trying to become pregnant. That leaves three decades she will spend trying to avoid pregnancy.

Fortunately today's contraceptives are safe, plentiful, and used at least once by 99% of women who have had intercourse. Few people are on the other side.

Richard Nixon, when he was signing Title X into law in 1970, said: "It is my view that no American woman should be denied access to family-planning assistance because of her economic condition. I believe therefore that we should establish as a national goal the provision of adequate family-planning services within the next five years to all those who want them but cannot afford them. This we have the capacity to do."

Four decades later some legislators are trying to cut off access to family-planning funding, holding the government hostage, under the guise of solving the financial crisis. It really boils down to the issue of abortion, legal since 1973. But the government does not fund abortions.

The Guttmacher Institute reports that every $1 the government invests in family planning saves taxpayers almost $4. But that includes only Medicaid coverage of prenatal visits, birth, and one year of infant checkups. For impoverished families, the amount will be many times more, on average.

CDC recently released a report saying the the rate of teenage pregnancy over the last 20 years has dropped about 40% to its lowest level in 70 years. The reduction is because of a decrease in sexual activity coupled with an increase in contraceptive use.

Yet, teenage girls are still having babies - 400,0000 annually, at a cost to taxpayers of $9 billion each year. If a teenager wants to remain in poverty, one of the fastest ways to do so is to have a baby. Funding for reproductive health has stalled while the need has only grown.

Publicly funded family-planning programs have resulted in almost two million unintended pregnancies were prevented in 2006, "which would have otherwise resulted in 860,000 births and 810,000 abortions." doclink

U.S.: Anti-Abortion Plans Pose Dilemma for Republicans: Restrict Abortion or Cut Spending?

March 6, 2011, Associated Press

The Republicans' "Pledge for America" says the new majority will do both, recently voting in the House 240-185 to block federal dollars from going to Planned Parenthood.

But the GOP has found that it must choose between them.

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee's budget and spending task force hasn't decided how he would vote on a budget that cuts spending but lacks the promised abortion restrictions.

Last month the House passed its version of the budget that would cut spending by $61 billion and prohibit federal dollars from going to Planned Parenthood as long as the organization performs abortions. It also reinstates restrictions, lifted by President Barack Obama, on government money for any organization that funds abortions in foreign countries.

The Democrat-dominated Senate will almost certainly remove the abortion restrictions. It may be weeks before the budget is passed despite a March 18 deadline that carries with it the threat of a partial government shutdown. This budget will only go through September.

Slashing federal spending, is the GOP's No. 1 priority, with restricting federal money for abortion providers comes a close second or third. Repealing Obama's health care overhaul also is a GOP objective, but this failed in the Senate.

In addition the spending bill, before any amendments, reinstated a prohibition on federal money for any organization that uses its own funds for abortions performed in foreign countries. Obama lifted the restrictions in 2009.

Should a newly negotiated budget pass the Senate and come to the House without the anti-abortion provisions, social conservatives would be faced with a difficult choice: Vote against the new version and lose the spending cuts. Vote for it and lose the anti-abortion provisions.

Rep. Chris Smith, perhaps the House's most fervently anti-abortion member, said he'd vote against any budget that doesn't "preserve life." Blocking money for Planned Parenthood also cuts spending, he said.

Freshman Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., opposes abortion, but current law already bans federal dollars from being used for most abortions, so he would vote for a budget that did not cut funding to Planned Parenthood. doclink

Karen Gaia says: we definitely need to reign in federal spending. But cutting funds to Planned Parenthood is poor economics considering that averted births will result in savings. On the other hand we could save $12 billion a month by stopping the war.

U.S.: Abortion Opponents Should Support Planned Parenthood

March 2, 2011, The Desert Sun (California)

Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, the author of the bill that would end ending federal funding of Planned Parenthood said it is "morally wrong to take the tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use them to fund organizations that provide and promote abortions."

However, only 3% of Planned Parenthood's federal funding goes toward abortion and it's limited to pregnancy caused by rape or incest or when a woman's life is in jeopardy. About a third of its funding goes toward contraception, and the rest goes to testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and cancer screening and prevention.

Federal funding of abortion - with those exceptions - was banned in 1976 by the Hyde Amendment.

Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, which operates clinics throughout Riverside, San Diego and Imperial counties, gets 60% of its funding from the federal government, funneled through the state.

"Every year, Planned Parenthood prevents nearly a million unintended pregnancies, half of which would have ended in abortion," said a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest. "We do more to end the need for abortion than any other organization in the country."

Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, according to the Guttmacher Institute. 40% of those pregnancies are terminated by abortion. For abortion opponents, denying funding for the leading provider of contraception makes no sense.

In a perfect world, people would abstain from having sex until they're ready to have children. That's not going to happen. The worst consequence is the tragedy of abortion. doclink

The War on Women

February 26, 2011, New York Times*

An assault on women's health and freedom is being mounted by Republicans in the House of Representatives. A budget bill that passed the House recently would deny millions of women access to affordable contraception and life-saving cancer screenings and cut nutritional support for millions of newborn babies in struggling families.

This bill included the defunding of Planned Parenthood. It's not likely to pass unchanged, but the urge to compromise may take a toll on these programs. Planned Parenthood serves one in five American women at some point in her lifetime.

Another cut in the House resolution include the elimination of support for Title X, the federal family planning program for low-income women that provides birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and testing for H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted diseases. The Guttmacher Institute, a leading authority on reproductive health, says a rise in unintended pregnancies would result in some 400,000 more abortions a year.

The House resolution would also cut support for international family planning and reproductive health care. And it would reinstate global 'gag' rule, which forbids giving federal money to any group that even talks about abortions. That rule badly hampered family planning groups working abroad to prevent infant and maternal deaths before President Obama lifted it.

In negotiations over the health care bill last year, Democrats agreed to a scheme intended to stop insurance companies from offering plans that cover abortions. Two bills in the Republican House would go even further in denying coverage to over 30% of women who have an abortion during child-bearing years.

Another bill, Joe Pitts, Rep, Pennsylvania, would allow hospitals receiving federal funds to refuse to terminate a pregnancy even when necessary to save a woman's life.

The resolution would even cut by 10% the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC, which serves 9.6 million low-income women, new mothers, and infants each month. And it cuts $50 million from the block grant supporting programs providing prenatal health care to 2.5 million low-income women and health care to 31 million children annually.

In the meantime abortion warfare is accelerating in the states. doclink

Possible Fed Cuts Could Shut Down Women Reproductive Health Services in Alaska

February 21, 2011, KTVA-11 (Alaska)

Cuts are proposed for the federal budget that will remove funds used for reproductive health care, and additional programs for low-income women.

With the U.S. House already voting to remove funding for things like cancer screenings and birth control from family planning programs like Planned Parenthood and others, the push is on for the Senate to follow course.

Some say this decision is a plain and simple a direct attack on low-income women's only chance for health care.

Upcoming votes on Capitol Hill could determine if family planning services will be eliminated in Alaska.

Clover Simon, the vice president of Planned Parenthood of Alaska said: "Primarily it's cancer screening, it's pelvic exams, breast screenings, birth control services." ... "Without that funding we would no longer be able to provide those services to women." doclink

US Georgia: Response to Miscarriage Investigation Bill: "I Submit My Used Tampon"

February 26, 2011, Alternet

In Georgia, a new bill sponsored by Rep. Bobby Franklin would require women to file police reports when they miscarry, since fetuses are Georgia citizens and their deaths are potential crimes.

This bill is really horrific - it basically turns all women into potential criminals. But play along for a moment: Since life begins at conception, and a fertilized egg is a human being with all of the rights of any other citizen of the great state of Georgia, we need to make sure that all egg-deaths are properly accounted for, and that all zygote-Americans receive a proper burial and an investigation into whether their deaths were caused by foul play.

Devery Doleman wrote a letter to Rep. Franklin requesting that he investigate the potential murders going on in her pants. Based on Devery's idea, the author suggests that we women of reproductive age send Rep. Franklin the evidence of the potential murders committed in our uteri. Since we can't send used tampons through the mail - they are bio-hazardous material - we can certainly send photos. So! Next time you're on the rag, take a picture of your period paraphernalia. Somewhere around 50% of fertilized eggs naturally don't implant, and are flushed out of the body. That's a 50% prenatal death rate for Georgia's smallest citizens. Your womb is a serial killer and Rep. Franklin is interested in using the Georgia state police to investigate any possible death of a Georgia citizen.

So, attach your picture to a letter thanking Rep. Franklin for his good work in standing up for human life. Email address:

Dear Rep. Franklin,

I applaud your efforts to support the rights of zygote citizens of Georgia by criminalizing miscarriages and investigating every instance of fetal death as a potential crime.

More than 50% of fertilized eggs - Georgia citizens! - naturally don't implant, and are flushed out of the body during menstruation. I am personally concerned that my own murdering woman-body may have flushed out some human beings, and I may have flushed them down the toilet without knowing that I was disposing of Georgia citizens in such an undignified way. This must be remedied. I would like to be sure that I am not killing any more Georgia citizens - and that if I am, they are able to receive a proper funeral and not a burial at sea, and that our state police can dedicate valuable time and resources to investigating their deaths.

To that end, I attach a picture of my latest used tampon. I am preserving this tampon, as well as all of my other tampons, pads, feminine hygiene products and soiled panties from my current menstrual cycle, so that the Georgia State Police can come collect them as evidence. I would also be happy to drop the specimens off at your office, should you want to examine them yourself.

Please visit the above headline link for the entire article and suggested letter. doclink

US Women Brace for Abortion Fight with New Lawmakers

November 4, 2010, Agence France Presse

U.S. women's groups are bracing for a fight over abortion rights and gender equality with the new conservative Republican majority in Congress. At least 49 of the newcomers are opposed to women having the right to choose to have an abortion.

Pro-choice senators still have a slim majority, with two races -- one of which includes a pro- choice woman candidate.

O'Neill, president of NOW, predicted that the new Republican leadership in the House will take moves that would compromise women's rights. "They will try to repeal the health care reform law, cut funding for family-planning programs, undermine equal marriage, and try to weaken Roe v. Wade."

The new speaker of the House, John Boehner, is anti-choice and anti-equal marriage. Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said "We face the reality that many of these new officeholders will promote laws that jeopardize women's health, dignity and equality."

Northup and O'Neill pledged to fight to keep women's rights intact, with the help of pro-choice members of Congress and the courts, saying "A substantial number of Democrats who lost were moderate or conservative, leaving a Democratic caucus that, while smaller, is more progressive."

There are also assaults coming from the states. In the past year, state lawmakers have introduced more than 600 bills aimed at restricting women's access to abortion.

Some measures passed, others were blocked by pro-choice governors -- several of whom were voted out of office on Tuesday -- and the Center for Reproductive Rights has turned to the courts to fight others. 13 cases in nine states have been filed by the Center in the past two years to "beat back the unrelenting attacks" against a woman's right to choose, and has been successful at temporarily or permanently blocking those laws in eleven of those cases. doclink

U.S.: Family Planning Need Seen in Study

November 11, 2010, San Antonio Express-News

In a study over a six-month period, more than 400 pregnant women asked to be sterilized after giving birth. Of those, almost a third left the hospital without getting the procedure, for one reason or another. And within 12 months, close to half the women who wanted but didn't get a tubal ligation were pregnant again.

"The women who weren't getting their tubes tied were just kind of falling out of the safety net," said Dr. Andrea Thurman, an associate professor at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk.

"These were women who had a lot of pregnancies," ... "They don't have good access to health care, they're more likely to be undocumented immigrants, they're not likely to be able to interact in the same way with getting birth control and they end up pregnant within a year."

The federal government is trying to decide whether to include contraception and sterilization among preventive health services - like flu shots - to be offered free to patients under the new health reform law.

An Institute of Medicine committee is set to meet next week to come up with recommendations.

Some religious and conservative groups are opposed. "To prevent pregnancy is not to prevent a disease - indeed, contraception and sterilization pose their own unique and serious health risks to the patient," the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote in letter to the Department of Health and Human Services in October.

Female sterilization and the birth control pill are tied as the No. 1 method of contraception in the United States, each used by about 17% of women 44 years old and younger.

Sterilization is more popular with minority women, used by about 20% of Hispanics and 22% of African Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Even women covered for prenatal care and hospital delivery under Medicaid and CHIP can end up paying out-of-pocket costs ranging from $200 at the time of C-section, to more than $1,000.

A mandatory waiting period of at 30 days or longer from the time a consent form is signed - designed to keep women from being coerced into sterilization - leads to some losing their Medicaid coverage before they can undergo the surgery, Thurman said.

Dr. Joseph Potter, professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, is studying the availability of tubal ligation in El Paso through a Society of Family Planning grant. He said Thurman's study proves sterilization can be cost-effective for women who want it.

"The problem isn't the demand for sterilization," Potter said. "There's plenty of demand. Poor people just don't have the $1,000 or $2,000 to pay for it."

Liza Fuentes, a New York doctoral student who interviewed poor women in the Lower Rio Grande Valley about family planning for an advocacy group a few years ago, said some scrimp and save for sterilization, or work out a payment plan with their doctor.

"For people who don't have health insurance or have spotty access to health care, the idea of a tubal ligation may be attractive (compared to other forms of birth control) because it's not dependent on having regular care," Fuentes said.

"There are women that, for one reason or another, a tubal ligation makes really good sense for them and their family. I wish that all women who wanted contraception were able to access it. Politics aside, contraception is extremely cost effective. Half of pregnancies in this country are either unintended or mistimed." doclink

The History of the Pill is Personal!

May 13, 2010, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

It is the 50th anniversary of the Pill, which has changed the world, not just for hundreds or thousands of women, but for hundreds of millions of women around the world.

Its approval 50 years ago by the FDA didn't mean it was available to all women, but it was a huge step forward.

In June 1960, women were finally able to walk out of a medical office with a prescription in hand, at least in the states where it was legal and with women who could afford it. A prescription that might as well have been a ticket to the future, and to a life that held so much more opportunity than it had just a day before.

Within a decade, one in four married women under 45 had used The Pill - thanks in part to a Supreme Court case fought by Planned Parenthood to guarantee access for married women in all 50 states. By the 1980s, that number was up to nearly 80 million women worldwide, and today it is 100 million women. Still, countless women lack access to affordable birth control, including The Pill.

Chances are, if you're a woman reading this, you have used the Pill and probably have a story about how, with the pill, everything changed for you.

Planned Parenthood and others have been pushing the effort to force all insurers to cover The Pill for years. Now, we are also pressing the current administration to include contraception along with other preventive health care at no cost under the new health care reform law. You and I know just how critical it is that every woman everywhere has access to quality, affordable reproductive health care, including The Pill. We need to make sure federal officials know it, too.

If you have a story about how The Pill changes lives or how we fought for access to The Pill to share those stories, help stand with those women who still don't have access by sharing it. There are those who still don't understand how transformative that little pill can be for the health, happiness, and opportunities of millions of women. By sharing your story, you'll help make sure that contraception is covered at no cost under health care reform.

Follow the headline link to share your story. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I first started using the pill in 1963, after my first child was born a couple of years before I had planned to have children. I had just turned 20 and was a married college student. At my postnatal check, my doctor asked me if I wanted to get pregnant again right away. Of course I said 'No', and he recommended the pill. I was amazed 30 years later, to find on a visit to a family planning project in Bangladesh, that the same method was used for young women shortly after the birth of their first child. Female health care workers were prepared to administer several methods of birth control when birth spacing is desired. Although the pill failed me twice, and also an IUD, I am extremely grateful since I would have had 6-7 (or maybe 13, like my grandmother) children, instead of just four. Fortunately birth control has improved a lot since then and so far I only have two grandchildren.

The History of the Pill is Personal!

May 13, 2010, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

It is the 50th anniversary of the Pill, which has changed the world, not just for hundreds or thousands of women, but for hundreds of millions of women around the world.

Its approval 50 years ago by the FDA didn't mean it was available to all women, but it was a huge step forward.

In June 1960, women were finally able to walk out of a medical office with a prescription in hand, at least in the states where it was legal and with women who could afford it. A prescription that might as well have been a ticket to the future, and to a life that held so much more opportunity than it had just a day before.

Within a decade, one in four married women under 45 had used The Pill - thanks in part to a Supreme Court case fought by Planned Parenthood to guarantee access for married women in all 50 states. By the 1980s, that number was up to nearly 80 million women worldwide, and today it is 100 million women. Still, countless women lack access to affordable birth control, including The Pill.

Chances are, if you're a woman reading this, you have used the Pill and probably have a story about how, with the pill, everything changed for you.

Planned Parenthood and others have been pushing the effort to force all insurers to cover The Pill for years. Now, we are also pressing the current administration to include contraception along with other preventive health care at no cost under the new health care reform law. You and I know just how critical it is that every woman everywhere has access to quality, affordable reproductive health care, including The Pill. We need to make sure federal officials know it, too.

If you have a story about how The Pill changes lives or how we fought for access to The Pill to share those stories, help stand with those women who still don't have access by sharing it. There are those who still don't understand how transformative that little pill can be for the health, happiness, and opportunities of millions of women. By sharing your story, you'll help make sure that contraception is covered at no cost under health care reform.

Follow the headline link to share your story. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I first started using the pill in 1963, after my first child was born a couple of years before I had planned to have children. I had just turned 20 and was a married college student. At my postnatal check, my doctor asked me if I wanted to get pregnant again right away. Of course I said 'No', and he recommended the pill. I was amazed 30 years later, to find on a visit to a family planning project in Bangladesh, that the same method was used for young women shortly after the birth of their first child. Female health care workers were prepared to administer several methods of birth control when birth spacing is desired. Although the pill failed me twice, and also an IUD, I am extremely grateful since I would have had 6-7 (or maybe 13, like my grandmother) children, instead of just four. Fortunately birth control has improved a lot since then and so far I only have two grandchildren.

Federal Officials Weigh Inclusion of Birth Control in Preventive Care Benefits

July 6, 2010, National Partnership for Women & Families

Beginning this fall, the federal health reform law (PL 111-148) will require health insurance plans to offer certain preventive health services at no direct cost to patients, and many women's health advocates and employer groups hope that contraception is included among those benefits.

The Health Resources and Services Administration will take up to a year to recommend coverage for many services, including contraceptive services.

Several health plans already cover prescription contraceptives -- and 27 states require some level of contraceptive coverage. Further improving access to contraception by lowering out-of-pocket costs could help reduce the estimated three million annual unintended pregnancies in the U.S. Women who plan their pregnancies are more likely to obtain recommended prenatal care and space births, which can improve outcomes.

