Volunteer Help for WOA!! Needed!

WOA website

There is a whole world of population information available, and it would help the cause to make it readily available to the population-concerned.

WOA needs help in two areas: 1) summarization of articles, and 2) intake of articles.

1) Summarization - Almost all articles in the News Digest are summarized. If you are good at writing, and love reading population articles, this is for you. You can do as many or as few articles as you wish.

2) Intake - Each article needs help getting on the database. This is an easy job, and a good way to become acquainted with all the articles that come into WOA!!. This job is something you will need to do almost every day, or at least several days a week, to keep up with the articles coming in

If you are interested, please go to http://www.population-awareness.org/volunteers.html and sign up! doclink

But Can't Technical Advance Solve the Problems?

July 16, 2016, Damn the Matrix   By: Ted Trainer

The "limits to growth" analysis argues that the pursuit of affluent lifestyles and economic growth are behind alarming global problems such as environmental destruction, resource depletion, poverty, conflict and deteriorating cohesion and quality of life in even the richest countries. These levels cannot continue, let alone spread to all the world's people. We must shift to far lower levels of consumption in rich countries.

The counter argument is that the development of better technology will solve the problems, and enable us to go on living affluently in growth economies. Because technology does constantly achieve miraculous breakthroughs, this claim is regarded as plausible and publicity is frequently given to schemes that are claimed could be developed to solve this or that problem.

However there is a weighty case that technical advance will not be able to solve the major global problems we face.

The Simpler Way view says we must change to lifestyles and social systems which do not generate those problems. This could easily be done if we wanted to do it, and it would actually enable a much higher quality of life than most of us have now in consumer society.

But it would involve abandoning the quest for affluent lifestyles and limitless economic growth...so it is not at all likely that this path will be taken.

The 2007 IPCC Report said that if greenhouse gas emissions are to be kept to a "safe" level they must be cut by 50-80% by 2050, and more after that. This means that the average American or Australian would have to emit less than 5% of their present per capita emission rate. Some argue that all emissions should cease well before 2030.

By 2050 the amount of productive land on the planet per capita will be 0.8 ha (assuming we will stop damaging and losing land). The present amount required to give each Australian their lifestyle is 8 ha, 10 times over a sustainable amount, leaving no room for all the world's people ever rising to anywhere near our level.

Australians use about 280 GJ (gigajoules) of energy per capita each year. Are we heading for 500 GJ/person/year by 2050? If all the world's expected 9.7 billion people were to live as we live world energy supply would have to be around 4,500 EJ/year (EJ = 1B GJ)...which is 9 times the present world energy production and consumption.

Almost all resources are scarce and dwindling. Ore grades are falling, and there have been food and water riots. Fisheries and tropical forests are in serious decline. Yet only about one-fifth of the world's people are using most of these; what happens when the rest rise to our levels?

Humans are taking much of the planet's area, and 40% of the biological productivity of the lands. We are taking the habitats that other species need.

Of about 8 billion ha of productive land we have taken, 1.4 billion ha is for cropland, and about 3.5 billion ha for grazing. The number of big fish in the oceans is down to 10% of what it was. We are destroying around 15 million ha of tropical forest every year. And if all 9 billion people expected are going to live as we do now, resource demands would be about 10 times as great as they are now.

The World Wildlife Fund estimates that we are now using up resources at a rate that it would take 1.5 planet earths to provide sustainably. If 9.7 billion are to live as we expect to in 2050 we will need more than 20 planet earths to harvest from.

If technology is going to solve our problems, when is it going to start?

If we Australians have 3% annual economic growth to 2050, and by then all 9.7 billion people will have come up to the "living standards" we will have by then, the total amount of economic production in the world each year will be about 20 times as great as it is now.

Most of the resources and ecosystems we draw on to provide consumer lifestyles are deteriorating. The WWF's Footprint index tells us that at present we would need 1.5 planet Earth's to provide the resources we use sustainably. How can we cope with a resource demand that is 20×1.5 = 30 times a currently sustainable level by 2050...and twice as much by 2073 given 3% annual growth?

Huge figures such as these define the magnitude of the problem for technical-fix believers.

We must cut resource use and impacts by a huge multiple...and keep it down there despite endless growth. Now ask the tech-fix believer what precisely he thinks will enable this.

Is it rational for someone to say, "I have a very serious lung disease, but I still smoke five packs of cigarettes a day, because technical advance could come up with a cure for my disease.” If you are on a path that is clearly leading to disaster the sensible thing is to get off it.

Does it not make sense to change from the lifestyles and systems that are causing these problems, at least until we can see that we can solve the resulting problems?

Amory Lovins argues that technical advances could cut resource use per unit of GDP considerably, saying we could in effect have 4 times the output with the same impact. By 2050 we should cut ecological impact and resource use in half, but we also increase economic output by 20, then we'd need a factor 40 reduction, not a factor of 4...and resource demand would be twice as high in another 23 years if 3% growth continued.

In looking at the factors limiting technical advances, engineers and economists make the following distinctions.

"Technical potential.” This is what the technology could achieve if fully applied with no regard to cost or other problems.