In addition, lowering the cost of contraception could encourage the use of longer-acting methods, such as hormonal implants and intrauterine devices, which are more cost-effective and reliable but have higher upfront costs. Or young women would be able to purchase a longer supply of birth control pills, lessening the risk of running out of pills at an inopportune time.

The average annual cost to health plans for providing family planning services is about $40 per member, while covering a worker's prenatal and maternity care can cost an employer $8,000 to $11,000.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposes the classification of contraception as a preventive service. "Fertility is not a disease to be cured, and the government should not treat it as that" doclink

U.S.: Let the Pill Go Free

June 21, 2010, New York Times*

The 50th anniversary of the Food and Drug Administration's approval of the birth control pill was marked by discussion about how, in some cases, the pill has failed to deliver on its promises. It did not solve women's problems juggling work and family life - nor did it end gender discrimination or eliminate unintended pregnancies. Clearly, approving the use of the pill was only the beginning of the effort to meet women's contraception needs.

The pill's usefulness has been limited because it's available only by prescription. The difficulties involved in obtaining a pill prescription, especially for women without access to a doctor, can cause gaps in contraceptive use. And the birth control methods that are available without prescription - condoms, spermicide and the sponge - have higher failure rates than the pill.

But there is something we could do to help the pill live up to its potential: let women purchase it over the counter. A half-century of evidence shows us that it's safe to dispense the pill without a prescription.

The pill could be dangerous for women with certain conditions. Women who are 35 or older and smoke, and those with high blood pressure, are at greater risk of a heart attack or stroke if they take oral contraceptives that combine estrogen and progestin. But these are not complicated conditions to identify; women already have to tell their doctor about their health problems when they get a prescription, and research shows that women can screen themselves for contraindications almost as well as providers do.

The United States has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the developed world, and better access to the pill is part of the solution to this problem. There are no special health risks for younger women on the pill, and sexually active women, whatever their age, should have freer access to the full range of options to prevent pregnancy.

Plan B became more expensive when it went over the counter. If that happened to the pill, it could be unaffordable for many women on Medicaid whose prescriptions are now covered. In some states Medicaid already covers over-the counter contraception; Medicaid coverage in all states should be extended to all over-the-counter methods, including the pill.

Women don't need a doctor to tell them if they need cold medicine or condoms, and they shouldn't need a doctor's permission to take the pill. Pill instructions are easy to follow: Take one each day. Over-the-counter sales would expand access to safe, effective contraception, and help women take control over their sexual and reproductive lives. doclink

Wisconsin Makes Push on Free Birth Control

August 18, 2010, The Wall Street Journal (U.S.)

Wisconsin is pushing to expand a program that uses federal Medicaid funds to provide free contraception to low-income people. It and 26 other states already provide free contraception and other reproductive-health services through a Medicaid pilot project to lower-earning women who otherwise wouldn't qualify.

Among other things, the women get access to prescription birth control, Pap smears, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and, in some states, infertility treatments. Women qualify for Wisconsin's program if they make up to $21,600 a year for single people - twice the federal poverty level.

The state touts it as cost-effective. The state's Medicaid director credits it with preventing unplanned pregnancies that "I don't think anybody wants." But critics point out that it allows girls and boys as young as 15 to participate without having to notify their parents.

Now Wisconsin wants to widen the reach of its plan. A provision in the health-care law allows states to make their plans permanent and get federal funding faster. Wisconsin applied to raise the qualifying limit to $32,490. "That's just insane," said Julaine Appling, president of Wisconsin Family Action, a conservative lobbying group. "That is a whole new segment of our population that is now seeking reproductive health care on taxpayer money." doclink

U.S.: Working Group Advocates for Over-the-Counter Access to Birth Control Pill

July 8, 2010, Newsweek

The Oral Contraceptive Over-the-Counter Working Group, a coalition of women's health experts, aims to gain FDA approval to market an oral contraceptive for nonprescription use, citing evidence that nonprescription access does not compromise safety.

The group, funded by the Hewlett Foundation, believes prescription-only access to birth control patronizes women, restricts contraceptive freedom and does little to curb teen pregnancy rates. There are barriers that have to do with the logistics of insurance, or the policy at the doctor's office.

The group, focusing on the so-called "mini-pill," hopes to have the pill on the market within five years. The mini-pill has a lower risk of adverse effects than other hormonal methods, and typically is prescribed to women who are lactating or have a higher risk of complications, such as stroke and heart attack, because they smoke or are older than age 35. It contains the same synthetic hormone -- progestin -- that is used in the OTC emergency contraceptives Plan B and Next Choice.

Teens find it is difficult to visit a doctor's office without a parent's help. Nearly 20% of sexually active teens who do not want to become pregnant are not using contraceptives, according to the Guttmacher Institute. A 2006 study published in Contraception found that 68% of surveyed women said they wanted a birth control pill that was available without a prescription, with uninsured women showing a high level of interest.

Until recently providers followed guidelines to perform a pelvic exam and Pap test at every family planning visit, but new guidelines suggest that most women need less frequent screening.

"Holding birth control hostage until women have had a pelvic exam is a paternalistic attitude to women's health." The two aren't linked.

One concern is that moving to OTC status could cause the pill's cost to jump, which is what happened when EC became available without a prescription, however, supporters are investigating strategies to keep costs down. doclink

U.S.: More Women in Need of Publicly Funded Family Planning Services; as Cost of Providing Services Increases, Centers Have More Difficulty Meeting Clients'

May 17, 2010, Guttmacher Institute

In 2008, 17.4 million women were in need of publicly funded family planning services, an increase of 6%, due to a rise in the number of poor women needing publicly funded contraceptive services and supplies.

Publicly funded family planning centers have responded to this need, serving 7% more clients in 2008 than in 2001. More than seven million in 2008, helping to avert 1.5 million unintended pregnancies.

Without these publicly funded family planning services, the overall U.S. unintended pregnancy rate would have been 47% higher and the abortion rate 50% higher.

Rising costs have made it difficult for publicly funded family planning centers to provide these services. The annual cost per client increased by 27% between 2004 and 2008. By assisting women to avoid unintended pregnancies, publicly funded family planning clinics save taxpayers $3.74 for every $1 spent providing contraceptive care. The services provided in 2008 generated savings of at least $5.1 billion in Medicaid expenditures.

Public funding sources-such as the federal Title X program and state revenues-fail to keep pace with the need. doclink

U.S.: What Every Girl Should Know

May 8, 2010, New York Times*

Ancient birth control methods included spitting into the mouth of a frog, eating bees and wearing the testicles of a weasel. In Córdoba, Spain, women were told to leap up and down vigorously after sex, and then jump backward nine times. We have come a long way since then, and have had the Pill for the last 50 years.

Many policy makers believed that the only appropriate form of birth control was celibacy. Anthony Comstock, the powerful crusader for the Sexual Purity campaign sent 4,000 people to jail for helping women understand, and use, birth control. He seemed to take particular pleasure in the fact that 15 of them had committed suicide.

One of his targets was Margaret Sanger, a nurse who wrote a sex education column, "What Every Girl Should Know." When Comstock banned her column on venereal disease, the paper ran an empty space with the title: "What Every Girl Should Know: Nothing, by Order of the U.S. Post Office."

Sanger published an evaluation of all the available forms of birth control, for which she was charged for criminal obscenity. Later Sanger helped bring together the wealthy donors and brilliant researchers who would bring forth the first effective oral contraception.

It seems ironic that, when couples like Rob and Laura Petrie, or Lucy and Desi were portrayed on television in twin beds on the opposite side of the room, kids were getting a pretty thorough grounding in sex and the ways to prevent pregnancy; but now "Kids growing up today watch 'Gossip Girl' and all these shows where every teenager is having sex every day - and now we don't teach sex education in school," notes Cecile Richards of Planned Parenthood.

Even though 100 million women take the pill every day, the terror of mentioning birth control is so great that the humongous new health care reform act has managed to avoid bringing it up at all.

"If the administration would announce tomorrow that all birth control would be free for every woman in America, I think the health care plan would gain 30 points in popularity overnight," said Richards. doclink

U.S.: Federal Health Care Reform -the Good, the Bad and the Very Ugly

March 29, 2010, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte

Over the last year, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte (PPMM) worked to ensure that their coalition partners health centers are included as "essential community providers" in the new insurance exchanges and women will have access to the full scope of reproductive health care, including abortion. Women insured under the new plans will be able to have screenings for breast and cervical cancer, check-ups and other preventive services without making co-payments. PPMM also successfully achieved expansion for state family planning programs across the country.

The families PPMM serves will benefit from Medicaid expansion to more of the working poor. Its clients will no longer fear being dropped from or denied access to insurance because they have a pre-existing health condition. Young adults can now continue to be covered under their parents' plans up to the age of 26, and insurance companies will no longer be able to discriminate based on gender.

It was disappointing that two previously pro- choice representatives in California territory voted for Rep. Bart Stupak's amendment in the House bill that would have banned all abortion coverage. After thousands of calls to the two Congressmen, it was encouraging to see that they voted for the final health care reform bill without the Stupak amendment.

Fortunately the Senate indeed voted down the Stupak ban, but it was replaced with the problematic and burdensome Nelson amendment that sets up accounting and administrative obstacles to women seeking an abortion.

The Nelson amendment - which violates the promise of President Obama that "no person would have less coverage" after health care reform - may be the lesser of two evils in health care reform. However, it threatens abortion coverage for every woman buying insurance through the government health care exchanges, even those paying with all private dollars. Over time, it has the potential to erode all abortion coverage for insurance, as it has done in states with similar laws.

The anti-choice groups' relentless attacks on access to abortion won't stop with the passage of health insurance reform. We will need to remain vigilant at every step of implementation at both the federal and state levels.

Meanwhile, however, millions of women, children and families who previously lacked access to health insurance will now have the peace of mind that health coverage can bring. Many of them are PPMM's clients. doclink

Perennial Feud Remains on Abortion

February 12, 2010, The Wall Street Journal

The toughest obstacle to the Democrats' health-care legislation will be the persistent issue of abortion.

The Senate version was a carefully crafted compromise that left neither side happy. The language will have to be finessed again if a final bill is to clear the House. One idea involves inserting more-restrictive language later into a spending bill.

The question is: should health-insurance policies that people would buy with federal subsidies be allowed to offer abortion coverage? In the House last year, Rep. Bart Stupak (D., Mich.) won language denying the abortion coverage; the bill passed 220-215.

The Senate version allows insurers to offer abortion coverage as long as customers write a separate check to pay for it, but Mr. Stupak said the Senate version left too big a loophole, while abortion-rights supporters argued that it would be too cumbersome for insurance companies to collect separate checks and they wouldn't cover abortion at all. doclink

End to the Abstinence-Only Fantasy

December 20, 2009, New York Times*

The abstinence-only sex education programs, which began in the 1980s and ballooned during George W. Bush's presidency, have been wiped out with the omnibus government spending bill signed into law last week. These highly restrictive programs denied young people accurate information about contraceptives, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

A 2007 study of elementary and middle school students, mandated by Congress, found that students who received abstinence instruction were just as likely to have sex in the following year as students who did not get such instruction. Most of the nation's recent progress in reducing the abortion rate has occurred in states that have shown a commitment to real sex education.

The new $114 million initiative will be administered by a newly created Office of Adolescent Health with a mandate to support "medically accurate and age appropriate programs" shown to reduce teenage pregnancy.

The spending bill also increases financing for family-planning services for low-income women and lifts a ban on the District of Columbia's use of its own tax dollars to pay for abortion services for poor women except in cases when a woman's life is at risk, or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.

Unfortunately, the health care reform bill approved by the Senate Finance Committee includes an amendment that would revive a separate $50 million grant-making program for abstinence-only programs run by states. Hopefully this amendment will be stricken. doclink

US Abortion Amendment 'Throws Women Under Bus'

November 10, 2009, Telegraph

Women's rights advocates are angry about the Stupak-Pitts amendment restricting abortion access and funding, which was added to the health care reform bill and passed by the House of Representatives.

President Barack Obama has failed to deliver on the pro-choice promises he made during his election campaign.

Terry O'Neill, president of the half-million-strong National Organisation of Women said: "The Stupak-Pitts amendment is a giant leap in the direction of making abortion completely inaccessible to all of us."

It was claimed that the health care reform could not be passed without this amendment.

"We want the Senate to drop the amendment, and if they don't, we are going to pressure the president not to sign it. They should be more concerned that they have passed a bill that gives women only partial health care than about angering the Catholic church," O'Neill said.

Stupak-Pitts was drafted by men, passed by a House of Representatives with only 16 per cent of women lawmakers and backed by the all-male US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), O'Neill noted.

"Here come all these men, who have never had to worry about missing a period, and they pass a health care bill for 49% of the population," she said.

Liza Sabater, a former professor at Rutgers University turned full-time blogger, accused Democratic House lawmakers of "throwing women under the bus."

"They're saying that giving people's taxes to fund abortion infringes on constitutional rights." .. "But how about anti-war activists? I don't want my tax money going to fund wars," she said.

The amendment would bar the proposed federal government insurance programme, known as the "public option", from paying for abortion, except to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.

Also, "If anyone on your private plan, which you are paying for out of your own pocket, is subsidised, that plan has to exclude abortion coverage" said O'Neill.

A woman can have an abortion covered by insurance, - by purchasing a "single-service rider" to cover the voluntary termination of pregnancy.

But Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America said: "Women do not plan to have unintended pregnancies or medically complicated pregnancies that require ending the pregnancy," she said. "No insurance company would offer such a policy."

O'Neill warned that, should that happen, "the United States will take a huge step backward toward the back alley". doclink

A Painful Blow to Women's Health Care

November 8, 2009, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Saturday night Congress passed a bill that will undercut women's access to comprehensive health care. The bill includes a ban on private abortion coverage for millions of women and would prohibit it in the new "public option."

The fight in the House is over, but the fight in the Senate is just beginning. It's time to use our strongest weapon: the White House.

Hundreds of thousands of voters called on members of Congress to include women's health care in health care reform.

Now we are calling on President Obama to ensure that lawmakers, especially those in his own party, support health care reform that protects women's access to reproductive care as the next round of debate and voting occurs in the Senate. It's time for the president to reaffirm his commitment to women's health, and demand that Congress reject any bill that leaves women worse off under health care reform than they are today.

Please take action now - and then spread the word on Facebook, among your friends and colleagues, via e-mail - whatever it takes. doclink

U.S.: California Democrats Vote to Go Anti-choice From the Public Option

November 8, 2009, Calitics

Choice is no longer part of the public option in the health care reform bill. The Stupak amendment, which bans the public option from covering any elective abortions, passed by a fairly wide margin in the U.S. House today.

Three democrates: Jim Costa, Dennis Cardoza, and Joe Baca, along with the entire California Republican delegation voted for this amendment. said: "Under the Stupak amendment, access to abortion procedures would be limited to women using a yet-to-be-created insurance-buying exchange." ... "The Senate must now consider a health care bill." doclink

Contraception is An Economic Issue

February 24, 2009

The Guttmacher Institute has a new report saying that every dollar spent on avoid an unintended pregnancy saves taxpayers $4 dollars. "The national family planning program is smart government at its best," said Rachel Benson Gold, lead author of the study, Next Steps for America's Family Planning Program.

Republicans had ridiculed the inclusion of what they falsely claimed was $200 million in the stimulus package for family planning. Apparently Democrats had capitulated and the contraception provision was taken out of the House economic stimulus bill (signed by President Obama last week). This provision would have given states additional flexibility to provide more family planning services to those who qualify for Medicaid.

By providing millions of young and low-income women access to voluntary contraceptive services, the Medicaid family planning program annually prevents 1.94 million unintended pregnancies, which includes 400,000 teen pregnancies. These pregnancies would result in 860,000 unintended births, 810,000 abortions and 270,000 miscarriages.

Public expenditures for family planning in 2006 totaled $1.85 billion, with 71% of those funds coming from the Medicaid program. The increase was driven by efforts in 21 states to expand eligibility specifically for family planning for low-income women who otherwise would not qualify for Medicaid.

The Guttmacher Institute report found that 72% of voters believed the federal government should provide funding for birth control for low-income women.

86% thought couples should have access to all birth control options, including emergency contraception. 80% believed that this access is necessary for women to achieve equality. doclink


February 7, 2009, RH Reality Check

The inclusion of a provision for contraception in the federal stimulus package has been controversial. The media discussion was notable for among other things: the absence of experts. There was supposedly a $200 million allocation of taxpayer money for pregnancy prevention, but there was no such allocation. This "mistake" came from Rep. John Boehner, a friend of the anti-contraception movement.

An more important point that has been lost is that family planning has profound economic benefits.

Nancy Folbre, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, writes, "Increased spending on family planning (including contraceptives) would generate about as many direct and indirect jobs as any other health expenditures, and probably more than an equivalent tax cut."

"The long-term benefits include significant reductions in unplanned births and abortions. Teenagers, in particular, would benefit. A research paper by Melissa Kearney and Phillip Levine finds that recent state-level Medicaid policy changes reduced births among teenagers by more than 4%. The authors offer estimates of the cost per averted birth, which could be compared with the social costs - to children, parents, and society - of unwanted pregnancies."

Economist Isabel Sawhill and researcher Adam Thomas of the Brookings Institute wrote that when poor women were given access to contraception it "led to a significant reduction in the number of sexually-active women who have unprotected sex."

An expansion in contraceptive services in the remaining states would reduce the annual number of children born out of wedlock by more than 25,000, would reduce the number of pregnancies to unmarried teenagers each year by 19,000, and would reduce the annual number of abortions to unmarried women by nearly 12,000.

Children in single-parent families are more than four times as likely to be poor as children in two-parent families. Children who were born as the result of an unplanned pregnancy are less likely to have received adequate prenatal care, are more likely to have a low birthweight, and are more likely to perform poorly in school. Unplanned pregnancies generate $5 billion annually in direct medical costs, many borne by society in the form of subsidized medical care. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the Medicaid family planning provision, if enacted, would result in a net government savings of $700 million over ten years."

The economic benefits of contraception are particularly important for women's economic futures. The surge of women entering college and the professions seemed to happen almost immediately after the legalization of contraception.

The percentage of all lawyers and judges who are women more than doubled in the 1970s. The share of female physicians increased from 9.1% in 1970 to 14.1% in 1980 and was 27.9% in 2000.

Until we get the word out, we will have Neil Cavuto on FOX News telling us unwanted pregnancy should be encouraged so we'll have eventually have more people paying into social security. doclink

Health Care Reform: We Can't Let Them Drown Us Out

September 30, 2009, Planned Parenthood Federation of America

The New York Times reported that health care reform could prohibit private insurance companies from covering abortion care - even those that currently do so.