"Economic (or ecological) potential”. For instance it is technically possible for passenger flights to be faster than sound, but it is far too costly. Some estimate that it would be technically possible to harvest 1,400 million ha for biomass energy per year, but when ecologically sensitive regions are taken out some conclude that only be 250 million ha or less would be available for harvest.

Enthusiastic claims about a technical advance typically focus on the gains and not the costs which should be subtracted to give a net value. For instance the energy needed to keep buildings warm can be reduced markedly, but it costs a considerable amount of energy to do this, in the electricity needed to run the air-conditioning and heat pumps, and in the energy embodied in the insulation and triple glazing.

The Green Revolution doubled food yields, but only by introducing crops that required high energy inputs in the form of expensive fertilizers, seeds and irrigation. One result was that large numbers of very poor farmers went out of business because they couldn't afford the inputs.

Similarly, it is possible to solve some water supply problems by desalination, but only by increasing the energy and greenhouse problems.

What is socially/politically possible? It would be technically possible for many people in Sydney to get to work by public transport, but large numbers would not give up the convenience of their cars even if they saved money doing so. A beautiful, tiny, sufficient mud brick house could be built for less than $10,000 -- but most people would not want one.

The Jevons or "rebound” effect is the strong tendency for savings made possible by a technical advance to be spent on consuming more of the thing saved or something else. For instance if we found how to get twice the mileage per liter of petrol many would just drive a lot more, or spend the money saved on buying more of something else.

It should not be assumed that in general rapid, large or continuous technical gains are being routinely made in the relevant fields, especially in crucial areas such as energy efficiency. Ayres (2009) notes that for many decades there have been plateaus for the efficiency of production of electricity and fuels, electric motors, ammonia and iron and steel production. The efficiency of electrical devices in general has actually changed little in a century "...the energy efficiency of transportation probably peaked around 1960”. There is no increase in the overall energy efficiency of the US economy since 1960.

We tend not to hear about areas where technology is not solving problems, or appears to have been completely defeated.

The remarkable fall in the costs of PV panels is largely due to large subsidies, very cheap labor, and the general failure of the Chinese economy to pay ecological costs of production.

The significance of the new battery technology is clouded by the fact that costs would have to fall by perhaps two-thirds before they could be used for grid storage without greatly increasing the cost of power, and it is not likely that there is enough lithium to enable grid level storage of renewable energy.

Some claim that resource demand and ecological impact can be "decoupled” from economic growth in ways will enable the economy to keep growing and "living standards”, incomes and consumption to continue rising without increasing resource use or environmental damage.

The fact that the "energy intensity" (energy per unit of GDP) has declined within a country is often seen as evidence of decoupling, but this is misleading. The large amounts of energy (energy we benefit from) embodied in imports are not taken into account. Also, the same amount of energy produces more when we switch from coal to gas, for example. The gas is of a higher quality because it enables more work per unit. Gas is more easily transported, switched on and off, or converted from one function to another, etc.

In agriculture advance has been a matter of increased energy use. Over the last half century productivity measured in terms of yields per ha or per worker have risen dramatically, but these have been mostly due to even greater increases in the amount of energy being poured into agriculture, on the farm, in the production of machinery, in the transport, pesticide, fertilizer, irrigation, packaging and marketing sectors, and in getting the food from the supermarket to the front door, and then dealing with the waste food and packaging. Less than 2% of the US workforce is now on farms, but agriculture accounts for around 17% of all energy used.

There is undue optimism regarding what pure technical advance can achieve independently from increased energy inputs.

Energy itself is in serious decline, evident in data on EROI ratios. Several decades ago the expenditure of the energy in one barrel of oil could produce 30 barrels of oil, but now the ratio is around 18 and falling. The ratio of petroleum energy discovered to energy required has fallen from 1000/1 in 1919 to 5/1 in 2006. Murphy and others suspect that an industrialized society cannot be maintained on a general energy ratio under about 10.

So when we examine the issue of productivity growth we find little or no support for the general tech-fix faith. It is not the case that technical breakthroughs are constantly enabling significantly more to be produced per unit of inputs. The small improvements in productivity being made seem to be largely due to changes to more energy-intensive ways, and energy itself is exhibiting marked deterioration in productivity.

With minerals, the annual major deposit discovery rate fell from 13 to less than 1 between 1980 and 2008 , while discovery expenditure went from about $1.5 billion a year. to $7 billion a year. Recent petroleum figures are similar; in the last decade or so discovery expenditure more or less trebled but the discovery rate has not increased.

Over recent decades the proportion of rich nation GDP that is made up of "financial” services has risen considerably. The "production” of "financial services" that takes the form of key strokes that move electrons around, much of which is wild speculation: making computer driven micro-second switches in "investments”. These operations deliver massive increases in income to banks and managers, commissions, loans, interest, consultancy fees. These make a big contribution to GDP figures. In one recent year 40% of US corporate profits came from the finance sector. This domain should not be included in estimates of productivity because it misleadingly inflates the numerator in the output/labour ratio.

So when looking at industries that use material and ecological inputs -- the ones that are causing the pressure on resources and ecosystems -- is significant decoupling taking place? Kowalski (2011) reports that between 1960 and 2010 world cereal production increased 250%, but nitrogen fertilizer use in cereal production increased 750%.

The ecomodernists look forward to shifting a large fraction of agriculture off land into intensive systems such as high rise greenhouses and acquaculture, massive use of desalination for water supply, processing lower grade ores, dealing with greatly increased amounts of industrial waste (especially mining waste), and constructing urban infrastructures for billions to live in as they propose shifting people from the land to allow more of it to be returned to nature. If renewable energy sources cannot provide these quantities of energy, their proposals would have to involve very large numbers of fourth generation nuclear reactors.

If 9 billion people were to live on the per capita amount of energy Americans now average, the nuclear generating capacity needed would be around 450 times as great as at present.

The ecomodernist's problem is not just about producing far more metals, it is about producing far more as grades decline, it is not just about producing much more food, it is about producing much more despite the fact that problems to do with water availability, soils, the nitrogen cycle, acidification, and carbon loss are getting worse.

It is a mistake to think that the way to solve our problems is to develop better technology. That will not solve the problems, because they are far too big, and they are being generated by trying to live in ways that generate impossible resource demands.

The solution is to move away from affluent, high energy, centralised, industrialised, globalised etc., systems and standards. Above all it requires a shift from obsession with getting rich, consuming and acquiring property. It requires a willing acceptance of frugality and sufficiency, of being content with what is good enough.

Hundreds of years ago we knew how to produce not just good enough but beautiful food, houses, cathedrals, clothes, concerts, works of art, villages and communities, using little more than hand tools and crafts. Of course we should use modern technologies including computers (if we can keep the satellites up there) where these make sense.

Problems having to do with social breakdown, depression, stress, and falling quality of life will not be solved by better technology, because they derive from faulty social systems and values. Technical advances often make these problems worse, e.g., by increasing the individual's capacity to live independently of others and community, and by enabling machines to cause unemployment.

Massive globally integrated professional and corporate run systems involving centralized control and global regulatory systems will not have a place for billions of poor people. It will enable a few super-smart techies, financiers and CEOs to thrive, making inequality far more savage, and it will set impossible problems for democracy because there will be abundant opportunities for those in the center to secure their own interests. doclink

Urgent Global Action Needed to Stop Extinction of Earth's Last Megafauna

July 27, 2016, National Geographic magazine   By: David Maxwell Braun

The world's gorillas, lions, tigers, rhinos, and other iconic terrestrial megafauna will be lost forever unless a swift and global conservation response is made, according to 43 wildlife experts from six continents whose analysis, Saving the World's Terrestrial Megafauna, was published in the journal BioScience.

Their analysis covers the precipitous loss of large animal populations around the globe, from the poorly known, such as the scimitar-horned oryx, to more familiar species including tigers, lions, gorillas and rhinoceroses, Panthera, one of the conservation institutions associated with the research, said in a news statement.

Please go here for a graphic of the threats to megafauna: http://voices.nationalgeographic.com/2016/07/27/urgent-global-action-needed-to-stop-extinction-of-earths-last-megafauna

"The more I look at the trends facing the world's largest terrestrial mammals, the more concerned I am we could lose these animals just as science is discovering how important they are to ecosystems and to the services they provide to people," said William Ripple, lead author and distinguished professor of ecology in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. "It's time to really think about conserving them because declines in their numbers and habitats are happening quickly."

The report includes a 13-point declaration calling for acknowledgement that a "business as usual" mentality will result in massive species extinction; while a global commitment to conservation with support for developing nations is a moral obligation.

Some megafauna face the threat of obscurity, WCS said. "The loss of elephants worldwide to poachers in pursuit of ivory is well-known and is the focus of extensive efforts to shut down this trade, but the study authors point out that many species are at risk from many similar threats but are so poorly known that effective conservation efforts to save them are difficult.”

"Among the most serious threats to endangered animals are the expansion of livestock and agricultural developments, illegal hunting, deforestation and human population growth. Large wildlife species are extremely vulnerable to these threats because of their need for extensive spaces to live and low population densities, particularly for carnivores.”

Panthera President and Chief Conservation Officer and co-author Luke Hunter, said: "Among the world's largest animals, apex predators like the tiger, lion and leopard are increasingly under assault. The protection of these big cats - the great white sharks of our terrestrial Earth - and other large mammals is paramount to the health and survival of thousands of animals and their ecosystems. doclink

Charting a Course From Charcoal to Clean Energy - Population Growth - Human Rights, the Economy, and the Environment

July 28, 2016, PopulationGrowth.org   By: Suzanne York

The recently released FAO report found that, in tropical countries, there occurred a net forest loss of seven million hectares per year between the years of 2000 and 2010. It noted that agriculture is still the most significant driver of global deforestation. Yet much of the forest loss, especially in Africa, is also driven by a need for fuel.

For much of the world, people still rely on charcoal and firewood for producing energy. Approximately 3 billion people use open fires and simple, inefficient stoves to cook and heat their homes, says the World Health Organization,

In Africa, the production of charcoal has doubled in the past two decades and accounts for over 60% of the world's total, driven by rapid urbanization. According to the UN, "As Africa's population is expected to swell and urbanize at an even faster rate over the next decades, the continent's demand for charcoal is likely to double or triple by 2050".