Senators are hearing a lot more often from opponents of women's health than they are from people like you and me. Planned Parenthood has been working with legislators day and night to make sure health care reform improves access and quality of care for women everywhere. But we're outnumbered and our voices are drowned out.

Planned Parenthood urges you to call, e-mail, or write your senators once a week until health care reform that protects women is a reality.

Click on the link above for details. doclink

U.S.: New Government Rule Could Limit Your Access to Birth Control

December 18, 2008,

At the end of the Bush term, The Department of Health and Human Services published its "conscience rights" rule designed to protect healthcare providers from being denied employment or fired if they refuse to administer abortions, emergency contraception, or certain forms of birth control because of their religious or moral beliefs.

Dozens of health organizations voiced their opposition, saying that this would deny women access to reproductive care. One of the concerns was whether patients would be informed of their doctor's refusal to administer certain procedures.

In the final rule patients and healthcare providers should have open and honest conversations about the services. There is no regulation forcing doctors to be fully transparent with patients. If the regulation had been filed after December 20, President-elect Obama could have simply canceled it with a stroke of his pen, which he has promised to do.

There are a couple of different ways to reverse it. Sens. Clinton and Murray have filed legislation to block federal funding to implement the rule. A Congressional Review Act provision in which both the House and Senate would pass resolutions of disapproval would strike it permanently from the books. The new Congress would need to do it within its first 75 working days.

The incoming head of HHS, Tom Daschle, could propose a new rule that negates the language of the conscience regulation. This would take at least six months for the rule to be issued as a final regulation. The best approach may be a blocking of congressional funding until a new regulation can be implemented. doclink

Blumenthal Files Suit Over Bush Rule on Health Workers

January 16, 2009,

In an attempt to block a federal rule granting health care workers the right to refuse to provide care that violates their personal beliefs, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal filed a lawsuit on behalf of Connecticut and six other states.

The suit alleges the rule, issued by Bush's administration, violates federal law, women's rights and state's rights to enforce their own laws.

The rule protects workers who do not wish to dispense birth control pills or Plan B emergency contraceptives or to inform patients where they could obtain such care.

The regulation could cut off funding for entity that does not accommodate employees who refuse to participate in care they find ethically, morally or religiously objectionable. doclink

U.S.: This is the Way the Culture Wars End

February 22, 2009, New York Times*

President Obama called for "common ground" on abortion reduction and an end to the debate over family planning. But to make a real difference, he'll have to tell that morality has to be practical, and that practicality requires morals.

Pro-lifers show up after a woman is pregnant, imagining that laws will make her bear a child she doesn't want. They're too late - to prevent abortions, we have to prevent unintended pregnancies.

The conservative answer is abstinence. But as a stand-alone national policy for avoiding pregnancies, it's foolish. Mating is the engine of history.

The liberal answer is birth-control availability. Many pharmacists have refused to sell oral contraceptives. Bush halted American aid to international family-planning organizations that provide abortion services; Mr. Obama restored it.

Mr. Obama talks about family planning in terms of access and affordability. Overseas, that's a challenge but in this country, the principal cause of abortions is that we don't use birth control.

Eight years ago, over 10,000 American women who had abortions were surveyed. Nearly half said they hadn't used birth control in the month they conceived. About 8% cited financial problems, and 2% said they didn't know where to get it. About 28% said they thought they wouldn't get pregnant, 26% said they hadn't expected to have sex and 23% said they had never thought about using birth control. Ten percent said their partners had objected to it. Three percent said they had thought it would make sex less fun.

This is a failure to teach, understand, admit or care that unprotected sex can lead to the creation, and the abortion, of a developing human being.

For liberals, that means taking abortion seriously as an argument for contraception. Reproductive-health counselors must speak bluntly to women who are having unprotected sex. And men must learn that "responsibility does not end at conception."

Conservatives need to face the truth: Birth control isn't a sin or an offense against life. It's a loving, conscientious way to prevent the conception of a child you can't bear to raise and don't want to abort.

To liberals, same-sex marriage is a matter of equal rights. To conservatives, however, it's a lifelong commitment, a foundation for raising children. Obama agrees and he argued that while gay couples deserve the same rights to hospital visitation and joint health insurance, "society can choose to carve out a special place"' for traditional marriage.

This issue, requires both sides to accept the practical and moral importance of responsible choices. The choice to commit will be good for the hundreds of thousands of children being raised by same-sex parents. Let those partners marry. We should promote and favor marriage, regardless of orientation.

Our moral debates have become stale and fruitless because we've pitted morality against practicality. These two principles need each other. Let's marry them. doclink

Karen Gaia says: While I am favor of same-sex civil unions, marriage (if considered sacred) should be the business of churches and the government should leave marriages to churches. I prefer to keep these two issues - same sex marriage and contraception - separate.d

U.S.: Contraception is An Economic Issue; Access is a Necessity for Economic Recovery

February 24, 2008, Guttmacher Institute

Every dollar spent on family planning saves taxpayers $4 dollars. Republicans ridiculed the inclusion of $200 million in the stimulus package for family planning. Democrats capitulated and contraception was gone. Now, it turns out there never was a $200 million budget request for contraception. The contraception provision that was stripped out of the stimulus bill would have given states flexibility to provide more family planning services to those who qualify for Medicaid.

By providing millions of low-income women access to contraceptive services, the family planning program prevents 1.94 million unintended pregnancies, each year. These pregnancies would result in 860,000 unintended births, 810,000 abortions and 270,000 miscarriages.

The role of Medicaid in funding family planning has risen since the 1980s, driven by efforts in 21 states to expand eligibility for low-income women who would not qualify for Medicaid.

A poll of voters found that 72% believed the federal government should provide funding for birth control for low-income women. Fully 86% thought couples should have access to all birth control options, including emergency contraception, and that it is their decision whether to use birth control and it should be safe and available. doclink

US Abortion Debate Altered by Obama Presidency

January 22, 2009, Associated Press Worldstream

Abortion-rights groups view President Obama and the Democrats as allies who are likely to ease restrictions on federal funding, broaden family-planning programs, and install federal judges who support legalized abortion.

Anti-abortion activists are urging the Republican minority in the Senate to use delaying tactics if needed.

A hard-core pro-abortion president with pro-abortion Democratic majorities means that many pro-life policies are in jeopardy. Abortion-rights supporters hope he will repeal the "global gag rule," which bans overseas family planning groups that receive U.S. funds from providing any abortion-related services or information.

Cardinal Francis George wrote Obama urging him to keep the funding ban. In the U.S., abortion-rights groups are backing an agenda in Congress aimed at reducing the number of unintended pregnancies. Endorsed by Obama, this would increase federal funding for family planning, promote comprehensive sex education, and expand women's access to contraceptives.

Other proposals would provide incentives for pregnant women to carry their fetuses to term. Abortion-rights activists would like poor women to access abortion through Medicaid and military health programs. Anti-abortion groups are attacking the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which provides family-planning and reproductive-health services including abortions. Planned Parenthood receives public funding for its non-abortion services, and anti-abortion activists contend this amounts to an indirect subsidy of abortion.

Planned Parenthood, expressed confidence that the organization would thrive under Obama. doclink

Obama Suspends All Last-Minute Bush Regulations, Pending Review

January 21, 2009, TMC MediaWire

Within hours of taking the Oath of Office, President Barack Obama ordered all federal agencies to suspend all of Bush's eleventh-hour rules changes, pending a full review. It's highly unlikely that Daschle would sign off on these rules, which would give government healthcare workers unprecedented latitude to refuse reproductive health services on religious grounds.

A nurse in New Mexico is being sued for removing a patient's IUD without her permission and refusing to put it back in because she opposed IUDs on religious grounds.

Obama is also planning to repeal the Global Gag Rule, which disqualifies international organizations from receiving any federal funding if they provide abortions or inform women that abortion is an option. doclink

U.S.: Prevention First Introduced in the Senate

January 6, 2009, RH Reality Check

The 111th Congressional session saw the introduction of a bill to increase access to family planning. The bill would fund the country's family planning program, and require that health care insurers extend coverage to contraceptives. More than 17 million women in the U.S. need publicly funded family planning services, and there is not enough funding to meet the need.

Some of the bill's provisions could also be included in other pieces of legislation. The bill would restore affordable birth control for millions of college and low-income women, fund Title X, the nation's family planning program, provide access to reproductive health care services for low-income women through Medicaid, protect teens' health through sex education, require equity in contraceptive insurance coverage, improve awareness about emergency contraception, and expand rape survivors' access to emergency contraception.

Louise M. Slaughter and Diana DeGette are planning to introduce the bill in the House. doclink

US District of Columbia: Bitter Pill: How DC's Pharmacies Fail Women

December 22, 2008, Reality Check

Pharmacists may refuse to do their jobs for any reason - or for none at all. In the D.C. District, pharmacists are not required to provide birth control products, if their "personal views" won't allow it.

The "privacy" excuse allows pharmacists to deny access to contraception at any time-no questions asked. Wellington Pharmacy defers to the privacy excuse - "it's a relationship between a person and their physician" - as to why the pharmacy, affiliated with Catholic-leaning Providence Hospital, provides Viagra but no birth control.

When it comes to contraception, pharmacists are often skittish about discussing which prescriptions they will fill. The proprietor at Cathedral Pharmacy owner Paul Beringer, a Catholic, will not provide the morning-after pill. "I consider it abortion," he says. doclink

A Fundamental Shift in the US Approach to Family Planning

November 13, 2008, RH Reality Check

The election confirms that family planning services are essential to our well-being. The American voters have sent a clear message; it is time to move past the Bush administration's anti-family planning policies. Although Congressional Democrats did not match the most optimistic predictions, results suggest a convincing vote to take the country in a new direction.

For family planning providers and advocates, Obama's election represents a victory, and we are hopeful that the coming days will provide opportunities to increase access to family planning services for low-income and uninsured women and men.

Voters elected pro-family planning Democrats. House Democrats built on the gains they made in the 2006 mid-term elections, although they failed to capture the 25-plus seats pundits and party leaders were projecting. Voters in California, Colorado, and South Dakota defeated initiatives that would have significantly restricted reproductive health. California defeated an initiative requiring a waiting period and parental notification before a minor could obtain an abortion. South Dakota's residents voiced their opposition to an abortion ban with unclear exceptions for health of the mother, rape, and incest. doclink

U.S.: New Bush Plan to Threaten Birth Control

September 12, 2008, Population Connection

The Bush administration has proposed a regulation that could undermine access to a broad range of family planning services. It is described as an effort to protect individuals from being coerced into participating in abortion services. If implemented, a broad interpretation of this proposal could require family planning clinics to hire staff who refuse to participate in the provision of contraceptives, allow insurance companies to skirt state laws requiring coverage of contraception, overturn state laws requiring emergency rooms to provide access to emergency contraception to sexual assault victims, shield pharmacies (or pharmacists) who refuse to fill birth control prescriptions.

The penalty for non-compliance would be the loss of federal funding. The new rules will cause headaches for family planning clinics. These financially strapped agencies will waste time and money trying to figure out what exactly they need to do to be in compliance. The regulation can't take effect until after the official comments period closes on September 25. doclink

US Colorado: Proposed Colorado Measure on Rights for Human Eggs

November 18, 2007, New York Times*

A proposed amendment to the Colorado Constitution that would give legal rights to fertilized human eggs will cause a heated local debate over abortion. If passed this would give Colorado the most sweeping rights of the unborn.

The proposal must go through other steps including gathering of enough signatures to qualify for the ballot.

If passed, the measure would ask voters whether inalienable rights, due process rights and equality of justice rights should be extended to "any human being from the moment of fertilization."

Naral Pro-Choice Colorado, said state courts could be swamped by suits claiming specific rights for a fertilized egg that the ballot measure did not clarify.

It lays the foundation for a potential onslaught. The language would open challenges to birth control, oral contraception and intrauterine devices, which make the uterine wall inhospitable to the developing egg.

A lawyer said the real impact would be in its asking a profound philosophical and moral question.

The whole issue centers when does life begin. Though "abortion" would not appear in the the proposal, it would effectively make an abortion illegal.

The Colorado Democratic Party thought the measure was timed to highlight divisions over abortion in Colorado. But it could play into the US Senate race, by forcing candidates to talk about the subject. doclink

Democrats Shift Their Approach on Abortion

July 26, 2007, Los Angeles Times

In a striking shift, Democrats promoted programs designed to encourage women who do conceive to carry to term.

It's designed to appeal to the centrist bloc of voters who don't want to criminalize every abortion -- yet are troubled by 1.3 million terminations a year.

* Counsel more young women to consider adoption, not abortion.

* Launch a campaign to inform women that they can receive healthcare if they are preparing for birth.

* Expand education and medical services for pregnant women.

* Offer day care to help new mothers become self-sufficient.

A separate measure calls for funding maternity and day-care centers on college campuses so pregnant students won't feel they must have an abortion to stay in school.

A Democrat who opposes abortion says his party is sending a message : "Bring the baby to term, and we'll provide for you."

The Senate will take up the spending package later this year. But conservatives accuse Democrats of using abortion rhetoric to sell the right on liberal priorities, such as healthcare funding.

A Republican sees hypocrisy in the fact that much of the new funding will go to Planned Parenthood. The money can't be used to terminate pregnancies -- it's for birth control and gynecology services.

Increasing access to contraception will not eliminate abortion. Half of all women who seek abortion said they were using some form of birth control.

Hillary Clinton decried the failure of both sides to work together to bring down the number of abortions. Sen. Obama called a woman's right to abortion "one of the most fundamental freedoms we have in this country."

An evangelical pastor in Florida says he's "very strongly pro-life." The right has spent three decades on legislation and litigation, yet one in five pregnancies still ends in abortion.

"It's past time to reach out," he said. "There's more that can be done without compromising our principles." doclink

U.S.;: States Fund Antiabortion Advice; Public Grants Surge for the Crisis Centers. Some Ban Contraception Talk

February 11, 2007, Los Angeles Times

Florida, Missouri and Pennsylvania use public funds to subsidize Christian homes for unwed mothers and programs designed to steer women away from abortion. As a condition of the grants, counselors are barred from referring women to any clinic that provides abortions; in some cases, they may not discuss contraception.

Most states spend far more money on family planning, but tax dollars to antiabortion groups has surged in recent months. Abortion-rights supporters assert that the funds would be better spent if used to expand access to birth control. In Texas, the state reduced grants to a Planned Parenthood clinic in downtown Austin and began sending money to the Roman Catholic diocese a block away.

There, counselors collect $1.05 in public funds for every minute they spend encouraging women and teens not to abort. Tax dollars cannot be used for religious purposes, but federal law permits faith-based groups. Crisis pregnancy centers have received tens of millions of dollars from the federal government over the last six years, mostly for abstinence education.

Florida, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Texas approved funding in 2005. Louisiana, Missouri and Pennsylvania have longer-running programs. Arizona and Kansas have offered one-time grants to antiabortion groups. States will spend at least $13 million this year to dissuade women from abortion.

Conservatives in several states are pushing to restrict or eliminate public funding for groups that support abortion rights. The vast majority of states send grants to Planned Parenthood, in amounts that dwarf the antiabortion funding. Tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood cover birth control, gynecological exams, cancer screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. When clients come in with unwanted pregnancies, they hear about all of their options. Antiabortion activists pamphlets feature photos of adorable babies and beaming teenage moms.

U.S. Rep. Waxman, an abortion rights supporter, asked investigators to contact 23 crisis pregnancy centers: 20 gave misleading information, he reported. In Austin, the diocese hands out a booklet, approved by the state, that suggests a link between abortion and breast cancer, though the National Cancer Institute has found no such connection.

In 2005, Texas lawmakers redirected $25 million to primary-care health clinics, but $5 million of the money was set aside for antiabortion centers. The Planned Parenthood clinic in Austin had to begin charging for services long offered free to low-income women. Since the fees took effect, the clinic has distributed 40% fewer birth control pills and has conducted 50% fewer Pap smears to screen for cervical cancer. Several thousand patients have stopped coming.

Texas antiabortion groups had counseled 660 women and teens with the tax dollars made available by the shift in resources. Last week, the Texas Catholic Conference sent volunteers in turquoise shirts to the Capitol to give lawmakers cakes, and a long list of legislative priorities, first was abolish abortion in Texas. doclink

End of this section pg 253.7 ... Go to page

Fertility, Births

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 9, 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 4, 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 9, 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 6, 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 2, 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 3, 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 9, 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

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Fertility, Births

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 9, 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 1, 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

Alaska Governor Questions Science of Polar Bear Listing

March 2, 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 7, 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 5, 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 8, 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

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

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 5, 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 7, 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 1, 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

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

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Fertility, Births

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 2, 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

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Fertility, Births

Our Wilderness Gets Crowded

August 2, 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 7, 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 1, 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 7, 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 4, 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

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U.S.: The Growth Ponzi Scheme

2011, Strong Towns

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

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

How is our experiment working?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S.: The Myth of Smart Growth

July 19, 2012, Fodor and Associates

By Eban Fodor, author of Better, Not Bigger

"Smart growth" is an urban growth management strategy that applies planning and design principles which are intended to mitigate the impacts of continued growth. Even if smart growth is done correctly, it is part of the "culture of growth" that perpetuates the "endless growth model."

Often smart growth advocates claim that population levels and growth rates are not the problem; it's merely a matter of how we grow. If we are less wasteful and more efficient in our urban growth, everything will work out fine, they claim.

The "smart growth" movement tends to undermine earnest public concern about the environmental, social, and economic impacts of continued growth. Concern about the amount and pace of growth has been transformed into a discussion about how we should best continue growing. "Smart growth" is actually just a means of postponing the inevitable consequences of too much growth.

Smart Growth (SG) is largely a response to widespread public dislike of urban sprawl, a low-density, market-driven development pattern which uses land in an inefficient manner. Sprawl results in the accelerated loss of undeveloped rural land and open space. Sprawling development is associated with environmental impacts, costly and inefficient demand for new public infrastructure and services, overreliance on automobile transportation, and loss of community character.

SG strives for denser development patterns that require less land. Mixed-use and neighborhood design strategies are included to help make the denser development more appealing. SG has the potential to reduce developer costs for land, roadways, parking, and utilities. These savings may be offset by the extra amenities required to make such compact development attractive to homebuyers and businesses.