Over 90% of rural households in Sub-Saharan Africa depend on firewood or charcoal in Africa as a primary energy source. The charcoal business has a devastating impact on the environment from deforestation, biodiversity loss and increased carbon emissions. And household pollution from cook stoves is a major threat to public health, as toxic pollutants are released into the air. Rural women are impacted the most since they are the primary providers collecting fuel and cooking for their families.

In Kenya nearly 9 million households in Kenya use charcoal every day. The equivalent of 15,000 soccer fields worth of trees are cut every year. Over 36 million Kenyans are affected by household air pollution, resulting in over 15,000 deaths, according to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves.

GreenChar is a social enterprise that sells smokeless charcoal briquettes made from sugarcane waste and other agricultural wastes, and also distributes clean cookstoves to the local population. It is long lasting and low cost and can save families $200/year. Also women are involved in the sourcing, production, distribution stages. Women outsell men cook stove sellers by nearly 3 to 1.

In the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo some 4 million people live, many of whom live in extreme poverty and are reliant on charcoal for survival. According to World Wildlife Fund, the nearby city of Goma alone consumes above 105,000 tons of charcoal every year, at a total cost of about US$55.9 million. Surveys spearheaded by park authorities showed that off-grid hydroelectricity plants could generate more than 100 megawatts of energy, which is 25 times more power than the city of Goma - home to over 1 million people - currently receives.

As the world strives to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, efforts to reach SDG 15 - "Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss" - will need to encompass an integrated approach. Until people's basic needs are met, they will do whatever it takes to survive, even cutting down forests that sustain so much life.

In the words of Wangari Maathai, "You cannot protect the environment unless you empower people, you inform them, and you help them understand that these resources are their own, that they must protect them." doclink

The Lesson of Empires: Once Privilege Limits Social Mobility, Collapse is Inevitable

April 18, 2016, Washington's Blog

Virtually every empire has experienced this lesson: once the privileged few limit the rise of those from humble origins (i.e. social mobility), the empire is doomed to rising instability and collapse.

The greater the concentration of wealth and power, the lower the social mobility; the lower the social mobility, the greater the odds that the system will collapse when faced with a crisis that it would have easily handled in more egalitarian times.

When the economy is expanding faster than the population and everyone benefits from the expansion, the majority of people feel their chances of getting ahead are positive.

But when the economy is stagnating, and those at the top are seen still amassing monumental gains, the majority realizes their chances of securing a better life are declining and frustration, anger and a disavowal of the corrupt status quo set in. Precisely what the U.S. is seeing in this election cycle.

The status quo exists to protect the privileged, period. Instead of hard work being rewarded, "getting ahead" is redefined as "running in place to keep from falling behind".

One of my projects is to better understand what social, economic and cultural elements of empires enabled their rise and durability. I was especially interested in locating traits shared by virtually all empires that endured.

Of all the empires that endured, they had in common high levels of social mobility: those of humble birth had multiple pathways to wealth, power and influence.

When social mobility is lost, all those denied access to the empire's top rungs leave for greener pastures or devote their energy and ambition to bringing the empire down.

Social mobility is only possible if merit is valued more than privilege. When only the cronies can reach the top, the empire crumbles under the weight of incompetence, squabbling among the elite, inefficiency and wasted resources, while the best and the brightest seek outlets for their ambition elsewhere--often in the ranks of the empire's enemies.

The Roman Empire accepted people of many ethnicities and origins as Roman citizens. A free citizen of a distant Roman province was as fully a citizen of Rome as a free resident of Rome.

In the Republic of Venice, new blood was able to enter the higher levels of power. Commoners could rise to power via commercial success or military service.

The Byzantine Empire offered multiple pathways to wealth and influence to the humbly born: the clergy, the army, trading, and service in the Imperial bureaucracy.

The question, not just for the U.S. but for every nation, is whether the ladder of social mobility is real or if it is largely propaganda.

In an economic crisis, who's piece of the pie gets trimmed to a sliver, and who's slice gets bigger?

The next few years will strip away the illusions of "growth" and reveal which dominates our society and economy: privilege (sludgy toxic oil) or social mobility (clean refreshing water). doclink

Karen Gaia says: So where is our economy now? Remember that our economy is falsely based on GDP, which rises even when we are paying for cleaning up for a climate disaster or fighting a rampant disease. Or cleaning up after oil spills, or not repaying loans made to unwise unconventional oil producers who produce at a high cost more than they can sell.

Carbon Sinks in Crisis - it Looks Like the World's Largest Rainforest is Starting to Bleed Greenhouse Gasses

August 5, 2016, Robertscribbler   By: Robertscribbler

In 2005 and 2010, the vast Amazon rainforest, which has been described as the world's lungs, briefly lost its ability to take in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Its drought-stressed trees were not respiring enough to draw carbon out of the air. Fires roared through the forest, transforming trees into kindling and releasing the carbon stored in their wood back into the air.

This year a severe drought is again stressing trees even as it is fanning wildfires to greater intensity than during 2005 and 2010. Early satellite measures seem to show the rainforest and the lands it inhabits are now being hit so hard by a combination of drought and fire that the forest is starting to bleed carbon back. For the first time this gigantic and ancient repository of atmospheric carbon appears to have turned into a carbon source.