Gabor Zovanyi has boiled down the tenants of SG as: 1. Growth containment in compact settlements; 2. Protection of the environment, resource lands, and open space; 3. Multi-modal transportation systems; 4. Mixed-use development; 5. Collaborative planning and decision making

The clear impression one gets from smart growth literature is that, as long as new growth is compact and efficiently-planned, it is acceptable for development to continue consuming rural land and for the urban footprint to keep expanding. SG proponents believe that growth, if done properly, can be transformed from a costly blight on the landscape into an attractive development with predominantly positive impacts on the community.

U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer from Portland, Oregon, has been a champion of SG from its beginnings. He was interviewed on the topic by NPR a number of years ago. When asked if people in Oregon were concerned about too much growth, he replied that Oregon has about the same land area as the United Kingdom, but the UK has 20 times the population, implying the state could accommodate 20 times the population without a significant problem or any need for concern. Perhaps when the population of Oregon reaches the UK's population of 60 million, the Congressman will cite an example such as Singapore. With a population density of 19,000 people per square mile, Singapore is accommodating 475 times more people per square mile than Oregon.

SG fails to recognize that even the smartest growth places a heavy burden on our environment and our communities, and creates significant impacts, most of which cannot be fully mitigated. An expanding local population requires more land, more expensive infrastructure, more services, more energy, more natural resources, more waste production, more greenhouse gas emissions, more water, more food production, and more transportation.

SG proponents claim that the benefits from continued growth are greater than the costs, as long as their SG formula is applied. SG is a form of the 'technological fix' ideology that tries to solve growth problems through better planning and design.

Amory Lovins, in his book Factor Four, estimated that, by fully utilizing technology to achieve greater efficiency and productivity, the world could potentially sustain the same lifestyle and wealth we enjoy today with 1/4th the energy and resource use. We could use the achievable savings to double our wealth while halving our resource use. The book notes that if consumption were to grow at a 4% annual rate, it would quadruple in just 35 years and all the savings achieved by this tremendous efficiency improvement would be neutralized. So, while eliminating waste and using our limited resources wisely seems like a good idea, it does not ultimately solve the problem of growth.

SG may postpone the "day of reckoning," but would not prevent its arrival. Smart growth may be better than dumb growth, but if it doesn't ultimately help us solve the problem of too much growth, then it just ends up becoming a diversion, and thereby part of the problem.

Recognizing Limits to Growth: Globally, more people were added to the population in the past 50 years than in all prior history. We've passed the 7 billion mark and added the latest billion people in just the last 12 years. With more than half of these people living in poverty and one billion of them in hunger, it seems heartless and even cruel to actively pursue a policy of continued growth.

One-third of all the land ever developed in the U.S. was developed in just the last 25 years. The combination of population growth and farmland loss resulted in an alarming decline in the amount of farmland per-capita from 4 acres to 3 acres in the 20 years from 1989 to 2009.The US became a net food importer in 2005 for the first time in at least 50 years. Current agricultural productivity is highly dependent on fossil fuels, making it vulnerable to energy price and supply fluctuations.

There will always be those who remain in denial about the impacts of human expansion on the planet. Other believe there can be perpetual growth. Growth that is not only desirable, it's unavoidable.

Evidence of the past 20 years include species extinction rate and declining biodiversity, fisheries collapse, groundwater decline, deforestation, soil erosion, farmland loss, and anthropogenic climate change.

The SG program contains many sensible planning and design strategies that have been tested and proven over the past 40-plus years. If properly applied, they should improve the quality of new development. However, SG advocates have taken this formula too far by claiming their medicine is a cure for the growth ailment.

Instead of building more urban development under the SG banner, we need less development. We need to leave our remaining greenfields green. We need to keep our urban footprints from expanding onto more farms, forests, and open spaces. We must move beyond SG and begin to plan stable and sustainable communities that allow humans to prosper without overrunning the landscape and overwhelming the natural life support system. We must respect the local and regional carrying capacity, while leaving ample breathing room for other life on the planet to also prosper. Doing so will assure an enduring legacy of humans in balance with the earth. doclink

Karen Gaia says: I have had my share of 'conversations' with smart growth advocates, and most of them don't want to admit that population is a problem. However, since we can't stop population from growing quickly, we will need some way to mitigate its effects - as long as we don't use it to encourage more growth.

Anchoring Wealth to Sustain Cities and Population Growth

August 3, 2012

With the U.S. population set to grow by at least 100 million - and likely 150 million - people by 2050 and American cities so spatially and economically unstable, anything beyond superficial sustainability planning seems impossible.

However, the author of this article believes we can radically change existing community and regional planning strategies to more sustainably house and serve the growing population. One approach involves building local economies that anchor capital in place through community, worker, or public forms of ownership - so-called green community wealth strategies. By linking such stabilizing forms of economic organization to democratic forms of local, regional, and national planning, cities can regain the capacity to target jobs and investment to specific locations.

As jobs move in and out of cities in uncontrolled ways we literally throw away housing, roads, schools, hospitals, and public facilities-only to have to build the same facilities elsewhere at great financial, energy, and carbon costs. All the while, the instability makes it impossible to carry out coherent transportation and high-density housing planning.

In places like Detroit and Cleveland, the devastated landscape in many areas looks like bombed-out World War II cities. Of the 112 largest U.S. cities in 1950 with populations over 100,000, fully half of them had experienced population decline by 2008. The people moved elsewhere, where all the usual facilities had to be built anew to serve them - and, built under conditions that were inherently likely to be subject to future instability and disruption.

Cities in general, of course, have gained population since 1990, but the long-term trend of instability is dominant.

39% of U.S. carbon emissions come from buildings, 33% from transportation, and the remainder from industry. So the built environment and transportation are critical to climate change mitigation efforts.

Transportation Management and Engineering Magazine reports that carbon emissions in communities with very high densities have half the per capita carbon emissions of rural residents (0-50 households per square mile). And a report by the International Institute for Environment and Development found that New York City had a per capita average of 7.10 metric tons of carbon emitted per resident, compared to 23.92 metric tons nationwide.

Rural families in the U.S. "own twice as many vehicles as households in high density areas and these are likely to be less efficient." Moreover, average vehicle miles traveled for rural households exceed those of metropolitan households: 28,238 compared to 21,187.

To improve the fate of cities it is imperative to improve quality of life within cities and to reduce gaping social disparities within cities, and third to stabilize the economic underpinnings of cities - that is, the job base.

One solution involves fostering "green community wealth building" - linking green development to institutions that inherently increase stability. The goal of green community wealth building is to increase the proportion of capital held by actors with a long-term commitment to a given locality or region. Green community wealth is tied to place. Public enterprises, employee-owned firms, neighborhood-owned enterprises, and nonprofits all are rooted in particular communities. Communities with a higher proportion of such capital are better positioned to achieve economic stability and plan effectively for a low-carbon future.

Cleveland Ohio is a an example of this approach. By the 2010 U.S. census, Cleveland's population had fallen below 400,000. But the legacy institutions remain - namely, the city's leading hospitals and universities. Daily, more than 50,000 people commute to the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University, and the other so-called anchor institutions within the University Circle, a small business district located roughly four miles northeast of downtown Cleveland. The purchasing power of these institutions exceeds $3 billion a year.

However, University Circle is surrounded by low-income neighborhoods with 43,000 residents, whose median household income is only $18,500 and Cleveland also exhibits a classic pattern of sprawl. A new strategy spearheaded by the Cleveland Foundation, and involving neighborhood groups, major hospitals and universities, as well as city government, aims to reverse both the economic and environmental devastation.

The goal is to leverage the city's existing anchors - in this case, hospitals and universities - to provide a long-term market for new worker-owned cooperatives while providing living-wage jobs and access to business ownership to employee-owners situated in surrounding low-income, largely African American communities. The first point is to recycle purchasing power to achieve greater stability. The second-and critical-point is to target firms owned by people who live in the community and create an ongoing stabilizing effect.

In 2009 a co-op industrial-scale laundry opened its doors: a state-of-the-art, ecologically green commercial facility capable of handling ten million pounds of health-care linen a year. Its sophisticated business plan provides all employee-owners a living wage and health benefits. After seven years on the job, if current projections are realized, each employee will have a $65,000 equity stake in the enterprise. In the same year a second employee-owned, community-based company began large-scale installations of solar panels for the city's largest nonprofit health, education, and municipal buildings. Another business scheduled to start operations within six months is a year-round hydroponic greenhouse capable of producing three million heads of lettuce and approximately 300,000 pounds of basil and other herbs a year.

A cooperative development fund, currently capitalized by a $3 million grant from the Cleveland Foundation, expects to raise an additional $30-40 million to support a growing network of cooperatives.

In general, green community wealth building strategies are also an important tool in neighborhood revitalization that benefits existing residents and reduces poverty (rather than moving poor people around). Reducing poverty improves the quality of life in both central city and older suburban neighborhoods, making them more attractive options for residents and thereby helping in a second way to achieve stability.

Traditional employers have an incentive to keep labor costs low and hence will use workers only for as long as they are needed on a particular job. Community enterprises, in contrast, aim to maximize employment over the long term. Instead of treating employees as disposable, such employers commonly seek ways to find new work for their workforce.

Stabilizing population centers - whether old or new - is also a first step to building the high-density, well connected hubs that will house the next 100 million Americans in a low-carbon future. The current pattern of American suburbanization has created a social pattern - one in which poverty and social problems are dramatically concentrated in central cities - that is itself a major impediment to the needed inside-out revitalization of metropolitan America. Current trends are not encouraging: A 2010 study of residential construction in the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas in two periods (1990-1995 and 2003-2008) found that while the central-city share of residential construction showed some increases in the latter period, suburban areas still accounted for the majority of new construction in every metropolitan area except New York - indeed, over 85% of new construction in nearly half the areas.

Instead of simply allowing the next 100 million Americans to add to sprawl, the dual strategy of creating anchored community wealth building institutions on the one hand, and using an overarching community-stabilizing approach in regional planning on the other, could help concentrate and support the population in old cities, in new areas, and around small existing towns viewed as "nodes" of new city development. The result could be the capacity to achieve sufficient stability to allow sustainability planning in both old and new areas.

Other options: Britain's New Towns movement led to the construction of over two dozen new towns in the first half of the twentieth century and is widely credited with reduced sprawl. Vauban, Germany, (outside Freiburg) provides a more contemporary example, creating a "carless suburb" based on the assumption that residents will not own cars; bike-friendly, transit-oriented Dutch cities - such as Amsterdam where cars are present but decidedly secondary. A range of other European policies raise the effective cost of driving, combined with ample public support for transit, have largely succeeded in making it possible for middle-class and working-class urban residents to have full access to the city and its opportunities without depending on a car. Distant as it may seem, that is the goal American cities must aim to achieve over the coming generation if they hope to meet the larger sustainability challenge.

Creating sustainable metropolitan areas in the United States is a massive challenge, one similar to that facing other nations and yet unique in several respects. For America, there are two "elephants" in the room-highly unstable local economic patterns and population growth - that must be acknowledged. A major national effort to stabilize the economic basis of our communities is not only a moral or economic imperative; in the era of global warming, it is an ecological necessity - and one that needs to be taken on using every available policy tool. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Over 30% of the world's energy is spent on the food supply, so these numbers do not add up: "39% of U.S. carbon emissions come from buildings, 33% from transportation, and the remainder from industry."

Smart Growth: the Worst Kind of Sprawl?

June 7, 2012

(article written in November 18 2008, by Rick Shea)

Energy use and carbon emissions of suburban building and "smart growth" urban high rise building were compared in a well researched article. Turns out that people have about the same global footprint, i.e. the land it takes to grow their food and fabric resources, wherever they live (about 25 acres for a U.S. lifestyle). Transportation is a small part of that (around 11%) which is offset by the greater demands on our resources in building high rises. The best thing for the environment is to stop our population growth and stop residental construction.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says, "density is (an) integral component to the creation of neighborhoods that offer convenience, value and a high quality of life.

However, in a 2007 a study of Portland Oregon - supposedly a model for smart growth - showed that the number of goods passing through Oregon needs to double by 2030 to keep pace with population growth, globalization and expanding markets. But the harbor and city infrastructure are lagging. Traffic congestion and delays on Portland roads are cited as hindrances to business efficiency, and as a significant factor in increasing business transportation costs. The proposed solution is more harbor facilities, significant improvements in rail and road infrastructure through Portland - the very things that smart growth is supposed to help prevent.

Vancouver, B.C., dubbed "the Northwest's smart growth leader" had an ecological footprint 207 times its actual size. This includes 7,000 square kilometers for food production, 3,000 square kilometers for forestry products, and 13,000 square kilometers to accommodate energy use."

The study found that relatively dense cities (by North American standards) have an ecological footprint about 200 times their actual geographical size. That footprint includes, among other things, appropriated farmland in other countries which supply our food, land used for industrial development in other countries which supply our goods, and land used to supply energy in those countries and deal with wastes.

Los Angeles, California has one of the highest urban densities in the United States. Yet farmland and natural space around the city continue to disappear. And L.A. continues to have some of the highest rates of traffic congestion, and of poor air quality, in the United States.

It was found that many highrises use more energy per resident than a well-built townhouse, and not much less than a small well-built single family home.

With dense development, the food must come from farther and farther away. The denser the development, the farther the food must be transported. In the words of William Rees, "cities necessarily appropriate the ecological output and life support functions of distant regions all over the world through commercial trade." ...

A residential lot in suburbia is only a tiny portion of the degraded land footprint. Even highrise dwellers still require virtually all of that infrastructure, including highways and roads to escape the city for recreation (as there aren't many golf courses and ski hills in the downtown cores of most large cities) and to bring in goods and services.

And then, investments in stock portfolios, RRSPs, mutual funds, and pension plans relies heavily on these sorts of activities, even growth in many of the so-called "ethical" funds and investments.

There are those who say that peak oil will force people to drive less, we will have to use alternative energy sources, and we will have to relocalize production of food and other commodities. But cities like Vancouver, hard up against other cities already, will find it impossible to do so, as there simply isn't enough agricultural land left within easy transportation distance to supply all the needs of the residents.

Some say we will see the demise of large cities in a post-carbon world, with claims that villages and small cities with populations up to 80,000 people will be the only urban forms able to sustain themselves with what they find locally.

People are beginning to realize that current alternative energy sources still rely quite heavily on fossil fuels for materials, manufacture, transport, and maintenance and cannot supply all of our energy needs.

Hopes of saving farmland and natural spaces through dense urban development are doomed by population growth. Each additional person consumes more goods, land, food, energy, and degraded land. Each additional person places more pressure on natural areas and adds more risk to threatened species, not just locally, but across the planet. And, finally, each additional person creates more waste and emissions.

The mantra "Grow up, not out" has somehow convinced us that we can feel good about population growth as long as it is "planned" properly, and directed to denser development. But these slogans a are hiding the fact that we are creating something much, much more destructive for this planet than urban sprawl - something that is rapidly destroying other species, depleting resources, gobbling up farmland and natural space, and polluting the land and the water and the air. doclink

US Michigan: Detroit, Green City

March 30, 2008, Michigan Citizen

Urban planners say the best way to turn an industrial city into a green city may be to just leave the city be.

At a presentation three areas were said to become the focal points for future development. The most important was population density and building up is a great way to minimize land waste.

Studies show walkable cities are the goal, so developing the city around pedestrian traffic is another way to gain more density. Mass transit is vital; Detroit is without a system.

Mass transit means that residents without cars could have a reliable ride to work, there would be fewer cars, and a reduced need for parking and a turnaround in air quality. Light-rail stations may help attract investors and mixed-use buildings that house both businesses and people. With people come density, more transit options and a boom for economic development.

Mixed-use buildings are efficient and have proved to be places people want to be. Parking lots are are seldom full, they absorb money and resources. Traditional development leads to lower density and greater infrastructure costs. These practices are not economically feasible. Population density is the key to a sustainable city.

The third aspect to sustaining a green city is reuse and preservation of buildings. The carbon footprint of demolition, waste transportation, and rebuilding is enormous. Building preservation and adaptive reuse are the best ways to employ sustainability.

The recent emphasis on being environmentally responsible and the financial benefits may spark investors to build green.

There is increasing evidence that green buildings cost less in the long run, mainly through better energy and water efficiency, but also by reducing waste, improving indoor air quality and through lower operation and maintenance costs. A change in lifestyle is necessary for green urbanism. doclink

USA Today: Where Will Everybody Live?

December 5, 2006, USA Today

The USA is growing faster than any other industrialized country in the world. The USA added 100 million people in the past 39 years and around 2040, the population will be past 400 million.

The USA trails only China and India in population. Space itself isn't the issue. But people want water in the desert, plentiful fuel to power long commutes, energy to cool and heat bigger houses and clean air and water. How and where they live could determine how well the nation and the environment will handle the added population.

People who work on smart growth development issues say there's no way we can continue over the next 40-odd years without severe consequences to the environment. We have to find different ways to reside on the land. Each American occupies almost 20% more developed land (housing, schools, stores, roads) than 20 years ago. The rate of land consumption is twice the rate of population growth.

The major growth patterns of the past 50 years are being challenged by changing demographics.

Americans are reconsidering traditional retirement paths. More are eyeing downtown condos, households are smaller and townhouses more appealing.

More immigrants are arriving, increasing mass transit ridership and carpooling in a country where driving alone still dominates.

The next 100 million people will create 73 million new jobs, about 70 million new homes and 100 billion square feet of non-residential space. Urban town centers that combine condos, shops and offices in pedestrian-friendly settings are sprouting in suburbia. Residential construction in downtown districts is on the rise. Areas are are investing billions in light-rail lines. It takes more money to heat and cool a big house, when you factor in the true cost including transportation and energy, Americans will change how they live.

Growth issues are manifesting themselves in traffic congestion, loss of open space and more water and air pollution.

The paper then goes on to describe in great detail some of the transit and building changes already under way. doclink

Ralph says: The article does not consider in any way the suply of water, power and food to the millions of new residents.

Around D.C., a Cheaper House May Cost You; Longer Commutes Outweigh Savings of Living in Outer Suburbs

October 11, 2006, Washington Post

A study of metropolitan areas found that the costs of one-way commutes of 12 to 15 miles cancel any savings on lower-priced homes.

People tend to focus on the price of a closer-in house compared to one in the outer suburbs, but they don't realize how much they're spending on commuting costs

The average cost of owning a Toyota Camry and driving it 15,000 miles a year works out to $7,967 according to AAA.

The study found that a lack of affordable housing in the Washington area and elsewhere forces low- to moderate-income families to live in outer suburbs where transportation costs are high.

Of the 20 fastest-growing counties in the US, 15 are located 30 miles or more from urban centers. Many communities have identified a lack of affordable housing as critical. We need to have regional solutions about both housing and transportation. Most people in the outer suburbs pay so much for transportation because they have to use their cars for nearly every errand.

The study noted that 62.1% of the U.S. metropolitan population lived in the suburbs in 1996, up from 55.1% in 1970.

The median national household income has been outpaced by housing and transportation costs. The data highlight a disconnect between where people live and work. A three-car family puts a lot of money into depreciating assets, instead of into mortgages and college educations. doclink

US Georgia: Few Willing to Tackle Georgia's Most Pressing Issue - Growth

March 28, 2006, Gwinnett Daily Post

The most terrifying but potentially most beneficial issue facing Georgia is population growth. Most politicians don't like to discuss the population explosion - it's too complex. Georgia is having trouble coping. The infrastructure, from health care and education to law enforcement and traffic control, is breaking down. No one dares speak the unspeakable but runaway growth may kill us if we don't deal with it. State Supreme Court Justice Harris Hines outlined the challenges "They're talking about making I-75 23 lanes wide in a few years in Cobb County, and in the next 20 years, Georgia will increase its population by 50%." The prison population has risen from 15,200 in 1983 to 46,900 in 2003. Recent estimates show growth is continuing at an even faster pace, with about 60% from new people moving into the state. Georgia, with 8.4 million people, has the ninth-largest population of any state. Georgia has 2.2 million, 28.7% blacks, highest of any state. Hispanics 13%, Asians 2.1%. The median age for all Georgians is 33.4 and will have one of the fastest rates of growth of the elderly. Georgia has low educational attainment and income. More than 21% did not graduate from high school. Among blacks, 27.5% failed to finish high school. Per capita income is $28,523, No. 25 in the country. From 1990 to 2002, 36% of all Georgia births were to unwed mothers, 25% of births to white women were to unwed mothers, and 66% of births to black women were to unwed mothers. Georgia has four problems, high school dropouts, diabetes, substance abuse and gambling. The lawmakers take bows for denying some state services to hordes of illegal aliens without inflicting much pain on the corporate employers who induced them to come here. doclink

US Illinois: Chicago is 2nd City of Clog

May 10, 2005, Chicago Tribune

Chicago is the No. 2 spot for roadway congestion. The analysis says it took drivers 57% more time to get to their destinations during peak travel times because of traffic congestion. The cost of to the regional economy is almost $4 billion or $1,000 per rush-hour commuter. Road construction and mass-transit services are failing to keep pace with population growth in suburban areas. The term "rush hour" has become meaningless in urban areas where workers must leave earlier in the morning and spend more time on the road later at night. The roadways handle traffic volumes beyond the system's capacity. Each driver in the Chicago region wasted 58 hours stuck in traffic in 2003, up from 55 hours in 2002, equivalent to spending about 1 1/2 workweeks a year sitting in traffic. Delays for the Chicagoland region exceeded 252 million hours in 2003. The cost was $4.3 billion in lost time and $151 million in excess fuel. The service provided by the CTA, Metra, Pace and the South Shore Line reduced annual delays by more than 94 million hours. CTA service reductions would have an effect similar to a major snowstorm. The growth in congestion is occurring at a rate that is unnoticeable to many people, resulting in commuters' routinely making accommodations and sacrifices in their lifestyles. Most experts agree that congestion will never be solved. It will only be kept within limits as the region's population increases. In the long term, major reforms will be needed in roadway construction, regional planning and land-use issues that determine where people live in relation to their jobs. doclink

Population: Local Growth Rates Among Tops in Maryland

April 15, 2004, Washington Post

All three Southern Maryland counties rank among the fastest growing in the Washington region. In a one year period, Calvert County was one of the nation's leaders in population growth, with its population rising 3.9% to 84,110. Charles County recorded the second-fastest growth rate rising 3.3% to 133,049. St. Mary's grew 2.9% to 92,754. Calvert County is among the 100 fastest-growing counties up 12.8% from 74,563 people in 2000, the 83rd fastest-growing county in the US. A revision of local zoning regulations limits the total number of dwellings in the county to the 37,000, 8,400 more than exist now. But those revisions will need time before they affect population growth. The biggest increases were among school-age children: up 48.6% for ages 5 to 9; 71% for ages 10 to 14; up 54.6% for ages 15 to 19. In 2001, Commissioners enacted regulations that halted the creation of new subdivisions in Calvert. The restrictions are designed to stem development in communities where public schools are full, driven by the county's struggle to meet the costs of new schools. Calvert's school enrollment rose by 5,700 to more than 15,000 and required nine new schools plus the new Huntingtown High School. County commissioners moved to toughen the regulations that blocked developments if the county had not remedied school crowding within five years. The commissioners extended that period to seven years. The measures have restricted how many lots are created for residential construction. doclink

End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream

April 18, 2004,

Since World War II North Americans have invested in a suburbia that promises space, affordability, family life and upward mobility. Suburbia has become the American Dream. But now serious questions emerge about the sustainability of this way of life. As global demand for fossil fuels begins to outstrip supply the consequences of inaction in the face of this crisis are enormous. As energy prices skyrocket, how will suburbia react? Are today's suburbs destined to become the slums of tomorrow? And what can be done now, individually and collectively, to avoid The End of Suburbia? For the DVD, send a money order for $24US or $30CAN, with your name and address to: Electric Wallpaper, c/o VisionTV, 80 Bond St., Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5B 1X2 doclink

Crooked Creek, Florida

October 24, 2003, Guardian (London)

They're building a huge new airport, the size of Tampa's, in the heart of the Panhandle, at a quiet peaceful place the hordes don't know called Cripple Creek, where there are few homes. After the airport will come the large developments, including holiday homes, retirement homes and golf courses. These will provide jobs, and bring in rich folks. Undeveloped coastline in Florida is an offence against the 21st century. Forgotten little resorts such as Panama City Beach have seen property prices double in a year. The two-storey Trade Winds motel is to be replaced by the 21-storey Trade Winds condominiums. The St Joe company which owns 40 miles of coastal frontage, also a million acres of pinewoods, is no longer interested in paper. The existing airport in Panama City, only has 500 passengers a day. Governor Jeb Bush came over to push the scheme. Planning constraints are being loosened, and the local council has resisted a referendum. St Joe is manipulating planning law to ensure the taxpayer bears the cost of the airport. doclink

Arizona Sprawl, Development, and Dearth of Water

October 24, 2003, Guardian (London)

Phoenix, the US's seventh largest city, is one of the fastest-growing in the world, and you ain't seen nothing yet. The town of Buckeye is 70 miles from the city has a population of 6,000, and its voters approved a new development, Douglas Ranch, that is expected to add another 300,000 people, in addition to the 300,000 Buckeye was expecting. The area gets only seven inches of rainfall a year. Every field has a developer's placard on it. Buckeye is expected to become a major metropolis within 30 years. Its mayor said if someone owns the land, you can't stop them building on it. The highway into Phoenix is four lanes, although planners say 10 will be insufficient. So far, new estates in Buckeye have been built too far out to be part of a real suburb. "All you do when you build out here is pull stuff away from the inner city," says Chad Campbell, chair of the local Sierra Club's sprawl committee. "You're not increasing business opportunities, you're transferring them. We're into a never-ending cycle of people moving further and further away." The voters were sweetened by $1 million from the developers to a community trust fund, and many of them stand to gain from the leap in land prices. The farmers can walk away with huge payouts for low-grade fields. It is perhaps an environmental boon as crops take more water than thousands of families. Developers are meant to build around the cacti in the desert or transplant them but this is not protecting the ecosystem itself, it's just a gesture. doclink

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Fertility, Births

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Fertility, Births

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Fertility, Births

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Fertility, Births

What Drives U.S. Population Growth?

December 23, 2002, Patrick Burns

Between 1990 and 2000, 33 million people were added to the U.S. population, 40% from immigration. 67% of future U.S. population growth will be due to immigrants and their progeny. Differential mortality and fertility rates between Canada and the U.S. can be attributed to the Canadian health care system as folks are more likely to seek treatment in that country than they are in the U.S. The Canadian government prevents drug company price-gouging, so more women in Canada are likely to be using the Pill which costs half as much as in the U.S. and is used much more often in that nation. The U.S. will add 140 million people by 2050. The fertility rate in the U.S. was higher than that of 70 other countries, including China, Korea, Thailand, Iran, Cuba, Singapore, and Sri Lanka.
The population of illegal immigrants is larger than the population of many states. In 1980, the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy proposed a cap on immigrants of 425,000 per year. Some conservative senators thought the numbers were too high and opposed an amnesty for illegal immigrants. In 1986, an amnesty was passed without a cap on legal immigrants. Legal immigration is over twice the level called for in the above-cited amendment. Population growth makes other environmental problems harder to solve. 33 million more people requires over 12 million housing units, 15.8 million more passenger cars that will consume about 825 million barrels of oil a year, all of the recoverable oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in less than four years. Over 75 million acres of forest will be needed to supply 33 million people with paper and wood, an area larger than that protected under the forest conservation rule. doclink

New Report Warns U.S., Canada Face Tough Environmental Choices

August 2002, U.S. Newswire

The USA and Canada's improvement to their environment has come at the expense of global effects. Each citizen consumes nine times more gasoline than any other person in the world. With 5% of the world's population, both countries account for 25.8% of emissions of carbon dioxide. The two countries have reduced by 71% the chemicals discharged into the Great Lakes. About 13% of their land area is set aside as protected areas. Over 70% of Canada's wetlands are protected. Sulphur dioxide emissions in the USA have declined 31% from 2000. Both countries reduced CFC consumption to nearly zero. However Canada and the U.S. face challenges before North America is on a sustainable development path. Soil and wetland losses outpace the gains, the region's aquifers are being depleted. Both countries need changes toward more fuel-efficient technologies, and to curb urban sprawl.


U.S.: Sprawl Adds to Drought

August 29, 2002, Los Angeles Times

A report says that sprawl is worsening water supply problems. Development in Atlanta produces around 133 billion gallons of polluted runoff that would otherwise be filtered through the soil to recharge aquifers, streams and lakes. The report claims to show the magnitude of the problem and urges the Geological Survey to embark on a thorough study. Drought experts said that development exacerbated water shortages, but the extent was impossible to quantify. 40% of the country is suffering drought, especially the East Coast and Southwest. In arid regions, where much water comes from snowmelt, covering the ground with roads and buildings, decreases the reabsorption of rainwater which is important because ground water can seep into depleted bodies of water. The report said the problem can be mitigated if new road building is curtailed and open spaces--such as farms and forests--are preserved. They also urge the adoption of techniques to facilitate the absorption of storm water. The construction industry called the report a blatant effort by environmental groups to increase regulations on development as modern developments use sophisticated strategies to avoid the perils of runoff. doclink

U.S.: California: White House Accepts Water Ruling: More Could Flow to Central Valley Farmers, Less to Fish and Wildlife

August 27, 2002, San Francisco Chronicle

The Bush administration has made a series of decisions that threaten the environment - more logging in national forests to wildfire hazard, pushed for oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, supported weakening standards on arsenic in drinking water and resisted imposing a federal ban on oil drilling off the California coast. Now the administration supports a ruling by a federal court judge which may provide more water to Central Valley agriculture at the expense fish and wildlife in the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento River and San Joaquin River Delta system. The 1992 Central Valley Water Project Improvement Act, which provides 800,000 acre-feet of water annually for bay/Delta fisheries, was challenged by the Westlands Water District, a 600,000-acre irrigation district in the western San Joaquin Valley, which said the rules for environmental water releases was unfair. doclink

Differing Demography of United States, Western Europe

August 24, 2002, The Economist;

The United States is becoming younger, while Europe's population is aging. Between 1960 and 1985, the U.S. rate dropped to 1.8 births per woman. In the 1990s the rate rose to just below 2.1 births per woman - possibly because of "higher-than-average fertility" among immigrants and the U.S. "economic boom,". Europe's women average fewer than 1.4 births in their lifetime. doclink

California Smart Growth Bill

September 5, 2002

AB 857, a bill that promotes infill development, more compact suburban growth, and protection of the most valuable natural and agricultural resources, is on the governor's desk. The bill would also encourage efficient development patterns in areas to the extent infill development is not possible and would ensure state consistency with priorities and a conflict (between state agenceies) resolution process. The building industry opposes the bill. The bill is needed to handle the projected 12 million increase in population in California for the next 20 years. Statutorily required land use priorities have not been update in 24 years, during which time California's population growth has grown 11 million. Citizens are already choking on air pollution, fed up with traffic and distressed about declining quality of life. doclink

U.S: Judge Delays Minnow Ruling

September 9, 2002, Albuquerque Tribune

Judge James Parker wants to review more information before making a decision on releasing Albuquerque-owned water to protect the Rio Grande silvery minnow. Some stretches of the Rio Grande are within days of running dry unless the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation releases city-owned water. Environmental groups want Parker to order the release of about 325,848 gallons of water. City officials argue that they can't spare this water, stored in northern New Mexico reservoirs. Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez said he wasn't confident City Hall will win this water war. Parker's decision could define how much control City Hall has over San Juan-Chama river water that the city is counting on for its $198 million project to divert water for residents by 2005. Chavez said the city cannot offer more water for the minnow but without the water from northern New Mexico reservoirs, the minnow has little chance of surviving. Chavez turned down a request for 20,000 acre-feet of Albuquerque water for the minnow. Since 1996, the city has provided more than 200,000 acre feet of San Juan-Chama water to preserve the minnow's habitat, The city is opposed to the forced release of river water. Taxpayers have paid out about $45 million to buy the river water rights. doclink

California USA: New Water Law Makes Work for the Maytag Man

September 12, 2002, Christian Science Monitor

Gov. Gray Davis signed a bill requiring water efficiency in clothes washers. Water conservation in California and the West is serious. Neighboring states want a bigger share of the Colorado River water that California has taken for over a decade. That transfer could alter the variety of fruits and vegetables on US dinner tables. The state has overbuilt for the available water. Those in water-rich northern counties gripe at the cost of new washers, but officials say the cost will be made up in five years through lower water bills. They remind residents that savings are possible, as shown in the 1990s, when a drought led to conservation steps and Californians cut water by 20%,equivalent of not having to build another reservoir. Supporters say the washers' savings could supply 6,000 households for a year. The bill was pushed forward because of federal energy standards to save electricity and the time was ripe for designs to save water, too. The savings of energy and water would be about $48 per machine per year. doclink

U.S.: Oceans' Woes Growing Deeper

September 2002, Seattle Times

Since the last presidential commission's report in early 1969, pressures have increased on coastal areas that are home to half the nation's population. The new commission, half way through a three year plan says that about 40,000 acres of coastal wetlands that provide habitats for three-fourths of U.S. commercial fish catches are disappearing each year. 40% of U.S. fish stocks are depleted or overfished. Ballast water from ships is spreading invasive alien species. There is a need to consolidate federal and state policies. Fishers and corporations, face a patchwork of authorities and regulations. More than 140 federal laws are administered by 20 agencies, there has to be a national ocean-policy-coordinating body. Ocean pollution is increasing and coastal management is overwhelmed. Fish stocks continue to be depleted, and the advice of scientists ignored at the expense of fisheries. Not enough study has been given to the interaction between oceans and climate change. The independently financed Pew Oceans Commission, has been looking at a need to consider marine ecosystems and ocean life as a whole, rather than focusing just on fish. doclink

U.S.: Coal Ash: a Big Unknown - Some Fear Toxic Threat in Power Plant Waste

September 2002, Louisville Courier-Journal

Coal-fired power plants produce more than 100 million tons of ash annually, 70% ends up in landfills. Environmental leaders question the extent to which toxic heavy metals in coal ash threaten groundwater. The regulations are inconsistent. Tests in Pines Indiana have shown that wells contain high boron levels that can damage the stomach, liver, kidneys and brain. Industry leaders say the fear of heavy metals is out of proportion. Critics suggest that coal ash must be treated with caution. The EPA said there were 11 cases of pollution from coal waste in the U.S., none in Kentucky or Indiana. Each state sets its own rules for disposal. Indiana granted "beneficial reuses" of ash exemption from environmental laws. In Kentucky, power plants must report how much ash goes to beneficial uses and identify them, but these regulations are loose and ash was dumped on rural land. It has been recommended that power plants declare their construction fill plans. The EPA wants the ash tested for toxicity, and its placement designed to minimize contact with water. The EPA came close to classifying ash for landfills as hazardous but the decision was reversed after industry lobbying. EPA officials intend to propose a national rule on ash disposal in 2004. Indiana approved the state's groundwater protection standards. The DNR will seek a per-ton charge to raise money for future environmental cleanups if they're needed. The standards also may force restrictions on ash ponds. The coal industry will likely fight any tax on ash disposal. doclink

U.S.: Air Pollution Fatalities Now Exceed Traffic Fatalities by 3 to 1

September 17, 2002, Earth Policy Institute

U.S. air pollution deaths equal those from breast and prostate cancer. Air pollutants include carbon monoxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulates primarily from fossil fuels. When people inhale particulates and ozone at concentrations found in urban areas, their arteries become constricted, reducing blood flow to the heart. No "safe" level of pollution exists. Exposure to current levels of ozone and particulates affect death rates, hospitalizations and medical visits and take a toll on the economy. The costs of air pollution argue for raising taxes on fuels to encourage efficient use, a shift to clean energy sources, and the adoption of pollution controls. The solutions to urban air pollution are not difficult. Individuals can reduce car usage and use more fuel-efficient cars. Planning can redirect funding to mass transit options. Countries can shift electricity generation to wind and solar power and redefine safety to include decreasing air pollution. doclink

2002 Spike in Air Pollution Reverses Downward Trend

October 13, 2002, Los Angeles Times

California experienced a downturn in air-quality improvement this year, with pollution in areas unaccustomed to smog. Urban communities had cleaner air, but inland areas got smoggier. No one knows if this is an aberration or the beginning of a trend. Population growth and sprawl may be eating up gains in pollution prevention but long-term indicators show that California is cleaner, due to strict regulations. doclink

US Colorado: A Clear-cut Drought Solution? Logging Urged to Boost Runoff, but Eco-Groups Object

November 2002, Denver Post

Colorado's population is growing fast and water conservation is a major issue. [Colorado's population growth rate is 2.3% a year -- equal to that of Ghana and El Salvador, and faster than that of the Philippines.] The latest proposal is for swathes of forests to be cut to boost water flow, although no one is talking about slowing population growth. It is claimed that enough water to supply a million families could be created by thinning trees on federal and state land. This has been studied but never as broadly as advocated. Managing forests to mitigate wildfire and increase water yields is said to hold promise. Environmentalists says it will increase flooding and degrade streams. Removing trees allows more snow to fall to the ground, where it runs off into streams and rivers during the spring. Some researchers complain that Colorado has too many trees that intercept snow which would otherwise melt every spring. But those studies show that removing tree cover produces extra water when it's not needed. "The link between logging for fire mitigation and logging for water is a false one," said environmental hydrologist Dan Luecke of Boulder. Most of the research on this has been done in Fraser, where water yield from the 714-acre Fool Creek watershed has been monitored for 60 years. Foresters removed 40 percent of the watershed's trees 1956, with a 40% increase in water flow. After four decades, half of the increase can still be measured. Flows increased most during wet years, and almost none during droughts which means the surplus water has to be stored, and the high-flow resulted in scouring of the stream channel. The only large-scale demonstration was on the Coon Creek watershed in southern Wyoming. Twenty-four% of the watershed was removed in the 1990s, producing a 17% increase in flow. It was calculated that 185,000 acre-feet of water a year could be created by cutting half the 1.1 million acres of forest in the North Platte watershed over 120 years. Clear-cutting would reduce the habitat of the threatened lynx and other species. Many scientists doubt that logging for water would be as successful in other parts of Colorado. In the 1970s, Richard Gaudagno discovered that deep snow collected in the spruce-fir stands, while the open ski runs were scoured almost bare by the winds - the opposite of what was found in the Fraser study. Removing trees causes erosion, which clogs streams with sediment and stifles habitat for fish and aquatic insects. Many environmentalists think economics will be the idea's undoing as it is too expensive to build roads and log on steep slopes. There has been no planning for the state's water future, and the population is growing fast. The supply is finite and will have to be used more efficiently. doclink

[Trees gather water vapor in their branches and allow water to hop-scotch inland. Without trees, inland regions become arid.]