The places that would normally draw carbon out of the atmosphere -- carbon-absorbing oceans, boreal forests, and great equatorial rainforests -- all are impacted by the warming brought about by fossil-fuel burning. This warming causes the oceans to be able to hold less carbon in their near-surface waters and sets off droughts and fires that can reduce a forest's ability to take in that carbon.

Throughout the past 10,000 years of our current epoch, the Holocene, the healthy forest carbon sinks have helped to keep these gasses, and by extension, Earth's temperatures, relatively stable.

Though these sinks have taken in more than half of the great volume of carbon emitted from fossil-fuel burning, the total portion of heat-trapping CO2 has risen from 280 ppm to more than 400 ppm. The oceans acidified as they strained beneath the new carbon overburden. And the forests took in this carbon even as they fought off expanding deforestation. As a result of all the excess carbon now in the atmosphere, the Earth has warmed by more than 1 degree Celsius above 1880s levels.

It appears that the grace period that the Earth's carbon sinks have given us to get our act together on global warming is coming to an end.

But by 2015 and 2016, record global temperatures had again sparked a terrible drought in the Amazon region. According to NASA officials, the new drought was the worst seen since at least 2002 and was sparking worse fire conditions than during 2005 and 2010.

Extreme fire risk in 2016 has spread across the southern Amazon. The Brazilian states of Amazonas, Mato Grosso, and Pará are reportedly at the highest risk.

So far, the Amazon has seen more fires through June 2016 than in previous years, which NASA scientists said was another indicator of a potentially rough wildfire season.

Atmospheric carbon monitors at the Copernicus Observatory picked up a spike above the Amazon with methane levels higher than 2,000 ppb (which is often a drought and wildfire signature) and carbon dioxide levels in the range of 41o to 412 ppm. Comparable spikes were over industrial regions of the world like eastern China, the U.S. and Europe. doclink

Human Footprint Surprisingly Outpaced by Population and Economic Growth

August 23, 2016, Phys.org

A newly released study, produced with help from eight universities, found some good news. Between 1993 and 2009, the global impact of human activities on the terrestrial environment is expanding more slowly than the rates of economic and/or population growth. While the population grew by 23% and the economy grew 153%, the global human footprint grew by only 9%. Lead author Dr. Oscar Venter of the University of Northern British Columbia concluded that "We are becoming more efficient in how we use natural resources."

The study results, published in the journal Nature Communications, are graphically portrayed by comprehensive, high-resolution maps that reveal a complex story of how humans are altering world habitats (http://wcshumanfootprint.org/). Policy makers and researchers can use the maps to identify places that should either be restored or protected.

The report adds, however, that while environmental impacts may not be keeping pace with the growth rate of the world economy, they are frighteningly extensive. Dr. James Watson, co-author of the study from the University of Queensland and Wildlife Conservation Society, explains our current biodiversity crisis by saying: "Our maps show that three quarters of the planet is now significantly altered and 97% of the most species-rich places on Earth have been seriously altered. "

Co-author Dr. Eric W. Sanderson, WCS Senior Conservation Zoologist, and lead author of the original Human Footprint study in 2002 was encouraged to find that countries with "good governance structures and higher rates of urbanization" could actually grow economically while slightly shrinking their environmental impacts of land use and infrastructure. "Sustainable development is a widely espoused goal, and our data demonstrates clear messages of how the world can get there. Concentrate people in towns and cities so their housing and infrastructure needs are not spread across the wider landscape, and promote honest governments that are capable of managing environmental impacts doclink

Art says, "This is the best news I have read since I began editing for this website. People's lives can improve without destroying the terrestrial environment. I wonder if we could save the seas as well. And it's not clear that these findings cover greenhouse gas emissions."

Karen Gaia says: GDP is not an accurate representative of the economy. It includes, among other things, the money spent on disasters and money invested in recovery of expensive oil, even if those investments are not recovered because oil is cheap. Now that oil is harder to get, the costs of recovering that oil are eating into money spent on education, the arts, and discretionary spending by the middle class. Also government spending adds to GDP, even if the money originated from a loan, but debts are not subtracted from GDP.

Black Women and Abortion - New Data Tells An Old Story

August 10, 2016, InsideSources   By: Marcela Howell

A new Guttmacher Institute study shows that more than half of women denied coverage for abortion under the Hyde Amendment are women of color. Also recent data shows that while black women comprise only 14.9% of women of reproductive age, they make up 27.6% of abortion patients.

Now that the Supreme Court has ruled against a restrictive law in the most significant abortion rights case in recent history, and with the Hyde Amendment being reconsidered, it's time to understand the barriers to reproductive health that black women still face.

Many times anti-abortion activists and politicians have exploited black women's experiences to justify an anti-choice agenda. For example the "Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act,", a ludicrous, disingenuous bill that exploits stereotypes about black women to ban so called "race-selective" abortion, which offensively presumes that black women use their wombs to commit genocide.

Those who oppose abortion have never seemed to understand why some women need this health care, or else perhaps they would support access to safe, effective and affordable birth control, the surest way to prevent the need for abortion in many instances.

Decisions about pregnancy and when to become a parent are some of the most important decisions we make in our lives. Women, and black women in particular, must be able to make these decisions for ourselves. But black women are disproportionately harmed by restrictions and coverage bans.