California's Central Valley

November 11, 2002, National Public Radio

The 400-mile-long Central Valley in California is a fertile pocket of land between the coastal mountains and the Sierra Nevada that supplies one-quarter of the food America eats. Families looking for lower-cost housing are moving there and fields are making way for subdivisions. As the population of the valley's cities grows and agriculture shrinks, the valley's new urban centers are pushing for a share in the economic success of the coast. Farmers have been exempted from clean air and clean water standards but now, the state is going to bring them into compliance. Farmers spray a third of all pesticides sold in the nation. If they have to cut back, the prices of crops grown in the valley will be more expensive. When Central Valley big farms "go organic," it cuts down California water pollution, and provides a testbed for large-scale organic farming. Estimates claim that 50% to 90% of the valley's farm laborers are illegal immigrants whose lack of mobility impedes their assimilation. Workers are subject to sub-minimum wages and dangerous working conditions. Immigrants are forcing the state to come to terms with diversity. doclink

Why Continuous Development? (LTE)

November 14, 2002, Ralph Woodgate

We are seeing a growing opposition to the steadily increasing development of every vacant open space in our county. Yet it appears impossible to do more than slow down the growth of houses, factories and stores.

I sometimes feel that I must be rather stupid as I cannot agree with, or understand, the reasons usually given for this continuous development. It is certainly not the wishes of the majority of the residents.

The facts as I see them are simple. ---

a.. We are told that we need development in Putnam County to provide employment for our people and to help reduce the taxes. b.. For this reason we offer every inducement to companies to locate in our county. c.. We then need more people to work in the new factories, stores and other businesses. d.. We then have to provide more homes to house these families. e.. But almost every family has at least one child of school age and every new student in our schools increases the property taxes. f.. We also have to pay to rebuild roads and other facilities to serve the growing population. g.. Therefore we need more development in Putnam County to help reduce the taxes. In the 20 years that I have lived in Southeast there has been almost continuous development and still the taxes have increased around 300%, largely because of the increasing population of school students. So development increases our taxes, adds to our pollution, increases the traffic and takes away our natural open spaces. The residents pay for all of this via the loss of their rural environment and their taxes both present and future.

The developers gain most and should reward the public for loosing much of their way of life. I propose that one third of the property involved in every development, or the equivalent, should be handed over to the people as public open spaces. doclink

U.S.: When Will the School Enrollment Bubble Burst?

September 2002, New York Times*

New Jersey's public school enrollment is soaring and with no increase in state aid, property tax bills are putting the problems in sharp relief. The state estimated the number of public school students at 1,367,431, a jump of more than 30,000 from the 2001-2 school year and up more than 300,000 from 1989. In July 1998, the Department of Education predicted enrollment would peak in the 2003-4 school years with 1,196,939 students and that by 2007, that number would drop to about 1.1 million. Those projections are not holding. It's going up 20,000 to 30,000 students a year. The biggest factor is immigration. Between 1990 and 2000, the state saw a net gain of 400,000 immigrants. Some districts have seen their numbers rise because of housing developments, a turnover of homes to families with children, and movement out of New York and Philadelphia. Most growth in the suburbs comes from people selling their homes to families with school-age children. High school enrollment should peak in 2007 or 2008 and then begin to level off or slightly decline. In 2001, $970 million in school bond issues was approved by voters for school projects. It leaves the burden to the local community. In Greenwich Township voters approved an addition on a school under construction. The district is attracting parents who work in the pharmaceutical and software industries as well as those commuting to Manhattan. It's a horrendous, overwhelming situation for the local taxpayer. Many districts have had to reduce the number of teachers, resulting in larger classes. When a district has a good reputation, people want to be there. There is also a need to upgrade facilities to keep up with technology. Districts going through enrollment increases find that the biggest battle is over money for buildings and teachers. We promise a free public education to all who show up at our door, but we've been given too short a time to be responsive. doclink

U.S.: Education: Move to Bigger Class Sizes to Get a Second Look

November 2002, Los Angeles Times

Having classroom sizes of up to 50 students, the Los Angeles Board of Education agreed to study class sizes and will focus on reducing them to 37 students. In March they voted to increase classes by two students as part of a $450-million budget cut. But many claim this harms the quality of education. Forty-two% of the district's middle and high school classes now have 30 students or more. Parents, teachers and students support smaller classes, but Supt. Roy Romer said this was the only way the district could afford a 3% pay increase for teachers. The larger classes created badly needed seats in the middle and high schools. Smaller classes depend upon the ability to hire more teachers and build schools. Until new schools are completed in 2005, many will be overcrowded. doclink

U.S.: Do We Need Growth?

November 2002, In Growth We Trust - Edwin Stennett

No matter how smart the growth or how good the planning, a rapid increase in population can overwhelm a community's best efforts.. Smart Growth strategies - redevelopment, in-fill, public transit, mixed use development, and green space - are not sufficient. Oregon, for example, is forced to grow urban growth boundaries to accomodate population growth.

VANISHED OPEN SPACE = Population X per capita Developed Land. 63% of the 47% increase of the greater Washington (D.C.) area between 1982 and 1997 was due to population growth. Reducing per capita land use alone will not accomodate the increase of the 1.6 million people expected in the Washington area in the next 25 years.

TRAFFIC CONGESTION = Population X per capita VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled). The Washington area Metrorail sees 650,000 Metrorail trips per day while the number of vehicle trips per day is 15.6 million - which will grow by 5.5 million over the next twenty years. Congested lane miles are projected to increase from 7.1% in 1998 to 10-12% in 2025.

WATER DEMAND = Population X per capita Water Consumption. South Florida's Everglades is buckling under pressure from pollution and water diversions to meet the demands of a rapidly growing population. According to a spokesperson for Everglades National Park, the stressed out system "could ecologically fail within the next 20 years."

SEWAGE: Plant and animal-killing nitrogen discharged from municipal sewage treatment plants has declined with nitrogen reduction techonology (NRT), but population growth will soon reverse the NRT gains. In the Chesapeake Bay, "If no further actions are taken, we anticipate increased discharges after 2010 due to population growth."

While the national population grows rapidly, curbing sprawl in one region pushes sprawl into other regions. The Census Bureau says we may reach 571 million by 2100. A stable U.S. population can be achieved through a modest reduction in U.S. fertility - by attaining fertility rates of other industrialized countries. (I.e. Norway-1.85 Spain-1.15). Even keeping current immigration levels!

ECONOMIC GROWTH . Comparing 13 faster growing areas to 13 slower growing areas showed a big difference in the rate of job growth, but a negligible difference in the unemployment rate. The more jobs lured into an urban area, the more people will move in to fill them, increasing congestion, and decreasing quality of life for those that live there. Population growth increases total economic growth but not per capita economic growth. In a study of 15 western European countries with relatively low population growth, compared to the U.S., with high population growth, the per capita Gross Domestic Product was not shown to significantly correlate to population growth.

Restraining the Growth Machine. Metropolitan area population growth can be slowed by ending subsidies that promote local population growth. Unfortunately the land speculators, developers, and real estate brokers profit from local growth are rich and powerful.

.Restrain new business recruitment .Make development pay its way .Elect public officials whose campaign funding is not dominated by Growth Machine money

Slowing National Population Growth: .Decrease the number of dropouts .Reduce poverty .Family planning services for low-income women .Educating and influencing attitudes of teens and young women doclink

Court Blocks Offshore Oil Leases in Calif.; U.S. Appeals Judges Uphold State's Right to Prevent Drilling in Federal Waters

December 3, 2002, The Washington Post

A federal appeals court blocked an attempt to revive old oil leases off the California. The judges gave California broad power to prevent any new exploration or drilling in waters near the coastline. This has become a political issue in California, whose residents oppose more drilling. The leases were signed before the ban on oil drilling and are the last hope oil companies have to expand operations near Santa Barbara that has significant quantities of oil. Administration officials say they went to court because they do not believe California should have a role in deciding whether leases, which have expired several times, should be extended while political debate continues. The issue is that extending the life of these leases didn't have any effect on the coastline the oil industry, contends. Only a few new rigs would be necessary, operated to protect marine life and beaches. About two dozen oil rigs in place before the ban on drilling, operate off the California coast. For the past year, environmental groups have been waging a fierce campaign to nullify the old leases and guarantee that no more drilling occurs. An accident in 1969 spewed 3 million gallons of oil. doclink

U.S.: No Child Left Behind

December 10, 2002, Population Resource Center

More than 11 million children in the U.S. live in poverty, more than a third under the age of six. The welfare rolls have declined more than 50%, child poverty to about 16%. But indications are that the gains overshadow the distress of hundreds of thousands of families who are worse off. For example the requirement that mothers of small children work, with no increase in the support for childcare. doclink

US California: Move to Bigger Class Sizes to Get a Second Look

November 13, 2002, Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Board of Education will focus on reducing class sizes to an average of 37 students. The school board had voted to increase class sizes by two students in grades four through 12 to save $48 million. 42% middle and high school classes have 30 students or more. Many criticized the move and two dozen parents, teachers and students voiced support for smaller classes. Supt. Roy Romer defended the increase, as the only way to afford a 3% pay increase for teachers and to create 6,500 seats in the high schools and 11,500 in middle schools. A reduction of class size depends on the ability to hire teachers and build schools. The voters approved a $3.35-billion bond to pay for 80 new schools. Until completed many schools will have overcrowding. doclink

U.S. Women Waiting Longer to Have First Child

December 11, 2002, Reuters Health

U.S. women on average wait until 25 to have their first child. The average age at first delivery in 1970 was 21.4 years, compared to 24.9 years in 2000. The rise is attributed to the increase in the number of women attending college and in the labor force. The number of women who finished college in 2000 is three times higher than in 1970 and the number of women working outside of the home increased nearly 40%. A decline in teen births, delays in marriage, the use of birth control and an increase in women in their 30s and 40s having children have affected the average age at first delivery. This varied regionally, women in Arkansas and Mississippi giving birth for the first time at 22, in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey at 27. Minority women should be provided them with the same opportunities that other groups enjoy if we want them to postpone childbearing.


U.S. Population Growth and the Environment

November 7, 2002, Patrick Burns

33.1 million immigrants live in the United States. This means 15.8 million more passenger cars and 825 million barrels of oil a year, equal to all of the recoverable oil in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in 4 years. The newcomers will consume 2.26 billion cubic feet of wood per year, over 75 million acres of forest. Immigration and births to immigrants will account for 67% of population growth between 2000 and 2050, and the population will grow by 125 million people over the next 50 years to over 570 million by 2050. If all immigration ended, the population would grow to over 326 million by 2050, and 377 million people by 2100. Even with no immigration, population growth does not stop in the next 100 years. The U.S. fertility rate of 2.1 is the highest in the industrialized world. In Canada the rate is now 1.5, because more women in Canada use the contraceptive pill than in the U.S. If the U.S. lowered the cost of the pill and improved access to contraception, U.S. fertility would decline. Women in Canada and the U.S. want the same number of children, and fertility rates were the same in 1975. If U.S. birth rates fell to Canadian levels, U.S. population growth would slow and eventually stop. U.S. residents are using less land per capita than 30 years ago as productivity and efficiency improve. We are growing more food per acre today and the "wildlife footprint" of the average American has got smaller. As productivity-per-acre has gone up, the U.S. has allowed marginal lands to return to forest or conservation. We are using less grazing land per capita than 20 years ago due to changes in the way we raise cattle. We are using less forest per capita than we did 20 years ago as modern mills waste less wood and forest managers acquire more expertise. U.S. oil consumption has declined from 31 barrels per person per year in 1978 to 25 barrels today. Population growth undermines conservation and land protection but progress is being made. We have more forest than 30 years ago, cleaner air and water, despite the addition of 100 million people. But every step we take in land conservation is eroded or negated by rapid domestic population growth. While we reduced per capita oil consumption by 25% between 1978 and 2000, the population grew by the same amount. While we see real gains in conservation we also see increased habitat loss. Increased forest fragmentation combined with intensive mowing of hayfields, has resulted in a decline in deep-forest nesting and grassland-nesting birds. Humans have benefited, birds have been the loser. How many Americans? Once you decide on a number or goal for the future, fertility and immigration are largely mathematical. doclink

In a First, U.S. Puts Limits on California's Thirst - Commentary

January 2003, Patrick Burns

California's, population grew by more than 4.2 million between 1990 and 2000, 60% from direct immigration. The addition of 2,405,430 immigrants between 1990 and 2000 represents 58.5% of the growth but misses illegal immigrants. The primary consumer of water in California is agriculture and industry. Much agricultural water is wasted. Farmers pay about $70 for every acre-foot of water. Higher prices encourage investments in irrigation systems and a change in crop selection. It will cost $300 per acre-foot in Utah to deliver water to farmers and will produce crops worth about $30, but cost farmers $8. Farmers use more water than they would if market forces were allowed to guide the use of water. On a national level, we are using LESS water today than we did 20 years ago. While the population of the U.S. increased more than 16% between 1980 and 1995, water consumption declined 10%. Even a slight increase in the price of water or energy results in pressure to conserve water. The primary consumers are irrigation and industry, both have curtailed their water usage. Increased consumption is evident in the public supply and livestock. Population growth across the nation needs to be brought under control. population growth in the American West is a problem -- a huge problem. Arizona's population growth rate compares to Pakistan, Tanzania, and Honduras while Colorado's is similar to that of Ghana, El Salvador, and the Philippines.


2000, Sierra Club Planet

  • More than 90% of America's native prairies have been lost to cultivation.
  • More than half of the wetlands have been drained or developed; the nation continues to lose more than 100,000 acres of wetlands per year.
  • One million acres of farmland a year are lost to development. doclink

  • US Massachusetts: On the Road to Cleaner Air: School Vehicles Retrofitted to Reduce Diesel Emissions

    February 16, 2003, The Boston Globe;

    Boston public school buses are having their mufflers replaced with new filtration systems that eliminate up to 90% of diesel emissions, in response to a February 2002 study that looked at children's exposure to diesel exhaust from school buses. The EPA has launched a push for the use of pollution control and low-sulfur diesel fuel and has dedicated $1.4 million won in an April settlement with Waste Management of Massachusetts. 100 Boston school buses are being outfitted with particulate filters. 200 buses at the Readville yard are running on ultra-low sulfur fuel. Together this will eliminate 540 pounds of diesel particulate matter, 2,480 pounds of hydrocarbons, and 17,380 tons of carbon monoxide in Boston each year. The work is being targeted to the most polluted areas of Boston. Nationally, 600,000 school buses carry 24 million children to school daily. Children annually spend 3 billion hours on school buses, but the majority run on diesel fuel. Diesel exhaust contains 40 pollutants, including particles of carbon toxic gases. People with existing heart or lung disease, asthma, or other respiratory problems are most sensitive, but children are susceptible because they breathe 50% more air per pound of body weight than adults. Each retrofitting costs $9,000 and takes two days. doclink

    Water Pollution in the US

    1998, NEETF/Roper national survey

    3 out of 4 people do not know that the leading cause of water pollution is water running off from farm land, parking lots, city streets and lawns.


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


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

    US California: Growth Imperils State's Food Output

    October 1997, Sacramento Bee

    3% of California's land in cultivation are lost annually to erosion, salinization, homes and industry (amounting to a 50% loss in 20 years). doclink

    Note: California produces a lot of food exported to the rest of the world.

    US Pennsylvania: Snow Salt, Debris Could Harm Rivers

    February 20, 2003, Associated Press

    Snow salt, debris could harm rivers. Stone flies just beginning to emerge in Pennsylvania's rivers could be threatened by the salts used to melt snow along the state's roadways. These organisms are part of the food chain in the streams. They break down leaves, provide organic matter, and part of the food chain for a lot of our game fish. With little space to pile snow, Philadelphia decided to dump it into the rivers as a last resort. doclink

    US New York: Highlands Area Needs More Protection

    February 20, 2003, New York Times*

    The York-New Jersey Highlands is worthy of protection from overdevelopment, but less than half is protected. Its population increased by 11% from 1990 to 2000, and 100,000 acres face development. The government has not said how much should be taken out of private hands for preservation, and who should pay for it. The Highlands Coalition proposed saving 180,000 acres in New York and New Jersey at a cost of $750 million. At the same time, Congress provided only $7 million to save 25,000 acres. Several Congressional representatives made it a requirement in budget appropriations that the secretaries of agriculture and the interior come up with recommendations about how to preserve the highlands. Those recommendations may be made public soon. There is an awareness of too much development, and there is now more talk in many quarters, about how to save the Highlands. doclink

    US Georgia: Schools Deluged by Residential Projects

    February 27, 2003, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Atlanta Georgia reports a tidal wave of residential development that leaves no provision for neighborhood schools. When developments are planned, schools for some reason are left out and create a tough situation for the school system. The most recent example is the 1,250-home residential and commercial development in Holly Springs. School officials point to a rise in surrounding property values making it hard to buy land for a neighborhood school. The developer agreed to donate $920,000 but it's only enough to purchase portable units for the estimated 970 students. An elementary school costs $12 million. Holly Springs city manager said another elementary school would exacerbate the congestion. School officials plan to purchase 21 portable units. The current schools have been ruled out because of crowding. A septic field prevents any additional portables at one school. Students could attend schools miles away from their homes. Other developments include more than 400 new homes in Woodstock and a 1,200-home development in south Cherokee. Woodstock middle and high schools are over capacity and could become candidates for double sessions. This is a race with the growth. Once the economy improves, it will get worse. doclink

    US Michigan: Growth: 400,000 New Homes Needed by 2030

    March 4, 2003, PRNewswire

    The population of southeast Michigan will reach 5.5 million by 2030, a growth rate of 1/2% per year, says the Southeast Michigan Council of Government (SEMCOG). This will demand 400,000 additional residences in the seven county area in the next 30 years. This will strain the resources of available housing. Buildable land is 38% of total acreage. The demand is getting attention in Lansing. There is too much infrastructure for housing of one unit or fewer per acre, water, sewer and electricity costs increase with large lot zoning. Remodeling or rebuilding of older homes will be necessary to provide accessibility as the population ages. A regional government would alleviate difficulties in dealing with different set of requirements in different areas. The current population and the local government must plan for growth. doclink

    U.S.: Immigrants in the United States 2002: A Snapshot of America's Foreign-Born Population

    March 15, 2003, Center for Immigration Studies

    A record number of legal and illegal immigrants arrived in the U.S. this year. 33.1 million legal and illegal immigrants live in the U.S. 2 million more since the last census. This new report provides a detailed look at the nation's immigrant (or foreign-born) population, including entrepreneurship, health insurance coverage, poverty, and welfare use for each state. doclink

    Wetlands Need Plenty of Help, Cash

    March 13, 2003, The Advocate Online (Baton Rouge Louisiana)

    Louisiana's coastline can only be restored to a maintainable level with $14 billion in federal aid. Wetlands devastation in the state can be traced back to decisions on control of the flooding of the Mississippi River and to aid oil and gas projects in the region said Karen Gautreaux, chair of the state's wetlands restoration panel and executive assistant to the Governor. The state benefited from those decisions, but cannot deal with the problems. The administration and Congress have to be made aware that Louisiana's coastal losses affect defense and the economy for the country. Backers hope to see federal funding get through Congress in 2004 with a commitment to spend that much over time. doclink

    Arizona Senate Passes Bill Requiring Medical Centers to Offer Emergency Contraception to Sexual Assault Survivors

    March 26, 2003, Manchester Union Leader

    Sent: 28 Mar 2003 Kaiser Weekly Reproductive Health Reports Arizona Senate Passes Bill Requiring Medical Centers To Offer Emergency Contraception to Sexual Assault Survivors Access this story and related links online: The Arizona Senate on Tuesday voted 16-14 to approve a bill (SB 1087) that would require medical centers to offer emergency contraception to sexual assault s... doclink

    Ronald Reagan, 1974

    Our country and state have a special obligation to work toward the stabilization of our own population so as to credibly lead other parts of the world toward population stabilization. doclink

    April 2003, Richard M. Nixon, 1969

    "In 1917 the total number of Americans passed 100 million, after three full centuries of steady growth. 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 . . ." doclink

    Lyndon Johnson, 1965

    "Let us in all our lands -- including this land-face forthrightly the multiplying problems of our multiplying populations, and seek answers to this most profound challenge to the future of the world." doclink

    North America: Jobs Move Offshore as Firms Continue to Economize

    April 14, 2003, New Haven Register

    In India, the amount of software and back-office services performed for companies outside India is expected to reach $54 billion by 2008. The Indian market for the same services is expected to reach just $15 billion. The software and technology services are a high foreign-exchange earner. That represents many new jobs in India and fewer in the United States. Offshore outsourcing save companies 25% to 50% A recent report by Foote Partners LLC in New Canaan said up to 45% of information-technology workers in the United States and Canada will be replaced by contractors, consultants, offshore technicians and part-time workers by 2005. doclink

    U.S.: Tougher Rules Unveiled for Diesel Emissions

    April 16, 2003, Washington Post

    Diesel-powered off-road machines will be subject to stricter EPA emissions standards, cutting emissions by 95%. The tougher rules are expected to prevent 9,600 premature deaths per year and save billions of dollars in medical expenses and lost productivity. Refineries will have to cut the sulfur content to 500 ppm in 2007 and 15 ppm in 2010. Once the fuel standards are in place, the EPA will phase in tougher soot and nitrogen oxide standards for diesel engine manufacturers between 2008 and 2014. doclink

    Denver Limits Lawn Watering for 1.2 Million Customers

    April 17, 2003, Associated Press

    Denver has restricted outdoor watering. The rules allow residents to water two hours twice a week. The Water Board has imposed surcharges on residents who use excess water. Commercial users and city parks must reduce water consumption to 70% of 2001 usage. Golf courses must cut consumption in half. Denver's reservoirs were at 44% capacity Wednesday. Levels could increase to 79% percent by July 1 with runoff from the snowpack, if spring precipitation is average. The estimate is 66% if this spring is dry. doclink

    US New Jersey: Sprawl: Water Regulation to Face Legal Battle

    April 27, 2003, Star-Ledger

    Gov. James E. McGreevey announced a curb on development around 15 bodies of water, including nine reservoirs, but it will have to survive a court of law. Builders are challenging. Both sides agree that the stakes of the expected court battle are enormous. If builders lose, McGreevey could give teeth to the "smart-growth" map he unveiled in January. The new rule designated nine reservoirs and six streams as Category One (C1)water bodies and nothing can be discharged into them that worsens the water quality. This would make subdivisions, more difficult to build. The state will propose C1 status for 40 more bodies of water. If C1 becomes widespread it can wipe out all available land for development. Builders have been successful in court battles at thwarting the water quality regulations, including strict septic tank and wetlands rules. Land-use planning has been the province of the Department of Community Affairs which expects a challenge from builders. Builders could also challenge each designation. Barring some procedural mistake by the DEP, builders would have to show that the rule is "arbitrary and capricious" to have it overturned. doclink

    US Colorado: High and Dry

    April 29, 2003, Grist Magazine

    Colorado is suffering a three-year drought. The average snowpack was half of normal, and streams the lowest in 100 years. The majority of the water comes from the Western Slope of the Rockies and the drought is responsible for development constraints, wildfires, declining tourism, and some of the state's $900 million deficit. Municiple officials say there is no way around building new reservoirs and diversion pipelines. Environmentalists claim this could cost billions and wreak havoc on rivers and forests; they claim the needs can met through reduced consumption. The state government believes that the long-term issue is storage, because they can't store all the water they are entitled to. Enough to supply 2 million families flow out of the state, much of the lost water leaves through the Colorado River and is used by Arizona and California. State officials and developers are backing the Colorado Aqueduct Return Project, that entails building a 200-mile long pipeline to pump Colorado River water to the Front Range to be recycled. The river would then carry a stream of used water to farms and towns on the Western Slope. The pipeline would cost at least $5 billion. To West Slope communities and environmentalists, the project is absurd. The legislature approved $500,000 for a study, but the project could be derailed due to its price and environmental impact. A state bond issue exists for water projects and cities can purchase existing rights from farmers for less money than any new development. The lack of provisions such as requiring that conservation measures be considered before any new development may encourage towns to build dams and reservoirs. Colorado's environmental organizations promote "Smart Storage" and "Smart Supply" instead of new development and say conservation goals can meet Front Range water needs over the next 40 years. But the legislature balked at conservation. Agriculture accounts for 85% of water use and bills to enable the sharing of agricultural water with thirsty cities are in the state legislature. doclink

    US Wisconsin: Sturgeon Warning

    May 22, 2003, Grist Magazine

    There are more sturgeon in and around Lake Winnebago than anywhere on the planet. In the 1970s and '80s management and lake cleanup set the stage for a rebound of the Winnebago sturgeon. The success attracted potential poachers, and wardens couldn't adequately protect the species. In 1987, the state asked for volunteers, and the Sturgeon Guard was born. Volunteer guards are fed a meal at Fish Camp, issued a cell phone, and sent to spawning hot spots. During spawning season, the fish are oblivious to anything else. Lake Winnebago sturgeon spawn upstream in the Wolf and Embarass rivers, to locate rocky shoals suitable for mating. The males swim in small packs, the females arrive and release eggs; the males release sperm. Most eggs are scarfed up by turtles and fish. doclink

    The Last Americans: Environmental Collapse and the End of Civilization

    June 2003, Harper's Magazine

    Sent: 14 Jun 2003 The last Americans: Environmental collapse and the end of civilization Harper's Magazine (June 2003) Latest Harper's Magazine (June 2003) has an excellent article by Jared Diamond, restating his familiar themes in a fresh venue. "The last Americans: Environmental collapse and the end of civilization". Have yourself a look! Intro paragraph below: "One of the disturbing facts of history is that so many civilizations collapse... doclink

    US Montana: Montana Teen Pregnancy Rate Drops More Than 30% Over Past 20 Years

    August 7, 2003, Billings Gazette

    Montana's teen pregnancy rate dropped 32.6% from 1981 to 2000, twice the national rate. The state's teen birth rate also dropped 26.4% and the teen abortion rate 44.3%. Teenagers are waiting longer to start sexual activity, having sex less frequently and using contraception more often. However, the declining rates are still among the highest in the developed world. State schools, community centers and public health programs should continue to offer sex education that emphasizes abstinence and also teaches teenagers about responsible decision making and contraception. doclink

    Proposal Plots to Drain Florida's Water Wealth

    August 24, 2003, St. Petersburg Times

    A proposal to create a statewide water commission with the power to drain water from rural counties and pipe it to metropolitan areas has drawn thumbs-down reactions from rural counties. The proposal came via a group of business leaders that advises the governor who approves their membership and the issues it studies. They named a Clearwater developer to head a task force to look at Florida's future water needs that includes developers, agricultural interests and newspaper publishers. They recommend Gov. Bush to make water as important as protecting the environment. The proposed commission, including seven members appointed by the governor, would identify water-rich areas and consider a statewide distribution system. Water belongs to the public in Florida and changing that could provide big profits for the private sector. Now, five water management districts regulate how much water is pumped and who pumps it. Utilities can charge to deliver it. The commission would oversee the water districts, settle distribution disputes and plan to meet future needs. The task force recommends encouraging private water development on state-owned land that could find favor with a governor determined to give private companies every opportunity to profit. Draining rural areas to support growth elsewhere is a no-win proposition for everyone but developers. doclink

    Percentage of Childless U.S. Women Up Since 1976, Census Bureau Report Says

    October 24, 2003, San Jose Mercury News

    The percentage of U.S. women of childbearing age who have not had children has increased since 1976. 44% of women of 15 to 44 were childless in 2002. 18% of women 40 to 44 were childless, compared with 10% in 1976. Women 40 to 44 had 1.9 children in 2002, less than the 1976 average of 3.1. 71% of childless U.S. women 15 to 44 were in the labor force in 2002. 54.6% of women with children under age one were in the work force in 2002, down from 58.7% in 1998. Delaying childbearing can sometimes result in no childbearing. The decline may also be linked to increased access to contraceptives. Women in the work force are delaying childbearing, and some are no longer able to get pregnant when they decide to have children. 60% of all births in the year ending June 2002 were to non-Hispanic white women, 20% to Hispanic women, 15% to black women and 5% to Asian or Pacific Islander women. * 33% of all births in 2002 were to unmarried women, a percentage that is constant since 1998. 8% of all births were to women in "cohabiting unions." * 89% of births to teenagers were to unmarried teens, while 12% of women between ages 30 and 44 giving birth in 2002 were unmarried. doclink

    Government Admits Role in Klamath Fish Die-off

    November 19, 2003, Oregonian, The

    U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service admits that low river levels caused migrating salmon to succumb to disease in warm, stagnant water with depleted flows from the Upper Klamath Basin when the administration gave farmers a full allocation of water. This underscores the competing water demands of wildlife and agriculture. A biologist said it was the combination of a large salmon run, warm weather and low rainfall that turned deadly. Bush officials never doubted that more water might have aided fish. More water from the Trinity River in Northern California would also feed into the Klamath River if it were not diverted to California's Central Valley. The administration won permission to direct more water down the Trinity into the Klamath if needed to avert another die-off. Protections for fish in Upper Klamath Lake and River left little water for farms during the drought of 2001. Flows fell to low levels in September 2002, and were 41% below average since 1960. Flows from the Trinity River into the Klamath were near their historical norm. Warm water temperatures may have put the fish under extra stress together with slow-moving water created conditions for disease. Fish and Wildlife estimated the fish death toll at 34,056, 98% of which were salmon, of which 98% percent were chinook, and 1% coho. doclink

    Administration Backs Off Clean Water Act

    December 17, 2003, Los Angeles Times

    EPA announced that the administration would not revise the 1972 Clean Water Act since many urged the administration to abandon it. The construction industry warned it would have a negative effect on builders. The EPA had announced they were proposing a rule that would redefine which streams, lakes and wetlands would be protected after a Supreme Court ruling limiting federal jurisdiction over isolated, nonnavigable, intrastate waterways and wetlands that were protected because migratory birds use them. The EPA received 133,000 comments most urging them not to go forward. State and federal officials estimated that up to 20 million acres of wetlands could have lost protection. In the majority of the cases, the courts have taken a narrow view of the ruling, finding that even some drainage ditches should be granted protection. Construction industry officials said that without a new rule the Corps would inconsistently apply the Supreme Court ruling. But the Supreme Court may have more to say as it has been asked to hear four cases on the subject. doclink

    Average Age of First Birth Reaches Record High of 25, CDC Report Says

    December 18, 2003, Reuters

    The average age at which a woman has her first child rose from 21.4 in 1970 to 25.1 in 2002. The teen birth rate declined 30% since 1992 to 43 births per 1,000 females. The birth rate among black teens decreased from 114.8 births per 1,000 females in 1991 to 66.6 per 1,000 in 2002, a drop of more than 40%. The drop in teen pregnancy is linked to public health awareness campaigns. There were mild concerns about the rise in the number of women giving birth to their first child in their 30s and 40s; being the highest in more than 30 years. Women who give birth after age 35 have a higher risk of birth defects and other complications. doclink

    Coming Soon: The Vanishing Work Force

    August 29, 2004, Urban Institute

    Half the workers who maintain the grid at Duquesne electric utility will be eligible to retire by the end of the decade. Half the 6,500 nurses at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center will hit 55 in the next seven years. At Westinghouse, which maintains nuclear power generators, the average age of engineers is the late 40's. A declining and aging population places at risk the stability of the work force and opportunities for economic progress. Older workers may have to stay on longer than planned. Pittsburgh has surplus workers, with an unemployment rate that jumped to 5.7% from 4.2% three years ago. Their power industry has shed 40% of jobs in the last 10 years. Yet more than 16% of Pittsburgh's population is over 65. By 2012, Pennsylvania could face a shortage of 125,000 workers. This is an example of a drama unfolding across the nation. Those from 16 to 54 will have grown by six million from 2002 to 2012 but the 55-and-over will have expanded by 18 million. By 2030, 55 and older will be 37% of the adult population, 15% today. 13% more people will retire from 2003 to 2008 than in the previous five years. Some companies are scrambling to secure tomorrow's work force. Duquesne Light set up a program to train new line workers. The University of Pittsburgh is trying to recruit new nurses and retain veterans. The restaurant industry is lobbying for easier immigration. Many companies are outsourcing jobs. To deal with the aging of America's labor force, workers will probably have to work longer. Alan Greenspan suggested that Social Security and Medicare benefits be curtailed to keep workers on the job longer. The aging of the work force has more to do with a decline in the production of young people. The fertility rate dropped from 3.5 children per woman in the mid-1950's to about 2 in the 1970's. Aging is not just an American issue. By the time America's median age reaches 40, half of all Italians will be over 52. The US has drawn new immigrants who accounted for 47% of the increase in the labor force from 1990 to 2000. Yet the poor countries are getting older, too - by 2050, Mexico's median age will rise to 42. The expansion of the labor force will be 0.6% a year over the first half of the 21st century, from 1.6% in the second half of the 20th. In 2000, there were five people aged 20 to 64 for each person 65 or older. By 2030, the ratio will be less than 3 to 1. An economist at the University of Pennsylvania contends that unemployment leaves a big pool of workers and the abundance of baby-boomer labor wasn't so great for workers. Hourly earnings in fell by more than 15% from the early 1970's to the mid-1990's. If labor markets tighten, wages will rise and productivity accelerate, sustaining economic growth. Higher wages may draw older people into the job market. A 1998 study found that the rise in the dependency ratio could shrink US living standards by 10% by 2050. Our older people are staying on longer because they can't afford to retire. Over the past 50 years, corporate and federal policies have encouraged workers to retire as early as possible. Pension plans had favored early retirement. In 1950, 87% of men 55 to 64 and 46% over 65 were working. By 2000, this had dropped, to 67% and 17%. Employers could make it easier for older workers to stay, through flexible schedules and phased retirement. The government should offer Medicare as primary insurance to the elderly employed and readjust rules to allow employers to offer older workers sliding scales of benefits for part-time or occasional work. Rising medical premiums are rough on employers, but make it harder for people to leave before Medicare kicks in at 65. According to the 2004 Retirement Confidence Survey, barely 36% of workers are confident that they will have enough money to take care of basic expenses during retirement and those who expect to retire before 65 has dropped to 37% from 495 a decade ago. We are living longer but people haven't saved enough to afford the lifestyle we want, so are staying longer in the work force. doclink

    Unfortunately, there is a price to be paid for baby-booms, unless they are managed correctly. Adding more people to take care of the boomers will only create the same problems later, only worse because resources can only be stretched so far.