Nationally, the rate of abortion is dropping alongside the unintended pregnancy rate. The reasons for this are relatively straightforward. The advent of more highly effective birth-control options (such as the patch and the ring), and specifically Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (IUDs and implants, often referred to as LARCs) are largely credited for the decline. In addition, increased insurance coverage for birth control and increased access to emergency contraception may have played a role.

When women have access to a wide range of safe and effective birth-control options, unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion decrease.

The use of LARCs, especially the IUD, more than tripled between 2007 and 2012. But black women aren't using LARCs at the same rates as whites and Latinas. In fact, black women are less likely to use any form of contraception. Eighty-three percent of black women who are at risk of unintended pregnancy currently use a contraceptive method, compared with 91% of Latinas and white women, and 90% of Asian-American and Pacific Islander women.

This is due, in part to the fact that black women are more likely to be low-income, earning just 63 cents on the dollar compared to white men, and it's harder to get birth control if you can't afford it. But black women still have higher rates of abortion even when controlling for income, according to a 2008 report by the Guttmacher Institute.

To benefit from the birth-control revolution in which we find ourselves, you need: education and full information about your options, access to a health care provider, health insurance, resources, transportation, the ability to take time off of work to get to an appointment, someone to watch your kids while you're at the doctor, documentation of your immigration status, freedom from domestic abuse wherein a partner sabotages birth control or refuses condoms, and so on. At every point, black women have fewer resources, economic and otherwise, to take advantage of these new technologies. In addition, some may also have reservations about a medical system with a long history of abusing and exploiting our bodies for profit.

For white and wealthy women, abortion is rarer and paradoxically more accessible, while women of color and low-income are more likely to need an abortion and less likely to be able to afford or access one.

Black women need to have access to reproductive health providers who listen to their concerns and treat them with respect and dignity. We need to increase health insurance coverage, including expanding Medicaid in all 50 states, and lift the bans that deny insurance coverage for abortion. We need to fund fully comprehensive sexual education in our schools so that black girls understand how their bodies work, how contraception works, and feel empowered to negotiate in relationships.

What black women do not need is more restrictions on abortion, or politicians telling us how to live our lives.

To attain reproductive health we must address all the obstacles black women face: racism, sexism, economic injustice, social stigma, violence, the list goes on. In other words, we must treat black women as whole, complex and unique human beings. doclink

Should We Be Having Kids in the Age of Climate Change?

August 18, 2016, National Public Radio   By: Jennifer Ludden

Travis Rieder is trying to convince people not to have children. Or at least not too many. He talks about a "small-family ethic" - to question the assumptions of a society that sees having children as good, throws parties for expecting parents, and in which parents then pressure their kids to "give them grandchildren."

He asks students in the audience how old their kids will be in 2036. "Dangerous climate change is going to be happening by then," he says. "Very, very soon."

Rieder says that Americans and other rich nations produce the most carbon emissions per capita. Yet people in the world's poorest nations are most likely to suffer severe climate impacts.

By mid-century, possibly before, the average global temperature is projected to rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius, the point scientists and world leaders agree would trigger cataclysmic consequences. In fact, climatologists say, the world is on track to hit 4 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century, and which would leave the earth "largely uninhabitable for humans."

But the world is expected to add several billion people in the next few decades, each one producing more emissions.

Can you actually expect people to forgo something as deeply personal as having children? To deny the biological imperative that's driven civilization?

Rieder and two colleagues, Colin Hickey and Jake Earl of Georgetown University, have a strategy for trying to do just that. Rieder is publishing a book on the subject later this year, and expects to take plenty of heat.

Rieder says that bringing down global fertility by just half a child per woman "could be the thing that saves us," he says.

He cites a study from 2010 that looked at the impact of demographic change on global carbon emissions. It found that slowing population growth could eliminate one-fifth to one-quarter of all the carbon emissions that need to be cut by mid-century to avoid that potentially catastrophic tipping point.

Saving carbon by not eating meat is a good idea, but no amount of conservation gives you a pass, he says.

Oregon State University researchers have calculated the savings from all kinds of conservation measures: driving a hybrid, driving less, recycling, using energy-efficient appliances, windows and light bulbs. For an American, the total metric tons of carbon dioxide saved by all of those measures over an entire lifetime of 80 years: 488. By contrast, the metric tons saved when a person chooses to have one fewer child: 9,441.

Rieder suggests: "Maybe we should protect our kids by not having them." His wife, however, was "one of those women who actually craved to have a baby." She also wanted a big family. So they had one. But they agreed that the moral bar for a second child is much higher. The couple is "one and done." Any more children will come through adoption.

So how do you persuade millions or billions of people around the world to sacrifice that? To avert climate disaster, the fertility rate would have to fall much faster than it has been. It would require more than educating women and expanding access to contraception, as aid agencies have been doing for decades.

Rieder and his collaborators propose to persuade people to choose fewer children with a strategy that boils down to carrots for the poor, sticks for the rich.

Rieder says poor nations get some slack because they're still developing, and because their per capita emissions are a sliver of the developed world's. Plus, it just doesn't look good for rich, Western nations to tell people in poor ones not to have kids. He suggests things like paying poor women to refill their birth control and - something that's had proven success - widespread media campaigns.