    USA in a Fragile State of Health, Report Says Obesity, Infant Mortality Slow Progress Since 2000

    November 8, 2004, USA Today

    After 15 years of improvements, progress in health in the US has stalled. Obesity and infant mortality are the primary problems. An analysis of indicators reveals that healthy strides are slowing. Driven partly by smoking-reduction programs, the nation became 17% healthier since 1990, but since 2000, improvements leveled off, rising only 0.2% each year. The growth in obesity is up 97% since 1990 and threatens the nation's health. Nearly 23% of the population has a body mass index of 30 or higher, which is 30 or more pounds over a healthy weight. But while the effect of excess weight is largely still to come, the infant mortality rate is a trauma being felt now. More than 75 infants die each day and are a sad reminder that the nation is not as healthy. The USA ranks 29th in the world in infant mortality directly related to mothers having access to both prenatal and pediatric care. But other maternal factors include obesity, smoking, infection and stress. The healthiest states and their percentage above the norm: Minnesota, 25%; New Hampshire, 23.9%; Vermont, 22.8%; Hawaii, 17.7%; and Utah, 17.6%. The least healthy and their percentage below the norm: Arkansas, -12.1%; South Carolina, -12.9%; Tennessee, -13.1%; Mississippi, -20.2%; and Louisiana, -21.3%. With rising rates of obesity and higher infant mortality rates, three problems are slowing health progress. *Percentage of people without health insurance. * Declining high school graduation rates. * Increased child poverty. doclink

    Make Research on Black Infant Deaths a Top Priority; State and Federal Governments Must Cooperate to Find Causes and Remedies for High Mortality Rate

    December 21, 2004, Detroit News

    State and federal officials need to expedite programs to reduce the infant mortality rate among black families which is higher than whites, and studies are underway to determine why. For every 1,000 black children born in suburban Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, 19 will not survive their first year. The comparable figure for whites is 5. The problem is a complex knot of social and economic factors. In Pontiac, a quarter of the population is poor, while black families in Southfield have higher incomes. But African-American infants die at high rates in both cities. A federal grant and 10-year contracts totaling more than $100 million, are supporting infant mortality studies, but a lot is already known, thanks to previous work. Stresses during pregnancy including being poor, contribute to the problem, compounded with the pregnancy being unintended. Of 1,600 women who gave birth in 1996, 44% were unintended. Black infants die at high rates in Southfield, even though black there have incomes better than the regional average. Other factors including cultural differences and matters of assimilation. New studies should determine the precise causes and develop effective solutions. doclink

    More Women Opting Against Birth Control

    January 4, 2005, Washington Post

    Buried in the government's latest analysis of contraceptive use was that the number of women who had sex in the previous three months - but did not use birth control - rose from 5.2% in 1995 to 7.4% in 2002. That means 11% are at risk of unintended pregnancy. The increase is significant and that merits further study. Although unintended pregnancies can be welcome surprises, the danger from a public health and societal standpoint is that many of the women are financially or psychologically unprepared for parenthood. Half of all unintended pregnancies occur among the more than 95% of women who used contraception. That means the other half of unintended pregnancies came from the population not using birth control. The pill is the popular choice, followed by sterilization. Preliminary information found a slight increase in the birth rate in 2003, most notably in women older than 30. Because the number of uninsured has increased, these women might find the cost of contraceptives burdensome as since 2001, the number of uninsured Americans has risen by 4 million. It is unconscionable that women have a co-pay of $20 or $25 a month for contraceptives and men are getting off scot-free. Drug companies "have cut way back" on free samples. Many physicians put partial blame on federally funded abstinence-only education that prohibit discussion of contraceptives. Women don't want to use birth control because of the side effects and a lot of men refuse to use a condom. A growing number of women, especially teenagers, are using condoms with another form of contraception. This suggests they are concerned about preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. doclink

    U.S. Leads in Sexually Transmitted Disease Rate

    February 8, 2005, HealthDay News

    Early death and disability attributed to risky sexual behavior are three times higher in the U.S. than other developed nations. This precludes the AIDS in many African countries. American men die as a result of having a sexually transmitted disease, but more cases are reported in American women. A survey found that half of all deaths in the U.S. in 1990 were attributable to nine factors that included sexual behavior that accounted for 30,000 deaths. The new study doesn't provided a complete picture, given that STD's are associated with infertility, psychological trauma and stigma. Also factored in were premature deaths and "disability adjusted life years" (DALYs), indicating years cut short by premature death and loss of healthy living years as a result of disability. In 1998, sexual behavior accounted for about 20 million adverse health consequences, equivalent to more than 7,500 per 100,000 people and 29,782 deaths 1.3% of all deaths. Sixty-two% of "adverse health consequences" and 57% of "disability adjusted life years" were among women. Curable infections and their consequences accounted for more than half of these health problems. Viral infections mostly HIV accounted for almost all deaths among men and women. 66% more men than women died due to STD's but if HIVS were not considered, then 89% of deaths attributed to sexual behavior would have been among women. HIVS was the leading cause of death among men, while cervical cancer and HIV were the leading causes of death among women. Everybody is having sex in the world, but some places have a low HIV prevalence. Not everybody is getting tested for HIV. The consequences of "sexual behavior are totally preventable, if you have protected or safe sex, you are not going to have these. doclink

    Requested Sterilization Often Not Performed

    March 31, 2005, Reuters Health

    Only about half the women who desire sterilization following delivery undergo the procedure. The findings are based on a study of 712 women who desired postpartum sterilization between March 2002 and November 2003. 327 of the women did not undergo the operation. In addition to young age and African American race, a sterilization request in the second trimester rather than in the first or third, and a vaginal delivery rather than a C-section, were also factors that predicted sterilization would not be performed. doclink

    Family Planning Losing, Anti-Abortion Gaining

    May 19, 2005, San Antonio Express-News (US)

    Almost $5 million will be cut from health services and given to groups that counsel women against abortion in Texas. Another $20 million will be diverted from family planning programs. The shift was criticized as shortsighted by family planning groups that said the $100 million their programs receive every two years is enough to serve only 25 percent of eligible women. Lawmakers hate abortion but are creating an environment where it will happen. Romberg criticized shifting $5 million to crisis pregnancy centers, while family planning programs offer contraceptive services as well as diagnose diabetes, cancer and sexually transmitted diseases. Proponents of the funding shift said crisis pregnancy centers could provide services for women who don't want an abortion. Those centers offer counseling for women who want to carry their baby to term. The budget move came before the Senate approved a measure requiring pregnant teenagers to obtain their parents' written consent to have an abortion. On the family planning side, the loss of $2.5 million a year will mean 3%, will not be able to receive those services. Federally qualified health centers offer family planning services, but shifting $20 million from current providers to those centers will put existing clinics in danger of closing down or cutting back their services. The centers draw down a high federal match to serve patients in medically underserved areas. doclink

    U.S.: All for Want of a Few Veggies

    June 9, 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

    U.S.: 1 in 20

    August 17, 2005, Washington Post

    In the US, 1 out of every 1,000 people are HIV-positive. In the capital, it's closer to 1 in 20 - an estimate calculated using a formula based on national trends. If the District were a country, it would rank 11th in the world in between Mozambique (1 in 14) and Tanzania (1 in 23). Few statistics are available on the number of HIV cases in the District. The city's HIV/AIDS Administration (HAA) does report AIDS cases, but it has not yet published information about HIV infections and how they were transmitted. HAA ought to have at least three years' worth of HIV data. Why not release it? Part of the problem is staffing shortages. New leadership should direct resources to existing clinics where same-day HIV tests should be offered; to public schools so youth can receive information on how to prevent the spread of the disease; and to treatment providers in need of assistance in navigating the complicated grant process. The District's failure to produce data as well as the mismanagement of programs put funding, and lives at risk. doclink

    Women's Rights Fading in U.S.?

    August 26, 2005, Detroit Free Press

    In 1920, U.S. women won the right to vote but other rights are in peril. The right to birth control and abortion is under ceaseless attack by religious conservatives. Roe v. Wade has been chipped at by parental-notification and consent laws, 24-hour waiting periods and other requirements. Two-thirds of states deny abortion coverage to needy women. Abortion providers are found in only 13% of counties nationwide. Since 1993, antiabortion zealots have killed seven abortion physicians, clinic workers and volunteers as part of the campaign against abortion rights. Foes of abortion are targeting the right to contraception. Efforts to make emergency contraception available over-the-counter nationwide have stalled. A majority of states do not require insurance companies to cover contraception. As a senior legal adviser to President Ronald Reagan, Roberts once endorsed a controversial service for aborted fetuses as "an entirely appropriate means of calling attention to the abortion tragedy." The lack of women's status and value is clear from the Democratic capitulation on Roberts' nomination. Senators should be objecting to Roberts on the basis that his appointment would ensure only one female justice on a court of nine. The Canadian Supreme Court, has four women justices out of nine. Why should U.S. women, be so underrepresented on our nation's high court? doclink

    Infant Mortality on the Rise in Texas; in Travis County, Rate Increased by 33 Percent From 2000 to 2003

    November 12, 2005, Statesman

    Almost 2,500 Texas babies died before their first birthdays in 2003, a 17% increase since 2000. More than 377,000 were born in Texas in 2003; a mortality rate of 6.6 per 1,000 births, compared with 5.8 in 2000. An important factor is the mother's access to prenatal care. About 30% of babies born to black or Hispanic mothers receive little or no prenatal care. Research has shown that with more prenatal visits early on, mothers have better nutrition, can better monitor their babies' growth and can keep at bay some of the problems that happen during pregnancy. Causes include birth defects, prematurity, sudden infant death syndrome and accidents, but it's hard to know why infant mortality is becoming more common. Texas cut maternity coverage for some patients on Medicaid, but experts caution against linking such cuts to the rise in infant mortality. One factor is the increasing number of multiple births, which have become more common because of in-vitro fertilization. That means that more babies are born prematurely. The high incidence of infant mortality among African Americans follows nationwide trends. Too many African American babies are being born too soon and doctors aren't sure why. The Texas March of Dimes launched an initiative to increase awareness of premature births among African American women, who are twice as likely to deliver prematurely than white women. Premature birth is the leading cause. The report found more than one in five children, 1.3 million, live below the federal poverty level. The report shows improving conditions for Texas teenagers: The dropout rate declined by 46% from 2000 to 2004 and the birth rate declined by 10% from 2000 to 2003. The rate of violent deaths was down by 33% from 1990 to 2003. doclink

    U.S.: We Talk Up Women's Rights but Won't Ratify Equality Amendment?

    November 15, 2005, Herald-Tribune (US)

    72% of U.S. citizens believe the Equal Rights Amendment is a part of our Constitution; however, the required 38 states never ratified the ERA. The amendment was proposed in 1923, but it wasn't until 1943 that Congress provided "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of sex. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification." On March 22, 1972, the proposed amendment was sent to all states for ratification. By 1982, 35 states had ratified the amendment but 38 is the number needed and we are three states short. Last May 6, concurrent resolutions supporting ratification of the ERA died in both the Florida Senate and House of Representatives. Because both resolutions died in committee, neither made it to the floor. But all is not lost we must become engaged and call, fax, write or e-mail our representatives and senators, and let them know we support the ERA being a part of our Constitution. doclink

    US Alabama: Population Growth Outstrips Fire Departments

    February 6, 2006,

    Fire departments are growing to provide services in Shelby County, where the population has nearly doubled since 1990. Pelham and Helena will spend more than $1 million to pay salaries and buy gear for two new fire stations. Calera has added a third station, but didn't get a federal grant to pay the $500,000 to hire 10 to 13 firefighters. Almost 7,800 new homes will have been built including 3,315 new single-family dwellings. Chief of the Shelby Fire Department, said fire departments are drained as the population expands. But almost all others outside Alabama's largest cities fall short of national standards that say a fire department will be within 1.5 miles of a built-up area and that 90% of the time the team responding within four minutes include four trained firefighters. Impact fees and developers can bring money for a station, but city revenues or outside grants, would have to pay for personnel and gear. The Chief of Columbiana's volunteer fire department said that we have 30 volunteers, and as long as we have no money, we'll stay that way. The North Shelby department has 26 full-time and 12 part-time staffers, a number not within the national staffing standard. Fire departments try to turn to options that won't add a burdensome cost. Wider use of mutual-aid agreements allows other cities to respond to emergencies near jurisdictional lines. doclink

    Gore Warns of Dangers of Sacrificing Science to Ideology

    November 3, 2006, Associated Press

    America is inviting problems when it disregards science and reason in favor of ideology and power, Gore told a Planned Parenthood gatherin. He suggested the country's leaders had ignored warnings from generals who said invading Iraq with too small of a force invited disaster, and warnings from meteorologists before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.

    "I believe the climate crisis can only be solved by addressing the democracy crisis," he said. The event raised over $300,000 for Planned Parenthood.

    Gore asserted that the opposition Planned Parenthood encounters comes because its foes set aside science, reason and logic.

    Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life contends its positions are supported by science. It's a scientific fact that a unique human being begins life at conception, we believe life needs to be protected.

    Planned Parenthood operates 23 clinics in Minnesota and two in South Dakota that serve nearly 60,000 patients per year. doclink

    Can We Save California's Water?

    February 23, 2008, AlterNet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    U.S.: Who Will Care for the Onslaught of Aging Baby Boomers?

    March 22, 2011, The Miami Herald

    As the 78 million baby boomers live longer with more chronic illnesses, the country will face a shortage of professionals trained to meet the special needs of the elderly.

    Not just the elderly will be affected by this shortfall. Fewer medical practices will accept new patients and people will face longer waits to see physicians -- if they see them at all.

    If current graduation and training rates continue, the United States could face a shortage of about 130,000 physicians by 2030, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. The physician shortage will likely be exacerbated by the aging population, which uses more health care, and the possibility of having as many as 32 million newly insured Americans by 2014 under the new national health plan.

    About 7,100 physicians are certified geriatricians nationwide -- or about one specialist for every 2,546 older Americans, according to a study by the Institute of Medicine. By 2030, when all the boomers will have turned 65, an estimated 36,000 geriatricians will be needed, a figure unlikely to be reached considering that the number of geriatricians has dropped by 25% in the past decade.

    \About 4% of social workers specialize in geriatrics, one third of the number needed. And less than 1% of physician assistants, pharmacists and registered nurses are certified in geriatrics.

    Healthcare workers in general are inadequately prepared to deal with the complex issues of elderly patients.

    Society is in "general denial" of what it will take to maintain a growing number of older people in the community. A study released last fall by the National Center for Health Statistics showed that people 45 and older -- boomers are 45 to 65 years old -- made up 38% of the U.S. population in 2008. But they were responsible for 57% of doctor's office visits and 70% of prescribed medication.

    There's a shortage of data on aging compared to other life stages. Clinical studies have not been done on older people.

    The typical elderly patient often has chronic conditions that require management, not cures; the possibility of overmedication to treat those conditions and the resulting effects on balance, cognitive understanding and independence.

    Geriatricians make far less money than specialists. A large number of social work students indicate they do not want to go into geriatric work.

    "Increasingly young people are not connected to older adults." The average salary of a home health aide is $10.12 an hour -- often less than an office or house cleaner. doclink

    Karen Gaia (a senior) says: A harsh reality: If our economy continues to slide, the attitude toward seniors from the younger generation may change, with there be so many seniors using the country's resources.

    U.S.: Gargantuan Large Investment in Infrastructure Needed, Experts Say

    October 14, 2011, Washington Post

    A nationwide transportation system built in the middle of the 20th century is falling apart, burdened with a system that has deteriorated after decades of deferred maintenance, according to a general consensus at a transportation conference that heard from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; House Transportation Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-Fla.) and his predecessor as chairman, and others.

    The U.S. population is forecast to grow by 100 million - a 30% increase - before the middle of the 21st century. There isn't enough money to arrest the transportation system decline, and the public is largely oblivious to the need.

    To the average consumer the transportation system appears to be working reasonably well but the amount of money needed to restore and expand it is so enormous that few taxpayers can relate.

    The American Society of Civil Engineers has estimated that an investment of $1.7 trillion (and the Urban Institute says $2 trillion) is needed between now and 2020 to rebuild roads, bridges, water lines, sewage systems and dams that are reaching the ends of their planned life cycles.

    Fail to invest now, and the cost will increase later. Already, the civil engineers said, infrastructure deficiencies add $97 billion a year to the cost of operating vehicles and result in travel delays that cost $32 billion.

    In the meantime Congress grapples with taming a massive deficit, talking about $45 billion a year in the House and $54 billion in the Senate.

    If the nation does not fix these infrastructure deficiencies it will not remain competitive with other countries. doclink

    America Then and Now (Jan 2009 - Dec 2011)

    June 2, 2012, US Congress House Ways and Means Committee





    Number of Unemployed1

    12.0 Million

    13.1 Million


    Long-Term Unemployed2

    2.7 Million

    5.6 Million


    Unemployment Rate3




    "High Unemployment" States4




    Misery Index5




    Price of Gas6




    "Typical" Monthly Family Food Cost7




    Median Value of Single-Family Home8




    Rate of Mortgage Delinquencies9




    U.S. National Debt10

    $10.6 Trillion

    $15.2 Trillion


    1. Number of unemployed in January 2009 and December 2011.
    2. "Long-term unemployed" means for over 26 weeks; data for January 2009 and December 2011.
    3. Unemployment rates in January 2009 and December 2011.
    4. "High unemployment" means having a 3-month average unemployment rate of 6% or higher. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics' "Extended Benefits Trigger Notice" for January 18, 2009 and January 22, 2012. and
    5. The "Misery Index" equals unemployment plus inflation. For January 2009 and December 2012.
    6. Average retail price per gallon, January 2009 week 3 and January 2012 week 4.
    7. U.S. Department of Agriculture, values represent monthly "moderate" cost per family of four for January 2009 and November 2011.
    8. U.S. median sales price of existing single-family homes for metropolitan areas for 2008 and 2011 Q3.
    9. Residential mortgage delinquencies (real estate loans) for 2008 Q4 and 2011 Q3.
    10. Values for January 21, 2009 and January 23, 2012.

    Karen Gaia says: I was shocked to see how this House Committee is being used to discredit the President. No thought that many of the contributors to the economic crisis occurred before President Obama took office: credit default swaps, shabby mortgage practices, control and misuse of the money supply by the Federal Reserve, slipping away from a balanced budget, shipping jobs out of the country, and ignoring resource depletion, with no effort to conserve, war mongering at huge expense, and so on. Too bad no one looks at resource depletion. Going into debt so we can grow, grow, grow, is the last thing we want to do.

    U.S.: Title X-Funded Clinics in California Facilitate Access to Care Better Than Other Providers

    December 11, 2012, Guttmacher Institute

    A study from researchers at the University of California, San Francisco found that Title X -funded clinics in California are more likely to offer services during evenings or weekends; to provide outreach to hard-to-reach populations, such as males, teens and individuals with limited English proficiency; and to use advanced technologies, such as electronic medical records and online appointment scheduling, to streamline clinic operations.

    The data came from surveys of more than 1,000 public- and private-sector Family PACT clinicians in 2010. They found that Title X-funded clinics have implemented a greater array of infrastructure enhancements that promote access to and improve the quality of services for underserved populations than have other providers.

    The authors suggest that Title X-funded clinics can serve as a model and recommend that nationwide health care reform build on the California model to improve infrastructure and the quality of care as family planning providers increasingly serve marginalized populations. doclink