In the 1970s and '80s, a wave of educational soap operas in Latin America, Asia and Africa wove family planning into their plot lines. Some countries did this when they faced economic crisis. The shows are credited with actually changing people's opinions about family size.

For the sticks part of the plan, Rieder proposes that richer nations do away with tax breaks for having children and actually penalize new parents. He says the penalty should be progressive, based on income, and could increase with each additional child.

Rebecca Kukla of Georgetown University worries about stigma, especially against poor and minority women. If cultural norms do change, she says, there could be a backlash against families with more children than is deemed socially appropriate.

Rieder says some countries that have successfully reduced fertility rates have since reversed course, afraid that falling population will hurt their economies. He would have nations open up immigration to allow in the expected tens of millions of climate refugees.

"Population engineering, maybe it's an extreme move. But it gives us a chance," he says.

"We know exactly how to make fewer babies," he says. And it's something people can start doing today. doclink

Karen Gaia says: Rieder is yet another person who has not kept up with the 50-year old campaign to lower birth rates by inventing modern contraception, making it more varied and better, making family planning strictly voluntary which works better than carrots and sticks, and the struggle to get all this funded. Fertility rates have dropped from an average of around 5-6 (children per woman) to 2.4 today.

The carrots and sticks method has already been tried, but failed with great backlash, especially in India.

Rieder says it is difficult to deny the biological imperative that's driven civilization, but doesn't he realize that 50% of pregnancies in the U.S. are unintended, (70% of teen pregnancies) due to lack of access to contraception or failure of a contraceptive method, or barriers that women still face in getting contraception when they need it. In the developing world, 40% of pregnancies are unintended. This means that the U.S. fertility rate could be cut in half if women's unmet need for contraception were met.

Tax credits or disincentives will not work because they are so very small in comparison to the tremendous costs of raising a child, which would have been a great deterrent if the mother had had what she needed to use effective contraception.

And telling people to 'Stop at One' is counter-productive because the real problem is not motivation but lack of what it takes to get effective and contraception to every woman who needs it, when she needs it. And it is much to closely associated with China's One-Child policy.

Rieder is concerned that some countries that have successfully reduced fertility rates have since reversed course, but he has not shown that significant numbers of births have resulted.

What Rieder seems completely ignorant of is the fact that family planning programs are very underfunded. About 9 billion is needed, but only 4-5 billion is actually funded. This is a small amount of money compared to what is spent on war.

The only thing new about Rieder's plan is the term 'population engineering'. We used to call it 'population control'. The carrots and sticks method has made the word population very unpopular and that is one of the reasons that funding is less easy to get.

The Historic Reversal of Populations

August 8, 2016, IPS Inter Press Service   By: Joseph Chamie

Historically, due to low longevity rates and high birthrates, children (< 15) were always more numerous than the elderly (> 65). But both longevity rates and birthrates have been reversing. The demographic turning point, when a nation first had fewer kids than oldsters, was reached in Italy in 1995. Within five years it also had occurred in Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Japan, Portugal and Spain, and today it has occurred in 30 nations, including most of Europe. In fifteen years the number of nations is on course to nearly double and include Australia, Canada, China, Russia, South Korea and the United States.

When the world's population was 3.3 billion 50 years ago, for each elderly person there were more than seven children. Today, with a world population of 7.4 billion, the ratio has been more than halved to about three children per elderly person. By 2075 the world's projected population of 10.7 billion is expected to pass through the Historical Reversal where the number of elderly will bypass and then start exceeding the number of children. The ratios for Asia and Latin America are close to the current world average. But the whole of Europe now has slightly less than one child per elderly person.

By 2065, while the world population is expected to increase by 40%, the number of elderly is expected to more than triple. By that year, the elderly will comprise at least one-third of the populations in China, Germany, Greece, Japan, Italy, Poland, Singapore, South Korea and Spain.

Africa has averaged nearly 12 children per elderly person, and it probably will not experience the reversal this century. Africa is projected to still have 1.5 children per elderly person in 2100, with countries such as Niger, Nigeria and Somalia having more than twice as many children as elderly. At that time, all the other major regions of the world are expected to have about two times more old people than children.

Although gradual, the effects of an aging population are considerable, impacting consumption, employment, voting, defense, foreign policy, recreation, health care, entertainment, family life, immigration and taxation. Most notable, an aging population makes it more difficult to fund pension systems that will have more beneficiaries, but fewer workers to support them. To sustain pension programs, countries can raise the retirement age, raise taxes, redirect government revenue, reduce benefits, or privatize their systems. Other options include raising fertility rates (20 years in advance to be effective) and hiring more immigrant workers. doclink

Art says: The so-called dependency ratio is causing many low-birthrate nations to offer incentives for having more children due to a fear that they will eventually face a shortage of working-age people. This aggravates problems that stem from over-consumption and overpopulation.

Karen Gaia says: First, the author does not think about the fact that children also add to the dependency ratio. If parents have more children to help old people, how can they manage to support both children and elderly parents?

Which is worse: having too many old people or not having enough food to feed people and not enough energy to fuel a civilization? My guess is that we will have both too many old people and not enough resources.

We would not have this problem of too many old people if we had not enabled population growth in the first place, by: lowering the death rate and by not instituting sufficient and effective family planning earlier.

Four Important Lessons From Cuba's Urban Food Survival Strategy

July 25, 2016, Worldwatch Institute   By: Aurel Keller

Before its collapse, the USSR bought Cuban sugar at subsidized prices. The end of that subsidy coincided with a global fall of sugar prices in the late 1980s, leaving Cuba with little export profit and a large food crisis. But since then Cuban agriculture has made a radical departure away from authoritarian state control, and largely to sustainable agriculture and urban farming, making Cuba a regional leader in sustainable agricultural research.

Although the Cuban state and the Ministry of Agriculture got through the initial crisis largely with austerity measures, they also changed policies. State-run farms became employee-owned co-ops, and small-farm distribution programs were greatly expanded. In 1992 Article 27 of the Cuban constitution made this new approach official state policy. For the last thirty years the small farmer organization, ANAP, has worked with farmers, teaching them better farming practices and promoting employee-owned cooperatives where farmers pool their resources. Working with university research projects, ANAP helped improve farming practices. This was successful to the point that farmers now produce 60% of Cuba's produce using just 25% of the farmland required in 2003.

A nationwide survey showed Cuba having 530,000 small farm plots and backyard gardens, 6,400 intensive gardens, and 4,000 high-yielding organopónicos in 2013. Cities like Havana were able to meet up to 70% of food needs from local urban farms and gardens. Although Cuba's successes relied partly on favorable climate and soil conditions, the country's scientific frameworks and practices are timeswidely applicable in other regions. For example, urban agriculture has been practiced in Havana since the 1800s, making it an ideal petri dish for development and innovation under Cuban programs.

A UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report details Cuba's organopónicos system for building healthy soils. It has substantially lower environmental and input costs than traditional industrial agriculture. Fuel costs, stemming primarily from the cost of transporting compost needed for soil building, were reduced by over 85%. A nationwide campaign encouraged people to use organopónicos to raise food for their own consumption. Campaign offices and support infrastructure in each district helped to provide technical and input support, producing compost, improved seeds, and other inputs. As of 2013, Havana district had 97 organopónicos farms, and the program is now being tested throughout the nation.

Within Cuba's practices and institutions lies a model for localized and small-scale urban agriculture. doclink

Ghana Needs 300,000 Jobs Annually - World Bank

This is according to the World Bank's Senior Country Operations Officer, Dr Beatrix Allah-Mensah who was speaking at the launch of the National Labour Intensive Public Works (LIPW) policy in Accra.
August 17, 2016, Pulse   By: Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu

The World Bank's Senior Country Operations Officer, Dr Beatrix Allah-Mensah said Ghana needs to create 300,000 new jobs annually in order to meet its employment needs by the year 2020.

A new policy aims to have community members as labourers instead of using heavy machinery to do all the work in public works such as the construction of roads and new schools.

"Job creation and job sustenance, which continue to plague many countries, are key to promoting development and eradicating poverty...Access to jobs is even more crucial in the rural areas and for the poor thus making job security a social protection issue," Allah-Mensah said.

A recent report from the World Bank found that about 48% of Ghanaians between the ages of 15-24 do not have jobs.

With 71% of Ghana's population projected to be under 35 years old in 2020, there is an ever more need to create jobs for the youth. doclink

Karen Gaia say: then there is involving youth in 'Future Planning' which includes being able to avoid pregnancy so that school and jobs can be secured and there is less competition for jobs and resources for future generations.

ACOG Calls for Postpartum LARC Counseling, Placement

August 2, 2016, Women's Health Policy Report

OB-GYNs (Obstetricians and Gynecologists) should offer prenatal counseling advising on the convenience and effectiveness and benefits of placement of long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) immediately postpartum and the opportunity for placement right after delivery or at a follow-up postpartum visit at the patient's request. This will result in benefits such as reducing unintended pregnancy and lengthening pregnancy intervals -- according to an American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) committee opinion.

The committee also recommended that OB-GYNs counsel patients about the risks of postpartum LARC, such as the risk of expulsion of the intrauterine device (IUD).

A pregnancy happening within one year of a prior delivery, is linked with a higher chance of premature birth and adverse health outcomes for the infant. In addition, the committee noted that roughly 50% of women say they had unprotected sex before they returned for a postpartum visit.

Also, women at the highest risk of short-interval pregnancy often are those who are less likely to meet with a physician for a postpartum follow-up appointment, according to MedPage Today. A 2015 study found that women who had an IUD placed immediately after delivery via cesarean section reported higher rates of IUD use than women who postponed placement until their six-week postpartum follow-up visit.

The committee also called for public and private coverage of immediate postpartum LARC. More than a dozen states include reimbursement for LARC immediately postpartum in their Medicaid programs, and CMS currently is assessing how to facilitate LARC access.

Co-author Ann Borders said, "We encourage maternity providers to begin discussions about postpartum contraception prior to delivery to ensure women have the time and information they need to select the best method for them, which may be immediate postpartum LARC for many women." She added, "The period following delivery is a busy, exhausting, and often stressful time, and immediate postpartum insertion of LARC may eliminate some of the stressors during that time, like scheduling multiple appointments for LARC insertion." doclink